The Basics of the Veterans Benefits Claim Appeal Process

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The Basics of the Veterans Benefits Claim Appeal Process

If the VA’s determination regarding your benefits claim does not accurately align with the circumstances involved, you have options. If this is the situation you find yourself in, one of the most important steps you can take to protect your rights is to consult with an experienced Illinois veterans benefits attorney

The Most Common Reasons for Appeals

The primary reasons that veterans appeal VA benefit decisions include the following:

  • The VA fails to recognize their disability as service-related
  • The VA fails to attach the appropriate disability rating to their condition

Once you receive the VA’s decision, you generally have one year from the date the decision letter was issued to file a Decision Review Request (DRR). 

The Decision Review Request

The Decision Review Request is a formal VA process that allows veterans to request reviews of specific decisions. This review process is usually initiated when a veteran disagrees with the VA’s decision. Within the DRR context, veterans have options, which include:

  • Supplemental claim
  • Higher-level review
  • Board appeal

Supplemental Claim

A supplemental claim allows you to submit any additional information or evidence that is relevant to your claim and supports your position. Examples include:

  • The opinions of professionals with relevant expertise
  • Supplemental medical records
  • Any additional documentation that wasn’t included in your initial claim

This is your opportunity to strengthen your claim with additional documentation. 

Higher-Level Review

When you request a higher-level review, you request a senior reviewer to reconsider your claim from a fresh perspective – with an eye toward any errors or mistakes that may have been made during the initial decision-making process. Higher-level reviews are based on the evidence in the initial filing and do not allow the submission of new evidence. 

An informal conference can be scheduled within the higher-level review. This conference is a phone call that affords you and your attorney the opportunity to discuss why you believe the original decision was in error with the senior reviewer assigned to your case. 

Board Appeal

A board appeal involves taking your case before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), an independent body. This process affords you the opportunity to have your case reviewed by a judge, and new evidence can be submitted. An in-person or videoconference hearing – at which you and your trusted attorney will present your case – may be scheduled. 

The BVA has the following three options in relation to every case:

  • Reversing the original decision
  • Upholding the original decision
  • Remanding the case back to the regional VA office for additional consideration or further development 

An Experienced Illinois Veterans Benefits Attorney Is Standing By to Help

James Comerford is an accomplished veterans benefits attorney at The Comerford Law Office – proudly serving Chicago – and his impressive track record in the realm of claim appeals speaks to his focused commitment to his valued clients. We’re here for you, too, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about what we can do to help today.


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