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How does a veteran appeal an unfavorable benefits decision?

Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. When these mistakes impact Georgia residents, it is important that things be set straight and the mistakes are corrected when possible.

In the legal system, individuals who have been denied relief typically have the ability to correct mistakes made in their case by filing an appeal. As discussed last week in this blog, an appeal can make all the difference, as a decision against a person can be reversed on appeal. However, a specific process must be followed in order to successfully pursue an appeal.

When a veteran's "service connected" disability claim is denied, the first step is typically to file a notice of disagreement with the Veterans Administration. The veteran's local VA office will then review the file and prepare a Statement of the Case, which explains why the claim was denied.

The veteran can then pursue the appeal further by filing a substantive appeal with the Board of Veterans' Appeals. There are time limits that apply for filing this appeal, which typically run from either one year after a person receives notice of the original decision or 60 days after the person receives the letter accompanying the Statement of the Case. This step of the appeal takes the matter out of the hands of the local VA office, as the Board of Veterans' Appeals handles the decision. However, the individual has options to choose a personal hearing before an adjudicator who works at the local office, or to proceed before a Veterans Law Judge who works at the Board of Veterans' Appeals.

After the hearing, the veterans' disability claim will either be granted, remanded or denied. If the decision is still unfavorable, there may be further steps the veteran can take to pursue the matter further, such as asking for reconsideration of the decision.

Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, "How do I appeal?," accessed on Dec. 19, 2015

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