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Veterans Law

The Difference Between a VA Benefits Claim and an Appeal

Maura Black

June 12, 2017

Updated: November 20, 2023

The Difference Between a VA Benefits Claim and an Appeal

A claim for VA disability benefits and an appeal of the VA’s decision are two different things. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably by veterans, but they have distinct meanings and processes.

You file a claim when you submit it to the VA. To receive disability compensation, you will need to prove that your current disability is connected to your military service.

An appeal occurs after you receive a decision from the VA on your claim. You can appeal any aspect of the VA’s decision, including a denial of service connection, the assigned rating, or the assigned effective date.

Steps in the Claims Process

When you begin filing your claim online and click “save”, the VA is notified of your Intent to File. This determines your effective date if you submit your claim within one year of the Intent to File.

You will need to provide evidence of disability current diagnosis, as well as proof that shows your diagnosed disability is connected to a specific illness, injury, or event that occurred during your military service. You can choose to file a Fully Developed Claim by certifying that you have notified the VA of all the evidence they need to make a decision.

Once you submit your claim, the VA will conduct an initial review. Next, the VA will gather evidence, review it, and make a decision. Finally, they will notify you of their decision.   At this point, you can decide to accept the VA’s decision, or to file an appeal.

The Appeals Process

You begin the appeals process by filing your Notice of Disagreement (NOD). You have one year from the date of the VA’s decision letter to file your NOD and preserve your right to appeal.

You can appeal if you disagree with the VA’s disability rating, effective date, or decision regarding service-connection. You can include a narrative statement that explains your reasons for appealing, as well as any additional evidence that supports your appeal.

The VA regional office will review your case again, including any new evidence. If the VA grants your appeal, you will receive a new decision explaining the grant of benefits.  If the VA continues its denial of your claim, you will receive a Statement of the Case further detailing the reasons for the denial.  If you still disagree with the VA’s denial, you can file a VA Form 9 which perfects your appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, where another review of your case will occur.

The appeals process can take years, particularly if multiple different reviews are conducted. For assistance with your appeal, consider talking to an experienced veterans attorney.

If you are not sure whether you should appeal your claim denial, talk to an experienced veterans lawyer about your case. The veterans advocates at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick have over 25 years of experience helping veterans get the compensation they deserve. Contact us today for a no-cost case evaluation.

About the Author

Bio photo of Maura Black

Maura is a managing attorney at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD in Providence, Rhode Island, where she specializes in representing disabled veterans and their families before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Throughout her career, she has represented hundreds of veterans and their dependents in their pursuit of VA benefits. She has presented and organized numerous continuing legal education events that have focused on service-connected VA benefits and appeals, VA’s appeals reform legislation, and petitions for writs of mandamus at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. In the spring of 2022, Maura served as a panelist during an Appeals Modernization Act presentation at the Fifteenth Judicial Conference of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

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