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What is a Notice of Disagreement (NOD)?

Notice of disagreement veterans disability

A Notice of Disagreement (NOD) is a formal statement letting the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) know you disagree with its decision on your disability claim. When you apply for disability benefits, the VA sends you a letter with its decision. You can file an NOD if the VA denies your claim or approves you for less compensation than you deserve.

The paperwork to file your notice comes with your decision letter from the VA. The process for filing an NOD has strict rules you must follow to receive a favorable outcome.  Additionally, the Notice of Disagreement process changes entirely under Appeals Reform.  A veterans disability attorney from Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD can help you build the strongest possible case. Call today for a consultation: 401-331-6300.

Legacy Appeals System: Notice of Disagreement

To submit a Notice of Disagreement in the Legacy Appeals system, you must fill out VA Form 21-0958. VA will include this form when it sends you its decision on your claim. The form asks for a lot of information, and how you fill it out can greatly affect your chance of a decision reversal. An attorney from Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD can walk you through the process and ensure your Notice of Disagreement is effective.

Your Notice of Disagreement form is personalized to your specific claim. It includes blocks for each medical condition for which you applied and on which you received a rating decision. You can disagree with your decision or rating on more than one injury or illness.

Perhaps you filed a claim for both a knee injury and a chronic back condition. VA rendered a favorable decision on your knee injury but denied your claim for your back condition. In this situation, you would fill out only the block on the Notice of Disagreement form that corresponds with your back condition.

It is important to read your decision from VA thoroughly before filling out an Notice of Disagreement. You need to understand the rationale behind VA’s decision before you can effectively counter it with your own argument. VA often writes its claim decisions in unclear language that leaves room for interpretation, buried under pages of legalese. We can help you cut through it and respond with a winning argument.

What information should I include on a Notice of Disagreement?

An effective Notice of Disagreement features several pieces of information, all explained clearly and thoroughly. The first is the specific medical condition or conditions in question. Next, you must let the VA know on which grounds you disagree with its decision.

Your claim decision features three areas with which you can disagree. These are whether your condition is service related, the effective date of your award, and the evaluation of your disability.

Service Connection

If VA feels your medical condition is unrelated to your military service, it can deny your claim on those grounds. You can disagree with VA’s decision by providing evidence that your condition indeed stems from your service.

The process of doing this is often nuanced. It is rare that VA makes a cut-and-dry mistake, such as attributing a back injury you sustained in combat to a different cause. What is more likely is that, for instance, you suffer an injury during service that leads to a secondary injury after serving.

VA should cover secondary injuries that stem from service-connected primary injuries. But sometimes it denies such claims or awards a smaller amount than deserved. Our attorneys can help you put together a strong Notice of Disagreement to fight for your award.

Effective Date of Award

The effective date of your award typically should be your date of original claim. If VA awards you an effective date you think is incorrect, our attorneys can help you determine if you have a compelling argument that your award date should be earlier. For instance, if you file a claim for service connection within a year of leaving active duty, the effective date of your award should be the day after your discharge. In some cases, VA will disagree and set your award date much later, like the date of a VA examination. This would significantly impact the amount of retroactive benefits you receive. Therefore, it is important to get in touch with us as soon as possible.

Evaluation of Disability

The evaluation of your disability represents the most likely area of your disagreement with VA’s decision. VA uses a rating schedule to evaluate the severity of your symptoms and the level of medical care necessitated by your condition. This rating determines your compensation amount.

An effective NOD on the grounds of disability evaluation requires providing evidence of symptoms or medical complications more severe than indicated by VA’s rating. The attorneys at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD will look into your medical records and help you build a convincing case on these grounds.

How long do I have to file a Notice of Disagreement?

The deadline to file a Notice of Disagreement is one year from the date of the VA’s notification letter included with its decision. The clock starts the date the VA mails your decision letter, not the date you receive it. In practice, it is unwise to wait until the deadline is near to file your Notice of Disagreement.

Review the VA’s decision as soon as you receive it, and decide if there is any part with which you disagree. Then contact a qualified veterans law attorney who can help you put together the strongest possible NOD.

What happens after I file a NOD?

When you file a NOD, you have two choices for how the VA reviews it. You can select the Decision Review Officer (DRO) process or the traditional process:

  • Decision Review Officer (DRO). A DRO is a senior-level employee at VA who handles post-decision appeals of disability award decisions.  If this review option is selected, a DRO will review the original claim for VA benefits along with any new evidence and information included with the NOD.  Veterans also have the option to request a hearing during which they can communicate directly with the decision-maker on the case.
  • Traditional Review. A traditional review is completed by the same adjudicator who initially issued a denial of the claim.

The review process can take anywhere from a few months to a year or longer. The more evidence you provide up front, the faster the VA can review your NOD. Contact Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD to start the process and build your case: 401-331-6300.

Appeals Reform: NOD

Under Appeals Reform, veterans have the option to opt in to the Notice of Disagreement lane following an unfavorable decision.  Similar to the Legacy appeals process, veterans have one year from the date of the notification letter to file an NOD following receipt of an initial Rating Decision.  However, VA will require a new form in order to do so (i.e. VA Form 10182).  On this form, veterans must identify the specific determination with which disagree, and indicate if they request to have a hearing before the Board, an opportunity to submit additional evidence, or neither.  This reflects the most significant difference between the NOD process under Appeals Reform and the Notice of Disagreement process in the Legacy appeals system.  Specifically, in the NOD lane under Appeals Reform, veterans can appeal their cases directly to the Board following an unfavorable decision from the Regional Office, or an unfavorable decision in either the higher-level review lane or supplemental claim lane.  As such, they are able to skip the second level of review at the Regional Office that is involved in the Legacy appeals system.

Similar to the Legacy appeals system, Appeals Reform proposes a process for clarifying Notice of Disagreements if need be.  When the Board receives an unclear or deficient NOD, the Board will notify the veteran and request clarification.  The veteran must respond with the requested clarification within one year from the Agency of Original Jurisdiction decision, or 60 days after the date of the Board’s clarification request, whichever is later.  If the veteran does not provide a timely response, his or her previous statement will not be considered an NOD.  Furthermore, veterans are allowed to file multiple NODs within the one-year period for other claims which they have pending.