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Was Your VA Disability Claim Denied? Here is What to do (2020 Update)

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Man concerned about his VA disability claim denied

If the VA denied your disability claim, you are certainly not alone. Largely for financial reasons, Claims Examiners deny about a third of the applications they review. There is only so much money to go around, and every dime paid out takes money away from the bureaucratic machine. Fundamentally, you have two choices in this situation: accept the result or work to change it.

Usually, that second alternative is the best one, especially since most of the aforementioned claims denials are clearly erroneous. Essentially, claims examiners hope the psychological blow of a denial is enough to deter future action. These bureaucrats do not count on assistance from a good veterans disability attorney.

Why Was My VA Disability Claim Denied?

Understanding the basis for your denial is the key to reversing the decision. As mentioned, most denials are clearly erroneous. These adverse decisions are often easy to deal with. If the problem is a lack of evidence or some other substantive deficiency, then these issues can be dealt with, as well. Many first-time denials cite the following problems:

No Diagnosis: Some veterans submit proof of exposure, but not proof of an exposure-related disability. Agent Orange is a good example. Congress recently made it easier for Vietnam-era veterans to receive Agent Orange disability benefits, but they must do more than prove exposure. They must also prove they have a disability as a result of that exposure. For example, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2.

No In-Service Evidence: Other claims have the opposite problem. The veteran has a disability, like PTSD, but there is no evidence that the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is somehow rooted in the veteran’s service record. Stressor events (specific, documented incidents that occurred during deployment) usually fix this problem.

No Nexus: This final area is a combination of the previous two issues. There are a disability and a service trigger, but there is no connection between the two. This connection need not be direct or cause and effect. Any relationship suffices. Often, this evidence comes from the C&P exam results or from an independent medical exam. 

On a related note, failure to attend a C&P exam is one of the most frequent causes of disability review denials. Frequently, the veteran did not attend the C&P exam because s/he did not know about it. Other times, the veteran was physically unable to attend the exam. Most disabled veterans have problems getting from point A to point B and being at certain places at certain times.

What Should I do Next?

The 2017 Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act substantially changed the way veterans respond to claims denials. Now that this law is fully implemented, veterans have more choices in how to proceed.

Erroneous denials usually end up on the Higher Level Review track. Veterans cannot introduce new evidence in support of their claims. HLR is simply a second look. Generally, this process is much faster than the old appeals process. If the decision is unfavorable, veterans can still pursue other options.

Nexus denials and other lack of evidence denials often merit Supplemental Claims. Veterans may submit new evidence in support of their claims. The claim will then be readjudicated and a new decision will be issued.

Lastly, you have the option to take your case before a judge at the Board of Veterans Appeals.. A veteran disability attorney can advocate for you most effectively during these reviews.

Contact an Aggressive Attorney

Was your VA disability claim denied? Do not give up. For a free consultation with an experienced veterans disability attorney, contact the Veterans Law Group. We are here to represent disabled veterans nationwide.

"I was happy Veterans Law Group was able to work through the VA bureaucracy to obtain my new rating."

  • Royal W.|Yankee Hill, CA

    $40,199

"Although it took a while for the result to come out, VLG was able to accomplish my expectations for a 100% rating. Due to complex medical issues, I appreciate the care you took so I did not have to appear personally in the VA local office or VA court. I am quite satisfied. I feel I am not shortchanged anymore."

  • Valued Client|Perris, CA

    $25,039

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"I was happy Veterans Law Group was able to work through the VA bureaucracy to obtain my new rating."

  • Royal W.

    Yankee Hill, CA

$40,199