Denied VA Disability Benefits? Here's Your Path Forward

what to do when VA disability claim is denied

Don't Give Up on Your VA Disability Claim: A Guide to Reopening Your Case

A VA disability denial can be a major roadblock, especially when you're facing a service-related injury or illness. But remember, it's not the end of the road. This article outlines the steps you can take to navigate a denial and potentially reopen your claim.

Understanding denials and the reopening process

Just like with private long-term disability (LTD) claims, VA disability denials can occur for several reasons: insufficient evidence, missed deadlines, or an unclear connection between your disability and your service. 

However, unlike a complete reapplication, veterans can request a claim reopening. This hinges on presenting "new and material" evidence – information not previously available that significantly impacts your disability claim.

What can be reopened?

Similar to LTD claims, not all VA benefits qualify for reopening. The VA typically reconsiders requests for:

  • Service-connected disability benefits: These compensate veterans for disabilities directly linked to their military service.

  • Burial benefits: These help provide financial assistance for veteran burials.

  • Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC): This provides financial support to surviving spouses and dependents of service members who died in the line of duty or from service-related conditions.

Common reasons for VA disability claim denials

While gathering new evidence is crucial, understanding potential reasons for your initial denial can be helpful. Here are some common snags you might have encountered:

  • Insufficient Medical Evidence: This could be incomplete medical records or a lack of connection between your disability and your service.

  • Missed Deadlines: Strict deadlines exist for appeals within the VA system. Missing them can affect your eligibility for reopening.

  • Errors or Omissions: Accidental mistakes like providing incorrect contact information can create delays and complications.

  • Substance Abuse: If substance abuse contributes to your disability, it might complicate your claim.

Steps to take after a denial

  • Gather New Evidence: Medical records that solidify the service connection for your disability or strengthen your existing claim are key.

  • Seek Legal Help: Veterans' affairs legal experts can help navigate the reopening process, correct errors, and present compelling evidence on your behalf.

  • Understand the Denial Letter: It should outline the reasons for denial and your appeal rights.

  • Meet Deadlines: Appealing a denial usually comes with strict timeframes. Act promptly to avoid missing crucial windows.

Resources for veterans facing denials

  • VA Regional Offices: These offices offer guidance and assistance specific to reopening claims. Find contact information for your nearest office on the VA website.

  • VA Decision Review Officers: These officers can review your denial and provide insights on potential issues and next steps.

  • Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs): These organizations offer free assistance to veterans navigating the VA claims process, including reopening claims. You can find a list of VSOs on the VA website.

  • Legal Help: Attorneys specializing in denied VA disability claims can be invaluable resources. They possess extensive knowledge of the VA claims process and can advocate for your rights throughout the reopening process

Remember, you're not alone

A denial can be frustrating, but remember, you have options. By gathering new evidence, understanding the process, and utilizing available resources, you can increase your chances of a successful claim. You served your country, and you deserve the support you've earned.



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