When you receive a Rating Decision, you have an important decision to make. Are you happy with the decision as it stands? Did the VA grant service connection? If they granted service connection, did they apply the right rating? If they applied the right rating, did they get the effective date right? The VA can get any combination or all of these things wrong. If they do, you should file a Notice of Disagreement. The Notice of Disagreement should use specific language to tell the VA why you disagree with their decision.
Notice of Disagreement Requirements
The VA requires that the Notice of Disagreement relay very specific things:
- The Rating Decision with which the claimant disagrees.
- The specific issues with which the claimant disagrees.
- The reason for the disagreement.
- Service Connection,
- Different Effective Date for the Rating,
- Different Rating (Evaluation of the Disability), or
- What percentage is the claimant seeking?
- An explanation as to why the claimant believes the VA was wrong.
How to File a Notice of Disagreement
Over the years, the VA has made numerous mistakes interpreting what a veteran was appealing. Because of this, the VA has made it mandatory that the Notice of Disagreement be filed on a standardized form due to the misunderstandings and inconsistencies. Additionally, the use of a standardized form also lends itself to the VA’s ongoing attempts to streamline the appeal process. It is important to file your NOD as soon as possible. While you have a year from the date of publication of the decision, there is always a possibility of something going wrong. The publication date is the date of the letter which informs you that the VA has made a decision on your claim, not the date on the Rating Decision itself.
Should I File a Notice of Disagreement?
When you receive your Rating Decision, you do not have to file a NOD. It is only when you feel that something is wrong with the decision that you should file. Obviously, if you feel the decision is right for you, there is no reason to file a NOD. However, if you decide that you need to appeal the decision, you have two choices currently:
- Traditional Appeals Process. The traditional process allows for the same individual who promulgated the original decision to re-review it, and issue a second decision.
- Decision Review Office Process. The decision review office is a senior decision maker and typically has more experience and training under their belt when deciding your claim that the initial VSR.
When you request DRO review, you also have the option to request a hearing with the DRO to argue your claim and make your points to them directly.
When to File an Notice of Disagreement
As mentioned above, an NOD is time sensitive. Ensuring that you file it on time will protect the effective date of you claim. You have one year from the date the Rating Decision was sent to you, not from the day you received it, to file an appeal. NOTE: If you are close to the one year mark, it is best to submit in multiple ways. Fax the NOD, mail the NOD, and if you happen to be close to your regional office, you may consider taking a copy to them. Do not miss your appeal date. In this case time is money, and it is your money. A missed appeal deadline means a loss of effective date.
Potential Outcomes from Notice of Disagreement
If you file your NOD and receive another decision, depending on what you’ve appealed, there are three potential outcomes:
- Statement of the Case (SOC) – A statement of the case is a continued denial of your claim which lays out the reasons and bases for the decision. This allows you to perfect an appeal to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals. To appeal to the Board, you MUST file a VA Form 9 within 60 days of the decision. If you are still within the one year of the initial decision, you have until the end of that year. This does not happen often due to the backlog of claims, but depending on the regional office your claim is in, you may fall into this category.
- Rating Decision – Another rating decision is ideal because it means that your claim has been granted. Now that your claim has been granted, refer to the first paragraph of this article. Make sure everything is correct, and if it is not correct, it is time to file another NOD.
- SOC and Rating Decision – This is the case when part of your appeal has been granted and part is still denied. When this happens, your appeal is going to split. The usual scenario is you receive a Rating Decision which grants, and an SOC which denies another condition and an increase above what is granted on the Rating Decision. In this case, you have 60 days to file your Form 9 and one year to file your NOD. To keep things as simple as possible, we recommend filing both at the same time.
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Article by: Nicholas Simpson