In some cases, you may be denied veterans benefits by receiving a 0% disability rating. This means that the VA acknowledges you have an issue, but does not believe you are disabled as a result. Alternatively, you may find yourself with a lower disability rating than you believe your situation deserves.
In either of these cases, you have the option to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with the Regional Office up to one year after the rating decision. This is true even if the Regional Office sends you a misleading notification that you must respond within 60 days of the claim or the file will be shelved.
You can also request a hearing before a hearing office. In some cases, this is the only time you have the chance to speak with a live person about your VA claim. This hearing, which is also considered an NOD, is recorded and transcribed, and new evidence can be considered for the final decision.
After the VA regional office receives your NOD, they are required to send you a Statement of the Case (SOC), although there is no specific time in which it must be done. This lists evidence that was considered, adjudicative actions that have taken place, applicable VA law and regulations, and the reasons and bases for the VA’s decision. It will be sent to you and your Veteran Service Officer. In most cases, this looks almost exactly like the original Rating Decision and you’ll only know the difference by looking at the first page heading.
Taking the Next Step to Fight a Decision When Denied Veterans Benefits
The most important thing about receiving the SOC is that you must file a formal appeal (VA Form 9) within 60 days of the date on the letter – or within one year of the original rating decision for your VA claim. From here, your case will move out of the RO and on to the Board of Veterans Appeals.
If you are denied veterans benefits and feeling overwhelmed by the process, you can seek the help of an experienced VA benefits lawyer.