There are many reasons you may have been denied veterans’ benefits. You may be having problems getting an official diagnosis or the Veterans’ Administration (VA) may not have established a service-connection for your medical condition.
Fortunately, the VA acknowledges that the agency could make a mistake in denying a claim. That’s why any veteran who meets the basic qualifications for receiving VA benefits is granted the opportunity:
- To file a new claim for disability benefits at any point in time, whether or not he or she has attempted to do so in the past.
- To reopen an eligible claim at any point in time after the appeal system has been exhausted by submitting persuasive hard evidence that wasn’t a part of your original case.
The second option refers to new and material evidence. Let’s take a look at what that means.
What Qualifies as New and Material Evidence?
In order for you to use a piece of evidence to successfully reopen a claim, certain things must be true of that evidence. It must do at least one of the following:
- Be relevant and significant to your claim.
- Introduce a new insight to your claim.
- Not have been submitted to the VA previously.
- Support a previously unsubstantiated claim.
For example, if you were able to prove to the VA that a knee injury was connected to your time in the service, but ultimately had your claim denied because the VA felt the injury was no longer affecting you, finding new documentation showing the amount of pain the injury was causing you shortly before discharge would not reopen your claim. On the other hand, recent medical tests from your physician demonstrating the amount of pain the injury is currently causing you would be new and material evidence that could impact your recovery.
Attempting to reopen a denied VA disability claim without legal guidance can make the process lengthy and more difficult. Consider scheduling a case review with a dedicated VA benefits attorney to learn more about your options. Call us at 800-800-6353 or fill out our online contact form for more information.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.