After filing a NOD (Notice of Disagreement) on your VA disability benefits decision, you are probably feeling anxious and impatient to move into the next step of the appeals process. Unfortunately, chances are you will be waiting to hear back on the NOD letter for quite some time.
When you do hear back, the next step will depend on the type of appeal process you requested in the Notice of Disagreement.
Appeal to a Decision Review Officer (DRO)
A growing number of veterans are opting to start the appeal process by working with a DRO. A veteran can request that a decision be made based on a one-on-one hearing with the DRO or a re-evaluation of his existing file.
DRO reviews and hearings are less formal and can often be scheduled more quickly than hearings before the Board of Veterans Appeals. Also, if the DRO’s decision is unfavorable, you are given the opportunity to appeal it a second time with the BVA.
If you opted for a DRO appeal in the NOD letter:
- The VA will contact you for more information regarding the nature of your appeal.
- If applicable, the DRO hearing is scheduled after you describe the nature of your appeal.
- If the DRO’s decision is unfavorable, you will receive a “Statement of the Case” (SOC), which is a detailed explanation of the evidence, laws, and regulations used in determining the VA’s decision on your case.
- You will also receive a VA Form 9 (Appeal to Board of Veterans’ Appeals) at this time, which will need to be filed within 60 days of the date on the SOC to make a follow-up appeal to the BVA.
Appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA)
If you opted for a BVA hearing in the NOD letter:
- The VA prepares a detailed summary of the decision made on your application, formally called a “Statement of the Case,” or SOC. This will take several months.
- You have 60 days from the date on the SOC to officially file the appeal.
- The official appeal is filed using VA Form 9. This will be sent with the SOC, but it can also be found at the VA Forms website.
- The Texas VA office handling your case will transfer it to the BVA. Again, expect a lengthy waiting period.
- When your case has been successfully transferred, you will receive a letter from the BVA explaining your next step.
Whatever method of appeal you’ve selected on an unfavorable ratings score or disability benefits decision, consulting with a skilled Houston VA benefits lawyer may greatly improve the odds of winning your case. It can also garner the support you need going forward. Call our office today at 800-800-6353, or fill out the quick contact form below to learn more.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.