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Veterans' (VA) Benefits

Click for the latest Veterans' Law Updates pdf.

We represent veterans in their appeals of VA decisions at regional offices (ROs), the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. We do not charge attorney fees for representation at the Court.

If VA denies your claim, the Hoefer Law Firm can help:

  • Review the RO’s decision to determine whether any legal errors were made.
  • Obtain and review your claims file to assess the best route to take in your appeal, identify evidence needed to substantiate your claim, and evaluate the potential success of your claim.
  • Request and obtain military and medical records on your behalf, and present new evidence along with clear and concise legal arguments in support of your claim.
  • Depending on the nature of your claim, we can assist you through the Decision Review Officer process or through a direct appeal to the Board.
  • Present your claim in the most favorable light to VA decision-makers in written legal briefs, informal telephone conferences, video hearings, and in-person hearings at the RO and before the Board.
  • Make sure you’re aware of changes to Veterans' benefits laws that may affect your case.

We understand how frustrating it is to deal with VA. While we cannot make VA respond any faster to your claim, we can ensure that they are made aware of the legal and factual errors in their decisions. 

Once we have exhausted all remedies at the RO and the Board, we represent veterans at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. We can make sure you meet critical deadlines and can present the strongest arguments on your behalf to the Court.

1.   Submit a claim

To apply for VA compensation and/or pension benefits, you must submit a formal application (Form 21-526 or 21-526EZ) to your local VA regional office (VARO).

If you are not ready to file a formal application, but want to submit a claim to preserve the earliest possible effective date for the award of benefits, you must submit an “Intent to File” (Form 21-0966). These forms are all available on VA’s website. You can also find information about submitting your claim electronically on VA’s website.

2.   VA develops your claim

After receiving your formal application, VA will contact any medical sources listed on your application to obtain post-service medical records. VA may also schedule you for a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam. You can also submit supporting medical/lay evidence and/or request a hearing . Evidence should be submitted to one of two Evidence Intake Centers, depending on where you live.

3.   VA makes a decision

The VARO will notify you in writing of its decision. You can appeal this decision. Even if VA has awarded your  claim, you may not agree with the disability rating or the effective date. You can appeal those aspects of the decision.

4.   Notice of Disagreement  (NOD)

You have one year from the date the VARO mailed you its decision – i.e., the date stamped on the letter from VA – to submit a Notice of Disagreement. You must use the NOD form (21-0958) and identify the date of the Rating Decision and the issues you disagree with.

Once VA receives your NOD, it will send you a letter asking you to decide how you would like your claim to be reviewed. You can have your claim reviewed by a Decision Review Officer (DRO), a senior-level rating specialist who was not involved with the initial decision. The DRO can obtain additional evidence, hold an “informal conference” with your representative, and conduct a hearing, if you request one.

5.   Statement of the Case

If VA is going to continue to deny your claim, it will issue a Statement of the Case explaining its decision and listing the evidence considered.

6.   Substantive Appeal (Form 9)

You can continue to appeal VA’s decision to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, which is the highest level of appellate review within VA. To do so, you must submit a Form 9 within 60 days from the date VA mailed the Statement of the Case – OR one year from the date VA mailed its original Rating Decision – whichever is later.

7.   Personal hearing

On your Form 9, you can request a hearing before a member of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. You can request an in-person hearing before a Board member in Washington, DC, or before a Board member who has traveled to your VARO. You can also request a videoconference hearing. It can take quite a bit of time to schedule these hearings – up to a year or more. Hearings are not necessary in every case, so make sure you really need one before you request it.

8.   The Board makes a decision

The Board will grant, deny, or remand your appeal. A “remand” means that the Board needs additional evidence before it can make a decision. You can ask the Board to reconsider its decision or you can pursue judicial review.

9.   Appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

You have 120 days from the date the Board notifies you of its denial to appeal to the Court. This is a special court that was created by Congress solely to hear appeals of Board decisions. The Court will grant, deny, or remand your appeal. If you disagree with the Court’s decision, you can appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit – and then to the U.S. Supreme Court.     

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Steve says:

"All the people at the law firm work very hard and they don't give up on the first decision."