If a veteran or claimant receives a Rating Decision from a VA Regional Office and disagree with that decision they need to file a Notice of Disagreement [hereinafter “NOD”]. A NOD is a “written communication from a claimant or his representative expressing dissatisfaction or disagreement with an adjudicative determination of an agency of original jurisdiction.” 38 C.F.R. § 19.113. The NOD must be filed within one year from the date of the underlying Regional Office [hereinafter “RO”] decision, and if no NOD is filed within the one-year appeal period following the RO decision, the decision will become final. See 38 U.S.C. § 7105(b)(1).
Previously, there was no standardized form for a veteran to file a NOD. Most veterans used the general VA Form 21-4138 (Statement in Support of Claim), some veterans simply filed a letter disagreeing with the decision, and some veterans simply telephonically contacted the VA disagreeing with the decision (something I highly discourage).
In February 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a new form intended to bring uniformity to the NOD process, the VA Form 21-0958. To date, I have had positive results by using this form and I suspect this simplifies the appellate process for the ROs. I have uploaded this form at VBA-21-0958-ARE (Notice of Disagreement). * I’ll note the form does not include a block that indicates whether the veteran is requesting review before a Decision Review Officer (DRO) or a traditional appeal. I suggest that the veteran clearly annotate on the form, or in an accompanying correspondence, which method they are requesting.*
If you received an unfavorable Rating Decision and need assistance in filing a NOD, please do not hesitate to contact me for a free consultation at sdirector@FRE-L.com or (732) 382-6070.