We recently published a short article on the appellate process for disability compensation claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The article, which can be accessed at http://www.finkrosner.com/articles/va-appeal-process.html, provides a short, concise overview of how a veteran/claimant would appeal an unfavorable VA decision.
This provides me with an opportunity to also comment on a common problem I see in the VA adjudication process for disability compensation . . . a “request for reconsideration” before one of the VA Regional Offices. Foremost, the notion of reconsideration at the Regional Office level simply does not exist in statute or regulation. As a means around the lengthy timeline once a claim is in appellate status, some advocates have been using “a request for reconsideration.” This practice has permeated through some of the Regional Offices . . . but with no predicate in law and, therefore, little protection for the veteran.
The best way to consider a “request for reconsideration” is as a request to reopen with new and material evidence (under 38 CFR § 3.156(b)) preserving the effective date of award. I realize that advocates are trying to help veterans get their claims adjudicated as quickly as possible, but I’ve personally seen too many cases where such a request ends with unanticipated and dire results for the claimant.
In short, the proper mechanism for disagreeing with a recent Rating Decision is to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). If you received an unfavorable Rating Decision or are confused about the status of your VA disability compensation or pension claim, please do not hesitate to contact me for a free consultation at sdirector@FRE-L.com or (732) 382-6070.