A few months ago, I blogged about the use of a “request for reconsideration” before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office/Agency of Original Jurisdiction. Based upon my review of a recent VA Claim file it is worth repeating again . . . the notion of reconsideration at the Regional Office level simply does not exist in statute or regulation.
A “request for reconsideration” at the Regional Office will simply be considered a new claim for compensation (most commonly a request to reopen). Even if filed during the one year time frame to file a Notice of Disagreement in relation to a prior Rating Decision, the VA will still consider a “request for reconsideration” as a new claim for compensation. Under 38 C.F.R. § 3.156(b), if “new and material” evidence is submitted along with the “request for reconsideration” the veteran may be able to preserve the effective date of award from the prior Rating Decision. Too often, however, the Regional Office either does not consider the submitted evidence as “new and material” or fails to associate those documents with a prior claim. Hence, many veterans lose years of retroactive back benefits despite their earnest belief that their original claim is still pending.
The structure of the VA appellate process is relatively straightforward, as we detailed in an article published last summer at http://www.finkrosner.com/articles/va-appeal-process.html. The proper mechanism for disagreeing with a Rating Decision is to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) within one year of receiving that decision.
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.