Tennessee is home to a number of United States Armed Forces veterans, and the Housing Assistance Council reports that the 431,274 veterans in Tennessee represent 8.3 percent of Tennessee’s adult population. Knoxville and Knox County are home to a large amount of veterans, and any veteran needing help obtaining veterans benefits should work with a Knoxville veterans benefits lawyer.
The United States Census Bureau reported in November 2021 that 46.7 percent of veterans received some sort of military service-related cash or non-cash benefit in 2017, with about 3.9 million veterans (19.5 percent) receiving disability compensation payments. There are still many veterans who suffered injuries that do not have VA disability ratings.
You can begin a VA disability claim from any location in the world, regardless of where you served, by using the VA website to apply or seeking the help of a local Veterans Service Organization (VSO). You usually begin by completing VA Form 21-526EZ or applying online through the VA eBenefits portal.
You may need to submit additional forms based on your particular circumstances. Other relevant forms might include VA Form 21-0781 or 21-0781a for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and VA Form 21-8940 and 21-4192 for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU).
After you complete these forms, you can submit them to the VA. Initial claims typically take many months to process, but they could be expedited for reasons that might include terminal illness, veterans who are 75 years of age or older, homelessness, or financial hardship.
It is important to start your claim as soon as possible so you can set an early effective date. An effective date will be important because it will remain in place regardless of how long it takes to fully adjudicate a claim, and the process has the potential to last several years in some cases, depending on the individual claims.
The relevance will be that a veteran can receive back pay at the monthly rate they are entitled to for every month that passes since their effective date. An effective date may be lost when you do not pursue appeals for your claims.
This means that if you have 90 days to file a VAF-9 but miss the deadline, you could have to reopen a claim and thus get a new effective date. A common reason that veterans will fight hard to appeal VA decisions is to maintain an effective date and ensure they receive the compensation they need for their disabilities.
Every individual disability claim has its own effective date based on when you first submit a claim, so an early effective date for a claim based on one condition will not apply to an initial claim for another condition submitted years later.
The VA will not always make the correct decision for a veteran’s initial claim. When an initial claim results in denial, a rating that is too low, or involves an improper effective date, the veteran will have the right to appeal.
Separate avenues exist for appealing depending on the type of mistake you believe the VA made. The appeals process can be lengthy, but preserving your effective date by keeping appeals open can entitle you to back pay for the entirety of the process.
One type of appeal is the Notice of Disagreement (NOD), which is usually due within one year of a rating decision and notifies the VA that you disagree with its decision. NODs can be complex and often require you to submit many pages of supporting material.
The Regional Office will respond to a NOD with a Statement of Case (SOC), which outlines the case and will be sent to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). The BVA reviews the materials to make a determination.
When you think that the BVA made an incorrect ruling, the next step will be to appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). Tennessee is served by a number of veterans facilities.
The country is divided into 18 Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs), and VISN 9, or the VA MidSouth Healthcare Network in Nashville, serves Tennessee as well as parts of Kentucky, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
If you need help appealing a veterans benefits claim in Tennessee, make sure you retain legal counsel. The Comerford Law Office, LLC helps veterans in the greater Knoxville area and all over Tennessee.
Our firm understands the challenges involved in living with a disability and will be able to work to get you the compensation you need to get by. Call us or contact us online to arrange a free consultation so we can dig into the details of your case and explain to you what you might be able to do moving forward.