This article covers the VA disability appeal success rate and the VA disability appeal denial rate. We’ll explain some helpful tips to increase your chances of a successful VA disability appeal.
If you have more questions after reading the article below, reach out to Woods & Woods for help. We never charge for VA disability appeal consultations. Click here to get assistance now.
VA Disability Appeal Success Rate Statistics
The numbers below come from the VA’s 2017 annual report. You may notice that the BVA approval and denial rates do not equal 100%. That is because the rest of claims are remanded for further consideration, which is explained in the next section. Many VA disability appeals are approved after the BVA remands the claim.
VA Disability Appeals Approved at the BVA
- 39.49% approved with attorney
- 27.89% approved with VFW representative
- 27.26% approved with DAV representative
- 26.10% approved with AMVETS representative
- 24.42% approved wth no representative
VA Disability Appeals Denied at the BVA
- 13.79% denied with attorney
- 22.05% denied with VFW representative
- 23.40% denied with DAV representative
- 26.47% denied with AMVETS representative
- 27.05% denied with no representative
BVA Remands Explained
The Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) has the option to remand your claim. That means your claim will go back to the VA Regional Office (VARO). A remand happens for several different reasons. First, if there was a change in law, your claim may be remanded for reconsideration under the new law.
The second reason many VA disability appeals are remanded is the veteran’s disability worsened on appeal. In other words, the veteran’s conditions have worsened since the application or appeal was filed.
The third reason for a BVA remand is the veteran introduces new evidence or theory of entitlement to the BVA. This happens to a very large number of VA disability appeals because lots of new evidence is generally submitted on an appeal.
The final reason the BVA may remand a VA disability appeal is if the VARO did not process the claim correctly. This scenario also happens a lot. I’m sure that surprises you that the VA makes mistakes when processing claims.
Tips to Increase Your VA Disability Appeal Success Rate
- Use Doctors Reports: You can drastically improve your VA disability appeal success rate by using relevant medical evidence and reports from medical professionals. Veterans should use reports from vocational experts, doctors, and psychologists. One reason our VA benefits appeals lawyers have been so successful is because we almost always use medical reports. Too often veterans believe their C-File contains all the evidence they’ll need. Unfortunately, your C-File may be missing records. Other time the VA denies a condition because the C-file did not link the condition to service. You can use medical reports to link conditions to your time in the service.
- Focus on Your Central Arguments: Too often we see veterans throw everything at the VA and hope something will stick. That is not the best strategy. Think like a veterans disability benefits lawyer. Have a main argument in your appeal and keep hammering at your main point. Remember, you want to argue why a condition is service-connected and explain the severity of your condition.
- Service-Connect Secondary Conditions: The more service-connected disabilities you have, the more likely you are to obtain a higher rating. One great way to increase the number of disabilities you are compensated for is to secondarily service-connect conditions. For example, if you were exposed to Agent Orange and you have diabetes, your condition should be presumed service-connected. But what about conditions that are caused by diabetes and diabetes medication? Those conditions can be considered service-connected as well. These medical conditions are called secondary service-connected disabilities and they are compensable by the VA.
- Forget the VA’s Duty to Assist: The VA has a duty to assist veterans with their VA disability compensation claims. You might as well go ahead and forget that law exists – the VA does a bad job of assisting claimants. Do not rely on the VA for help, correct information, or assistance with your claim.
- Use Case Law: The VA disability appeal success rate may increase for well-thought out briefs that cite legal precedent. This is where VA appeals get tricky for veterans and non-lawyers, legal researching is an art and it’s not always easy to find what you are looking for. However, you can do some homework on your own. Click here to search U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans (CAVC) decisions.
Things That Will Not Improve Your VA Disability Appeal Success Rate
- Being the Squeaky Wheel: You can attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Being mean, rude, and yelling at VA employees will not improve your VA disability appeal success rate. Remember, the VA employees are over-worked and aren’t given the resources to do their jobs. Be kind to the VA employees, most of them actually do want to help you!
- Letters From Members of Congress: Letters from Members of Congress won’t improve your VA disability appeal success rate. Sorry. Your claim is going to be decided upon its merits, not by letters from Members of Congress.
- Using Irrelevant Evidence: Don’t give the VA every medical record you can find. Give them the medical records they need for your conditions. Suppose you are solely filing for schizoaffective disorder benefits, you don’t need to also submit records that show you stubbed your toe in basic training. The two are unrelated.
- Taking Advice From Friends: Unless your friend is a highly-skilled VA disability lawyer, you might not want to take their advice to help your VA disability appeal success rate. We have heard some pretty crazy rumors about getting VA benefits from veterans over the years. Some of the rumors clients have told us are potentially devastating actions to take for your claim.
VA Disability Appeal Success Rate for Lawyers
Ethics rules prevent Woods & Woods from releasing our firm’s VA disability appeal success rate. The ethics rules feel as though releasing our VA disability appeal success rate would create an unreasonable expectation for potential clients. For example, suppose a law firm advertised “we win 99% of VA disability claims!” The ethics rules believe that statement would lead a potential client to believe they have a 99% chance of winning their claim after hiring a VA disability compensation lawyer. You can see how allowing law firms to release their VA disability appeal success rate would create unreasonable expectations for potential clients.
If a VA disability lawyer tells you their win rate, they could be breaking ethics rules. That should be a red flag that maybe this lawyer isn’t to be trusted. You want a VA-accredited disability lawyer that is ethical and honest with you.
FAQ: VA Disability Appeal Success Rate & Denial Rates
How long is my VA disability appeal going to take?
According to the VA, it could take 5 to 7 years to get a decision from a Veterans Law Judge (VLJ).
How likely am I to win my VA disability appeal?
Your chances of winning a VA appeal are solely based upon the number of conditions you have, their severity, and the strength of your argument.
What if I let my VA disability appeal period end?
Veterans that let their VA disability appeal period end can file a new claim and start the application process over. While this isn’t the fastest route to VA disability benefits, you still have options if your appeal period ended.
What should I do if I can’t work?
Veterans that can’t work from service-connected impairments might want to consider trying to obtain Total Disability Individual Unemployability benefits. These benefits are specifically designed for veterans that can’t work from service-connected disabilities.
Can I get TDIU and SSDI benefits?
Veterans that can’t work might be eligible to receive both TDIU and SSDI benefits at the same time. You can apply for both benefits at the same time. One benefit may be approved before the other, giving you assistance while you can’t work.
What if I can’t work from severe PTSD?
Veterans with PTSD and other mental conditions may be eligible to also receive TDIU benefits. VA TDIU ratings for PTSD do not require veterans to obtain a 100% rating, but TDIU benefits pay the same as a 100% rating.
Get Help With Your VA Disability Appeal
Since 1985, Woods & Woods has fought for injured and disabled clients nationwide. Our VA disability denial lawyers have successfully overturned thousands of bad VA decisions. We offer free legal consultations to any veteran that needs help. There is never a fee to get help with your application. Our VA disability appeal lawyers only charge a fee if your appeal is successful. If you do not win your appeal, you owe us nothing. Have more questions? Give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.