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Veterans: Get Free Legal Help Appealing VA Denials of Certain Types to Board of Veterans’ Appeals

Released 11/19/15 | Tags: Board of Veterans' Appeals

NVLSP Stands Up New Project to Assist Veterans Appealing Denial of VA Disability Benefits for Mental Health Disorders, Reduction or Termination of VA Disability Benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 19, 2015

WASHINGTON – Veterans who are appealing the denial of certain disability compensation claims to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) can now request free legal help from the Lawyers Serving Warriors Project of the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP).

The Lawyers Serving Warriors project focuses on some of our nation’s most vulnerable veterans – those seeking benefits for mental health conditions who were denied, as well as those facing a reduction or termination of VA disability compensation.

“An attorney can often make a huge difference for a veteran going before the BVA with an appeal,” said Bart Stichman, co-executive director of NVLSP and an attorney specializing in veterans’ law. “Those seeking disability compensation for mental health disorders are carrying unseen wounds of war that often go overlooked but are very real.”

Specifically, the program will assist veterans appealing denials of service connection claims for a mental disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety disorder. It will also help those who are seeking an increased disability rating for a mental disorder but were denied by the VA.

The program will also assist veterans appealing to the BVA who were seeking to restore a disability rating for any service connected disability when the VA has reduced the rating, and appeals to reinstate disability compensation benefits when the VA has terminated them.

Through NVLSP’s popular Lawyers Serving Warriors program, veterans appealing a claim denial to the BVA will be matched up with an attorney, who will assist the veteran in presenting the appeal. Cases will be screened by NVLSP staff and then assigned to VA-accredited volunteer attorneys from law firms around the country. All services are provided to veterans for free.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
1. What types of claims does your program assist with?

The program will provide free legal representation to veterans who appealed to the BVA concerning a VA regional office decision that included at least one of the following types of claims:
• Service connection claims for a mental disorder (such as PTSD, depression, anxiety disorder)
• Increased disability rating claims for a mental disorder (such as PTSD, depression, anxiety disorder)
• Claims to restore a disability rating for any service connected disability for which the VA has reduced a rating.
• Claims to reinstate disability compensation benefits when the VA has terminated benefits

2. Are there any timing issues affecting eligibility for assistance?
Yes.  To be considered for our program, the following requirements must be met:

The veteran’s substantive appeal (VA Form 9) must have been submitted to the VA at least one year before the date you contact us for assistance; AND

The veteran has not: (1) already had a hearing before a Board of Veterans’ Appeal member or judge, or (2) received a letter from a VA regional office indicating that it has completed its actions in the appeal process and that the case is ready for transfer to the BVA. This letter is commonly referred to as a “90-day letter” as the letter indicates that the veteran has 90 days to send the BVA additional evidence or appoint a representative for representation at BVA.

If you are not sure what a substantive appeal (VA Form 9) looks like, please click the following link: Form 9;

If you are not sure what a “90-day letter” looks like, please click the following link: 90 day letter

3. I believe I meet the basic eligibility requirements for the program, how do I request assistance from Lawyers Serving Warriors?

NVLSP will need to obtain your VA claims folder to screen the case for inclusion in the program.  To request assistance, follow these steps:

Download and complete our Privacy Act Waiver so that NVLSP can request your claims file.
Click here to download our Privacy Act Waiver

Send to NVLSP a copy of your substantive appeal (VA Form 9) and State of the Case.

To view a redacted substantive appeal or Statement of the Case, click on the following links:
Substantive Appeal -  Statement of the Case

Complete a request for assistance at the following link: https://nvlsp.wufoo.com/forms/request-for-assistance-bva-appeal/

4. How do I send to NVLSP the three documents requested?
Please send us these documents by one of the following methods:
By email:  Lawyersserving@nvlsp.org
By fax:       202-328-0063
By mail:    NVLSP
                  ATTN: LSW BVA
                  1600 K Street NW, Suite 500
                  Washington, DC 20006-2833

The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is an independent, nonprofit veterans’ service organization that has served active duty military personnel and veterans since 1980. NVLSP strives to ensure that our nation honors its commitment to its 22 million veterans and active duty personnel by ensuring they have the federal benefits they have earned through their service to our country. NVSLP offers training for attorneys and other advocates, connects veterans and active duty personnel with pro bono legal help when seeking disability benefits, publishes the nation's definitive guide on veteran benefits, and represents and litigates for veterans and their families before the VA, military discharge review agencies and federal courts. For more information go to www.nvlsp.org.

Media contact: Ami Neiberger-Miller, 703-887-4877 (this is a contact number for journalists only), ami@steppingstoneLLC.com


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