Why the VALOR Firm?
VALOR stands for Veterans Appeals and Legal Outreach Resource. We also like to think it's somewhat descriptive of our client base.
I just received a Notice of Decision from the VA and I didn't get the rating I wanted - what do I do?
File a Notice of Disagreement! You have one year to file a Notice of Disagreement which preserves your opportunity to appeal the decision rating. If you wait longer than a year to file your NOD, you will likely have to refile your claim and be subject to a later effective date. You must file the VA Form 21-0958 - the VA will not accept any other format (letter, email, etc.).
What should I say in the Notice of Disagreement?
The VA's Form requires the veteran to identify each specific issue of disagreement and the area of disagreement. Only those issues identified by the veteran on the Form will be considered on appeal. So be a little general, make sure you cover everything you don't like about the VA's decision, and when in doubt, write it down.
What should I expect after filing the Notice of Disagreement?
You should receive a letter offering review of the Regional Office decision by a Decision Review Officer. This review is not required to maintain your appeal, but if you think the VA made an obvious mistake (missed a date, failed to include a particular doctor's opinion in its review, etc.) this is a way to resolve the issue quicker than going through the formal substantive appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals.
Whether you opt for review by a Decision Review Officer or not, you will eventually receive from the VA a Statement of the Case. Once you receive this Statement of the Case, you can file your appeal using VA Form 9. The VA's Statement of the Case will tell you you have 60 days to file your appeal, but you can (and probably will need to) ask for an extension of time in which to develop your evidence and also gather all the records the VA used to make its decision.
What do I need to appeal?
You're allowed to submit any evidence, including evidence gathered or developed after the VA decided your claim, to support your appeal. You should also request from the VA your Claims File, also referred to as the C-File. This is the record which the VA relied upon to make its decision, so you want to be looking at the same information so you can dispute their conclusions. You can schedule an appointment by calling the VA's hotline - (800) 827-1000 - to view a copy of your C-File. You should review the entire file to make sure it's complete and that there are no records in your file that belong to someone else. After viewing the file and correcting any mistakes you should request a hard copy of the C-File.
If you are having difficulties obtaining a copy of your C-File, we may be able to help. The VA extends special access to VA-Accredited attorneys (which we are) to view claims information directly on their system.
You're in New Orleans and Miami; I'm in Ohio - can you represent me?
YES! We represent veterans nationwide and all over the world against the VA. We are each VA-accredited and members of our respective states' bar. We are not required to be licensed as an attorney in your state to handle your claims appeal.