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Appeal for More Disability Benefits From the VA

What do you do if the VA has denied your claim or you disagree with the rating of compensation given to your disability? You can appeal for more with the help of an Alpha advocate.

Levels of Appeal for Disability Compensation

Decision Review Officer (DRO) Informal Review Process

You have one year from the date of the VA’s rating decision on your claim to appeal that decision. Your Alpha Advocate will analyze your claim and proactively develop a strategy to obtain a higher rating of benefits for you.

Notice of Disagreement (NOD) – The document to initiate the review process

We will prepare a notice of disagreement (NOD) and request that a decision review officer (DRO) reconsider the initial decision and provide a new review of the case.  At this level, the DRO has the authority to reverse the previous decision even if no new evidence is submitted.

The Statement of Case (SOC) – The document from VA if informal DRO denies the case

If the DRO denies the appeal, a Statement of Case (SOC) will be issued that explains the decision. It usually takes, on average, six to eight months from the submittal of the Notice of Disagreement for the DRO to issue an SOC. The statement will provide pertinent regulations to the issues you raised in the NOD and the reasons why your appeal was denied.

Decision Review Officer (DRO) Formal Review Process

If the DRO at the informal review level makes a decision that is not fully favorable, our next step is to “perfect” your case for eventual review at the Board of Veterans Appeals.

The Board of Veterans Appeals may take two to three years before they review a “perfected” appeal. During this interim, Alpha will continue to examine the case to determine if additional development is needed to favorably resolve the case at the local level.  Initiating this process requires the submittal of the VA Form 9.

VA Form 9 – Document to initiate this process

We will submit a substantive appeal, commonly known as the VA Form 9.

  • The VA Form 9 must be submitted to the regional office within 60 days after receiving the SOC, or within a year of the rating decision.
  • The timely submittal of VA Form 9 “perfects” the appeal.
  • A perfected appeal is one that must be presented to the Board of Veterans Appeals unless it is fully granted or withdrawn at the regional office (local level.)
  • By submitting this form, we protect your appeal should we not gain a favorable decision during the formal review process.

On average, the formal DRO review process takes just over a year to complete. During this time we will analyze the SOC to determine what evidence is needed to persuade the DRO to make a more favorable decision. We will advise and assist you wherever possible to obtain this evidence. When considering our overall strategy for your appeal, we may request a personal hearing if we feel it could be beneficial to your case. It takes, on average, eight months for the regional office to arrange a local hearing.

Supplemental Statement of Case (SSOC) – Document from VA if formal DRO denies the case

If the DRO at the formal review decides not to fully grant your appeal, a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) is issued. The SSOC explains the decision that was reached based on any new evidence that was received or testimony obtained during the local hearing.

  • If a local hearing is conducted, or if new and material evidence is received, another DRO will conduct a new review of the appeal and issue a new decision in about a year following the SOC.
  • If the decision is not fully favorable, the DRO will issue a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) that explains the reasons for the decision.
  • This process of review is repeated every time new material evidence is added to the case.
  • An SSOC is also issued again following each review of new evidence.

When it is determined that all possible evidence has been provided and a favorable outcome cannot be reached, the case will be certified for final review by the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA).

Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) Final Review

After you have exhausted all potential remedies for a favorable decision before your local VA regional office, your appeal will be certified to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) for a final review and proper disposition.

At this point in the process, Alpha reviews the entire case again and prepares a written document of supportive legal arguments for presentation to a Veterans Administrative Law Judge (VALJ). We may also request a hearing with the VALJ and state our case in person. It may take a year or more to get a hearing scheduled. On average, it takes three to four months from the hearing date to get a decision from the BVA VALJ. All BVA cases are handled in docket-date order.

It is common for an appeal to take two or three years before it is addressed by the VALJ.

The Judge’s Decision

After the VALJ considers all evidence, legal arguments and your contentions, a decision will be issued to:

  • Grant the claim – The Board instructs the RO to satisfy the claim. It can take three to four months before benefits begin.
  • Remand the claim – The Board returns the case to the regional office (RO) and requests that specific development be completed on the case. After the RO complies, the Board will decide the case. The *Appeals Management Center (AMC) operates in place of the RO to handle remanded appeals.
  • Deny the claim– If the BVA denies the claim you still have options. You can:
    • File a motion for reconsideration
    • File a motion for revision
    • Appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
    • Reopen the claim with the regional office by submitting new evidence

* Appeals Management Center (AMC)

The AMC will complete all the development directives as set forth by the BVA.  Once completed, they will consider the appeal again.  If a fully favorable decision can not be reached, they will issue another SSOC and return the case to the BVA for final disposition where, again, the Board may grant, remand, or deny the claim again.

The advocates at Alpha help you navigate this process should your case get this far in the process.

Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC)

If your claim has been denied by a Veterans Administrative Law Judge (VALJ) you have the option to take your case to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The Court has exclusive jurisdiction to provide reviews of final decisions by the Board of Veterans Appeals. Find out more about the CAVC.  

Win Your Appeal with an Alpha Advocate

At Alpha, we want to see your case granted as soon as possible. Our goal is to develop a strategy to help you win the highest level of compensation possible in the shortest amount of time.

Appeal for more with help from an Alpha advocate.

Note: All representation coordinated by Alpha is provided by our employees, the Advocates, who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). No private organization that trains and employs accredited agents has been legally recognized by the VA for the purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims. This work must be done by the Advocates themselves and not organizations.


25 comments to “Appeal for More Disability Benefits From the VA”

  • isaiah raines, October 12, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    i applied for both service and non-service disability in late 2007. i was denied. i made the appeal of both decisions within the time limitations. i requested an appointment to see what was in my records that gave them the reason to say my claim issues were not documented. i was given an appointment and in my travel to regional office the vehicle became strained and a new appointment was given. the 2nd appointment had to be cancelled due to family death. the local dav rep called and emailed them for a new appointment explaining what had happened. after about 60 days i got a letter indicating that i would be mailed the documents they never came. after 90 days i called and still nothing came. now it’s been over 6 months and i am at a lost and need professional help and support to get my claim reviewed for a favorable decision.

  • Allen Gumpenberger - Alpha Veterans Disability Advocate, October 13, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    You are not alone. Many veterans find it difficult to get action out of the VA. We can assist you with your appeal and with helping you understand what types of evidence will achieve the results you’re looking for. I recommend contacting us so that we can schedule an appointment with one of our advocates as soon as possible.

  • james e sanders, December 18, 2010 at 10:11 am

    i would like for your organization to view my appeal at the amc
    in washington dc. and let me know the outcome.

    thank you
    james sanders

  • Allen Gumpenberger - Alpha Veterans Disability Advocate, December 20, 2010 at 10:11 am


    A member of the Alpha staff will attempt to contact you by your e-mail address. Or click the “Get the Most. Alpha” graphic at the top of this page to submit your information to us so that we help you.

  • Corey Mcnair, January 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    It’s been over a year since I received my decision. Is it still possible to appeal? My condition is, I believe, getting worse. Can I refile the claim?

  • Alpha, January 10, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks for asking. You may appeal if the one-year period hasn’t elapsed from the date stamped on the first page of the decision. If it has expired, you will have to submit a request to “reopen” your claim for a reevaluation with a description of why you feel your condition has worsened. Any written communication to your local VA office asking to reopen your case is acceptable. We can help you appeal for more. In fact, this is what we specialize in doing for our claimants. If you’d like our help, please submit your information on the online form on this page or call us at 877.611.7724.

  • D.E., March 16, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Currently I’m receiving 40% disibility. Had to fight like (blank) to finally get up to that amount but I never gave up. The military gave me no help. I had to track down (myself) all my medical records, jump logs etc. It took some doing. I said all that to say this. I have two service connected injuries. It’s been about three years since I got the 40% rating. One of the injuries is no better and getting worse. For the last three months I’ve been seen and treated by two different civilian doctors for one of these injuries. Missed more work last year because of this injury and the type work I do, than the last couple years combined. I really don’t want to battle the military again unless you feel I have the grounds for more compensation. Reason being is because it took me about four years to get up to 40% and that was with the aid of a senator. However, 50% could open up a lot more benefits through the V.A. for me. What are your thoughts?

  • Alpha, March 16, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    It sounds like you really deserve straight answers on your case. We can try for more but we need to understand the specifics of your case and would welcome the opportunity to talk to you about it. Please call us at 877.611.7724. And thanks for your comment in the Advocacy Fee section. We really appreciate what you said.

  • Laura Dobbins, May 1, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Hello, if I have a claim on DRO appeal right now for Desert Storm related matters, can I file a new claim for Fatigue Syndrom as December 2011 is deadline?

    Or will that alter the appeal?

    Thank you

  • Alpha, May 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Since Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is considered an undiagnosed illness,it’s possible. We would have to know how your current claim in appeal is worded. It would be better to talk to an Alpha advocate who can better advise you.

  • Alan, July 15, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    When I was stationed in Hawaii in 1973 I had an emergency appendectomy. My doctor closed the wound after surgery. Testing showed that my appendix was perforated before surgery and, consequently the wound became re-infected. This was after they had taken the sutures out. I was rushed to an isolation room (not an operating room) and without anesthetic the doctor took a pair of forceps and opened the wound then stuck his finger inside me and broke up the infection (more than two u-tubs full). The wound had to heal from the bottom up with irrigation and gauze packs twice a day. I was never given physical therapy and was in hospital for over a month. I now feel that the muscles in my abdomen never re-attached properly and have pain with lifting, standing for long periods and walking at distance. I have been given a 10% disability rating and still have time from Feb, 2011 to appeal the decision. Do I have a case?

  • Alpha, July 15, 2011 at 5:26 pm


    We strongly suggest contacting us to help you. We could get you an increase. If interested please call us at 877.611.7724.

  • Robert, October 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I was just awarded 10% for degenerative disc disease in my cervical spine. I was first diagnosed with the condition in 1997, requiring surgery at that time. This is all directly service related. I also have both neck and shoulder/arm pain, which, according to my research, should be considered the most seriously affected pateints with cervical disc disease. And I only got 10%. I have pain in my left neck, shoulder, and arm, extending into my little finger at times, with a diagnosis of chronic C6 radioculopathy. I also have chronic lower back pain. I was just examined (ratings exam) last Thursday on my shoulder/arm and back. I’m waiting to see how much they allow me on these other conditions but I believe I deserve more than 10% on the degenerative disc disease. Robert in TN

  • Alpha, October 11, 2011 at 10:52 am

    If you’re dissatisfied with the outcome of your claim, give us a call. Our focus is to help fellow veterans get the most compensation they are entitled to. No one should give up on accepting less than they deserve.

  • H. C., November 28, 2011 at 4:02 am

    I received 10% disability for service related condition of epilepsy. I filed a letter of appeal for an increase in June 2011 because I continue to have minor seizures weekly. I have yet to receive a response. Any suggestions?

  • Alpha, November 28, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Appeals take some time. It can take as long as 12-14 months before getting a response. You could reach out to a congressional office and ask that they look into this, but that generally won’t get your claim moving faster unless you submit evidence of financial hardship such as bankruptcy, terminal illness, or you’re over 75 years of age. One thing you can do to help your case is to document your seizures in a journal and submit your record of occurrences every other month to your VA regional office.

  • Laura Dobbins, January 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Hello, I posted a comment about my appeal through Alpha now going on one year for a DRO review in California but I didn’t get a response and don’t see it posted so will try again: Does your office followup to see where we are in the process, if I file a financial hardship will it stall the process or speed it up, is there anything else I can do at this time?

  • Bruce R. Braun, January 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I was given a 10 % disablitiy rating for my hearing problems and have been receiving the amount of disablity for over 2 years now. However, having jsut gotten another hearing test at the VA, it was determined that I now need hearing iads due to the amount of hearing loss I have now. I am grateful for the hearing aids but would love to get up to the 30 % disability rating for my hearing loss. How do I go about doing this ?? I don’t want to get “greedy” as I know some veterans who are getting a 70% hearing loss rate -

  • Alpha, January 11, 2012 at 11:40 am


    We recommend you fight for your PTSD rating for a higher one. Ten percent for PTSD is a low evaluation for this condition. Please call us toll free at 1-877-611-7724. We can help you get what you deserve.

  • Frank Castillo, January 15, 2012 at 9:59 am

    I arrived in Vietnam during the TET offincive and engaged in heavy fighting and i experienced killing someone. I have a rating of 10 percent PTSD. I have sleep disorders and temper and I have been to VA a number of times for medication,and treatment. I also have skin problems from being exposed to Agent Orange,but the Agent Orange was denied. I try to live my life as best as I can,but sometime a still have deams of Vietnam. There were time I did not want to going on.

  • Alpha, January 16, 2012 at 9:54 am


    It sounds to me like you need assistance in getting the most in your VA benefits. I recommend contacting us and setting up an appointment with one of our advocates. Please call us at 1-877-611-7724. We would like to help.

  • RODNEY, May 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm


  • Alpha, May 30, 2012 at 2:27 pm


    I recommend you call Alpha. We will do our best to get you the most in VA benefits. Call toll free – 877-622-7724. We can help you!

  • Ramiro, October 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I was just given 30% service connected compensation. They approved 2 (Tinnitus / 10% and an in-service shoulder dislocation / 20%) of 4 service connected injuries I had and claimed. My concern is that if I appeal they will reduce or even take back my decision. Can this happen? I can’t afford it for I am disabled (broken back) from a recent out of service injury. Can you help me? Thank you.

  • Alpha, October 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm


    If the evidence shows actual sustained material improvement, then there is a chance of that happening especially if that evaluation has been in effect for less than 5 years. But even then, it is rare and rarer still in combat veterans with PTSD. Give Alpha a call at 877-611-7724, if we feel you should appeal your case, we will take it on for you. Good luck.