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McRay

Appeal Information??

Question

First post here. 

I have just won 3 appeals that I filed, according to vets.gov website. My first claim was submitted in 1978. According to the website, my appeal was granted for PTSD and 2 other conditions on Sept. 10th. I didn't realize this at first because I kept checking on the ebenefits website and all it said was appeal complete. Then a pop-up appeared to try the new website and I saw that my 3 appeals had been granted and for which issues. However, that was Sept. 10, and I still haven't gotten anything in writing. I've had my atty check and they can't seem to find out anything either. I called the Regional number listed on vets.gov and I did find out is that my granted, closed appeal was brokered out to an office in West VA and that there's another appeal for service connection for PTSD, filed less that 30 days later in Salt Lake City? I don't understand why there are two appeals for PTSD listed, it seems like needless duplication that I'm sure will slow down my claim. Anyone else had a situation like this? Any idea of time frame? I would like this to settle quickly, obviously for back monetary benefits but also because I'm having to travel a long ways to get care at a VA hospital. When I question the atty's office, they're positive and tell me the longer it takes to get the decision, the better off I may be.

Thanks!

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 "According to my copy of the NOD, he is also requesting an SOC and will be submitting more info as to why the percentage and effective date are in error.."

Didnt they send a SOC with the decision?

"I've been told this is an exceptionally good law firm and having paid them a substantial amount so far, I will probably take their advice. Or not."

Yes they have helped Many vets but why have you paid them a substantial amount so far?

I assume you mean this was a contingency fee, due to the awards from the VA, that a NOD had already been filed on.

 

This is part of a good article by Jim Strickland, VA Watchdog-

 

"When do you call a lawyer?
To hire or "retain" an attorney to guide you through a VA disability benefits appeal, you must first  have a denial of an application that you submitted. The lawyer usually can't help you before that  happens. About 70% of original claims are denied. It's very likely you'll have something denied so  you can start thinking about an attorney now. 

Hiring a lawyer isn't difficult.  The first thing you need to know is that you probably won't find a lawyer who is local to you. Veterans law attorneys work at the federal level so as long as they are certified by VA to represent veterans, you can choose a lawyer who lives anywhere else away from you. You may never meet your lawyer face to face. He or she will do all the work for you by mail, electronic mail and filings and on the phone. 

There isn't much hand holding to be done in VA cases, the evidence and the law will take care of itself with your lawyer guiding things. To find the lawyer who is right for you will require that you pick up the phone or send some emails. The attorneys who are featured on this web site are known  to be reliable and committed to winning for veterans. I urge you to talk to at least 2 or 3 prior to signing up with any attorney. 

Look for an attorney who is prompt in getting back to you to discuss your case. If you are shuffled from one "paralegal" to the next and you aren't able to speak with the lawyer, move on to someone else. The lawyer should seem interested in your case and spend enough time with you that you believe that he or she understands all the issues. If you are rushed or if the conversation is interrupted by other calls or people barging into their office, you'll want to move on to the next person on your list. 

Next up...the expense of hiring a lawyer. I hear it a lot, "Jim. I don't have any money. I can't afford a lawyer!" 

You're about to be pleasantly surprised when I tell you that even if you're dead broke, you can afford a great lawyer."

"Attorney Fees
The most common type of fee is the percentage or contingency fee, which is the most favorable fee structure for most veterans in most veterans benefits cases.  This is because the attorney is only paid if (1) an award is made and (2) there is an amount owed to the veteran at the time of the award.  

The attorney is then paid a percentage (usually between 20% and 33%) of the amount owed to the veteran when an award is approved.  This amount, also known as a “retroactive” award, is the amount of due to the veteran from the effective date of the award up to the date of the award.  

If the award was made following an appeal to the Board and the effective date is the date the claim was originally filed (as it is in most cases), the retroactive amount could be 3 or 4 years of benefits.  If the case goes up to the Veterans Court and back, the retroactive period could be ten years or more. 

As an example, assume a veteran filed a claim on January 1, 2004, and enters into a 20% contingency fee agreement with an attorney.  On January 1, 2008, the veteran is awarded a 100% disability rating.  The retroactive amount is the 100% monthly payment for the period between January 1, 2004, and January 1, 2008 (four years), which is approximately $120,000 at current rates. 
The attorney’s fee would be 20% of the $120,000 or $24,000."

 

https://www.vawatchdog.org/how-to-hire-a-veterans-law-attorney.html

 

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<<Didnt they send a SOC with the decision?>>

Yes they did.

This is from my current NOD on amount and effective date:  "... elects traditional appeal process and requests a statement of the case be issued concerning his appeal...." Perhaps that is normal 'legalese' -- I don't really know.

After my original claim was turned down, in 2016, I signed an agreement with the previously mentioned law firm, at the suggestion of the VSO handling my claim. I received a settlement when my claim was granted this fall and yes, there was a NOD filed after signing with the firm, so they were paid a contingency fee. I did enter into a higher percentage fee agreement with them than the 20% mentioned in the article above, though. I didn't do any research into hiring an atty, in hindsight, I would have probably gone with the same people, but I would have negotiated for a 20% contingency fee and would probably have talked to at least 3 firms before selecting one.

I do think it's necessary to have an atty once a claim has been denied and it would probably help to have an atty look over the initial claim, although I only know of one Vet Law atty who does this. I might have saved some time if I'd had all my ducks in a row when I filed the initial claim, but that is just 'guessing'.

I actually got this website from a link on my atty's webpage. Ironic, huh?

Edited by McRay
added more text

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