When a Veteran files a claim for disability compensation (and most other veterans benefits) and is denied those benefits by the VA, the Veteran's typically files a Notice of Disagreement (NOD).
The purpose of the NOD is for a Veteran tell the VA that he or she disagrees with the Ratings Decision on the Veteran's claim for disability benefits or other compensation.
Here is the statutory definition of a NOD, from 38 C.F.R. § 20.201:
"A written communication from a claimant or his or her representative expressing dissatisfaction or disagreement with an adjudicative determination by the agency of original jurisdiction and a desire to contest the result will constitute a Notice of Disagreement. While special wording is not required, the Notice of Disagreement must be in terms which can be reasonably construed as disagreement with that determination and a desire for appellate review. If the agency of original jurisdiction gave notice that adjudicative determinations were made on several issues at the same time, the specific determinations with which the claimant disagrees must be identified. For example, if service connection was denied for two disabilities and the claimant wishes to appeal the denial of service connection with respect to only one of the disabilities, the Notice of Disagreement must make that clear."
Though the Notice of Disagreement (NOD) can be filed on any form - at least until December 31, 2013 - it is most commonly filed on the VA Form 21-4138.
If you use something other than VA Form 21-4138 it is highly recommended that you write "Notice of Disagreement" in large, bold, black letters over the top of your letter to the VA.
I have seen some VA Regional Offices (VAROs) accept a NOD written on the back of an envelope, and I have seen other VA Regional Offices (VARO) refuse to accept a NOD unless it is written on VA Form 21-4138.
There are 2 specific things need to be in the NOD: the Veteran needs to let the VA know that he disagrees with the decision of the VA Regional Office, and the Veteran needs to know that he intends to appeal the decision.
I have found it helpful for the Veteran to identify what part(s) of the Ratings Decision he or she disagrees with and why, as a more thorough and well written NOD can affect the outcome of the DRO Conference.
The Veteran has one (1) year from the date of the Ratings Decision Letter to file the Notice of Disagreement (NOD).
There are some reasons why you would want to file a NOD earlier than that one year deadline, and there are some reasons that you would want to wait.
One reason to wait is to hold out for the possibility of a change in the law (only if it is clear that your case will likely continue to be denied by the BVA).
Another reason to wait is to give the Veteran time to factually develop the case by finding additional evidence, consulting with medical experts, securing medical expert opinions, etc. Every case is different, and so a cookie-cutter approach cannot be applied to Veterans benefit claims.
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Chris Attig, an Accredited Veterans Benefits attorney and Founder of the Attig Law Firm, PLLC is responsible for the content of the site. The principal office of Attig Law Firm, PLLC, is located in Dallas, Texas. Chris Attig is NOT Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. - Please view our website disclaimer.
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