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).
My Firm typically requests a DRO Hearing - a Decision Review Officer Hearing - when filing the NOD as well.
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.
It is worth noting that the VA is pushing - HARD - to have NODs filed using their new "form" - VA Form 21-0958. Read my thoughts on this form here. We use the new form - begrudgingly - but are careful to explain every disputable question by using a continuation sheet attached to the new form.
I have seen some VA R
egional 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 or VA Form 21-0958.
By the way, I HATE VA Form 21-4138 - and we stopped using them altogether....here's what we use instead of VA Form 21-4138 for submitting our lay evidence.
There are 2 specific things need to be in the NOD:
1) the Veteran needs to let the VA know that he disagrees with the decision of the VA Regional Office, and
2) 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 lay and medical evidence, consulting with medical experts, securing medical expert opinions, etc.
And the sooner you file the NOD, the quicker you come up in the DRO or BVA hearing "queue".
Word of warning here - don't RUSH filing your NOD just to get in line quicker. Getting a BVA hearing quicker doesn't matter if you didn't take the time to Improve your VA claim.
Every case is different, and so a cookie-cutter approach cannot be applied to Veterans benefit claims.
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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