Mastering the Art of Appealing Your VA Disability Rating

Appealing Your VA Disability Rating

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding your current VA disability rating is crucial.
  • Gathering new evidence can significantly support your appeal.
  • Proper submission of the appeal is essential for a review.
  • Navigating the appeals process requires patience and persistence.
  • Attending the hearing prepared can influence the outcome.
  • Knowing the post-hearing steps ensures continued progress.


When you serve your country, you expect your sacrifices to be honored, including receiving appropriate support and compensation for any disabilities incurred due to your service. However, navigating the Veterans Affairs (VA) system can be challenging, especially when securing a fair disability rating. If you feel that the VA disability rating you have received does not accurately reflect the severity of your medical condition, you may need to file an appeal. This guide is designed to help you understand and navigate the appeals process. It will provide you with step-by-step instructions to assist you in mastering the art of appealing your VA disability rating.

Gathering New Evidence

If you are not satisfied with the rating decision made by the VA for your disability claim, you have the right to know how to appeal VA disability rating. Appealing a VA disability rating decision can be a complex and daunting task. It is crucial to understand the process involved to increase the chances of success. To initiate an appeal, you must file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) within one year of the decision. It will start the appeals process and allow you to present new evidence to support your claim. A successful appeal often hinges upon submitting new and material evidence that should have been considered in the original decision. It includes fresh medical records, doctors’ opinions, and lay statements that can attest to the impact of your conditions on your daily life.

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Submitting Your Appeal

With a solid understanding of your current rating and supporting evidence, it’s time to submit your appeal. There are several paths your appeal can take, including a supplemental claim, higher-level reviews, or direct appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Each avenue involves different procedures and timelines, and it’s vital to choose the one that best suits the specifics of your case.

To commence your appeal, you’ll use VA Form 21-0996 for a supplemental claim or VA Form 20-0995 for a higher-level review. For an appeal directly to the Board, which you may opt for if you require a hearing or wish a judge to review your case, submit using VA Form 10182. As you navigate this process, ensure that all paperwork is filled out accurately and submitted within the deadline indicated on your decision notice – generally one year from the date it was issued.

Navigating the Appeals Process

Patience and persistence are crucial during the appeals process. It may take the VA several months to review your case and decide. During this time, regularly check the status of your appeal and remain alert for any requests from the VA for additional information or evidence.

Keep detailed records of all correspondence and make note of deadlines. A deadline is necessary to avoid the dismissal of your appeal. Maintain open lines of communication with your legal representative or claims agent, and don’t hesitate to contact them with any questions or concerns.

Additionally, staying informed about any policy changes affecting your appeal is essential. The VA occasionally updates its policies and rating criteria, which could influence your case.

Attending the Hearing

If your appeal advances to a hearing, you can present your case personally before a judge. This is an essential time to prepare and ensure you are fully equipped with all the necessary information. To do so, follow these steps: Familiarize yourself with every case detail, including relevant information. Gather all the evidence that supports your claim, and make sure to bring it with you to the hearing.

When you appear in court, be prepared to answer any questions the judge may ask about your disability and how it has affected your life. Being honest and open with the judge is essential, as this will help them better understand your situation.

Hiring an experienced attorney specializing in VA disability law to represent you at the hearing can significantly increase your chances of success. They can effectively present your case, preemptively address potential legal challenges, and advocate on your behalf.

During the hearing, remain focused and articulate. The judge will assess not only your evidence but also your credibility. Honest, straightforward answers will serve you better than overstating or downplaying your situation. After your hearing, it may still take time for a decision to be reached, so patience continues to be necessary post-hearing.

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Post-Hearing Steps

Following your hearing, you must wait for the judge’s decision. This decision will grant, deny, or remand your case for further development. If the judge grants your appeal, you will receive an updated rating decision that reflects this. If your appeal is denied, you can provide additional evidence when filing a new claim or take your case to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. A remanded decision means the judge requires additional information before making a final determination, such as sending your case back to the VA regional office for further development.


Appealing your VA disability rating can be a complex process, but it’s essential if your current rating doesn’t accurately reflect your condition’s severity. Improving your rating appeal outcome requires understanding, gathering evidence, submitting a well-prepared appeal, and navigating the process patiently. Knowing what to expect from hearings and post-hearing steps can also increase your chances of success. More importantly, remember that you’re entitled to these benefits, and advocating for your rights is a just and necessary endeavor.