10 Common (And Costly!) Mistakes In Board Decisions

If you filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims you made a wise decision. Published statistics from the last decade suggest that the Court remanded or reversed close to 60 percent of final Board decisions. However, when analyzing a case on appeal at the Court […]

10 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Veterans Disability Lawyer

If you or a loved one has a service-connected disability and your claim has been denied, working with a disabled veteran lawyer can be highly beneficial. Informed legal advocacy for your VA disability appeal can mean the difference between a reversal of the denial and receipt of the full benefits […]

11 Secrets For A Winning VA Disability Case

SECRET #1: Recognize the problem (disability) when it arises. If you are like most veterans, you muster out of the service when you are relatively young. You are anxious to get out and the last thing you feel like doing is complaining about any medical conditions. You don’t want to […]

7 Costly Mistakes To Avoid When Filing For Veterans Disability Benefits

MISTAKE #1: Failing to learn how the Department of Veterans Affairs decides whether to give you benefits. Many veterans think they simply fill out forms – send them in – and wait for their check. But the bureaucracy involved with getting your disability claim approved is much more complicated. The […]

7 Secrets To Getting A Good Private Medical Opinion

SECRET #1: Supply a copy of your claims file to the private doctor. We recommend that you organize it and put sticky notes or tabs on the relevant documents to make the doctor’s review easier. SECRET #2: Provide a factual summary to the doctor. Make sure you provide facts that […]

7 Secrets to Winning VA Claims

Andover, NJ – Two days ago I received another familiar call.  It was a veteran at his wits end over the way the VA has repeatedly denied him.  “I’m tired of fighting this on my own”, he said.  “I cannot understand why they keep denying me.  I know this happened […]

Aggressive Case Development

To protect her privacy, we will call her Mrs. X. Mrs. X was married to a veteran of the Korean Conflict. The stress of the veteran’s service resulted in the development of a peptic ulcer. In the years following service his ulcer condition waxed and waned in severity. At times […]

Appealing the Denial of Benefits

A Note About the Time Involved to Appeal a VA Denial The VA appeals process is lengthy. According to the fiscal year 2011 Annual Report of the Chairman, Board of Veterans’ Appeals, the average claimant waits 883 days from the time he files a Substantive Appeal until a final BVA […]

Appealing to the CAVC

Over the past decade, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (“CAVC”) has remanded or reversed, at least in part, more than 70 percent of cases that it adjudicated on the merits. See CAVC Jurisdiction Under 38 U.S.C. § 7252(a) the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims […]

Basic Practice and Procedure Before the CAVC

Commencement of the Appeal – The Filing of the Notice of Appeal and Notice of Appearance The first step in the appellate process before the CAVC is to file the Notice of Appeal within the 120-day time frame. The contents of the Notice of Appeal were discussed in our previous […]

Can You Obtain a Medical Report From a VA Treating Doctor?

From about 1998 until 2005 VA treating doctors were permitted to express opinions concerning the disabilities of their veteran patients. Recently, VA changed its policy to allow its doctors only to make statements about a veteran’s current medical condition or functional capacity. However, you can still ask for an opinion […]

Claims to Reopen

It is very common for veterans to try to obtain service connection for many years. Frequently, they will file claims, get denied, and then re-file a few years later. Sometimes the process of filing, getting denied, and re-filing can go on for decades. Many veterans make the mistake of re-filing […]

Clear and Unmistakable Error Claims

Clear and unmistakable error (referred to as CUE) involves a situation where the correct facts as they were known at the time were not before the VA or the law and regulations in effect at the time of the VA’s decision were not applied correctly. If you are challenging a […]

Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC)

…provides tax-free monthly payments to eligible retired veterans with combat-related injuries. With CRSC, veterans can receive both their full military retirement pay and their VA disability compensation if the injury is combat-related.
 Eligibility: To apply for CRSC, retired veterans with combat-related injuries must meet all of the following criteria: Active […]

Common VA Mistakes With PTSD and Mental Disability Cases

In a PTSD case where a veteran claims that a stressor happened in service, the stressor will generally have to be verified. (There are exceptions to this rule). The VA will frequently: 1. Deny the claim on the grounds that the stressor is not verified and that the veteran did […]

Consumer Guide to Hiring An Attorney

“What’s The History of Attorney Representation of Veterans?” Historically, the federal government has discouraged attorneys from representing veterans on VA claims. As far back as 1862 Congress limited attorney fees to just $5. This limitation was raised to $10 in 1864. Congress wanted to keep the VA claims process from […]

Download VA Forms

On this site you will find the most frequently used VA Forms. You are free to download the forms as needed. If you want to file a claim for VA benefits, then you will find the forms to get started here. If the VA recently denied your claim for disability […]

Downloadable Resources

2012 BVA Annual Report (1,649K) Noise and Military Service IOM Study (3,137K) DoD Compensation and Benefits Handbook (804K) Obtaining Disability Compensation for Disabled Veterans. (2,537K)

Elements of Service Connection

All Possible Theories for Qualifying Must Be Considered Individuals claiming veteran, dependent, or survivor status are always entitled to the benefit of the doubt when attempting to prove their status. This means that if there is “an approximate” balance of positive and negative evidence” on the issue than the issue […]

Everything You Need to Know About the Notice of Disagreement (“NOD”)

ALL ABOUT THE NOTICE OF DISAGREEMENT                For any disabled veteran seeking VA disability benefits, the first step in the appeals process, once a claimant receives an adverse decision, is to file a Notice of Disagreement (“NOD”).  The filing of an NOD is required to begin the appeal process.  […]


Who is considered a veteran? A veteran is anyone who served full-time in the active military, naval or air services, including the Coast Guard – and who was discharged or released from the service in all conditions other than dishonorable. What benefits are available to disabled veterans? Veterans have a […]

Good News for Veterans Trying to Reopen Their Claims

Andover, NJ – In November 2010 the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims decided the case of Shade v. Shinseki, 24 Vet. App. 110 (2010). In our opinion, this is a pro-veteran decision that warrants emphasis. The regulation pertaining to reopening claims is 38 C.F.R. § 3.156(a). This regulation […]

Guide to VA Abbreviations

RO (Regional Office) – Your local veteran affairs office. NOD (Notice of Disagreement) – What you file when the regional office denies your disability claim. SOC (Statement of the Case) – What the VA regional office sends back to you if they disagree with your NOD. This is usually a […]

How do you choose which cases to accept?

For a number of reasons, we don’t accept every veteran’s case. Some cases have no viable basis and those should not, in good faith, be pursued. The cases we do accept vary, but they share some things in common. You and your situation are the most important thing. We base […]

How Long Does It Take to Appeal a Denial

The VA appeals process is lengthy.  According to the fiscal year 2011 Annual Report of the Chairman, Board of Veterans’ Appeals, the average claimant waits 825 days from the time he files a Substantive Appeal until a final BVA decision.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reported it could take […]

How to Collect Evidence to Support Your Claim

Obtaining the evidence you need to analyze and develop your claim can be challenging. However, part of a winning strategy involves laying the ground work by first obtaining all available evidence. You should obtain not only your claims file, but any relevant Social Security records and medical records from private […]

How To Conduct Your Own Medical Research To Support Your Claim

The VA regulations allow you to support your claim with medical articles. You should undertake basic medical research to obtain articles in support of your medical theory and to inform yourself of the basic medical issues concerning your disability. We recommend several resources to consult in your medical research: Online […]

How to Discredit an Unfavorable VA Exam

Nothing is more frustrating than a VA compensation and pension (“C&P”) exam report that wrongly concludes service connection is not warranted. And most of VA’s denials are based on these VA exam reports. Therefore, having several techniques for discrediting a VA doctor is a necessary part of a veteran’s strategic […]

How to Make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request

The FOIA can be very helpful in obtaining documents from government agencies, such as the VA.  For information on making a FOIA request, we recommend going to the VA’s website at; You should also be aware that VA has a new electronic FOIA program.

How to Obtain a Private Medical Expert Report

Obtaining a private expert report can be challenging. The challenge is made worse if you have no money. If you have a private physician you may be able to obtain a report from him for little or no extra cost. However, most treating doctors are unfamiliar with the VA claim […]

How to Re-Open a Claim That Has Been Denied

New York, NY – The New York Times recently published an article about VA employees at the Columbia, SC Regional Office protesting their working conditions. The employees were protesting their inability to efficiently assist veterans due to the backlog of cases and complicated procedures. The article touched on some of […]

How to Request Your Military Records

The National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri is the location that stores military records.  Unfortunately, in 1973 a fire destroyed many records located at this facility.  You can obtain copies of your military records by submitting Standard Form 180.  You can download this form from the internet at […]

How to Research Veterans Law

Title 38 of the U.S. Code governs entitlement to VA benefits.  Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) spells out how VA interprets the U.S. Code that is binding on the regional office and the Board. The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims is a separate federal […]

How to Use Prior Board Decisions

Board decisions cannot be used as precedent. This means that just because the Board ruled in favor of another veteran in a different case does not mean that the Board is required to rule that way in your case. Here’s a breakdown of the law concerning these issues. The relevant […]

New or Original Claims

The VA must decide new claims on the merits. The “duty to assist” provision apply. What makes a claim new? The basic rule is for each different type of injury, disease, or disability that is the subject of a request for benefits is a new claim even if the symptoms […]

Strategies for a Winning Disability Claim

I received a letter recently from a client expressing his gratitude for helping him finally win service-connection VA disability benefits. He had been trying for 56 years to obtain benefits. Just several weeks ago I helped a veteran win past due benefits of almost $400,000. He had been fighting VA […]

The Board Denied My Claim. Now What Do I Do?

“Why do I need a lawyer now?” Up until now, you made your disability claim inside the Veteran Affairs system. You’ve sent your claim to your regional office. They denied it. You’ve sent your claim to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. They also denied it. NOW… you’re appealing your claim […]

The Board Granted Service Connection… What Happens Next?

Just the other day I received an email from an old client–a veteran I helped at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. We were successful in getting his claim remanded back to the Board. Fortunately for him, the work we did at the Court helped persuade the Board […]

The BVA Hearing Process

Most claimants request a Travel Board hearing when they file their Form 9, but can request it at any time after the Form 9 is filed and through the end of the 90-day period that begins when the case is transferred to the BVA. The claimant will receive a letter […]

The Decision Review Officer Process

Once the NOD is filed, a claimant may request that his rating decision be reviewed by a senior VA employee known as a Decision Review Officer, or DRO. The review of a DRO is de novo. It is important to remember that the DRO process is optional and is available […]

The Fundamentals of Service Connection

Obtaining Disability Compensation for Disabled Veterans For more than 20 years, Stone Mountain, Ga., resident Lamar Johnson sought back pay for the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered while serving in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. “In 1975, I started having nightmares and waking up in a cold sweat,” Johnson […]

The Substantive Appeal (VA Form 9)

The Substantive Appeal or VA Form 9 must be filed within 60 days of the date of the mailing of the SOC or within the remainder of the one-year period from the mailing of the notice of the rating decision, whichever is later. See attached sample form. The purpose of […]

The Top 7 Reasons Why VA Rejects Private Medical Opinions

REJECTION REASON #1: The private doctor relied only on the veteran’s statements concerning his medical history. REJECTION REASON #2: The private doctor’s opinion is uninformed and not based on a review of the complete claims file. REJECTION REASON #3: The private doctor failed to provide reasons to support his conclusion. […]

The VA Appeals Process

The VA appeals process can be lengthy. In other articles on this website we have discussed the statistics regarding how long it takes for an appeal to resolve. Although the VA appeals process can be lengthy and frustrating, there are strategies that you can employ that can reduce the risk […]

Time Deadlines for U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Cases

You will receive a Notice of Docketing shortly after filing an appeal with the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Obtain the date of the Notice of Docketing. Calculate 60 calendar days from the Notice of Docketing for when the Record Before the Agency (“RBA”) is due. From the time […]

Traumatic Brain Injury

Many TBI’s involve injury to the frontal lobe of the brain, which is the primary part of the brain involved in acts of judgment, oversight, conscience, decision-making, and cause-to-effect reasoning. Alcohol is known to suppress frontal lobe function (as seen by reduced inhibitions), an effect also seen with a number […]

Understanding the Initial Regional Office Decision

Notice The VA is required to notify the claimant and his representative in writing of any adverse decision. The VA is required to include in its notice: The reasons for the denial A summary of the evidence considered Notice of the claimant’s appellate rights. Usually, the notice will be a […]

VA Disability Claims

An Essential Guide for U.S. Veterans VA Appeals attorney Eric Gang wrote this guide as a free resource for veterans with no cost or obligation. This is your playbook to win and maximize VA disability benefits, even if your claim has been denied. A go-to users manual for veterans seeking […]

VA Law Info Links

The publishers of both the US Code Annotated (Thomson-West) and the US Code Service (Lexis-Nexis) will be delighted to sell you the volumes of their multivolume annotated editions of 38 USC (the USCA version includes a volume of an annotated portion of 38 CFR), with the annual pocket parts. Similarly, […]

VA’s Duty to Assist

VA has an obligation under the law to make reasonable efforts to assist a veteran or a claimant in obtaining evidence necessary to win his claim. VA must comply with this obligation before it can deny your claim. There are several types of records that VA is required to obtain. […]

Veterans Disability Law, An Overview

Disability Compensation Disability compensation is money paid to veterans who are disabled by injury or disease incurred or aggravated during active military service. These disabilities are considered to be service-connected. Disability compensation varies with the degree of disability and the number of dependents, and is paid monthly. Veterans with certain […]

What About Attorney Fees for Representation at CAVC?

Congress enacted the Equal Access to Justice Act in 1980. The attorneys often refer to this law simply as the EAJA. This law applies to cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran’s claims. This law levels the playing field and gives ordinary citizens easier access to the courts […]

What Decisions Can Be Appealed?

Any claimant for benefits administered by VA has a right to appeal adverse decisions by the agency. See 38 U.S.C. § 7104. In general, the following types of claims are appealable: Compensation benefits Pension benefits Medical care eligibility Medical expense reimbursement Waiver of recovery of overpayment Exceptions: The primary exceptions […]

What is the VA Claim Process

Where do I file? The VA process for deciding claims has two levels. The first level is filed at the “agency of original jurisdiction.” These are the fifty-eight VA regional offices (ROs), or in some cases other VA field level offices located around the country. Claims filed at the RO: […]

What to do When the RO Denies Your Claim

     Over the many years in practice as a veterans disability lawyer, we have realized that there is a lot of confusion in the veterans population garding what to do when the VA denies your claim.  This article addresses the “how-to” information a disabled veteran needs to file a VA […]