Service Connection:

First Element: an in-service event, injury or disease

Second Element: a current diagnosed disability

Third Element: a Nexus (or link) between elements one and two.

There are many areas during the claims process that can be wrought with issues or errors.

The VA is required to Assist veterans in the develop of claims. This means that VA is designed to gather your Service Treatment Records (STR’s) and Military Personnel Records (MPR’s). Once those are gathered, the VA should review them to determine if an examination is warranted. If an examination is warranted, then the VA will assist in scheduling an exam through either a third-party provider or through the VA itself. At this juncture, many issues arise (See OIG Report 22-00404-207). The OIG report indicates that nearly 68% of exam scheduling, at this juncture, are mishandled. Watch out for this!

Next, after the exams are submitted to the VA, the VA will provide a suspense date (an expiration date) as to when the file shall be reviewed and a Decision Letter generated. At this juncture, many issues arise. Rating Officers (RO) sometimes failed to review the STR’s and MPR’s and only rely on the findings of the examiners, whom may have failed to review the records as well. In other instances, the RO’s sometimes miss important facts and award the incorrect percentages. We see this all too well.

Following the decision letter, it is important for veterans and surviving dependents to know that once a Decision Letter is drafted it is not sent until a Notification letter is completed and mailed. That notification letter starts the one-year clock for continue pursuit of a claim(s). ( See 38 CFR 3.110). It is in this time period that developing a good strategy is important. Sometimes it is not necessary to jump straight to the Board of Veterans Appeals. At this point, it is wise to speak with an experienced advocate. Always remember, stay motivated, pursue the claim(s) and be creative!

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Are you a veteran or a family member of a veteran seeking legal assistance? Our team of experienced attorneys at Veterans Affairs Law is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can assist you with your VA benefits, disability claims, and other legal matters.

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