Written by Peter Gayton
There’s a different clock used for simultaneously contested claims. These are rare appeal cases where two parties are both claiming entitlement to fight the denial of a claim or for status, and where one party will be accepted and one will be rejected. For example, two people may both claim entitlement to the full proceeds of a veteran’s life insurance policy or a veteran’s spouse and ex-spouse may both try to get Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
In these types of cases, each party must file a NOD within 60 days from the date the local VA office mailed its determination of a claim, not the one-year clock for routine appeals. VA Form 9 must be filed within 30 days of the date that the local VA office mailed the Statement of the Case (SOC), not 60 days. If there is a SSOC, the parties must file within 30 days, not 60 days.
Deadlines for Filing
NOD | VA Form 9 | SSOC
Simultaneously Contested Claim 60 days | 30 days | 30 days
Regular Veterans Appeal One Year | 60 days | 60 days
NEW EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT YOUR CLAIM AND A NEW CLOCK
You may submit new information and/or evidence to buttress your appeal (for example, a new medical diagnosis from a VA medical facility that supports your claim).
The VA prefers copies of the doctor’s treatment records, rather than just a statement from the physician.
The local VA office will respond to this new information with a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC). This starts a new clock ticking. If you are dissatisfied with the VA response to the new evidence, you have 60 days from the date the SSOC was mailed to you, to submit, in writing, your disagreement with the VA response.
IF YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND ON AN ISSUE ON APPEAL
You are permitted to withdraw a portion of your appeal, while continuing with the remaining issues, without losing your “place” in the line of appeals cases to be decided (the docket).
If you don’t want the BVA to examine an issue that is listed in either the SOC or the SSOC, you must put in writing on VA Form 9 that you are withdrawing your appeal on that specific issue. Be very clear which issue is being withdrawn – and which issues are still to be considered on appeal.
On the other hand, if you later decide to appeal a separate VA claims decision, you must go through the process again for that issue. For example, if you appeal a decision on your arm disability, but later receive a denial of benefits for treatment of PTSD, you would have to go through the appeals process for the PTSD decision separately. You can’t incorporate the new issue into your earlier case.
The appeals process is complicated and lengthy. I strongly suggest that you request a trained Veteran Service Officer help you. Their knowledge of the VA system is often critical to the success of your appeal. Again, remember:
» It’s absolutely vital that you keep copies of every piece of correspondence, both to and from the VA, as well as any with other experts you consult. Keep a detailed record (date, time, as well as complete notes on what was said) of any phone calls and always get the name of the person to whom you spoke. Keep the file in a safe, fireproof box so that you have ready access to your materials.
» Always notify your local VA office of any change in your address, home and work telephone numbers.
» Keep a record of your claim number easily available. State it in any conversation (should you call) with the VA, as well as mark it on any correspondence with the VA.
Peter S. Gaytan is the author of For Service to Your Country, The Insider’s Guide to Veterans’ Benefits (Citadel, 2008), available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers. He has served as an advocate in securing and protecting the earned benefits of America’s veterans for more than a decade. Gaytan is the Executive Director of the American Legion, the largest veterans service organization in America.
*Material released with permission of the authors.
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