Higher Level Review and Your VA Disability Claim
Veterans still have the Higher Level Review option even after the 2017 VA disability reforms made some significant changes. For many Veterans, the extended wait time for an appeal hearing is over. Now, an appeal might simply be a matter of filling out a form. It’s not even that bad of a form, no more complicated than the one you filed to start your claim. If you need to appeal, you have different options. This is the one for if VA made a simple common mistake, like applying the wrong legal standard.
However, for other Veterans, an option that needs a wait for a day in court may still be worthwhile. However long it takes to get the benefits you deserve, our VA disability attorneys are with you until the end of the line. These benefits usually include free medical care at any VA medical facility as well as monthly cash payments.
Higher Level Review is one option. It’s basically a re-examination. You cannot submit new evidence. A more experienced Claims Examiner looks at the same claim with fresh eyes. HLR is designed to easily correct legal or clerical errors in disability application processing.
Completing The Higher Level Review Form
Sections I, II, and III of this form are fairly straightforward. Do not include your email address unless you are sure you do not want any more letters. If you fill in these sections, the VA will only send electronic communications. Line 15, the type of benefit requested, is almost always Compensation, the first bubble on the left. You can only use one answer per form— if you are appealing more than one type of benefit, you need a second form. You can still appeal more than one issue or disability.
Section IV is a request for an informal settlement conference. If the examiner’s mistake is obvious enough, these conferences can be a good idea. Generally, however, they are a waste of time. If the Claims Examiner was calculating your benefits payments and forgot you have dependent children, that is a clear error which another examiner will most likely quickly correct. If it is not that obvious, it is usually best to skip the settlement conference and go right to the review.
Section V is the appeals opt-in section. Checking this box takes your application out of the old system and places it in the new system.
Section VI, is short, but it is the important part. Briefly, and we do mean briefly, set out the issues for the Senior Claims Examiner to review. The listed examples are a good guideline. Think “effective date for my ankle,” not “the Claims Examiner missed some of my service records.”
Sections VII and VIII are also straightforward. Your “authorized representative” is usually a VA disability attorney if you have one, although it could be a VSO.
Other Appeal Options
If you have new evidence to support your claim, like an Independent Medical Examination, the Supplemental Claim avenue is probably the way to go. The Claims Examiner who initially reviewed the file looks at it again, this time taking the new evidence into consideration. This might start over from a new effective date, so make sure to talk to a disability attorney.
Despite the systemic changes, the Board of Veterans Appeals is still an option. Applicants may choose a paper review, which is basically like a supplemental claim or HLR, except that a judge is the reviewing party, or a full hearing before the BVA. Hearings are a great way to get out evidence like how your condition affects you or when it started.
Reach Out to Diligent Attorneys
Higher Level Review addresses obvious mistakes in the disability application process. For a free consultation with an experienced Veterans disability lawyer, contact the Cameron Firm, P.C. at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box to your right. We are here to represent Veterans nationwide.
This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.