…By Khurram Alley for TDPel Media.
After you have applied to receive your VA disability benefits, you must wait for a decision on your claim. You will then receive a rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs. You will receive the decision in a form of a VA awards letter. A VA awards letter includes the date and other critical information you need to know. This guide will provide you with everything that you need to know about a VA award letter, including what exactly it is.
VA Awards Letter Defined
A VA awards letter will come through regular mail and will inform you of the VA’s decision about your benefits claim. It will also provide you with a disability rating along with any information regarding your monthly benefit amount. This letter will explain all the information about the decision. You will also be provided with the next steps.
Within the VA awards letter, you will find a section that notes all conditions you submitted with your claim. You may have also been assigned an increased rating for a specific condition. If so, you will find this information in the letter as well.
Finally, you will be provided with the date on which your award is effective. It is critical to note that in the event you must file an appeal, you will only have one year from the date noted in the letter.
Retrieving a Copy of Your VA Award Letter
It is important that you keep your own physical copy of your VA award letter in a safe place. If you do not get your copy in the mail, there are several ways that you can request one:
- You can contact your local VA Regional Offices to ask for a copy.
- You can contact your rep or advocate that is helping you with your case. A copy can be requested via VBMS.
- You can also gain access to your letter via the web portal on the VA’s website. However, you must be listed on the DEERS in order to access this system.
Appealing Your Decision
If the VA denies your claim or you are unhappy with your assigned rating, you can file an appeal. As mentioned earlier, you only have a year listed from the date in your letter to file an appeal. Once a year has passed, you will be unable to do anything about the decision made.
There are a few different ways in which you can file for an appeal:
- Via the Higher-Level Review Lane- If you decide to take this route, an experienced rating specialist will review your rating.
- The Supplemental Claim Lane- You can also submit a new claim with more relevant evidence in support of your claim.
- The Notice of Disagreement Lane- You also have the option to directly appeal your case to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
Other Information Included in VA Award Letters
Following the appeals section in your letter, you will see an “additional benefits” section that includes other pertinent information about benefit programs such as:
- Home adoption and loans
- Travel payments
- Education, student loans, and training
- Medical treatment
- Auto benefits
- Life insurance
- State benefits
As mentioned previously, you will receive a rating within your award letter. The rating decision is generally structured using the following information:
- Intro- The entire first part of the rating will include information about the branch of service, dates of service, claim information, and more.
- Decision-This section will list your exact conditions and the ratings to which you’ve been assigned. You will also notice all effective dates.
- Evidence- This section typically lists all information that you previously submitted along with your claim. This section is generally lengthy, especially if you’ve submitted a lot of evidence.
- Reasons for Decision- In this last section, there will be an explanation regarding the reasoning that the decision was made.
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