Here we go, folks, another “band-aid” for the broken claims process.
We’ve received 2 Ratings Decision last week (May 2013) in which the VA included this new NOD (Notice of Disagreement) Form.
I had heard it was coming – Tom Murphy (one of the VA higher-ups in the VA Compensation and Pension Program) gave a presentation to Veteran’s attorneys back in April in which he mentioned it.
Here it is: 2013 Notice of Disagreement.
It’s too early to tell if this form will be better than just using a letter or a VA Form 21-4138. Only time will tell.
What’s nice about this form is that it does seem to streamline things for the Veterans and the federal bureaucrats that process the NODs. Consistency can be good. However, I think that Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thought on consistency is particularly poignant here.
The big concern I have about the VA’s new form for filing a Notice of Disagreement is this: it seems to set the Veteran up for limiting his/her appeal.
What do I mean by that?
When you get your Ratings Decision from the VA Regional Office, you are hacked about one aspect of the decision, so you immediately check all the right blocks on this form, seal it up in the envelope, and send it off to the VARO.
10 years later, you consult with an attorney, and find that the VA failed to address a particular aspect of your claim (implicit denials are very, very common) or that the VA Rating Board botched your impairment rating or effective date in a big way.
What’s the end result?
You didn’t check the right block on this new Notice of Disagreement form, so you’re stuck with the error. Now, I’m not saying that is the way this new form will be used.
I hope that it helps the Dept of Veterans Affairs improve their claim and appeal processing time.
Until then, always do this: have an attorney look over your Ratings Decision. Request a consult, or have the attorney do a case review. Only then can you be sure that you are going to catch the VA’s mistakes.
(Ask the DAV for a case review, and they’ll look at you like you have a tomato for a head and then ask you for your dues).
Here’s how a REAL Notice of Disagreement might read: Sample Notice of Disagreement