If your disability benefits are denied and you choose to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD), you will receive a Statement of the Case (SOC) that explains the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) decision. Understanding this document can help you make better decisions about how to proceed with the appeals process.
How long it will take to receive your SOC depends on the VA backlog at the time of your appeal. Delays of several months are not uncommon.
What You’ll Find on the SOC
Your SOC provides a summary of the information the VA used to issue the denial or partial denial of disability benefits. It should contain the following:
- Explanation of whether your claim has received a full denial or a partial denial
- A chronological account of actions taken on your claim, from the date it was received to when the evidence was reviewed
- Listing of all evidence submitted with your claim, such as medical records, lay statements, and employment history
- Outline of which VA regulations are relevant to your case
- Response to each of the issues addressed in your NOD
*Statements of the Case are going away under the Appeals Modernization Act
- If your case is under the modern system you will not be receiving the Statement of the Case.
- You may opt into the modern appeals system within 60 days of receiving the Statement of the Case
- Consult an attorney about opting into the modern system
Taking the Next Step in the Appeals Process
If you disagree with the SOC and want to continue your appeal, you have 60 days to file an appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. You are required to use the VA Form 9 included with the SOC to file your appeal. VA Form 9 is also referred to as a Substantive Appeal Form.
If you notice any information in the SOC that is factually inaccurate, such as omitting records you submitted with your application or failing to account for all of your disabilities, you should address this issue with your attorney immediately.
Get the Help You Need to Access the Benefits You Deserve
Don’t give up hope if you’ve been denied disability benefits. Claims are often approved on appeal and having access to quality legal representation greatly increases your odds of being awarded benefits. In fact, 46.31% of appeals where a Veteran was represented by a Veterans’ benefits attorney were approved in 2019—while only 26.18% were approved with no representative.
If you need help accessing VA disability benefits to provide for yourself and your family, call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation. Veterans’ benefits lawyer Sean Kendall has been helping Veterans since his student days at The George Washington University in Washington D.C. and is committed to advocating for his clients throughout every step of the appeals process.