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When a Claim is Denied


When a claim is denied, it is usually because the veteran is missing one of the elements for any service-connected disability claim.

If the VA denies your claim and you feel there is sufficient evidence to support the finding of a service connection, you must follow specific procedures laid out below. Some people will tell you that you just need to continue to disagree with the decision until the VA agrees with you; however, this procedure rarely, if ever, works. If you fail to submit the evidence to support your claim, the VA will continue to deny it.

If you feel that you meet all the requirements, notify the VA that you disagree with the decision. You must do this within one year from the date of the letter notifying you of the decision. You must submit a notice of disagreement to VA, and it must be submitted on a VA Form 21-0958 Notice of Disagreement.

We usually recommend using the Decision Review Officer (DRO) process in support of your claim. DRO’s are located at the regional office. The DRO will review all current evidence, as well as any new evidence submitted, and will render a new decision in your claim for service connection. If you still disagree with the decision made by the DRO, you can use the traditional appeal process.

If, however, you decide at the beginning to opt for the traditional appeal process via the Board of Veterans Appeals, then you can’t use the DRO process. In other words, electing to use the DRO process gives you the benefit of an additional opportunity to make your case.

Our office can assist you in completing the required form. Feel free to contact us with any questions. And, in either case, be prepared for your claim decision to take a significant amount of time.

Ken Cruickshank, the Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County, is a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. Contact him at the Veterans Services Office at 3350 W. Mineral King Ave., Visalia; by phone at (559) 713-2880; or by email at


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