You Served Us, I’ll Serve You

Dale E. Burnell, LLC

Your Personal Representative


Ronald Aument, VA Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits,
congratulating Dale Burnell on his retirement.

As an example, let’s say you claim your current back condition is due to an in-service injury. Your service medical records show you injured your back, received treatment for two weeks, and then returned to duty as fully recovered.

On December 15, 2005, five years after your period of service ended, VA receives your original claim for your back condition. With the claim, you furnish medical evidence showing you have a bad disc in your back. On June 15, 2006, VA sends you a letter saying your claim has been denied because there is no evidence showing your current back condition is related to the injury you had in service over five years ago.

On August 15, 2006, VA receives your Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with its decision. You state that your back never really healed and you’ve had trouble with it ever since you left service. VA continues to deny your claim and sends you a Statement of the Case (SOC) on November 15, 2006, which outlines the reasons for its denial. You finalize your VA appeal, but furnish no new evidence and your claim is sent to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) on January 15, 2007. Your case is placed on BVA’s docket where it may languish for a year or more.

While your case is waiting for an appellate decision from BVA, you furnish medical evidence showing you’ve been treated for your back condition continuously since your release from active duty. On January 15, 2008, BVA decides your current bad disc is due to your in-service injury and awards compensation from December 15, 2005, your original “date of claim.” VA determines that you’re entitled to $300 a month from that date and sends you a retroactive lump-sum check for $10,800 covering your back pay for the three years since your date of claim. In addition, you begin to receive $300 every month from then on.

In this example, if I represented you and assisted you in winning your VA appeal, I would be entitled to 20 percent, or $2,160, of your back pay as my fee. I would not collect any of your recurring monthly benefit. VA would deduct my fee from your lump-sum check and award it directly to me. If there were additional lump-sum awards generated later as a result of your original award, such as additional payments for your dependents or correction to the effective date or evaluation, I would be entitled to 20 percent of those awards as well. I cannot charge a fee for any awards you may receive in the future without a new appeal and fee contract.

If you do not receive an award, I cannot receive a fee.

Your VA Claim

When you apply for VA benefits, the date VA receives your claim becomes your “date of claim.”

This date is important because it determines the starting point for any award you receive. No matter how long it takes VA to process your claim, benefits will be awarded from that date. If VA denies your claim and you appeal within one year of that denial, you keep your claim and your “date of claim” active. No matter how long the VA appeal process takes, if benefits are eventually awarded those benefits will be awarded from your original “date of claim.”