How to Apply for VA Appeal Form 20-0996

The VA Form 20-0996 is a form used by veterans to file an appeal on their disability claims. Individuals with a history of military service can submit the form accompanied by documents to the Department of Veterans Affairs. If the assessment is approved, veterans can become eligible for disability benefits that can pay for anything ranging from medical expenses to supplemental income.

In short, you can appeal a VA claim decision by filing Form 20-0996. Your supplemental claim’s approval makes you eligible for VA benefits that give you a source of supplemental income. 

Does this interest you? Learn more about VA Form 20-0996 in our guide.

What Is the VA Form 20-0996, and Why Is It Important for Veterans? 

VA Form 20-0996 is a form used by veterans who want to challenge a VA decision about their disability claim. It’s important for veterans because it allows them to ask the VA to review their claims more quickly and efficiently. 

This form also goes by the name “Higher Level Request” form. Veteran claimants can use it alongside new evidence—like medical records—to strengthen their claims.

By using this form, veterans can lodge a decision review request with the VA faster than they would if they appealed through the traditional appeals process. This helps veterans get a quicker resolution for their VA claims.

How Do You Fill Out VA Form 20-0996 Accurately and Efficiently? 

Being accurate in your VA Form 20-0996 minimizes the chances of rejection. To ensure that your new claim doesn’t meet the same fate as your original claim, fill out every field in the form completely. Include your complete name, newest address, and VA claim number. 

Include only the disability that caused your claim to be rejected. For instance, if Veterans Affairs denied your original claim following an amputation, include only that in your form. 

You’ll also want to accompany any new evidence, like medical records and statements from medical professionals. These will improve the chances of approval of your decision review request. 

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Form 20-0996?

To be eligible for Form 20-0996, you should have already filed an original claim for a VA disability benefit. To prove this, you must have a VA decision document that shows your claim’s rejection. 

You can also gather written statements from colleagues and superiors who know about your condition and limitations. 

The Purpose of VA Form 20-0996 and the Benefits Veterans Can Receive

The VA Form 20-0996 is a request form for a higher-level review of a disability claim. As a VA appeal form, it expedites the claims process for a veteran claimant. If the VA approves the appeal and provides a rating decision, veterans can receive disability benefits commensurate to the disability they indicated in the VA appeal. 

How Long Does It Take To Process VA Form 20-0996?

The processing time depends on several factors. These factors include your claim’s complexity, issues the VA may have with the supporting documents, and the volume of claims being processed at a time. 

On average, you can expect a VA decision within five months of filing your higher-level request or VA Form 20-0996.

What Are Common Mistakes To Avoid When Filling Out the VA Form 20-0996?

When filling out your form, avoid these common pitfalls: 

  • Leaving blank items
  • Not having documented evidence signed or sealed
  • Adding duplicate copies of evidence (this can confuse VA claim reviewers)
  • Not signing and dating the form
  • Failing to provide updated contact information

If you need help filling out the form, you can approach any VA-approved VSO for assistance.

Can VA Form 20-0996 Be Submitted Online or Is It Only Paper-Based? 

The form is downloadable for free on the Department of Veterans Affairs website. Paper-based applications can be mailed to the VA processing addresses. 

Otherwise, you can submit your application online using the VA’s online tool.

How Does VA Form 20-0996 Differ From Other VA Forms? 

Besides VA Form 20-0996, the VA has other forms for claims. These are: 

All of these forms are claims forms. Veterans can use these forms to claim disability benefits after sustaining injuries from deployment. 

However, VA Form 20-0996 isn’t a claims request form. Rather, it’s a request for a higher-level review after a veteran files any of the above claims and gets denied. 

Additionally, you can see if you can make an appeal based on the VA disability 5-year rule.

How To Check the Status of VA Form 20-0996 After Submitting It

Once you’ve submitted your VA Form 20-0996, you can find its status online. Use the VA’s online status-checking tool.

How To Appeal a Denied Claim Using VA Form 20-0996?

First, download the form from the VA form from the site of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Once you’ve downloaded the form, fill it out and have your supporting documents ready. Review the form for a last-minute check and send it to the appropriate VA processing center. You can mail it to any VA regional office.

You may also submit your application online using the VA’s online tool.

After a direct review from the Veterans Appeal Board, you will receive a VA decision within 125 to 250 days of submitting your VA decision review request.

What Are the Most Common Reasons for VA Form 20-0996 To Be Denied?

For the most part, the VA compensation review board rejects higher-level review requests for two reasons. One is an incomplete VA Form 20-0996. Another reason is that the decision review officer requires additional evidence to prove your eligibility for disability compensation. This is why we recommend adding medical records to your documents.

Tips for Submitting a Successful VA Form 20-0996 Claim

Submitting a successful decision review appeal is all about filling out the VA Form 20-0996 completely. Supplementing your form with as much additional evidence as you can gather is also important to the success of your VA disability claim.

If you can do both, your claim’s chances of success increase. However, if you need additional information, we’re here to help. Check out our free resources for VA disability claims.

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