Marcari Russotto Spencer Balaban, Donald Marcari, MRSB Law Firm

We Represent Veterans Nationwide. Here Are Reviews From Just a Few Of Our Satisfied Clients:

Mary Trevino
Mary Trevino
December 30, 2023.
Marcari, Russotto, Spencer, Very outstanding law firm ,great communication, they stay be your side All the way to the end 👍👍👍👍👍
Maurice Monroe
Maurice Monroe
December 27, 2023.
Just wanted to give my opinion on this law firm. They are great if you are in need of help please turn to them. Vicki and the team over there are great, with this being my first time using a law office to help me and my family after our car accident I am very grateful and pleased with the outcome. Highly recommend!!!!
Eddie Pippen
Eddie Pippen
December 1, 2023.
I have used this group for the past several years. They have helped me with my veterans benefits. Dawson Rouse and Heather Dropp are both excellent and very knowledgeable with veterans benefits. Heather is the paralegal handling my case and has been highly motivated and is a high speed individual. She is a go getter and always thinks several steps ahead for veterans she is helping. You won’t go wrong with choosing them to handle your veterans benefits.
B. Cox
B. Cox
November 20, 2023.
The hits just keep on coming!!! I cannot express enough just how valuable and thorough the team of Dawson Rouse and Heather Dropp have been. Not only did they work tirelessly to ensure I received every bit of my 100% disability rating, but they went above and beyond to ensure I received every penny of compensation I was due, both presently, and backpay. My life has been changed all because I decided to call on MRSB to represent me after the VA had denied every single claim. I'm proud to not only call them my legal team, but also my family, which is EXACTLY what Heather and Dawson make you feel like. If there was an award for legal team of century, assuredly, Heather and Dawson would stand atop the podium!! DO NOT HESITATE!! CALL THEM AND LET THEM CHANGE YOUR LIFE TOO!!!
Roger Brown
Roger Brown
November 15, 2023.
After I was denied disability for hip replacement I had just about given up. I saw an ad for MRSB and decided I had nothing to lose. After talking to Heather Dropp (MRSB Paralegal), I was more confident something could be done. It’s taken a while, but, because of the effort by Heather and Guy Rouse, I have 30% disability for my hip replacement and they found other service connected issues we are filing claims for as well. A bit of advice…before you give up on your denied claim, give MRSB a chance to look into it. They’re very knowledgeable and they work for veterans. MRSB will give you 100%.
November 12, 2023.
Morgan and Dawson were very helpful and reassuring to my mother and I. They helped us through the appeal process and are still helping us. The firm truly cares about our veterans and the families. I highly recommend them to anyone needing help with a VA claim.
Robert Buszta
Robert Buszta
October 27, 2023.
I had a VA disability claim in the system for two-plus years. Since I filed my claim, I experienced errors, mistakes, duplication of mistakes and many delays from the VA. I contacted MRS&B. Their team worked with me and supported me and kept me abreast of the events to bring my claim to closure. They exceeded my expectations for support. Thank You Kristen, Morgan and Dawson for your efforts. This was a great team effort!

Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act (AMA)

Learn to Navigate the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act

The Veteran Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 Became Law on August 23, 2017 (Pub L. 115-55).
Appeals Modernization Act, Veterans, Veterans Benefits, AMA
The purpose of this act was to streamline the VA appeals process by providing alternatives for having a VA decision reviewed.

The Veterans Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) of 2017 was signed into law in August 2017 and applies to all VA (Veterans Affairs) disability decisions received on or after February 19th, 2019.   

This act’s purpose was to help streamline the VA appeals process by actively supplying alternatives for reviewing a VA decision.   

The VA’s goal was to allow Veterans to select how their cases would be reviewed which in turn would mean that the resolution of said cases could be accelerated from what’s traditionally seen as a years-long process.

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Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act Review Options

Outside of the few Veterans who could get into the RAMP Pilot program prior to the AMA (Appeals Modernization Act), the only other way to obtain a review of a decision denied by the VA was to file an appeal at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).   

If you have had a claim denied by a Regional Office, you can choose one of three appeal options.  You can file a Supplemental Claim (VA Form 21-0995).  The Supplemental Review process requires the submission of new and relevant evidence that the Regional Office did not previously have in its possession and that either tends to either prove or disprove an element of your claim. The second option is called a Higher-Level Review.  

Click here to download a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) from the VA.  

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) reviews the NOD and any additional evidence, preparing a Statement of the Case explaining their reasoning for the decision on your behalf.  

If you disagree with the Statement of the Case, you should promptly reply with a notice that you’re now appealing to the BVA.   

Click here to download VA Form 9.  

If you send new evidence or raise current issues after the first Statement of the Case, the VBA may issue a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC). At this point, your case will be submitted to the BVA.  

Underneath the old process, the BVA typically took five to seven years to decide appeals.  

This process (above) applies to all decisions issued before February 19th, 2019.  

Many cases are prone to falling within the old legacy system, however, the VA allows applicants to opt-in to the new appeals process by filing one of the new VA appeals modernization forms after they have received a SOC (Statement of the Case) or Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC).

What's The Difference Between Total Disability Based Upon Individual Unemployability (TDIU) & An Extra-Schedular Disability Rating?

A Veteran must meet two requirements under a TDIU claim to be eligible for a 100 percent disability rating: They must have a service-connected disability with a 60% or more disability rating, or two or more service-connected disabilities with a combined rating of 70% or more AND/OR Medical evidence of unemployability. On the other hand, an extra-schedular rating applies to Veterans who are unemployable, due to their service-connected disability or disabilities, but whose disability does not meet the percentage requirements for any of the two aforementioned scenarios.

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New Review Options

Under the Modernization Act, you have two new review options. 

Regardless of what you choose to do, you will keep your effective date for benefits if you’ve met all the applicable filing deadlines. 

Higher-Level Review

A higher-level review is a request for a different, more experienced adjudicator in the VBA to look over your claim. You can start the application process by filing form 20-96 requesting a higher-level review. 

Please Note: It’s critically important for you to remember that you cannot send new evidence if you plan to seek out a higher-level review, because a higher-level review is limited to the evidence and claim as it was initially reviewed. If the first adjudicator found the claim application or evidence to be insufficient, it means that you would not be allowed to supplement the record if you choose a higher-level review. 

The VBA has announced that they plan to decide upon higher-level reviews within 125 days after filing. 

This is viewed as a significant benefit if you believe you’ve supplied evidence that will support your claim – in addition to that, when you file for a higher-level review, you can request an informal conference via telephone with the second, higher ranking adjudicator.  

If you disagree with a/the higher-level review, you have the possibility to file a supplemental review or appeal to the VBA. 

Supplemental Claim

A supplemental claim is a request for review at the agency level based upon newly submitted evidence.  

What that means is that a supplemental claim must be accompanied by evidence that was not present before the initial adjudicator reviewed the claim.  

Please Note: This does not mean that you need to seek out and attempt to compile new evidence, it’s merely stating that the new evidence needs to be newly presented, as it was not filed with a disability claim originally.  

A supplemental claim would be proper in any scenario in which the original claim was rejected due to a lack of evidence or if you believe there is additional evidence that would justify a different outcome.  

In either case, supplemental claims are always reviewed at the agency level, and not through an appeals board.  

For this reason, the BVA has a 125-day goal for deciding supplemental claims. 

Appeal to the BVA

Like the old process, you can appeal any decision to the BVA for review by a Veterans Law Judge.  

However, the appeal process has changed in a few respects:  

• You do not need to send the NOD to the local VA office and wait for an SOC before filing an appeal notice.  

• The NOD and appeal notice have been collapsed into a single form.  

• Click here to download the form.  

• The modernization act has created three dockets for the BVA.  

• This allows certain cases to be decided quicker than others.  

• The time to receive an appellate decision depends on the type of review requested.  

• The amount of time it takes to decide appeals to the BVA has been estimated at one year (365 days).  

• The VA application process takes more than 365 days for those requesting a hearing.  

While this may seem like a long time, keep in mind that it once took five to seven years for this outcome. 

New Dockets

Three dockets have been created to allow certain cases to be decided quickly based upon case file. 

Direct Review

A direct review is quite like a higher-level review in that the judge will not hold a hearing, rather the appeal is decided on the case file. This means that you will not testify and your VA attorney, if you’ve chosen to use one, will not prepare or present verbal arguments in support of your claim. 

Direct reviews would be proper for cases where you don’t need to submit new evidence and your case presents no questions of law that may justify the use of a hearing, but more so, is for a situation where you disagree with the decision made by the adjudicator at the VBA. 

Evidence Submission

Evidence submission is like a supplemental claim in that you’re allowed to submit new evidence with your appeal notice. In an evidence submission appeal, the judge will not schedule the hearing itself.  

The result of that is the appeal should be decided on the written evidence in your case file, including the new evidence submitted with the appeal notice, within one year, according to the BVA. 

Evidence submission is proper for cases where the adjudicators indicate that applicable proof is lacking, or where you have evidence that you believe could possibly help overturn the adjudicator’s decision. 

Hearing with a Choice to Submit Evidence

The third docket is a request for a hearing – however, because the number of judges is unfortunately limited, a request for a hearing has the potential to shut down your appeal for years to come. 

However, this hearing request can be inclusive of new evidence, so it’s far more similar to evidence submission than it is a direct review. 

A hearing may be justified if you feel as if your case presents a specific question that you’d like to have addressed, either directly, or through a VA attorney you’ve appointed. 

Alternatively, you can also request a hearing if you believe your case would possibly benefit from an in-depth presentation of your testimony. 

With that said, it’s important to remember that the BVA has not estimated a time to schedule a hearing or decide on appeals, only mentioning that they’d indefinitely take over 365 days. 

Schedule a Free Consultation Today!

If you, or someone you love, is having a tough time with the Department of Veterans Affairs and claiming the benefits needed to sustain a comfortable quality of life, do not wait another minute – contact us today! We are always available by phone at (866) 866-VETS.  

Our firm works on contingency, so there are no fees whatsoever unless we win your claim for benefits.  

We are accredited to stand for you anywhere within the United States, so even if you cannot make it to one of our many offices, we can still help you along the way. 

Once We've Received Your Submission, We Will Reach Out To You. Thanks!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Cost To Hire You?

It does not cost you anything to hire our Veterans Benefits Law Firm as your attorneys. Our firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not owe us anything unless we win you an award. Our firm charges 20%, which is deducted by the VA from your lump sum payment for retroactive benefits.

How Long Will It Take To Appeal My Benefits Denial?

While it can take six months or more for a Veteran to receive a decision on his or her initial benefits claim from the Department of Veterans Affairs, appeals could take 2 years of more. The Department of Veterans Affairs lacks the funding to properly staff and process benefits applications. The number of applications from recently returning Veterans must be dealt with while the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to actively work towards providing services to prior generations of Veterans.

How Do I Increase My Disability Rating?

Great question! If the condition that you are actively receiving disability benefits for has now ultimately worsened over time, you can file an increased rating claim. It’s fairly simple, and it involves filing out an online claim form or mailing a letter to your regional office documenting the change in your condition.

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All communication with the Department of Veterans Affairs can be conducted remotely; personal appearances are not required. 

Our law firm is accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist Veterans anywhere across the United States. 

Furthermore, our clients do not need to go to a physical location or visit an office to receive our help. If there are any medical visits that are applicable to your claim, you can be seen at a facility that is close to your home. So, no matter where you are, if you need help, we’re here to fight for you the same way that you bravely fought to protect us. 

Call us now! (866) 866-VETS.