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Request a Higher-Level Review


If you disagree with VA’s decision, you can request to have a senior reviewer take a new look at your case. The reviewer will determine whether the decision can be changed based on a difference of opinion or an error.

You can’t submit any evidence.
You and/or your representative can speak with the reviewer on the phone. You can tell them why you think the decision should be changed and identify errors.

Can I request a Higher-Level Review?

You can request a Higher-Level Review of an initial claim or Supplemental Claim decision. This option isn’t available after a Higher-Level Review or Board Appeal. It’s also not available if you’re one of multiple people claiming the same benefit (this is rare).

How long does it take VA to make a decision?

4-5 months VA’s goal for completing Higher-Level Reviews is 125 days. A review may take longer if VA needs to get records or schedule a new exam to correct an error.

What should I expect if I request a call with a senior reviewer?

If you request an informal conference with a senior reviewer, they’ll call the phone number that you or your representative provided on the Higher-Level Review form to schedule a time to discuss your case with you. The senior reviewer will try to reach you or your representative by phone twice. If no one answers, they’ll leave a voice mail.

During the call, you and/or your representative can talk about why you think the decision should be changed and identify errors. There won’t be transcripts of this call.

How do I request a Higher-Level Review?

To request a Higher-Level Review, fill out the Decision Review Request: Higher-Level Review (VA Form 20-0996).
Download VA Form 20-0996.

  1. Select a benefit type in Part I of the form

    The most common benefit type is compensation, but if you’re unsure, check your VA decision. You can’t select multiple benefit types. You have to complete a separate form for each type.

  2. Optional: Request a call (informal conference) with the reviewer

    You and/or your representative can speak with the reviewer on the phone. You can tell them why you think the decision should be changed and identify errors.

    To schedule an informal conference, select times and list a phone number in Part II of the form. A reviewer will call 2-4 weeks after VA processes your request.
  3. List the issue(s) you want reviewed in Part III of the form

    You can include all or just some of the issues VA has decided. You’ll need to list the issue(s) you disagree with and the VA decision date for each.

    You can’t submit any evidence.

    What if I have new and relevant evidence?
    If you have evidence to submit, please select another review option.
    Learn more about the review options.

  4. Apply

    Fill out the Decision Review Request: Higher-Level Review (VA Form 20-0996).
    Download VA Form 20-0996.

    By mail

    Send the completed form to the benefit office that matches the benefit type you selected on the form.

    Compensation

    Department of Veterans Affairs
    Claims Intake Center
    PO Box 4444
    Janesville, WI 53547-4444

    • Pension/Survivors Benefits

      If you live in AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, IA, KS, MN, MT, NB, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WY, Mexico, Central America, South America, or the Caribbean

      Department of Veterans Affairs
      Claims Intake Center
      Attention: St. Paul Pension Center
      PO Box 5365
      Janesville, WI 53547-5365
      Fax: 1-844-655-1604

      Pension/Survivors Benefits

      If you live in CT, DL, FL, GA, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA, WV, DC, Puerto Rico, or Canada

      Department of Veterans Affairs
      Claims Intake Center
      Attention: Philadelphia Pension Center
      PO Box 5206
      Janesville, WI 53547-5206
      Fax: 1-844-655-1604

      Pension/Survivors Benefits

      If you live in AL, AR, IL, IN, KY, LA, MI, MS, MO, OH, TN, or WI

      Department of Veterans Affairs
      Claims Intake Center
      Attention: Milwaukee Pension Center
      PO Box 5192
      Janesville, WI 53547-5192
      Fax: 1-844-655-1604

      National Cemetery Administration

      Please refer to your
      decision for instructions
      on how to submit the
      form.

      Education

      Please refer to your
      decision for instructions
      on how to submit the
      form.

      Veterans Health Administration

      Please refer to your
      decision for instructions
      on how to submit the
      form.

      Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment

      Please refer to your
      decision for instructions
      on how to submit the
      form.

      Insurance

      Please refer to your
      decision for instructions
      on how to submit the
      form.

      Loan Guaranty

      Please refer to your
      decision for instructions
      on how to submit the
      form.

    In person
    Bring your completed form to a regional benefit office.
    Find a regional benefit office near you.

    By fax
    Fax your completed form and any supporting documents to 1-844-531-7818.

    You can also ask a regional benefit office for a copy of this form to fill out. Or you can call the VA toll-free hotline at 1-800-827-1000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (ET), to request a form.

Mark your calendar

You have 1 year from the date on your decision to file a Higher-Level Review.

What happens next?

Find out what happens after you request a decision review.

You don’t need to do anything while you wait, unless VA sends you a letter asking for more information. If VA schedules exams for you, be sure not to miss them.

Track the Status of Your Claim

What if I need help?

A Veterans Service Organization or VA-accredited attorney or agent can help you request a decision review.
Get help requesting a decision review.

What if I have more questions?

Get answers to frequently asked questions about decision reviews.
Go to FAQs.