If you filed a claim for veterans’ benefits and it was denied, the decision can be appealed. Other decisions pertaining to your veterans’ benefits can also be appealed as well. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) would receive your request for appeal. From there, they would review the decision the VA regional office made on your claim.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals is a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C. If you are unhappy with their decision for any reason, you can submit an appeal.
The vast majority of veterans who appeal their claims are dissatisfied with the decisions the VA regional office made regarding eligibility for disability ratings, disability compensation, or pension.
Two key reasons for appeal are:
- You became disabled during service and the VA denied you benefits.
- Your disability is more serious than the rating you were issued by the VA.
No matter what the reason is, however, you can still file an appeal.
There are several steps involved in the appeals process. First, the claimant needs to file a written appeal with the local medical center or VA regional office that made the decision. According to the VA, the appeal must be filed on VA Form 21-0958 (otherwise known as a Notice of Disagreement).
Make sure that your appeal is submitted to the VA office that originally issued the decision. If you have relocated and your claims file is located at a local VA office other than the one where your claim was previously filed, the appeal should be sent to that new office instead. Be specific about the issues you are appealing if you received a Notice of Determinations on multiple claim issues.
Regional Decisions Regarding Your Benefits Appeal
Once your Notice of Determinations has been received by the VA regional office, they will review your case a second time. They may approve your claim if they decide to agree with your argument; however, if they disagree, they will send you a Statement of the Case (SOC).
A Statement of the Case is a document the VA regional office sends out to claimants informing them that the board has decided not to reverse the original decision, and includes detailed reasons explaining why. The evidence will also be summarized, including any applicable regulations and laws.
The document will ask you to submit VA Form 9 (Appeal to Board of Veterans’ Appeals) in order to continue your appeal. The form will be sent to you with the SOC from the regional office.
If you wish to represent yourself in the appeal, you may do so, but it’s recommended that you obtain legal representation from an experienced VA benefits lawyer. Your state’s veterans’ department or a Veteran’s Service Organization (VSO) can represent you. The personnel at the Veteran’s Service Organization is specialized in providing help with appeals and claims. A list of locally-approved veterans appeal representatives can be provided to you by your local VA office.
A recognized agent or a private lawyer can also represent you.
In order to request representation, you need to fill out VA Form 21-22 which will authorize a VSO to represent you during the appeals process. To authorize a recognized agent or attorney to represent you during the appeals process, you will need to fill out VA Form 22a.
Board of Veterans’ Appeals: Appeals Process
Once your appeal has been filed with your local Veterans Affairs office, they will forward it to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). To start filing your appeal, you will complete VA Form 9, which is the Appeal to Board of Veterans’ Appeals. This form is typically sent to you along with your Statement of the Case.
There are a couple of key sections in VA Form 9 you need to pay particular attention to. For one thing, you need to state what benefit you want in addition to any mistakes you may have found in the SOC, and whether you would like to have your case heard (personal hearing). The completed form will then be submitted to the same VA regional office where your claim was originally denied.
Appeals files are processed by the Board in the order they are received. A case docket number will be assigned to your case. It can take two or more years on average after your appeal is filed for the Board to make a final decision regarding your case. Cases with more complex issues could take longer.
BVA and Local Hearings
You can have a personal hearing if you choose to do so. These are hearings between you, a VA official who will decide the case, and, if you have one, your legal representative. You will present evidence and testimony to support your case during this meeting. The two types of personal hearings are BVA hearings and local office hearings.
You have a right to present your appeals case to a member of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in person. This is known as a BVA hearing. The testimony you present at a BVA hearing is basically everything you know about your case. VA hearings aren’t as formal as court hearings, which means you don’t have to worry about being cross-examined during your testimony or having to deal with technical rules of evidence.
Local office hearings between you and a hearing officer are held at your local VA office. You should arrange a local office hearing early on in the appeals process by contacting your appeal representative or your local VA office.
Final Appeal Decision
You will receive a notification from the Board after they receive your appeal from your local VA office. Once the staff has reached the docket number for your appeal, a board member and a staff attorney will examine your file. They will review any evidence, arguments, personal hearing transcripts (if you have any), your representative’s statement (if there is one), and check it for completeness.
Your local VA office will perform any necessary work pertinent to your case. The case will then be reviewed and the Board will issue a final result. If the original ruling still stands, the case will be sent back to the Board for a final review. The Board will review the case as soon as they receive it, because the case is kept in its original spot on their docket.
Contact Our Veterans Disability Attorneys
The Eichholz Law Firm provides legal representation to veterans looking to appeal the VA’s decision after being denied veterans benefits. Our legal team will work diligently on behalf of our nation’s veterans and their loved ones to help them get the maximum benefit compensation they deserve.
For more information contact us at 855-551-1019 or fill out a free online case evaluation form.
- Margaret Wadsworth. “The VA Denied My Disability Claim. How Do I Appeal the Decision?”,https://www.disabilitysecrets.com/resources/disability/veterans-disability/the-va-denied-my-disabilit, Nolo. Accessed May 25, 2020.
- Military.com. “VA Claims and Appeals Process”, https://www.military.com/benefits/military-legal-matters/va-claims-appeals-process. Military.com. Accessed May 25, 2020.