VA Disability Appeals and Decision Reviews

Do you have a disability claim with VA?

Do you think you deserve more benefits than they’ve given you?

Are you tired of dealing with complicated paperwork, confusing rules, and a system that seems rigged against you?

Well, at Vetus Legal, we’re here to help! Our practice is dedicated to helping veterans appeal their denied disability compensation claims—at the agency or court level.

Since February 19, 2019, the VA appeals process has undergone significant changes and is now referred to as decision reviews. However, some veterans with decisions issued before February 19, 2019, may still be navigating the legacy appeals process. And, in certain circumstances, you can appeal outside of the VA system to a specialized court that hears VA appeals.

We know how stressful it can be to deal with the bureaucracy of government agencies and how important it is for you to get the benefits that are rightfully yours.

With our help, we can make sure that happens.

We’re here for YOU—and we won’t stop until YOU get what YOU deserve!

Contact our VA disability appeals lawyers today to get started.

Types of VA Appeals You Can Make

As of February 19, 2019, there are two ways to have your claim reevaluated: decision reviews and court appeals.

Decision Reviews

If you disagree with the decision made by the VA, three options are available: supplemental claims, higher-level reviews, and Board appeals.

Supplemental Claims

A Supplemental Claim is a type of decision review that includes submitting new and relevant evidence to the VA or requesting a review of your claim based on a change in law.

In this case, new and relevant evidence refers to information not previously submitted to VA or information not identified for them to gather.

This new evidence must also be relevant – that is, it tends to support or disprove something within your claim. Once VA has reviewed the new evidence or change in law, they will mail you a decision packet with details about the decision on your case.

Higher-Level Review

You can request a review of your case by a higher-level reviewer. This reviewer will assess whether an error or a difference of opinion exists that may change the decision. It is important to note that you cannot submit new evidence with a Higher-Level Review.

You can request this review for a decision on an initial claim or a Supplemental Claim. However, it is essential to submit your request within one year from the date on your decision letter, and you cannot request a Higher-Level Review to seek a review of the decision from a Higher-Level Review or Board Appeal on the same issues.

Board Appeal

A board appeal is a decision review by a Veterans Law Judge at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). You can request a Board Appeal after a decision on an initial claim, Supplemental Claim, or Higher-Level Review decision. However, you can not request a Board Appeal immediately following a prior Board Appeal decision.

BVA gives you three options for pursuing this path: a direct review, evidence submission, and a hearing.

Direct Review Docket

The direct review option allows you to get your disability claim in front of a Veterans Law Judge at BVA. They will review your case based on the current facts and evidence already included in the original claim you submitted.

Keep in mind that this means they will not review new evidence, and you will not have a formal hearing. According to VA, on average, this process will take one year for BVA to complete.

Evidence Submission Docket

The evidence submission option allows you to submit new and relevant evidence for review by BVA. You might consider this option if you have new information that could affect the outcome of your claim, like medical records.

You will have to submit this new evidence within 90 calendar days of the date you file your appeal. On average, this path could take up to one and a half years for BVA to complete.

Hearing Docket

Finally, the hearing docket allows you to have a formal hearing with a Veterans Law Judge and to submit new evidence after the hearing.

You can speak with the Judge via video conference at your local VA office or in person at the BVA in Washington, DC. You can also add new evidence during the hearing and within 90 calendar days after the hearing. BVA will transcribe the hearing and add it to your VA disability claim file.

On average, this option could take up to two years for BVA to complete.

No matter which path you choose, working with an experienced VA disability attorney at Vetus Legal can benefit your case.

Court Appeals

You can challenge a decision made by the Board by appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC)

If the Board denies your appeal at the agency level, you have the right to appeal further. You can appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). This is the first court outside of the VA system for veterans’ appeals, and the court can review the Board’s decision for errors. Because it is a federal court, the help of an experienced VA lawyer increases the likelihood of a successful appeal.

The CAVC will review the Board’s decision and the evidence in your file at the time of that decision and then decide whether the decision contains an error that, if corrected, could change the outcome of the claim. If it contains such an error, it will send the case back to the Board to correct its errors.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC)

If the CAVC denies your appeal (also known as an affirmance), you can appeal further to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). The CAFC is a federal court that hears appeals from various specialized courts, including the CAVC.

However, it is important to note that the CAFC only reviews cases for legal errors, not factual errors. This means that the CAFC will not reconsider the facts of a case but will instead review whether the CAVC made a legal error in its decision.

Generally, to appeal to the CAFC, a veteran must file a notice of appeal within 81 calendar days of the CAVC decision. The CAFC will then review the appeal and issue a decision after it considers the arguments submitted by the veteran and by VA.

It is important to note that the appeals process can be complex and time-consuming. Veterans may benefit from seeking the assistance of a veterans disability attorney experienced in VA appeals.

What If I Have a Legacy VA Appeal?

If you have a legacy VA appeal for decisions made before February 19, 2019, you will continue through the legacy appeals process. During this process, you will have the option to enter into the current decision review process.

These steps generally include:

  1. Filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD): You must have filed a Notice of Disagreement (VA Form 21-0958) within 1 year of the date on your claim decision letter for old decisions.
    a. For new disagreements with decisions dated before February 19, 2019, you will need to file a Supplemental Claim instead because the one-year period now will have expired.
  2. Receiving a Statement of the Case (SOC): After filing your NOD, the VA reviews the evidence related to your appeal. If there wasn’t enough evidence to fully grant your appeal, they sent you a Statement of the Case (SOC).
  3. Decision to Opt-In: Depending on the date of the SOC, you may have the option to either continue with the legacy appeals process or opt into one of the three new decision review options introduced as of February 19, 2019.
    a. If the date on your SOC is before February 19, 2019, you must continue with the legacy appeals process.
    b. If the date on your SOC is after February 19, 2019, you have the option to continue with the legacy appeals process by submitting VA Form 9 or you can switch to the new system by opting into one of the three decision review options.
  4. Preparing a Supplemental Statement of the Case (optional): If you submit new evidence after receiving a SOC, the VA may continue to deny the claim and issue a Supplemental Statement of the Case. If you wish to remain in the legacy system, you must file a VA Form 9 within 60 calendar days of the date on the original SOC or within 30 calendar days of the date on any subsequent SSOC, whichever gives you more time to do so.
  5. Sending Your Appeal to the Board: Upon receipt of the VA Form 9, , your case is sent to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, with appeals prioritized based on the length of time they’ve been pending. You can request an “Advanced on Docket” status under certain circumstances.
  6. Hearing (optional): You can request a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge, where you’ll be asked questions about your appeal, but the judge won’t make a decision at the hearing.
  7. Board Decision: The Board reviews your appeal and generally decides each issue in one of three ways: Allowed (granting benefits), Remanded (needing more evidence), or Denied (not granting benefits).
  8. Appealing Further: If you disagree with the Board’s decision, you can appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims within 120 calendar days of the Board’s decision.

Given the complexity of the VA appeals process, many veterans find it beneficial to seek legal assistance from a VA appeals lawyer. A lawyer can help navigate the process, ensure all necessary documents are filed correctly and on time, and advocate on your behalf to increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

VA Giving You the Cold Shoulder? Start Your VA Appeal Now.

Are you a veteran with a denied VA disability claim?

Now is the time to take action and appeal your claim decision. At Vetus Legal, we focus on helping veterans just like you to appeal their VA disability claim decision. Our experienced team of lawyers is dedicated to providing you with the legal representation and support you need to ensure that your case is successful.

We understand the unique needs of veterans and will fight vigorously to get you the disability benefits you deserve. Contact us today for a free case review to learn more about how we can help you appeal your VA claim decision.