Veterans and other claimants for VA benefits have the right to appeal decisions made by a VA regional office, medical center or National Cemetery Administration (NCA) office. Typical issues appealed are disability compensation, pension, education benefits, recovery of overpayments, reimbursement for unauthorized medical services, and denial of burial and memorial benefits.
A claimant has one year from the date of the notification of a VA decision to file an appeal. The first step in the appeal process is for a claimant to file a written notice of disagreement with VA regional office, medical center or national cemetery office that made the decision. Following receipt of the written notice, VA will furnish the claimant a “Statement of the Case” describing what facts, laws, and regulations were used in deciding the case. To complete the request for appeal, the claimant must file a “Substantive Appeal” within 60 days of the mailing of the Statement of the Case, or within one year from the date VA mailed its decision, whichever period ends later.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (“the Board”) makes decisions on appeals on behalf of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Although it is not required, a veterans service organization, an agent, or an attorney may represent a claimant. Appellants may present their cases in person to a member of the Board at a hearing in Washington, D.C., at a VA regional office or by videoconference.
Decisions made by the Board can be found at www.index.va.gov/ search/va/bva.html. The pamphlet, “Understanding the Appeal Process,” is available on the website or may be requested by writing: Mail Process Section (014), Board of Veterans’ Appeals, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20420.
A final Board of Veterans’ Appeals decision that does not grant a claimant the benefits desired may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The court is an independent body, not part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Notice of an appeal must be received by the court with a postmark that is within 120 days after the Board of Veterans’ Appeals mailed its decision. The court reviews the record considered by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. It does not hold trials or receive new evidence.
Appellants may represent themselves before the court or have lawyers or approved agents as representatives. Oral argument is held only at the direction of the court. Either party may appeal a decision of the court to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and may seekreview in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Published decisions, case status information, rules and procedures, and other special announcements can be found at http://www. uscourts.cavc.gov/. The court’s decisions can also be found in West’s Veterans Appeals Reporter, and on the Westlaw and LEXIS online services. For questions, write the Clerk of the Court, 625 Indiana Ave. NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20004, or call (202) 501-5970.