If your application for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been denied, the VA’s decision review process gives you three options under the VA Appeals Modernization Act implemented in 2019: Supplemental Claim, Higher-Level Review, or Board Appeal. The Board Appeal option lets you appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) to have a veterans law judge review your case.
Requesting a BVA Hearing
You can request a Board Appeal after an initial claim, Supplemental Claim, or Higher-Level Review. To begin the process for a Board Appeal, you Submit Decision Review Request: Board Appeal (VA Form 10182.
Board hearings are an entirely optional part of your Board Appeal. You can opt to submit a written statement if desired.
Hearings at the BVA can take place in three different ways:
This can be held from your home or a location of your choosing, which eliminates the need to travel to a VA facility for your hearing. You can log on from your laptop, tablet, or cell phone to connect to a secure hearing room that will let you see, hear, and talk to the judge.
Videoconference hearing at a VA location.
This takes place at your regional VA office. The regional VA facility will connect a video and audio feed to allow you to communicate with the BVA judge.
If you wish to travel to Washington, D.C., you can meet with the BVA judge in person.
There is no “one-size-fits” all choice as to which hearing option is best for your case. It is a matter of personal preference. Your caregiver or support person is welcome to attend the hearing with you if desired.
An accredited representative is not required for a BVA hearing, but representation is strongly recommended. Your attorney can make sure that you have the necessary evidence ready and are prepared to answer any questions to the best of your ability. Statistics show that having legal representation increases your chances of a successful appeal by about 15%.
What to Expect at the Hearing
Before your hearing begins, there may be a pre-hearing conference to discuss preliminary matters. This includes whether you plan to submit additional evidence to support your case.
At the start of the hearing, you’ll be sworn in. This means, you’ll take an oath to tell the truth during the hearing. After you’re sworn in, your attorney and the judge will have a conversation about the specific issues related to your appeal. The judge will also listen to your testimony and ask you questions to better understand your case. Tell the judge why you believe you qualify for VA disability benefits while being honest and respectful.
Hearings typically last about 30 minutes. A decision won’t be issued immediately, however. The hearing is only a way to submit evidence and explain your case. It’s not a way to obtain an immediate answer as to whether or not you should receive VA disability benefits.
What Happens After the Hearing
A written transcript of the hearing will be added to your file in addition to whatever new evidence you’ve submitted. The transcript will be reviewed by the judge when deciding your appeal. Either you or your attorney can request a copy of this transcript for your records.
Under the law, appeals at the BVA must be worked in docket order. When the 90-day time period for submitting new evidence after your hearing has been completed, your appeal will be added to the docket. If you don’t have new evidence, you can waive this 90-day period to be added to the docket more quickly.
When the docket date is reached, the appeal will go to the judge. The judge will then review the transcript and evidence to make a decision. A decision letter will be mailed to both you and your attorney.
You can check the status of your claim online or by phone at any time.
Do You Need to Speak With a Veterans Benefits Lawyer?
If you need to speak with an experienced veterans benefits lawyer, please contact us online, or call our Virginia Beach office to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia, including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, and Suffolk.