Understanding Board of Veterans Appeals Decision
VA disability compensation is a monthly benefit paid to veterans who have been injured while on active duty. Both physical and mental health conditions can qualify a person for such benefits. In order for a claim to be approved, the veteran must show they have a disability that stems from their time in the service. If you have received a decision and have appealed it up to the Board of Veterans Appeals, you will eventually receive a decision from a Veterans Law Judge. Keep reading to learn how to understand a BVA Decision.
Understanding the VA Claim Process
The VA claim process is a complicated one. Many who apply for benefits will receive a decision from their Regional Office, or RO, with which they disagree. Know that the claims examiners at the regional level do not have final say over the benefit decision. A veteran can file a Notice of Disagreement, or NOD, to appeal the decision. Upon receiving the NOD, the VA may reconsider the claim and grant benefits or deny benefits at which time the veteran may appeal the case up to the Board of Veterans Affairs, or BVA. The appeal process can take years, but will ultimately result in a BVA decision. The BVA decision can result in three different outcomes. The decision is either:
- Overturned, or granted
- Upheld, or denied
When the BVA overturns a decision, the veteran will be granted their request for benefits. This is a final decision on the matter, and benefits may no longer be denied. Often the decision is a remand by the BVA.
What does remanded mean? A remand is when the Veterans Law Judge (VLJ) at the BVA who reviewed your case determines there is additional information needed to decide your claim. It asks that the claim be sent back down to the RO for additional development (i.e. an exam, pulling records etc.). The remand will include instructions for the RO to complete before rendering a new decision.
For example, if a veteran suffered a broken hip and needs a replacement, they might file for disability benefits. The veteran had a Compensation and Pension exam, or C&P, to determine if the disability stemmed from their military service. Unfortunately, the doctor did not clearly indicate whether the injury was a result of the aging process or from the veteran’s military service. The RO denied the claim because there was no evidence that the injury was connected to their time in the military.
Should the veteran choose to appeal this decision, the BVA may remand the claim back to the RO. Rather than weigh in on the disability rating or whether the hip injury was service-connected, the BVA will ask the RO to collect medical evidence of the current condition of the hip injury. The BVA may even request another C&P exam or medical opinion of the veteran’s injury to have the issue addressed by a doctor.
When the BVA upholds an RO’s decision, a veteran is not out of options. Veterans may still file an appeal with the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, or CAVC. A federal court, the CAVC is not part of the VA. BVA decisions may also be remanded, upheld or overturned by the CAVC. Veterans may continue to appeal at the Federal Circuit Court or even petition for the case to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
While a lawyer is not required for CAVC cases, veterans can benefit from bringing legal experts on. Although no new evidence can be entered at this point in the process, an attorney can help point out legal errors made by the Veterans Law Judge when making their decision.
How Veterans Law Group Can Help
The appeals process can be overwhelming, especially for veterans struggling with painful injuries. The Veterans Law Group can help with navigating the oftentimes difficult filing process when working through the appeal decisions. We believe our wounded warriors deserve the benefits they earned and are eager to advocate on their behalf. If you have been diagnosed with a health condition related to your time in the service and have received a decision you are not happy with, complete our ‘consultation request’ form to see how our experienced attorneys may be able to help you.