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Searching Bva Decisions


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#1 Gunner9835

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 02:35 AM

I know I saw somewhere that someone listed a trick to use while searching BVA decisions off the web, like a way to target certain claims and cut out the non important info???? Anyone know what I'm talking about?

#2 Tbird

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 03:57 AM

here's a link to the bva search http://www.index.va....rch/va/bva.html I have created a demo movie on how to search hadit.com which may help here it is

I know I saw somewhere that someone listed a trick to use while searching BVA decisions off the web, like a way to target certain claims and cut out the non important info???? Anyone know what I'm talking about?



#3 Berta

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 06:37 AM

There are some ways to hone in on BVA decision that you need.

I had a recent situation where I was asked to help with a CAVC case but the advocate didnt have their BVA decision critical to anything I could offer as to their pending CAVC issue).I had to find it myself.

I knew the BVA decision had to be within 3 months of their CAVC docket date.So I stayed in the 2010 decisions and then searched under some key words in the CAVC docket motions.Like " High Altitude flight " and I was surprised to find I narrowed this down to 2 cases at the BVA and the first one that popped up was the one I needed.

I knew the vet's lawyer's name- another way to narrow down the list- but he was unrepresented at the BVA so that didnt help but in some cases it could help.

My former rep brought a vet to my home years ago as he was stumped with the denials the vet had gotten.The vet was trying to prove inservice diabetes with no inservice diagnosis.

They called me by cell as they thought they were lost and ended up at a diary farm but I was right down the road from the diary farm a few mnutes away.I asked the rep before he hung up-if he remembered to bring the vet's BVA decision but he had forgotten it! (I had reminded him many times!!! :wacko: )

I had a few key words to search for -Army ,1960s, venereal disease, Texas,African American,and I knew his MOS.

Bingo- I found the case just as they pulled into my driveway.

It took about a year but I helped this vet get SCed for diabetes, manifested in service.

He did have an IMO before he got here but it was awful. I wrote up a guideline for the doctor to follow along with my
lay medical assessment of what I had found in his SMRs (which were extremely difficult to read)

So between the much better IMO ,his SMRs, and some help from me- he succeeded in a case that had been in the VA system for TWELVE years and at CAVC twice.It was a lot of work and his rep was shocked when he won.

I ended up reading his BVA decision many many times.The KEY to his SC award was within the very first paragraph of the decision.One medical WORD.

I asked the vet and the rep what the word meant. They didn't have a clue and never looked it up.By this time 2 LAWYERS the vet had at the CAVC had never looked up this word.

When they left I got on the net and found what it meant.It was a documented manifestation of his diabetes inservice.
It was also listed in the Diabetes Training letter which I circled with a highlighter and submitted with his better IMO.


I could have never helped him get the valid IMO without a thorough study of his last BVA denial.

I study BVA decisions every week and sometimes every day.They have helped me in awelath of ways.Once you get the feel of the pulse of BVA and how they 'talk' and think- it helps to word a claim from the git go that will be properly decided if it ends up at the BVA.

Searching by disability at BVA shows how they use the Schedule of Ratings rgarding specific claims and how they weight the evidence.

Also BVA citations can become relevant to some claims and the veteran could use them if they are Precedent Decisions by the CAVC or OGC that could be relevant to their claim.

I found VA had violated the VCAA in my last case by finding a remand for similar lack of proper wording in another widow's claim.

Also BVA cases reflect the thinking patterns of the BVA.At times they are quite abrupt . I saw a case the other day where the veteran had claimed over 20 disabilities. He didn't have diagnosis of most of them and as the BVA indicated, the OIG was looking into a false document ( his DD 214 had been altered) that he had supplied to the VA.The BVA had continued the appeal fr remand on one isse that he really did have but it sounded to me like the veteran would not see a dime if the OIG pressed charges on him.
Anyone reading this type of BVA case is reminded well that before you help a vet one to one- best to see their DD 214 and look it over carefully.

Yo can also eliminate words like “denied” from a search you are dpiong at the BVA. Then from that list you can eliminate the word “remand” and then yo will narrow down your search to claims under your main search topic that have been awarded (or in a few cases dismissed.)

While BVA decisions are not prejudicial, they can be used in certain claims situations.
For exanmple in order to prove my CUE I refernced 4 BVA decision as to their legal aspects regarding M21-1 MR and 2 of these cases cited an OGC Pres Op that I submitted in full to stress my allegation of legal error(CUE)

Different types of claims can be searched initially by putting DIC, or Section 1151, or CUE into the BVA browser then narrowing them down.

It takes time to use the BVA web site and it can be time well spent.
One other thing-always look for the most current decision you can find for a specific search, as this will hold recent citations or even any changes in the regs or M21-1MR that could be critical info to what you are seeking.

Edited by Berta, 01 April 2011 - 07:03 AM.


#4 broncovet

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 07:17 AM

If you are trying to do research to support case law to support your claim, I would humbly suggest you search CAVC cases first. While this has been discussed before, CAVC cases which are "panel" (3 judges) or en banc (all the judges) are considered precedential, while BVA or "single judge" CAVC cases are non-precedential.
In other words if you have a similar situation as the claimant, the VA judge is required to rule in a similar manner in all precendial cases. However, if the case is not precedential, the judge may or may not consider how another judge ruled in a similar case.

That being said, BVA cases often cite CAVC, or even Federal cases, so BVA decisions are helpful in preparing your case as Berta has pointed out. I am not disputing what BERTA said...that BVA cases can help you learn from the get go how to word your claim...but if you want to cite a case, given a choice, you make it stronger by citing a precedential case. If there is no precedential case, then certainly cite the BVA case, or as Berta suggested, cite several.

I think some poeple here have opined that they use BVA cases and cite them in defending their positiion..and that is okay...but I do think if you cite precedential case law, you are making a stronger case in support of your position, but that is JMHO.

Edited by broncovet, 01 April 2011 - 07:25 AM.


#5 Hoppy

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 11:22 AM

The trick that I use and that fanaticbooks put on her website is to search for the name of your condition with the phrase "is granted"

examples - YOU MUST INCLUDE THE QUOTATIONS

"PTSD is granted"

"angioedema is granted"

- This will get a high search return showing cases that were awarded. There will be some not so focused.
However, this gets a well focused search return. You can also use the "is denied" to get perspective. Hopefully this gets rid of all the remand cases.

Edited by Hoppy, 01 April 2011 - 11:22 AM.


#6 Berta

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 09:27 AM

VERY GOOD advice Hoppy-

Remands tell us nothing as to the outcome.

When a claimant gets remand-in my opinion- they should try to do whatever the remand asked the RO to do-if possible.

When BVA remanded my claim for a cardiologist opinion-
I immediately got in touch with a cardio doctor and paid for an IMO.

But the remanded VA opinion came from a PA,not cardio doc, and was too speculative.(and easy for me to knock down in a rebuttal I sent to the BVA).The BVA already had 3 IMos from me.

The cardio doc had not even had time to prepare the IMO when my BVA award suddenly came and then he refunded some of the IMO fee.

I dont regret jumping the gun with the IMO money.Because I thought I would get a real cardio VA opinion. My evidence was strong yet I didn't expect any VA cardio doc to support the claim- as part of it involved a top VA cardio doc's negligence anyhow.

Other remands seeking records or SSA stuff etc- in those cases sometimes the vet can find exactly what the BVA expects the VARO to get and get it faster, and send it to the BVA themselves.

This does not work in most cases of remands but is worth a try in some.

#7 deanbrt

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 08:38 AM

I went and got my Social Security records on my own and had them sent in for this reason....

VERY GOOD advice Hoppy-

Remands tell us nothing as to the outcome.

When a claimant gets remand-in my opinion- they should try to do whatever the remand asked the RO to do-if possible.

When BVA remanded my claim for a cardiologist opinion-
I immediately got in touch with a cardio doctor and paid for an IMO.

But the remanded VA opinion came from a PA,not cardio doc, and was too speculative.(and easy for me to knock down in a rebuttal I sent to the BVA).The BVA already had 3 IMos from me.

The cardio doc had not even had time to prepare the IMO when my BVA award suddenly came and then he refunded some of the IMO fee.

I dont regret jumping the gun with the IMO money.Because I thought I would get a real cardio VA opinion. My evidence was strong yet I didn't expect any VA cardio doc to support the claim- as part of it involved a top VA cardio doc's negligence anyhow.

Other remands seeking records or SSA stuff etc- in those cases sometimes the vet can find exactly what the BVA expects the VARO to get and get it faster, and send it to the BVA themselves.

This does not work in most cases of remands but is worth a try in some.