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How Do I Appeal
Posted 22 September 2011 - 12:14 PM
1. How do I appeal to BVA?
In order to appeal to BVA, you must complete certain steps within designated time periods.
BVA’s How Do I Appeal? Pamphlet will guide you through these steps and the appeals process.
2. I do not have a representative helping me with my appeal. How do I find one?
Although it is not required, you may decide to be represented by an accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO), attorney, or claims agent. To help you find one, VA has a searchable list of accredited representatives here. You may also find a contact list of VSOs online at: http://www.va.gov/vso. To choose any representative, you must execute a Power of Attorney and mail the completed form to BVA at: Board of Veterans’ Appeals, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20420.
3. What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney (POA) is an agreement that authorizes one person to act on behalf of another person. In the context of BVA proceedings, appellants often execute a POA with an accredited representative, such as a Veterans Service Organization (VSO), private attorney, or claims agent. This allows the representative, who is familiar with Veterans law and the VA claims/appeals process, to act on their behalf by submitting evidence and argument in support of the case. For a searchable list of accredited representatives, please click here.
You are not required to have a representative for any VA proceedings, to include BVA appeals, but if you would like one, you must submit a VA form that gives your designated representative the authority to act on your behalf. Click here to view and download the VA form to appoint a VSO, or click here for the VA form to appoint a non-VSO representative, such as a private attorney or claims agent. If you do decide to execute a POA, remember to submit the completed form to BVA by mail to: Board of Veterans’ Appeals, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20420, or by fax to (202) 565-4720.
4. Is a Power of Attorney required?
No. You can always represent yourself before VA, including in your appeal before BVA.
5. Do I need to have a BVA hearing?
No. BVA hearings are strictly optional in nature and are not required for a Veterans Law Judge to decide your appeal.
6. I have additional evidence to send to BVA. Where do I send it?
If you would like to send additional evidence or other correspondence to BVA, you may mail it to us at: Board of Veterans’ Appeals, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20420 or fax it to (202) 565-4720. Please consider providing a waiver of initial consideration of any evidence you send.
7. What is a waiver of initial consideration of evidence by a local VA office?
By law, you have the right to have the local VA office conduct an initial review of any new evidence submitted in your case, even if the case is with BVA and the evidence has been submitted directly to BVA. See 38 C.F.R. § 20.1304©. If you provide a waiver of this right, then you agree to let BVA consider the new evidence and issue a decision without your local VA office reviewing that evidence first. Alternatively, if you chose not to waive this right, BVA must then automatically remand your appeal (i.e., send your appeal back to your local VA office) so that office can conduct an initial review of the new evidence and issue a new decision. If you choose to waive initial review by the local VA office, you must submit a statement to this effect in writing with the evidence to: Board of Veterans’ Appeals, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20420, or fax to (202) 565-4720. You may also waive this right on the record at a BVA hearing, if you have one.
8. What is a docket number and how does it affect my appeal?
A docket number reserves your place in the line of cases to be decided by BVA. BVA assigns this number to your case based on the date VA received your substantive appeal to BVA (e.g., your VA Form 9). By law, BVA must consider appeals in the order in which they are entered on the docket.
9. Can I request that my appeal be advanced on BVA’s docket so it will be decided faster?
Yes. You may submit a request that BVA decide your appeal faster, and BVA has the authority to grant such a request in limited circumstances, to include if you are of advanced age (75 years or older), have financial hardship or a serious illness, or for other sufficient cause. See 38 C.F.R. § 20.900©. If you want to make a request to advance your case, you (or your representative, if you have one) must do so in writing, and you must include the following information: (1) identify the specific reason(s) why you seek advancement; (2) the name of the Veteran; (3) the name of the appellant, if other than the Veteran (i.e., a Veteran’s survivor, guardian, or fiduciary); and (4) the applicable VA file number. You (or your representative, if any) must send your written request to: Director, Management, Planning and Analysis (014), Board of Veterans’ Appeals, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20420.
10. What is a remand?
A remand from BVA to your local VA office sends your case back to that office with certain instructions for the office to follow. In any remanded case, BVA has made a determination that it cannot fully or fairly adjudicate your appeal until the local VA office performs the actions outlined in the remand instructions. BVA may remand a case for a variety of reasons. These can include: collecting additional information or records, providing a VA medical examination, or ensuring that the local VA office follows certain legal procedures that afford you due process. If any action is required on your part, you will be notified directly by mail. After your local VA office complies with the instructions, your appeal will be automatically returned to BVA.
11. My case has been transferred to another location (such as, the Regional Office (RO), Appeals Management Center (AMC), VA Medical Center (VAMC), VA Office of General Counsel (OGC), or National Cemetery Administration (NCA)). What happens now?
When BVA transfers your case to any of the above locations, it means that additional processing or other action must occur at that location. Accordingly, if you have questions about your case, please contact the specific location where your case has been transferred.
12. Can I appeal a decision made by BVA?
Yes. If you are not satisfied with a BVA decision on any or all issues that the Board allowed, denied, or dismissed, you have the following options, which are listed in no particular order of importance: appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Court); file with the Board a motion for reconsideration of the decision; file with the Board a motion to vacate the decision; file with the Board a motion for revision of the decision based on clear and unmistakable error. For additional information and further details about these options, please consult the VA Form 4597 that accompanied the BVA decision on your case. Please also note that if the Board remanded an issue (or issues) in your case, that particular issue is not appealable because further action must be taken by the local VA office before BVA can issue a final, appealable, decision on that issue.
13. What is a BVA Ombudsman and what does an Ombudsman do?
A BVA Ombudsman is an employee of BVA who helps to answer questions that you may have about your case. To learn more about the Ombudsman and the services provided, click here. You may reach the BVA Status line at (202) 632-4623, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST).
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