Understanding a BVA hearing. VA understands that if you don’t agree with the initial decision VA made on your claim and choose to appeal to the BVA, there is a range of options available. But it can be difficult for many people to decide what’s best for them since they may not know what lies ahead. To help you make an informed choice, here are some possible paths your case may take.
A Veteran Law Judge explains the process of a BVA Hearing what veterans need to do and how a BVA Hearing is conducted either in person or via Virtual Meeting. This is great information for Veterans that need their decision made.
In the video, Judge Tanya Smith, a Veterans Law Judge, explains to Veterans what to expect, what to prepare, and what happens after a BVA hearing.
For your convenience here is a transcript of the video
Hello, I am Cheryl Mason,
Chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
Listening to Veteran feedback, we have heard that Veterans
are not sure what to expect during a Board hearing.
In this video, one of my colleagues, Judge Tanya Smith
will walk you through what happens during your hearing,
and answer some of your questions.
As a Veterans Law Judge for more than 14 years, before I
became Chairman, people often ask me for tips about how to
prepare for their hearings. My advice is to work with your
representative, make sure you have your evidence ready, and
answer the Judge’s questions to the best of your ability.
Remember, the Board Judge is there to here to help you.
With that, I will turn this over to Judge Smith.
And to all Veterans, family members, and caregivers, thank you for your service.
Hello. This is the Board of Veterans Appeals Board
Hearing Overview. Thank You for taking the time to watch
this video. My name is Judge Tanya Smith
and I am a Veterans Law Judge at the Board
of Veterans Appeals today I am going
to give you an overview of the Board hearing process.
During this video, you will learn about the variety of
ways a Board hearing can take place. I’ll also tell you
what to expect during a Board hearing, and what happens
after your Board hearing and finally, we’ll go over the
decision process and when you can expect to get your decision.
To start, you should know that you do not have to
have a hearing. Board hearings are entirely optional and not
necessary for the Board to decide your appeal. To save
wait time, you may instead choose to submit a written
statement in support of your appeal and a Veterans
Law Judge will carefully review and consider any statements
you submit before deciding your appeal. If you do decide to have
a hearing, VA strongly supports having an accredited
representative with you at your hearing, such as someone from
a Veterans Service Organization, or VSO, a VA-accredited
lawyer, or a claims agent. You can find a list of
representatives on the VA’s website at
Hearings at the Board can take place in a variety of ways and
you are encouraged to choose the format that best fits your
circumstances: One option is a virtual tele-hearing that can
be held from your home or from a location of your choosing
You are no longer required to travel to a VA facility
for a hearing. A virtual tele-hearing is an easy, modern
way to connect with a Veterans Law Judge from any location.
Using your computer or mobile device, you will connect
directly to a secure, virtual tele-hearing room scheduled
just for you. During this meeting, you and the Judge can
see and hear each other and talk just as you would face to
face. Your representative, caregiver, family member, or
whomever you choose can be with you. Another option is a
videoconference hearing at a VA location near you. The Board
will contact you via a letter to schedule your appearance and
inform you of the date, time, and place of your hearing.
You will report to your hearing location with your
representative and anyone else you would like with you for
support. The VA Regional facility that is hosting your
hearing will use state-of-the-art equipment to connect
a video and audio feed to a Veterans Law Judge in
Washington DC who will hear your story?
Finally, your third option is you can elect to travel to
Washington D.C. to have an in-person hearing at the
Board of Veterans’ Appeals. You might be thinking: which
hearing is right for me? The answer is, it completely
depends on your circumstances. One really great advantage
of choosing a virtual tele-hearing instead of an
in-person hearing is that you won’t have to travel anywhere.
This is really helpful especially if your closest
The regional office is far from your home. You can have
your hearing from your home, from your car:
as long as you have a strong connection and a phone,
computer, or tablet, you can have your hearing.
I’m now going to talk about what happens during
your Board hearing, regardless of which option you choose.
Just before your hearing begins, the judge may conduct
a pre-hearing conference. At this conference some
preliminary matters will be reviewed, such as issues
that are going to be discussed and whether you are submitting
any additional evidence at your hearing. At the start
of the hearing, the judge will ask you to raise your right
hand, if possible, and swear you in, asking you to take an
oath or affirm that you’ll tell the truth during the
hearing. During the hearing your representative
if you have one, and the judge will have a conversation
about the issues on appeal. Please keep in mind that these
hearings are an opportunity for you to tell your story, and
you should be comfortable in doing so. The judge will listen
to your testimony and may ask you a few questions to better
understand your case. Your representative, if you have one,
may help you at the hearing. Here are some
things you should do during the hearing. Tell the judge why you
you qualify for the VA benefits in your appeal. Answer any
questions the judge has about your appeal. Share any new
evidence with the judge – You can choose to add new and
relevant evidence, either at the hearing or within 90 days
after the hearing. Adding evidence is optional.
Hearings typically last about 30 minutes. Once your hearing
has concluded, please understand that the Veterans Law Judge
will not issue a decision on your appeal at that time. The
hearing is only a way for you to submit evidence and explain
your case to a Veterans Law Judge, not a way of obtaining
a decision in that moment. After the hearing,
a transcript of everything that was discussed during
the hearing will be added to your file as evidence, in
addition to any evidence you submit at the hearing.
The transcript will be reviewed by a Veterans Law Judge
when deciding your appeal. If you want a copy of the
transcript, you or your representative should
request one during your hearing. Okay, you’ve had your hearing,
and your transcript and evidence are all in your file.
Now what? Let’s talk about the Decision process.
Under the law, appeals at the Board must be worked in
docket order. That means that an appeal filed in 2016 will
be worked before an appeal filed in 2020. When the 90-day
the time period for submitting new evidence after your hearing has
concluded, your appeal will be placed on the docket
for a decision by a judge. If you don’t have new
evidence to submit, you can waive the 90-day time period
that is automatically added to your appeal. However, sometimes
Veterans Service Organizations will ask for time to make
additional arguments in support of your case, so contact your
representative first if you’re considering waiving this time
period. When the docket date is reached, the appeal will go to
the Judge, who will then review the hearing transcript and
the other evidence in your appeal file before making a
decision. You will receive your decision in the mail
and your representative will also receive a copy. You can
track the status of your appeal by signing in at www.VA.gov.
At the Board, our mission is you – the Veteran and your
family. Your hearing is an opportunity to sit down with VA
and tell your story so that the Judge has the information to
decide your appeal. Every Veteran’s story and experience
is unique, and we are here to guide you through this process
to ensure you receive the benefits and services you
deserve. For more information about the Board, please
visit BVA Thank you.