FAQ Friday: When the Board remands your appeal, what happens?
What is a remand?
When the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, also known as the Board or the BVA, makes a decision on your appeal, they can grant, deny, or remand your claim. If your claim (or a specific issue from your claim) is remanded, it will be sent back to your local VA Regional Office for further evidence collection or for other procedural reasons.
More generally, “remand” is a legal term that describes the process in which a superior court remands – or sends back – an appeal to a lower court for another look. In a typical system, a higher court usually remands a case when a lower court interprets a law incorrectly. In VA’s system, appeals are remanded for many reasons.
Importantly, having your case remanded is not necessarily a bad thing. The Board may order the Regional Office to analyze the case in a way that is more favorable to the veteran, or give the veteran a chance to further develop the evidence of record. Again, a remand is an order that must be followed. If the Regional Office fails to follow the instructions given by the Board in the remand, then you have the right to appeal again.
Why did the Board remand my appeal?
The Board may remand your appeal if:
- There has been any change in law;
- Your disability has worsened while on appeal;
- You introduce new evidence to the record;
- The Regional Office didn’t process your claim correctly (e.g. VA did not analyze your case under the proper legal framework); or
- The Regional Office did not gather enough evidence or did not gather the right evidence. VA has attempted to reduce the number of times this happens by gathering evidence correctly the first time; however, these mistakes still occur on occasion.
This is not a complete list of reasons your claim may have been remanded. The Board, however, should explain in the decision why your claim was remanded and what evidence or action the Regional Office needs to complete.
What happens after my appeal is remanded?
Your appeal is sent back to your Regional Office (RO). The Board will send your claims file to your local VA Regional Office, where your claim was first adjudicated. The Board provides a list of tasks that it wants the Regional Office (as well as you and your attorney) to do before the Regional Office issues a new decision.
Evidence is gathered. If more evidence is needed, the Regional Office requests the appropriate evidence from you. You have 30 days to submit this evidence. Typically, the duty to assist law applies here, meaning VA is required to help you develop your claim. This might mean, for example, scheduling you for another exam or getting records on your behalf. In some remand situations, VA may ask you to attend another C&P Exam. VA’s duty to assist also exists when you first submit a completed claim.
If the RO grants your claim. That’s great!
If the RO continues to deny your claim, it will send you a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) and return your case to the Board. The Board will grant, deny, or remand your case again. There is no limit on the number of times a Board judge may remand your case. If your case is remanded a second time, the process starts anew. If the Board denies your claim, you may choose to appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).
How long will all this take?
Once your claim arrives at the Regional Office, it should remain there for a minimum of 30 days, which is the time allotted for you to submit new evidence. In reality, once a case is remanded by the Board it can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months before the Regional Office issues a new decision.
If the RO denies your claim, it is returned to the Board. Once an appeal has reached the Board it usually takes several months to review it. The time it takes to complete the Board review process will vary depending upon the current backlog at the Board.
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