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What is the VA Disability Appeals Success Rate for Veterans?

August 1, 2019
claims decisions

In fiscal year 2018, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals resolved a record number of claims to date.  Specifically, the Board issued 85,288 decisions to veterans, which not only exceeded its goal, but also represented an increase of 33, 277 decisions from FY 2017.  However, how many of these decisions are approvals and in favor of the veterans’ claims?  In this blog post, we will discuss the VA disability appeals success rate for veterans in further detail.

Grants, Denials, and Remands at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals

Once a veteran’s case is reviewed by a Veterans Law Judge, the Board usually issues one of three decisions:

  • When granting a veteran’s appeal, the Board will often only issue a grant of benefits and order the Regional Office to issue a Rating decision that assigns a disability rating and effective date.  However, the Board can also grant specific ratings and effective dates if warranted.
  • The Board will deny a claim when it determines that the veteran is not entitled to the benefits sought on appeal.  Veterans have the right to appeal Board denials to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) within 120 days if they believe the Board made a legal error in their case.
  • A Board remand is when the Board sends a claim back to the VA Regional Office in order to gather more information and complete further development.  Remands occur when the Board does not believe it has enough information to make a final decision.  Each remand includes instructions that the Regional Office must follow before the Board can revisit the claim.

Importantly, a Board decision can include any combination of these three if there is more than one issue on appeal.

Fiscal Year 2018: Board of Veterans’ Appeals Approval Rate

The Board of Veterans’ Appeals Annual Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 indicated that the VA disability appeals success rate for veterans was 35.75 percent.  Specifically, out of 85,288 decisions issued, 30,492 were allowed, or granted.  Of this 35.75 percent, 19.61 percent (16,729) were allowed without any remanded issues, while 16.14 percent (13,763) were allowed with at least one remanded issue.

Within the 85,288 decisions completed in FY 2018, VA decided on a total of 253,450 issues.  Out of the 253,450 issues decided, VA allowed 19 percent (48,572) of them.  Importantly, 15 percent (38,964) of the allowed issues did not involve new and material evidence whereas only 4 percent (9,608) did.

Other important statistics regarding the Board’s decisions in FY 2018 include the following:

  • 9 percent of decisions were remands
  • 8 percent of decisions were denials
  • 6 percent of decisions were other dispositions, such as dismissals

VA Disability Appeals Process Timeline

The length of the VA disability appeals process can vary tremendously based on many factors, including the number of issues for which a veteran is filing a claim, the complexity of the case, and whether the veteran is in the old appeals system (i.e. the legacy appeals system) or the new appeals system (i.e. Appeals Modernization Act).  While the Annual Report for FY 2018 makes it seem as though VA is processing decisions in a more timely and efficient manner, here is a look at the average wait times:

Legacy Appeals System

  • 419 days: average time between when VA receives an NOD to when it issues an SOC
  • 537 days: average time between when VA receives an appeal to the Board to when it certifies that appeal
  • 222 days: average time between when the appeal is certified to the Board and when it is placed on the Board’s docket
  • 270 days: average time between when the appeal is docketed to when the Board issues a decision

Appeals Modernization Act

  • 125-day goal for issuing decisions in the higher-level review and supplemental claim lanes
  • 365-day goal for issuing decisions in the direct docket of the Board lane

 

What to Do If Your VA Disability Appeal Was Denied

If your VA disability appeal was denied, you have the right to appeal that decision again.  Under the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA), veterans have one year to appeal unfavorable decisions from VA using one of the following three review options, or lanes:

  • Higher-Level Review Lane
  • Supplemental Claim Lane
  • Notice of Disagreement Lane (i.e. Appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals) – this lane includes three dockets: the direct docket, evidence docket, and hearing docket

Determining which lane to choose often depends on the circumstances of your case, including whether you want to submit additional evidence or attend a VA hearing.  At this point, it may be beneficial to seek help from a veterans advocate who is familiar with the new VA appeals system.

Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD

For more information regarding the VA disability appeals success rate for veterans, call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD.  If you received a denial from VA, we may be able to help you appeal.  Contact us at 800-544-9144.