What Is a Board Remand?
A Board remand is a type of decision from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in which they determine that additional information is needed before making a final decision on a veteran’s claim for benefits.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) is a VA entity that conducts hearings and decides on veterans’ claims for benefits. When a veteran files a VA Form 9 in response to a Statement of the Case (SOC) issued by the VA regional office, their claim will go to the Board to be reviewed by a Veterans Law Judge. The Board will issue a decision after looking through the veteran’s file. The Board can issue three types of decisions: a grant, a denial, or a remand, or a combination of the three.
What Is a Remand?
A remand is a type of Board decision in which the Board requests additional information before making a final decision on a claim for benefits. There are several situations in which the Board will decide to remand a claim. The first is if the Board simply believes that they need additional information or evidence in order to come to a final determination. The second is if the Board does not believe that the regional office evaluated the veteran’s claim appropriately. The third is if additional evidence was submitted that the regional office did not review.
What Will the Remand Look Like?
The context and content of a remand will be different for every veteran’s claim. However, in each remand, the Board will lay out specific remand instructions that must be followed before they can rehear the case. The instructions are completed in order and the amount of instructions will vary between each decision. Below are some common pieces of evidence or information that the Board will request in a remand.
- Compensation and Pension Examination (C&P). The Board has the authority to remand claims in order to obtain a C&P exam. They often request an exam if they find that an exam already of record is inadequate or erroneous, or if the most recent exam is too old to provide an accurate picture of the veteran’s disability. Another instance in which the VA will request a new exam if they need clarification from a past examiner. If an examiner contradicts themselves in an exam or if they do not provide reasoning for their conclusions, the Board can ask for a clarifying opinion from that examiner.
- Medical Records. The Board can ask that additional medical records be obtained from private or VA medical facilities in order to better understand the veteran’s condition. This is a very common request in a remand.
- Service Records. If it appears that the veteran’s file is missing service records, or if the Board believes that additional service records will help substantiate a veteran’s claim, it can request that they be obtained. This is most common in claims for service connection in order to prove the veteran’s claimed in-service injury or stressor. The Board can request service medical records, Navy deck logs, or personnel records for the veteran’s claim. A common request from the Board in claims for service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other psychiatric disorders is to verify the veteran’s in-service stressor through the Joint Services Records Research Center (JSRRC).
- Evidence from the veteran. While looking through the veteran’s file, the Board may see that a key form or piece of evidence is missing that the veteran needs to provide for their claim. In cases of entitlement to Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU), veterans will need to provide a VA Form 21-8940, Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Individual Unemployability. If the veteran did not submit this form in the course of the appeal, the Board can remand the claim and request that this form be completed. The Board may also request lay statements from the veteran or caregivers, or ask for clarification from the veteran about something of record.
What Happens If My Case is Remanded?
If your case is remanded, your file will go back to the VA regional office so it can complete the Board’s remand instructions. As mentioned, these instructions must be completed in order by the regional office before the Board will review the veteran’s case. The regional office will work through each of the Board’s instructions, and will typically issue a VCAA notice requesting additional information from the veteran.
Once the regional office completes the Board’s remand instructions, it will issue a decision on the veteran’s claim. It can issue a rating decision if it sees that the veteran is entitled to the benefit he or she sought on appeal, or it can issue a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) if itis unable to grant benefits. The issuance of a SSOC will send the veteran’s claim back to the Board so the Board can make a final decision.
Board remands can delay a final decision on a veteran’s claim for benefits. Some veterans wait years for their cases to be reviewed by the Board and having your case remanded can be frustrating. If you received a Board remand and need help getting the most favorable outcome on your claim, call our office at 844-567-1185.
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