What is a CAVC Docket?
In order to appreciate how CAVC appeals work, veterans will need to understand what the CAVC docket is and how relates to the CAVC appeal process. Continue reading to learn more about the CAVC docket and what they mean for your appeal.
What is the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC)?
The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) is a court, located in Washington D.C., dedicated to deciding the appeals of veterans, or their dependents, who have previously been denied or received an unfavorable decision at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). While the CAVC is the next step in the appeal process after a BVA decision, the CAVC is not a part of VA. The CAVC has exclusive jurisdiction over VA, meaning that it operates differently than and has authority over VA.
Judges at the CAVC are appointed by the President of the United States and must be confirmed by the Senate. Cases may be decided by a single judge or by a panel of judges. These judges rule on all types of benefits issues, including disability compensation, educational assistance, survivors benefits, and pension benefits.
How to Appeal to the CAVC
If a veteran disagrees with a decision from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in the Legacy system, the only option for appeal is to appeal to the CAVC within 120 days, or they will lose their effective date. If a veteran does not appeal within this window, they will have to file a supplemental claim, which will result in a new effective date.
Appealing to the Court under the AMA system is similar to the Legacy system. After the Board issues a decision, the veteran will have 120 days to file their appeal to the CAVC, otherwise the decision will become final. However, instead of taking their case to the Court, AMA also offers veterans the option to file a supplemental claim with new and relevant evidence at the Regional Office level if they disagree with their BVA decision.
To file an appeal with the CAVC, the veteran needs to complete a Notice of Appeal. The form requires information such as the veteran or claimant’s name if the claimant is a dependent, date of birth, and the date of the Board decision that the veteran is appealing. The Notice of Appeal can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to the Court using the contact information below:
Clerk of the Court
United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
625 Indiana Avenue NW, Suite 900
Washington DC, 2004-2950
Fax: (202) 501-5848
Email for represented claimants: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email for self-represented claimants: email@example.com
What Happens Next—the CAVC Docket
Once the appeal has been filed, the CAVC then places the veteran’s case on the docket. The docket is the Court’s record and schedule of proceedings. If your case is on the docket, it means that it is on the Court’s agenda of cases that need to be adjudicated.
Once the case is on the docket, the Court will issue the veteran, their representative (if applicable), and VA a Notice of Docketing. When a case is added to the CAVC docket, it has officially become a court case.
What Happens After the Case is on the Docket?
After the veteran’s case is added to the docket, the CAVC process is officially underway. Following this, VA needs to supply the veteran with a copy of their complete file and a copy of the BVA decision on appeal. This is known as the Record Before Agency (RBA). The Court then issues a 60-day Notice to File Brief. It is important to note that the Court reviews a closed record, meaning that veterans cannot submit any new evidence into the record for their appeal.
After this, the veteran or their representative needs to review the RBA and submit their Designation of Record (DOR) to the Court within 60 days of docketing. Then the CAVC will schedule a briefing conference and inform all involved parties.
Typically, the veteran, or their representative, will participate in a telephone conference with VA’s representative. A member of the CAVC’s Central Legal Staff usually moderates this call as both parties try to resolve the issue during the call. If the issues cannot be resolved, the case will proceed before Court.
Following all of this, and once all the records and briefs have been submitted to the CAVC, then the Court will assign a judge to the case to render a decision.
Do You Need Representation for Your CAVC Appeal?
Representation is often key to the success of your CAVC appeal. This is because the process of appealing to the CAVC can be very difficult for veterans to navigate on their own. As such, having a knowledgeable and experienced representative to guide you through the Court appeals process can be highly beneficial.
Notably, veterans can have two separate attorneys for over the course of their case. If you had one attorney for your VA case, you do not have to have the same representative handle your CAVC appeal.
The team at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick is qualified and skilled to handle both cases at the VA and CAVC levels. If you need help with your CAVC appeal, contact us today to see how we can help you.
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