If you receive an unfavorable decision regarding your VA disability claim, it is important to be aware of the timeframes involved in filing an appeal. Under Appeals Reform, there will be a number of changes involving these deadlines.
Appeals Reform Deadlines for Veterans
Generally speaking, veterans will have one year to appeal unfavorable VA decisions. However, there are exceptions to this timeframe. As such, all deadlines within Appeals Reform based on the decision veterans receive are outlined below:
- Initial Rating Decision. Veterans have one year to appeal by opting in to one of three appeal lanes: the supplemental claim lane, higher-level review lane, and Notice of Disagreement (NOD) lane.
- Supplemental Claim Rating Decision. Veterans have one year to appeal by opting in to one of the three above-mentioned lanes.
- Higher-Level Review Rating Decision. Veterans have one year to appeal by filing either a supplemental claim or a Notice of Disagreement.
- Board Decision. Veterans can either file a supplemental claim within one year or appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) within 120 days.
- CAVC Decision. Veterans can either file a supplemental claim within one year or appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit within 60 days of judgement.
Importantly, if veterans do not appeal within the Appeals Reform deadlines, their decisions will become final. When a decision becomes final, veterans will lose their effective dates since the claim will no longer be continuous.
There are also certain Appeals Reform deadlines regarding the submission of evidence at the Board. Specifically, there will be an additional three options for veterans at the Board including the direct docket, hearing docket, and evidence docket. Veterans are permitted to submit additional evidence in both the hearing and evidence dockets while adhering to the following timeframes:
- Submitting evidence in the hearing docket. Veterans can submit additional evidence to the Board during their hearing or up to 90 days
- Submitting evidence in the evidence docket. Veterans can submit additional evidence to the Board with their NOD or within 90 days following submission of their NOD.
Does VA have any deadlines under Appeals Reform?
Similar to the Legacy Appeals system, VA does not operate under any mandated deadlines. However, VA has proposed several timeframe goals regarding the processing of decisions under Appeals Reform. Namely, in both the supplemental claim and higher-level review lanes, VA has set forth a 125-day goal for issuing decisions. In regards to the direct docket within the Board lane, VA has set forth a 365-day goal for issuing decisions. While both the hearing and evidence dockets are subject to longer wait times, VA intends to provide regular wait time predictions so that veterans can remain informed and up to date on the status of their appeals.