The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) is a part of the VA that conducts hearings and makes decisions on veterans’ claims for benefits. In the context of the VA appeals process, veterans can appeal to the Board by filing a VA Form 9 in response to a Statement of the Case issued by the VA regional office. An appeal will result in a Board decision and each type is outlined below.
Once a veteran files a VA Form 9, they will receive a letter stating that their appeal has been certified to the Board. This signifies the regional office transferring jurisdiction of the Veteran’s appeal from the regional office to the Board. Upon receipt, the Board will assign the appeal a docket number. Appeals are reviewed by Veterans Law Judges in docket order.
What Can a Board Decision Contain?
Once a case is reviewed by a Veterans Law Judge, the Board can decide one of three things: 1. Grant, 2. Deny, or 3. Remand, or a combination of the three if more than one issue is before the Board.
What Happens When the Board Grants a Claim?
When the Board reviews a case, it can decide to grant the benefits sought in the appeal. The Board will often only issue a grant of benefits and order the regional office to issue a rating decision detailing the veteran’s assigned rating and effective date. However, the Board decision can grant specific ratings and effective dates if the Board sees that they are specifically warranted.
Typically after the Board decision grants benefits, the veteran’s file will go back to the VA regional office where raters will assign a disability rating and effective date if the Board did not do so. When the regional office assigns each of these, it will issue a rating decision notifying the veteran of the grant of benefits. If the VA sees it owes the veteran a retroactive award, it will release the award at this time.
What Happens When the Board Denies a Claim?
The Board will deny a claim when it does not see that the veteran is entitled to the benefits sought on appeal. Veterans are able to appeal Board denials to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) if they believe the denial is improper. In other words, if the Veteran believes that the Board committed a legal error in his or her case, an appeal to the Court may be warranted.
The CAVC is an independent judicial entity, and is not a part of the VA system. The Court has jurisdiction over decisions made by the Board and veterans have 120 days from the date of their Board decision to appeal to CAVC. To learn more about the Court, click here for an overview.
In short, a Board denial is not the end of the road for veterans seeking disability benefits. Our office is uniquely qualified to appeal denials to Court. If you believe you were incorrectly denied in a Board decision, our office may be able to help.
What Happens When the Board Remands a Claim?
A Board remand is when the Board sends a claim back to the VA regional office in order to gather more information. A remand occurs when the Board does not believe that 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.
Some common remand instructions include scheduling the veteran for a Compensation and Pension Examination (C&P), obtaining additional medical or service records, or having the veteran complete a specific form for their claim. These instructions must be completed in order. For more on Board remands, read our blog here.
Once the regional office is finished with the Board’s remand instructions, it can either decide to grant the veteran’s claim if it sees that a grant is warranted, or issue a Supplemental Statement of the Case, sending the veteran’s claim back to the Board for a new decision.