The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) is the appellate body of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), meaning it has the ability to overrule a decision made by a VA regional office.
When you appeal a decision to the BVA, it reviews your case de novo. This means the Board gives your claim and the evidence you submit a fresh look. The BVA has jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to benefits administered by the VA and individuals receiving or applying for them.
Who makes up the BVA?
The BVA has a Chairman, a Vice Chairman, and a group of Veterans Law Judges who are also known as “Members of the Board.” The Board specifies no set number of judges. The count of judges can vary based on appeals volume at any given time.
The Board’s judges have a large administrative staff that consists of attorneys and other personnel. Staff members assist the judges with paperwork and reviewing claims. The Chairman presents a report at the end of each fiscal year that summarizes Board activity and projects appeals volume and staff needs for the upcoming fiscal year.
What does the BVA do?
The vast majority of the BVA’s work — over 98 percent — involves reviewing VA disability appeals. When the regional office renders a decision on a disability claim with which the applicant disagrees, the applicant has the option to appeal the claim to the BVA. The BVA then takes a new look at the claim and supporting evidence and issues a final decision. The BVA is not bound by the decision made at the regional level.
The BVA also handles appeals on other types of VA benefits. These include home loans, insurance, health care, education, and insurance benefits. Anytime an applicant for VA benefits disagrees with a decision made by the office that has original jurisdiction (in the case of disability benefits, the VA regional office), the applicant can appeal to the BVA.
Who makes decisions on behalf of the BVA?
Only Veterans Law Judges have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the BVA. They are the ones who issue final decisions on appeals.
The BVA’s support staff, including attorneys and administrative personnel, assist the judges in reviewing appeals. They help establish the facts and determine if the evidence corroborates the claims made by the applicant.
Does a BVA review require a hearing?
When you appeal a decision to the BVA, you have the option to request an in-person or videoconference hearing in front of a Veterans Law Judge. However, a hearing is not a requirement to have your case decided by the Board.
A hearing can strengthen your appeal, especially if you have a VA attorney who can present a compelling case on your behalf. The attorneys at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD have years of experience conducting BVA hearings on behalf of our clients. We can build a convincing case for you and present it to the Board.
Can I appeal a BVA decision?
BVA decisions on disability claims are final, which means the VA regional office cannot reverse them. But if you do not agree with the BVA’s decision, you have options.
When the BVA renders a decision on your case, it provides you with a VA Form 4597. This form explains your options for appealing the BVA’s decision.
Your options are as follows:
- Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals.
- Appeal to the Board to reconsider its decision.
- Appeal to the Board to vacate its decision and then start the process anew.
- Appeal to the Board to revise its decision based on a clear and unmistakable error.
Most times we will recommend appealing the Board denial to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. A VA attorney can examine your claim and determine the best way to proceed. At Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, we have years of experience fighting the VA on behalf of our clients and will pursue your case aggressively.
Call today for a consultation: 401-331-6300.