The process in a U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) or Veterans Court appeal involves multiple steps overseen by a federal court, which can be confusing and daunting. To appeal a decision made by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) you must file an appeal with the CAVC. The CAVC, a federal appellate court with judges appointed by the President of the United States, retains exclusive jurisdiction to review all final BVA decisions.
Our veterans advocates at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD will be glad to assist you through the CAVC appeals process and answer any questions you may have about your rights or what the next steps are. Contact our office to request a free consultation: 401-331-6300.
What steps are involved in CAVC appeals?
When a veteran disagrees with the BVA’s decision, he has the right to ask the CAVC to provide judicial review. By filing an appeal, the veteran (called an appellant) is essentially taking legal action against the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (called the appellee). Once the case transfers to the CAVC, it is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It becomes a federal case.
Once at the CAVC, the legal process can get even more perplexing and tangential than the earlier stages of appeals. If you have yet to retain a lawyer, now would certainly be the time to do so. A lawyer can walk you through the process and help you prepare the best legal argument possible.
Below is a brief overview of the steps involved in a CAVC appeal:
- We will file a Notice of Appeal (NOA) with the CAVC within 120 days of the BVA decision on your case and request a copy of your claims file from the VA.
- The Court will then notify all involved parties that the case is under appeal, place the case on the docket (the Court’s record and scheduling of proceedings), and issue everyone a Notice of Docketing. When the clerk at the CAVC dockets your case, your claim officially becomes a court case.
- The VA will then have to serve you with a copy of your complete file referred to as the Record Before the Agency (RBA), and the Court will then issue you a 60-day Notice to File Brief.
- We will review your records for accuracy and submit your Designation of Record (DOR) to the Court within 60 days of docketing.
- Our attorneys will review your VA claims file (called the Record Before the Agency or RBA) and discuss a strategic plan of action with you.
- The Court will schedule a briefing conference and send you an order with the date and time of the initial conference.
- We will participate in a telephone conference on your behalf with the VA attorney. A member of the Court’s Central Legal Staff will moderate the conference. We will try to resolve the issues during the call. The sooner we can get the original decision overturned, the sooner you can receive your benefits.
- If the issues in your case are not resolved at this conference, we will proceed to briefing. (Briefs are simply written arguments provided to the Court.)
- Once the Court has received all the records and briefs, it will assign your case to a CAVC judge who will render a decision.
Three Important Things to Keep in Mind about CAVC Appeals
As you head into an appeal with the Veterans Court, there are few things to keep in mind:
- The CAVC is located in Washington, DC, but neither you nor your attorney needs to travel to the Court to appeal your case. The CAVC can handle your case electronically.
- It is critical to thoroughly review your case file with your attorney, page by page, before submitting the DOR to the court. Missing records can cost you your case.
- Once your case reaches the CAVC and leaves the VA’s jurisdiction, the case turns adversarial. This means that the VA no longer has a duty to help you develop evidence or support your claim. You are on your own and should seek a lawyer’s help if you have yet to do so.
Request a FREE consult with a determined veteran appeals attorney today.
For a free consultation with a qualified veterans appeals attorney, call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD today at 401-331-6300.