Delayed BVA Decision Mailings
Robert Chisholm: Good morning, and welcome to CCK. We have an important update on what is happening at the board of veterans appeals. With me today is Jenna Zellmer.
Robert: Jenna, we started receiving some board decisions. It’s now December 22nd and this past month, we’ve started receiving decisions that were dated in July 2020. Can you tell us what’s been happening with these board decisions and what it means for veterans?
Jenna Zellmer: Yes Robert. So, we started ing copies of board decisions that had a cover letter, that had stated that it had come to the attention of the board that they are July and it sometimes August decisions had not been mailed to that particular veteran. I think we are going to show a redacted version of that letter on the screen here, but essentially what treceivhis means is generally, a veteran who disagrees with the board decision has one hundred and twenty days from the date the board mailed the decision to appeal that to the court of appeals for veterans claims. So if they’re unhappy with their decision, they want a court to review that decision to determine whether or not the board made any legal error. They have a set time period to appeal that. After one hundred and twenty days, usually, that means the veteran is no longer able to appeal that board decision. The board’s decision is final.
Jenna: If they want to continue to pursue benefits, they are going to have to start all over back at the regional office, file either new material evidence or new and relevant evidence with the supplemental claim depending on you know, I guess now, it is all AMA. So it’s all new and new and relevant evidence of the supplemental claim. But in the past, it used to be new and relevant evidence under the legacy system. So practically, what this means is that if you can see from the database cover letter, the veteran had a July 7, 2020 decision. If that had been mailed in a timely manner, they would have had until about November 19th. They would have had a hundred and twenty days from the date the board had mailed it to appeal. Now, we do not necessarily know exactly how the court and how VA is going to treat them. But I think it is my understanding, it is our view that the time to appeal a decision would not start running until the date that the board mailed this cover letter, with this decision attached. So now, the veteran will have a hundred and twenty days from November 19, 2020, to appeal their decision.
Robert: So the general rule is, the date on the board decision is the date that starts the hundred and twenty-day clock. So in this case, it looks like the data on the board decision was July 7th, so that would have started the normal clock to file the appeal. But because the board actually didn’t mail it on July 7th but mailed it on November 19th, and they say that in the letter, that presumably starts the hundred and twenty-day clock. So my question to you is, how many of these…I will call them Oops letters for lack of a better word for the board to acknowledge. Hey, we did not mail this to the veteran. How many have we seen in CCK so far?
Jenna: So we have seen a little bit more than a handful. I would say between 15 to 20. The more concerning problem is that we continue to receive these letters. They started about a month ago and every few days we do get a couple so it is not clear how many decisions in total, the board forgot to mail. But we are kind of just keeping an eye on it to see how many we continue to get. It might be something to do with COVID-19. I am sure people are working remotely. It seems to have just been an oversight but it is definitely something we are continuing to monitor.
Robert: So the bottom line is if one of these decisions where it says we forgot to mail you the decision, whatever the day was, it is the date on the cover letter that starts the hundred and twenty days if they want to appeal to the court of appeals for veterans claims.
Jenna: Exactly, yes. I am just looking right now and it looks like they are almost all in July. So hopefully, it is just limited to that July time period but we will continue to monitor it and definitely provide an update as we know more information.
Robert: Well, Jenna, thank you for joining us this morning. And thank you all for listening. And if you have any questions, please reach out to her at cck-law.com or reach out to her through Facebook.
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