When you are seeking VA disability benefits, there are a number of levels in the appeals process, and each one is slightly different. Here is a brief overview of what you might expect:
• Regional Office with a rating specialist: this is where most veterans first start out after making a new claim. Typically, when a veteran makes a new claim and has their compensation and pension exam, a rating specialist will determine whether to grant service connection, and what evaluation to grant.
- Regional Office with a Decision Review Officer: if a veteran doesn’t agree with the rating decision, they can file a Notice of Disagreement and request a DRO, who will then review their case from scratch. You don’t have to opt for a DRO, but it does give you another chance of success at the regional office.
- Board of Veterans’ Appeals: once the regional office has issued a Statement of the Case, a veteran can file a VA Form 9, formally appealing the claims, which are then sent before the BVA. The case is assigned to a Veterans Law Judge who conducts a full review of the evidence. Cases are considered in the order in which they come in, and this process can take anywhere from one to two years, but it can be expedited in rare cases (terminal illness, extreme financial hardship, or old age).
- Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: the CAVC is a federal court outside the VA system. It can only review the record before it, so no new evidence may be submitted. This system is more adversarial, and the VA may choose to offer a deal on certain claims if you agree to drop the other claims. This process takes around six months or so.
An attorney can be very helpful in navigating this system, particularly when appealing denied claims, or in figuring out what evidence you are going to need to be successful. Please call us today for a free consultation at 1-888-883-2483.