If you filed a claim for benefits with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and you are not happy with the decision, you can file an appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. The process you will use will depend on whether you are filing a new appeal, or if you are in the middle of appealing a decision dated before February 19, 2019. A Michigan veterans appeals attorney can help you navigate either process.
All new appeals must use the new procedure under the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (AMA). Some ongoing appeals of decisions dated before February 19, 2019, have the option during the appeal of staying with the Legacy appeals process (the old method) or continuing the appeal following the new procedures under the AMA. If you have a new disagreement with a decision dated before February 19, 2019, you will need to file a Supplemental Claim.
The New Process for Appeals to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals
If you want to appeal a VA decision dated on or after February 19, 2019, you have three options for review. If you try one of the options and are unhappy with the result, you can try one of the other options with some exceptions (for example, you are precluded from filing another HIgher-Level Review request on a decision from a Higher Lever Review request). The three decision review options are:
- Supplemental Claim
- Higher-Level Review
- Board Appeal
If you have new information the VA did not have when it made its original decision, you can submit the relevant evidence with a Supplemental Claim. If you disagree with the original decision but do not have new evidence, you can ask for a more senior reviewer to perform a Higher-Level Review. If you disagree with the result from either of those two options, you can appeal to a Veterans Law Judge which is also known as a Board Appeal or appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Splitting appeals into these three different pathways is supposed to create a more efficient appeals process and help catch up the seemingly endless backlog of appeals to be processed for thousands of veterans who have been waiting for a decision, or a hearing, many years after an appeal was filed.
The Legacy Process for Appeals to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals
Under the legacy appeal process, the veteran had to file a Notice of Disagreement within one year of the date on the letter that notified the veteran of the claim decision. The VA would review all the evidence in your case again as well as any new evidence you submitted with your Notice of Disagreement.
The VA could either grant your appeal in full or send you the VA’s findings in a Statement of the Case (SOC). You would have to file a VA Form 9 within 60 days to keep your appeal going. If you submit new evidence after the SOC, the VA might then issue a Supplemental SOC.
Your appeal then goes to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Unless you qualify for “Advanced on Docket” status, a Veterans Law Judge will only start working on your case when it’s one of the oldest appeals assigned to that judge which typically meant years and years of waiting with an appeal pending. At the Board level, you can also request a hearing with the Veterans Law Judge. The judge does not make decisions at the hearing, but rather issues a decision in writing. Ultimately, the Board will review your appeal and either grant the benefits you request in whole or in part, deny the benefits in whole or in part, or remand in whole or in part which could require further development and/or more evidence.
It could take as long as five to seven years to receive a ruling if you ask for a Veterans Law Judge at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to review your appeal. With the recent law changes under AMA, these wait times could be much less, particularly if all evidence is obtained in a timely fashion which may include nexus letters and/or Disability Benefits Questionnaire(s) to be completed by a doctor, buddy statements, command history records, medical research, and more. If this next level is denied, there are additional appeal rights.
What Happens After the Board of Veterans’ Appeals
Whether your appeal is still under the legacy process or the new procedures under AMA, a VA-accredited attorney that is well-versed in disability benefits may be able to help you. Our Michigan veterans appeals attorneys at Disability Law Group can help you appeal your adverse decision and pursue the benefits you deserve. Our disability law firm strictly specializes in disability benefits, and we can help you at a time when you need it most so that no deadlines are missed or evidence is overlooked, placing you in the best position to qualify.
Contact us today for a consultation.