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You have received a VA decision on your claim.

Now what?

You have finally received that long awaited VA decision on your disability claim. If you are in agreement with the decision there is nothing more you need to do except verify that your award includes the proper number of dependents and verify that the VA is sending your monthly benefit to your proper address or bank account by direct deposit.

But what if you disagree with a portion of the decision? 

Request for reconsideration: A request for reconsideration may be made at any time within one year of the date of the decision. A request for reconsideration does not extend the appeal period following the notification of a VA decision. After one year the decision is considered final.

A request for reconsideration may be based on the evidence of record if you believe that certain evidence was overlooked or not properly considered. Such a request must identify the evidence you are requesting to be reconsidered.

A request for reconsideration may also be based on your submission of additional pertinent evidence that was not available when the original decision was made. The nature and content of the additional evidence will dictate whether the VA accepts it for reconsideration or reopening of the claim.

Appeal Process: The appeal process begins with your Notice of Disagreement (NOD). Your NOD must be received by the VA within one year from the date of the letter notifying you of the decision, not the date you received the notice. Your NOD must identify the date of the decision and the issues of the decision with which you disagree. It is not required, but it is helpful if your NOD includes a brief discussion of why you disagree with the decision. Such a brief discussion may give the VA the ability to quickly resolve the disagreement.

Your NOD should include a request for a traditional review of the appeal or a Decision Review Officer (DRO) review of the appeal. If the NOD does not include your statement of which type of review you request the VA will write to you and ask. A traditional review is accomplished by a Rating Board member and takes far less time than a DRO review.

A DRO review is accomplished by a Decision Review Officer who reviews the entire file on the particular issue being appealed. This can be a lengthy process especially if there are multiple issues on appeal. Currently at the Chicago Regional Office a DRO review request takes an average of 24 months for completion. DRO review requests are processed in the order in which they are received, the oldest first. A DRO review request may also include your request for a personal hearing before the DRO at which you would appear to present verbal testimony with representation by the VFW.

Following the submission of your NOD you may submit additional evidence which you believe supports your appeal. Evidence submitted following your NOD will generally not be considered by either the Rating Board member or the DRO prior to the review requested.

Regardless of the type of review requested your NOD will result in either a new decision granting your appeal or a Statement of the Case (SOC) which details why your appeal is not granted. The VA is not under any time restriction within which they must provide a SOC in response to your NOD. The type of review requested and the character and number of issues involved will dictate the time it takes to publish a SOC. Any additional evidence submitted after the NOD will be included in the SOC.

If, after you receive the SOC, you continue to disagree with the VA decision, you have a limited time within which you can further your appeal. The SOC mailed to you will include a VA Form 9. The Form 9 must be completed and received by the VA within one year of the date of the VA Rating Board decision being appealed or within 60 days of the date of the SOC, whichever is later.

The Form 9 must identify the issues being appealed as stated on the SOC. You cannot add new issues that are not included in the SOC. The Form 9 must at least briefly discuss why you continue to disagree with the VA decision on each of the issues being appealed.

You may submit additional evidence which you believe supports your appeal at any time after the publishing of the SOC. The consideration of additional evidence will result in either a grant of the appeal or the issuance of a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC). You are not required to respond to a SSOC if you have already timely submitted a Form 9. Remember, the submission of additional evidence does not extend the appeal period during which you must submit the VA Form 9.

Board of veterans Appeals: The Form 9 must also include your selection that you do or do not desire a personal hearing before the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). If you desire a personal hearing before the BVA you must select either a hearing before the BVA in Washington, DC, before a member of the BVA Travel Board or at a video conference hearing before a member of the Board. Generally speaking there is no significant advantage of one type of hearing over the other. It is a matter of personal preference. All BVA Travel Board and video conference personal hearings are conducted at the Chicago Regional Office. The VFW will represent you at your personal hearing if you select one of these options.

The BVA Travel Board comes to Chicago twice each year, usually in April and September. Generally about 80 hearings are conducted during their week long visit. Hearings are scheduled based on the date of appeal, the oldest are scheduled first.

Video conference personal hearings are routinely held one day in each month. Generally 6 hearings are held during that day. Hearings are scheduled based on the date of appeal, the oldest first.

When an appeal is completed by the Regional Office they certify that the appeal is ready to go to the BVA in Washington, DC. Included with the final VA certification of the appeal is a summary of the appeal on VA Form 646 prepared by the VFW Service Office.

The BVA is notified by the Regional Office when an appeal has been certified. The BVA calls for appeals to be transferred to the Board based on their schedule and workload. Appeals are not forwarded to BVA until the BVA calls for them.

Appeals are reviewed by the VFW Appeals staff at the BVA prior to consideration by the BVA. The VFW Appeals staff prepares an additional summary of the appeal for review by the BVA.

The BVA may grant the appeal on any issue, deny the issue on appeal or remand the appeal for additional development as they believe may be necessary. The BVA is under no time restrictions within which they must make a decision on an appeal.

Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: Decisions by the BVA may be appealed to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). Appeals to the Court must be received by the Court within 120 days from the date of the BVA decision. Specific instructions are provided with the BVA decision.

When appealing to the Court you are leaving the VA administrative process and entering the legal system. While you may petition the Court to represent yourself you are strongly encouraged to seek proper legal representation. While the VFW may assist you in preparing the initial notice of appeal to the Court the VFW cannot represent you in your appeal to the Court.

If you have any questions, please contact our office.

Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

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