In an earlier blog post, we discussed the first step in appealing your VA Rating Decision Letter, sending a Notice of Disagreement. Once they have received this letter, they will prepare a Statement of the Case, an explanation detailing the rules, laws, evidence and regulations that contributed to their decision about your disability rating. Please keep in mind, this may take up to 24 months for them to return.
Once you receive the Statement of the Case, you will need to weigh their explanations to decide your next course of action. If you are satisfied with their reasons, you don’t need to take action unless your condition worsens in the future and you feel there are grounds for further exploration.
If you wish to continue your appeal, you have three options: requesting a sit-down hearing with a Decision Review Officer at your regional VA office, a hearing with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, DC or both of the above.
Requesting a hearing with a Decision Review Officer
Though typically a hearing is requested in your Notice of Disagreement, one may be requested separately if you need another opportunity to present your case. Like the Notice of Disagreement, there isn’t an official form; it is simply a letter you can mail (by certified mail with receipt requested) or deliver in person to your VA Regional Office. It should include your full name, Claim Number, Social Security Number, a full description of what you would like to be reviewed and the explicit statement that you would like to have a hearing with a Decision Review Officer.
Your hearing date may be as early as two months or take up to 24 months after your request has been received. If you have received a Statement of the Case, don’t wait until the hearing to file an appeal with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Since the process can be lengthy, it’s best to request both hearings at the same time; the second hearing can be canceled if you receive a satisfactory outcome at the first.
Request for Substantive Appeal (Appealing to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals)
The first step in appealing to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, DC is to fill out VA Form 9, a copy of which should have been included in your Statement of the Case packet from the VA and is also available through your VA Regional Office or www.vba.va.gov. It’s best to fill out this form with as much detail as possible, specifically listing each item from the Statement of the Case you would like to appeal.
Form 9 also gives you the option to request which hearing format would best suit your needs, including no hearing, live videoconference, a Board of Veterans’ Appeals hearing in Washington, DC or a Board of Veterans’ Appeals hearing at your local VA office.
Please note, all appeals must be requested within 60 days of the date printed on the Statement of the Case or within 12 months of the date printed on your VA Rating Decision Letter—whichever comes later.
For help approaching your appeal with confidence, please contact the experts at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law today.