Veterans Affairs denied me benefits. What can I do?
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) provides a wide range of services and benefits to veterans, including various healthcare-related services and benefits. Typically, a veteran’s local VA office determines whether or not he or she is eligible for benefits. If the local VA office denies your request for benefits, you can appeal their decision.
The Veterans Affairs Appeal Process
Step 1: Notice of Disagreement
If you disagree with the local VA office’s decision regarding your eligibility for benefits, you must notify the office, in writing, that you disagree and wish to appeal. This written notice must be given to the local VA office within one year of the decision.
Step 2: Statement of the Case
After notifying the local VA office of your wish to appeal, you will receive what is called a “Statement of the Case.” This statement lists the various reasons the office deemed you ineligible for benefits. The statement will summarize the law and evidence considered in your case.
Step 3: Substantive Appeal
After receiving the Statement of the Case, you must file a VA Form 9 with the local VA office. This form must be filed no later than 60 days from the date the Statement of the Case was mailed or no later than one year from the date the local VA office mailed you the original decision that denied you benefits.
Step 4: Docketing and File Transfer
Once the local VA office receives your VA Form 9, it creates a claim folder for you. It will then add your appeal to the local Board of Veteran Appeals (“BVA”) docket. The office will let you know when you have 90 days left to submit additional evidence and appoint an attorney or switch attorneys. Once completed, your claim folder is send to the BVA for review.
Step 5: BVA Review
The BVA reviews your appeal and conducts a hearing, should you request one. If you are granted benefits, the appeals process stops here. If the BVA reviews your appeal and denies it, you can go to Step 6.
Step 6: United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (“COA”)
If the BVA denies your appeal and you wish to appeal further, you will have 120 days from the BVA’s denial to file an appeal with the COA. The COA will decide whether to hear your case and issue a decision. If the COA hears your case and denies your appeal, go to Step 7.
Step 7: United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Washington, D.C.
If the COA denies your appeal, it can be appealed to the Federal Circuit. If the Federal Circuit court denies your appeal, go to Step 8.
Step 8: United States Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is the final-decision maker. This step is the final step in your appeal. Chances are, your appeal will end at one of the above steps. Should you make it all this way, though, you will not be able to appeal further.
Talk to an Attorney about your Veterans Affairs Appeal
The appeal process can be lengthy and complicated. Having an experienced employment attorney by your side through this process can benefit you immensely. If you are denied benefits and plan to appeal the VA office’s decision, don’t hesitate to contact KM&A.
KM&A offers free and immediate consultations with an employment attorney who has experience with the VA and its appeal process. We represent clients across Pennsylvania. Call us in Pittsburgh at 412-626-5626 or in Philadelphia at 215-618-9185. We can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.