If you have received a VA rating decision, or a denial letter from your local Regional Office, and that decision is dated prior to February 19, 2019, you have what VA calls a Legacy decision. You will want to review it closely to see if you (a) agree with it completely (which is unlikely), (b) partially agree with the decision, or (c) completely disagree with the decision.
As a Veterans appeals lawyer can tell you, if you either partially disagree or completely agree with your VA rating decision or denial letter, you may contact us at any time for a free case evaluation. You typically have 365 days (or one year) to submit a formal appeal with VA, by filing a Notice of Disagreement, or NOD. Although VA used to allow NODs to be filed more informally, they now require the use of VA Form 21-0958. If you do not use this form, your appeal will not be processed.
After you file your NOD, you may decide that you want to have a local hearing (sometimes called a DRO, or Decision Review Officer hearing) at your local Regional Office. This request may be filed at any time before another decision is made on your case. If you decide to have a hearing, it is a good idea to have a representative or attorney accompany you to the hearing.
Following submission of your NOD, and any optional hearing, you may receive a new rating decision which grants some or all of the issues you included in your appeal. Otherwise, you will receive a Statement of the Case, or SOC, which continues VA’s previous denial of benefits, and provides you with further information on the denial. If you continue to disagree with the decision, you must file an appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals by completing and submitting a VA Form 9 – typically within 60 days of the date stamped on the SOC. If you fail to submit the VA Form 9 within 60 days, your appeal will be closed.
When you complete your VA Form 9, you have the option of selecting whether or not you want a hearing with the BVA judge that will decide your appeal. In most cases, I recommend having a hearing, but they are not always necessary. It is your choice whether you want to travel to BVA’s offices in Washington, D.C. for the hearing, or if you want to have the hearing at your local VA Regional Office. These are typically done electronically, via video conferencing
Following your optional BVA hearing, the BVA judge will make a decision on your case. The judge may either grant, deny, or remand your appeal (or some combination of the three). If the judge grants or remands your appeal, the case will be returned to either your local Regional Office or the Appeals Management Center to prepare a rating decision or a Supplemental Statement of the Case. Following that decision, you may need to file additional appeal documents. If, however, BVA denies your appeal (in whole or in part), you have 120 days to decide whether you want to continue your appeal by filing a Notice of Appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claim.
At any stage in the above process, VetLaw’s experienced attorneys are available to provide you with a free case review. Contact us today to begin the process.