A veteran's right to appeal his or her VA benefits case is central to maintaining a fair and honorable benefits program. A rule crafted in 2011, however, eliminated certain appellate and procedural rights granted veterans. Without a doubt, that rule made it significantly more difficult for veterans to appeal VA decisions. The National Organization of Veterans' Advocates (NOVA) petitioned the courts to review the rule and argued that it harmed veterans who were seeking important benefits from the VA.
The government acknowledged at the outset that the rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act and--in common VA fashion--repeatedly requested delays in order to research and address the rule. In March, however, a panel of judges threatened to sanction the VA for the delays it had caused, unless the organization provided the court with a plan that would address the appellate ruling. The VA promptly provided that plan and the Federal Circuit Court recently approved it.
The VA's program involved two key components:
- the VA agreed to issue a notice to all claimants who had a case denied before the Board of Veterans' Appeals within the relevant time frame
- the notice offers the claimants the opportunity to resubmit their case, submit new evidence, and receive a new decision
Many of the vets who have been affected are now being offered a second chance to make their case before the board, with important procedural and appellate rights restored. If you are affected by this decision, or have questions about your claim or the appeals process, do not hesitate to contact us. We have over twenty years of experience working on behalf of veterans.