If your claim for disability benefits has been denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, your next step in the process would be taking the claim to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). Once a Notice of Appeal is filed, the CAVC takes over the appeal and the VA is no longer involved with the final decision. The CAVC has jurisdiction and will be responsible for reviewing the final decision of an appeal for disability benefits. The Record Before the Agency (RBA) is a collection that contains all of the information that was used by the Board of Veterans Appeals to issue the decision of your claim. It may also contain documents that are not relevant to the matter on appeal.
The VA’s attorney will send either you or a representative a copy of the RBA within 60 days of the Court of Veteran Appeals docket. At this time, you and your Veterans disability attorney will be able to review the RBA to check for any errors or inaccuracies. This can be a challenge since the RBA can be lengthy and time-consuming to review. If you do not agree with what is contained in the RBA, you will be able to dispute the findings and come to a final resolution. No new evidence can be added to the RBA once it is issued, but missing documents can be added.
Record Before the Agency Disputes
In situations where you disagree with the RBA, you can make a motion to the CAVC to resolve the content or preparation of the record or to add missing documents that are pertinent to your appeal. This is known as counter-designating the record. There is a time limit to do so and it must be submitted within 14 days from when the Record Before the Agency was served. If there is a dispute with the RBA, the appeal will be placed on a 15-day hold to allow the VA’s lawyer to correct any discrepancies and come to an agreement about the RBA.
The Need for a Lawyer
Since the RBA contains all the information used to determine the outcome of your claim, it can be extremely lengthy and often time-consuming to review. You are not obligated under the law to hire an attorney of your own to represent your case, but doing so may be a good idea.
How an Attorney Can Help With Your Appeal
- Review all documents and information in the RBA to ensure that it is accurate and that nothing is missing that can be important for your claim
- Protect your legal rights and interests
- Be an advocate for your case
- Keep records and maintain copies of all your documents used for the appeal
The VA will have its own attorney and will be represented. Their interests are different than your interests, so their attorney will not provide you with legal representation. The appeal process can be complicated, so having your own attorney can help you navigate the process and answer any questions you may have. An attorney can also make sure you meet necessary deadlines, avoid mistakes, and follow the proper procedures for your appeal. Claims that are not filed properly or within the necessary time frame will be dismissed. If you are denied a claim after the appeal process, you may be able to re-appeal your case to the CAVC.
Contact a VA Disability Attorney
For over 20 years, the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, has been helping Veterans get the VA disability benefits they are entitled to receive. We understand the law, the process it takes to appeal a disability benefits claim, and what it takes to win an appeal before the CAVC. If you have been denied benefits or need to appeal your claim, contact us today by using our online contact form or by calling our office at 877-629-1712 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.