If your review from the VA regional office is not successful, you are entitled to appeal the denial with the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). When you appeal, a hearing will be scheduled to review your application.
Types of Hearings
You are allowed to choose which type of BVA hearing you want. There are three potential ways a BVA hearing can be held.
- Videoconference hearing. At this type of hearing, the judge is in Washington, D.C. and you are in a conference room at the regional VA office. (Videoconferences in your home are only allowed if your disability limits your ability to travel to the VA office.) Your attorney is either with you in the conference room or with the judge. There is typically a VA representative in the conference room to help you with the technical aspects of the videoconference.
- Travel board hearing. The BVA visits each regional VA office on a yearly basis to conduct hearings. Hearings are conducted on a first-come, first-serve basis, and multiple hearings are scheduled for each time slot. If you choose this option, you should arrive as early as possible to minimize your wait time.
- Washington, D.C. hearing. If you choose to travel to Washington, D.C., the procedure is similar to a travel board hearing. Bring an ID with you to access the BVA Central Office and arrive as early as possible to minimize your wait time.
Most Veterans choose a videoconference hearing since appearing in person can delay a case, and travel expenses are not reimbursed for a hearing in Washington, D.C.
A BVA hearing is less formal than the courtroom proceedings you’ve seen on TV. You do not need to wear a three-piece suit. Clean and comfortable business casual attire is perfectly acceptable.
Steps involved in a hearing include:
- You’ll be asked to swear/affirm your testimony.
- The judge will do an introduction that verifies your identity, the issues to be discussed, where the hearing is being held, and the name of your attorney.
- Your attorney will make an opening statement.
- Your attorney will question you and any witnesses. You will be asked to explain why you believe your case should be approved.
- The judge will have the opportunity to ask you questions. These questions aren’t intended to be adversarial. They are to clarify specific issues with your application.
- Your attorney will make a closing statement.
- The judge will formally adjourn the hearing.
In most cases, a BVA hearing lasts for one hour or less. If your case is more complex, your attorney will request more time in advance.
It is important to confirm your file is with the BVA before submitting any new evidence for your hearing. It can take several months for your file to get transferred from the regional VA office to the BVA. If your evidence arrives at the regional office, they are required to evaluate it—which will delay your case even further.
If the judge states that new evidence is needed to decide your claim, you can request that a decision be delayed until you have time to submit the evidence. This called “holding the record open” and can typically be done for 60 days or less.
After the hearing, the judge will make their ruling. Possible rulings include:
- Your case is remanded back to the regional VA office to correct errors.
- Your appeal is denied.
- Your request for benefits is approved.
If your case involves more than one issue, the BVA will provide a decision for each issue that is part of your appeal.
If your appeal is denied, the next step in the appeals process is to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in Washington, D.C. You’ll need to file your appeal within 120 days of the BVA decision if you wish to pursue this option.
We’re Here to Help
To increase your chances of a successful appeal, you need an experienced Veterans benefits attorney who will fight for your rights through every step of the appeals process. The office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, has been helping Veterans access the VA disability benefits they need to provide for themselves and their families for over 20 years. Fill out the contact form on this page or call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.