by: Begley Admin
An applicant can appeal a VA decision if he or she was awarded only partial benefits or if the claim was denied.
Levels of Appeal
1. Regional Office Appeal
Once the regional VA office issues a determination, in the form of an award letter, the application can request reconsideration of the decision. The claimant should provide the VA with any other relevant evidence. For example, if the VA did not deduct unreimbursed medical expenses, such medical expenses can be submitted with a request for reconsideration.
If this request for reconsideration is unsuccessful, the application can request an evidentiary hearing at the regional office by filing a notice of disagreement, typically in the form of a letter. This notice of disagreement must be filed within one year from the date of the award letter. Upon receipt of this notice of disagreement, the VA will issue a statement of the case, which is the VA’s official notice detailing the basis for its decision. This statement of the case includes a summary of all evidence that the VA received and considered, applicable laws and regulations, and the reason for the determination.
The applicant must then file a substantive, or formal, appeal with the regional office within 60 days of the date of the statement of the case or within one year of the date on the original award letter, whichever is later. This appeal is filed on VA Form 9. At this level of appeal, most applicants are represented by service organizations, but a recent change in the law now allows attorneys to represent applicants and to receive payment for services after the notice of disagreement has been filed with the VA.
2. Board of Veteran’s Appeals
Appeals to the regional office are usually unsuccessful, so the applicant can then appeal to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals (BVA). The BVA has jurisdiction to review all questions of fact and law that are on appeal of a claim filed by a veteran, a dependent of a veteran, or a survivor of a veteran. This review is de novo, and new evidence can be presented.
3. U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims (CAVC)
Upon receipt of an unsatisfactory BVA decision, the applicant can appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims (CAVC). The CAVC has exclusive jurisdiction to review BVA decisions. The notice of appeal to the CAVC must be filed within 120 days of the BVA decision and must comply with Rule 3(c) of the Court Rules of Practice and Procedure. The CAVC reviews the administrative record created at the BVA, so no new evidence is presented. Very few cases are taken to the CAVC, but there is a high success rate of those that come before the CAVC.
4. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
The Federal Circuit has nationwide jurisdiction over a variety of matters, including veterans’ benefits. The appellant must file a Form 4, and the appeal must be filed with the district clerk within 30 days after the judgment or order appealed from is received at the clerk’s office. Often, VA cases decided by the Federal Circuit become precedent for future VA cases.
 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.103(c) (2001), 20.700(a)(1996); 38 U.S.C.S. § 7105; 38 C.F.R. §§ 20.300 and 20.201 (1992).
 38 U.S.C.S. § 7105; 38 C.F.R. § 20.302(a) (2008).
 38 U.S.C.S. § 7105(d)(3); 38 C.F.R. 20.302(b) (2008).
 38 U.S.C.S. § 7104(a); 38 C.F.R. 20.101 (2001); 38 U.S.C.S. § 5904.
 38 U.S.C.S. § 7104(a).
 38 U.S.C.S. § 7252(a).
 38 U.S.C.S. § 7266(a).
 Federal Circuit, Rule 4.