Appealing a Veterans Administration Benefits Decision
You may appeal any or all issues in a decision by a local VA office or VA medical center.
A VA appeal is separated into two main stages: (1) within the local VA office, and (2) continuing to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, DC.
If you disagree with all or part of the decision, you have options.
- Don't delay! You have one year from the date of the letter notifying you of the decision on your claim.
- Follow the instructions included with the letter notifying you of the decision on your claim, or better yet, contact a Veterans Service Officer and let them help you through the process.
The two most common reasons people appeal are: (1) VA denied you benefits for a disability you believe is related to service; or (2) you believe that your disability is more severe than VA rated it.
We strongly recommend that before beginning this process you contact a Veterans Service Officer and let them help you through the process.
You may also request an optional hearing before a Veterans Law Judge who works at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
Due to scheduling demands for Board personnel, requesting an optional hearing will add significant delay to issuance of a Board decision.
There are two types of hearings before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals:
- In-person – you will offer testimony on your appeal before a Veterans Law Judge in Washington, DC, or
at your local VA office.
- Video teleconference – you will offer testimony on your appeal at your local VA office to a Veterans
Law Judge in Washington, DC, by live video teleconference. This type of hearing is quicker to schedule.
Hearings are informal. While the Veterans Law Judge may ask some clarifying questions, he or she will not cross examine you. You will be testifying under oath. Before beginning the hearing, the Veterans Law Judge will ask you to swear or affirm that you will tell the truth in your testimony. You will offer testimony. If you have a representative (and we suggest you NEVER go through this process without one), he or she will usually ask you questions relevant to your appeal. If not, you should tell the Veterans Law Judge why you believe you are eligible for the benefits you are seeking.
The Veterans Law Judge does not make a decision at the hearing. After the hearing, a transcript of the
hearing is created and associated with your file and will be reviewed by the Veterans Law Judge together
with all other evidence in deciding your appeal.
After reviewing and considering every piece of evidence in your file, a Veterans Law Judge will make a decision to either grant, remand, or deny each issue of your appeal.
If an issue is granted, you will receive a decision from your local VA office implementing the decision by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
Remand means that one or more issues in your appeal is sent back to a local VA office to perform further evidence collection or for other procedural reasons. Your appeal will return to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals when the local VA office complies with the Board’s remand instructions.
A remand usually occurs when the Board of Veterans’ Appeals finds that it does not have enough information about an issue in your appeal to make a decision (for example, additional medical records
and/or a new VA examination are needed).
If an issue is denied and you want to pursue further action, you may:
File a Supplemental Claim with New and Relevant evidence;
File a Notice of Appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
- You have 120 days from the date of the decision by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (stamped on the first page of the decision).
- You must file a written Notice of Appeal.
- Send your Notice of Appeal to the Clerk of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, or better yet, contact a Veterans Service Officer and let them help you through the process.