The Final Stages of VA Disability Appeals

In our last article, we described the VA disability process from the initial filing of your claim up through the point you receive a Statement of the Case.  Now we will tackle the second part of the VA disability process – appeals beyond the Regional Office level.

VA disability process
The VA disability process for appeals can be long and confusing for many veterans.
The Formal Appeal – The Form 9

You may be thinking that you already appealed your claim when you filed the Notice of Disagreement (NOD).  Many veterans don’t realize that a VA appeal is really a two-step process.

You first file the Notice of Disagreement and then receive a Statement of the Case.  The Statement of the Case will just be more of the same – another denial but it should give some reasoning for the decision.  Technically, you are not appealing the Statement of the Case since it is not a new decision.  You are appealing the underlying Ratings Decision that was issued before your NOD.

Here’s the important part – you only have 60 days from the date of the Statement of the Case to file your Form 9.  Don’t delay.  Failing to meet the 60 day deadline will mean the end of your appeal rights.

On to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals

Once you file your Form 9 Substantive Appeal, your claim is beginning its way out of the Regional Office to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.  Unfortunately, that may take a long, long time.  The appeal will be certified to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and the BVA will then put the appeal on its docket.  It can take a year or two on average for your claim to be docketed at the BVA.

Once it is at the BVA, you will receive a “90 day letter.”  This letter will tell you that you have 90 days from the date of the letter to appoint or change your legal representative, submit additional evidence, or request a hearing before the BVA.  If you haven’t talked with an attorney yet, you probably should at least have a consultation with one at this critical stage.

Next Step in the VA Disability Process – a Board of Veterans’ Appeals Decision

You will eventually receive a decision from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.  Someday.  It will probably be several years after your claim was decided at the Regional Office level.

This decision could be one of several different kinds, and each will determine the future path for your claim.  The first possibility is a granting of the claim, which could be for service connection only (if that was denied at the RO level) or for a particular rating if service connection was already established.  The second option is a remand.  The third possibility is a denial.

If the BVA grants service connection, the claim will be returned to the Regional Office for assignment of a rating.  That will result in another Ratings Decision.  If you disagree with the rating, you can start the appeal process all over again with another NOD.

A more likely outcome at the BVA is a remand.  Many claims get remanded because the BVA wants another medical examination or orders the RO to develop further evidence on an issue in the claim.  So, the claim will be sent back to the RO for further development and another Ratings Decision.  Because a remand is not a final decision, it cannot be appealed.

The Federal Courts in the VA Disability Process

If the BVA denied your claim or issued a final decision you disagree with, your next step is to file an appeal to the United State Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).  You have 120 days from the date of the BVA decision to appeal to the CAVC.

If the CAVC enters a final decision instead of remanding the claim back to the Department of Veterans Affairs, you will then have 60 days from the CAVC decision to appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The court of last resort is the United States Supreme Court.  There are very few cases that ever make it to the Federal Circuit, and it is almost unheard of for a veterans disability claim to make it to the United States Supreme Court.

A Veterans Disability Attorney Can Be Your Guide

If you are somewhere in the veterans disability process with your appeal, you may want to consult with a VA-accredited attorney.  If you have questions about your claim or need help along the way, feel free to contact our firm for a free consultation to see if we can help.  The process can be long, confusing, and frustrating, so you may not want to go it alone.



Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

I saw Travis on some YouTube videos. It was the way he worded things, I just felt compelled to contact them about my situation, he seemed trustworthy. Travis told me he thought he could help me. I was hesitant, but proceeded. The claim process was long, but my claim was granted. They are organized and punctual. Jessica and Travis are a strong team. I feel the Lord led me to Perkins & Studdard. I consider Travis an advocate and friend. ThanksCorby Reese
It has been a pleasure working with Jason and firm, very knowledgeable and professional, He did awesome job to get settlement that I need for my workmen comp case which was fair in my case, cause the insurance company was trying low ball me and not give me nothing but Jason fix that ….I truly recommend Perkins&studdard any workmen comp case that you have and also want thank Tina also for helping me along this process Thank you Perkins&studdardjahbari swint
Thank you Jason and Tina for everything you've done. Much appreciated. Great law firm! Great results!! Thank you!!! (Austin and Valerie)Valerie Mellinger
Travis and the team working on my VA claim are awesome. I’m happy with their integrity and diligence on working on my claim.Chris “Greybeard” Mullennix
I can't express enough how great it was to work with Perkins Studdard. They are extremely knowledgeable, professional and keep you aware of everything happening with your case. Very friendly from the front office to Mr. Perkins. I would HIGHLY recommend Perkins Studdard!James Strickland
I recommend Travis for an Veteran that has been dealing with constant denial with claims. He also , cover cost for my nexus letter when I ran into financial troubles , that helped me win my case.edwin Cook
I highly recommend Travis Studdard to represent anyone looking to help with VA claims. The VA is very difficult to deal with when attempting to get benefits from service connected injuries, at least that's my experience. Travis and his team knows the VA system and the legal procedures to help you get what you deserve. Travis was kind and passionate with me throughout this process and therefore, I highly recommend this law firm to represent DAV's.Terry Hembree
Such an awesome team. They spoke to me like a person and helped me through every decision with knowledge.Kevin Collett
Highly recommend this firm. Did exactly what they said they were going to and fairly timely. The VA is sometimes extremely difficult to navigate but this took all the leg work away from me and got me the result I thought was fair.Andrew Boone
Amazing staff, very informed along with excellent communication. Within just a few weeks of work, Mr Studdard was able to make things happen that normally take years! Highly recommendJacob Sylvester

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