In our last post we talked about veterans’ appeals and the great opportunity veterans have to improve their claims with new evidence at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. After understanding how important this can be in winning your claim, you next need to know when your window of opportunity for submitting additional evidence ends. If you don’t adhere to these deadlines, you may get another denial at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
Deadline Extended by a Request for a Board of Veterans’ Appeals Hearing
If you do intend to submit additional evidence at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals level, the amount of time you will have to submit evidence will vary depending on a few factors. Specifically, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals’ strict deadlines for new evidence will vary depending on whether you have a Board hearing.
If you do not request a hearing as part of your appeal, you typically will have 90 days from the date of docketing to submit more evidence. The Board will send you a “90 day letter” notifying you of this deadline to submit additional evidence if you wish.
Here’s where it can get tricky – the Board of Veterans’ Appeals may decide your claim even faster than the 90 days. To allow you sufficient time to submit that evidence, upon receipt of this 90-day letter, you should immediately respond to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in writing telling them that you will be providing additional evidence and request the full 90 days to do so. Otherwise, they could decide your claim at any time before you get the chance to add more evidence to the file.
If you did not request a hearing on your Form 9 appeal, you can do that in response to the 90 day letter if you wish. That would be a hearing before a Veterans Law Judge working for the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. There are three different hearing options to choose from. For now, we won’t get into whether you should have a hearing and, if so, what type of hearing is best for your particular situation.
You Can Submit New Evidence Up Through Your Board of Veterans’ Appeals Hearing
For now, we won’t get into whether you should have a hearing and, if so, what type of hearing is best for your particular situation. But, do know this: If you do select a hearing, regardless of where and how it will be conducted, you will then have additional time to submit evidence up through the date of the hearing. Essentially, VA regulations consider this hearing to take place within that 90-day period since the request was made within that period.
That is true even though the hearing likely will happen much later after the 90 days has expired. This can be a very valuable tool when you need additional time to submit evidence but do not have access to it yet. It can also help if you have not figured out exactly what that evidence will be.
If you decide not to have a hearing but simply respond to VA that you do intend to submit additional evidence within the 90 days, you will need to have that evidence submitted before the expiration of 90 days from the date of that letter.
If you realize that you will not be able to complete that submission within the allotted time, you will need to ask for an extension of time in advance with good cause shown. If you don’t submit the evidence or ask for an extension before the 90 days ends (counted from the date of the letter), you will not be able to submit additional evidence. Don’t let this deadline pass.
Board of Veterans’ Appeals Filled with Traps for Veterans
Many veterans are used to the relatively long deadlines that apply at the Regional Office level for Notices of Disagreement. Don’t be caught off guard by the tighter deadlines that apply at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
If your claim is at the Board or headed that way, it may be a good idea to talk with a VA-accredited veterans disability attorney. Besides knowing how long you have to submit additional evidence, you need to know what type of evidence you need to win your claim.
An attorney can review your claim and identify what the “missing link” is for a successful appeal. That can make the difference in a win or loss. It can also cut down the time in the VA appeals process so you get your benefits more quickly.
If you would like a free consultation with one of our veterans disability attorneys, contact us through the form on this website or give us a call at (770) 214-8885.