There are times when the Board of Veterans Appeals denies veterans or their dependents the social security benefits they may be entitled to. When this happens, claimants can instead file an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). How does the court process work? How do you file an appeal? Trajector Benefits has shared an informative article to serve as your guide. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is the CAVC?
When discussing the CAVC, we’re dealing with a federal appellate court that isn’t associated with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans court is meant to ensure that the VA follows veterans law and other related laws when making decisions for disability benefit claims. So, if the Board of Veterans Appeals doesn’t grant someone’s claim, they bring it to the CAVC. The latter has the power to determine whether the VA should provide social security benefits or deny them.
Anyone whose appeal was denied by the Board of Veterans Appeals can bring their case to the federal level through the CAVC. This includes veterans and their dependents.
Compensation You May Receive
Suffering injuries after serving in the military entitles you to various disability benefits, particularly compensation for you and your dependents. If the board’s decision is to grant your disability claim, then you’ll get monthly tax-free payments. The amount you’ll receive will be based on your disability rating, a score determined by the physical or mental disability you have.
In general, physical disabilities are easier to prove. It’s more challenging to get benefits for psychological disorders. However, you can still get compensation and veteran mental health services if you suffered mental health issues during or after your service. For more information, visit our benefits resources.
Filing a Claim: A Basic Guide
If you’re wondering how to appeal to the CAVC for the Board of Veterans Appeals decision, here are the steps for filing a CAVC claim.
- File a Written Notice of Appeal (NOA): This document will include details such as your contact information, VA claims number, and the date when the Board made the decision. The NOA must be sent within 120 days after the decision has been made.
- File a Declaration of Financial Hardship: Sent no later than 14 days after filing the NOA, the Declaration of Financial Hardship that details the loss of income because of the disability.
Once your court forms have been accepted, your claim will join other active panel cases on the CAVC docket, which signals that the appeal process is officially started.
What’s the CAVC Docket?
The CAVC Docket serves as the record and schedule of proceedings for the appellate court. So, once the NOA is placed on the docket, the review process begins. But, first, the CAVC will send a Notice of Docketing to all involved parties, which includes the VA, the claimant, and their representatives.
This act also signals that your VA claim has officially become a federal court case. As the claimant, you’ll be given a docket number. Note that these credentials are different from your claims file number.
Once the VA receives the Notice of the Docketing, they will need to send the claimant the record before the agency, which is the claimant’s complete file. Then, the CAVC will hold a conference with the goal of resolving the issues mentioned in the appeal. If the parties don’t arrive at a resolution, the claimant must submit briefs or written arguments for their case. When the CAVC receives these briefs and other needed files, the judges will decide.
Affirmation vs. Vacate and Remand vs. Reverse Decision
There are three ways the CAVC can reach a verdict:
- Affirmation: The CAVC affirms the BVA decision and doesn’t grant disability benefits.
- Vacate and Remand: The CAVC’s decision doesn’t resolve the issue, so they send it back to the Board for further investigation and adjudication.
- Reverse Decision: In some rare instances, the CAVC will send back the claim to the Board with instructions to grant the benefit.
Standard of Review for the CAVC
When examining the Board’s findings for a disability claim, the CAVC follows the “clearly erroneous” standard of review. This procedure means that even though the Board has presented evidence for denying a claim, the CAVC judges will have a firm conviction that a mistake has been made.
Timeline To Expect for Processing the Claim
After your claim is placed on the CVAC Docket, you can expect the entire proceeding to last from 12 to 18 months. In some cases, the process can last for up to two years.
What Happens If My Claim Wasn’t Granted Based on the CAVC Decision?
Not all appeals will be successful. Sometimes, the CAVC will affirm the board’s decision and deny your appeal. However, it’s not the end of the road, as you have several other options. For example, you can request a panel decision so a group of judges can review and decide on your case. Filing a Motion for Reconsideration is also another method you can take.
Do You Need a VA Attorney To Help With Your Appeal?
You can file a social security appeal form independently and handle the entire legal proceeding. However, the VA and the Social Security Administration (SSA) will have their team of attorneys who will work to deny your appeal. Winning an SSDI hearing or a disability claim appeal will require an experienced VA attorney who can provide the right counsel, guidance, and representation to increase the chances of a favorable decision from the CAVC.
How Can Trajector Help?
Trajector Benefits is an organization built to help underserved and at-risk communities, including veterans. Our main service is developing and providing medical evidence that can help clients in their quest to receive disability benefits. From physical illnesses to mental health disorders, our team will assist you.
Let us help you get the disability benefits that you’re medically and legally entitled to. To learn more about filing veteran’s claims and appeals and our services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.