There are several options for a Veteran when trying to appeal a Rating Decision. The Veteran may file a supplemental claim, in which the Veteran attaches new and relevant information; a request for a Higher-Level Review, in which the Veteran asks the Regional Office to readjudicate the claim with the evidence as it exists in the claims file already; and finally, the Veteran can request a review by the highest authority, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, or “BVA.”
The BVA is the first instance the Veteran has to have his case reviewed by a Veterans Law Judge. Judges are often time more familiar with VA disability compensation rules and regulations. For that reason, it is often time beneficial for a claimant to present his case to the Veterans’ Law Judge. Additionally, there are two options for the Veteran to choose from when requesting a review by a Veterans Law Judge. The first option is a “Direct Review” by a Veterans Law Judge. The second option for BVA review is a request for a “Board Hearing.” There are pros and cons to each of these options.
The first option, a “Direct Review” by a Veterans Law Judge, is most akin to the Higher-Level Review at the lower levels in that the Veterans Law Judge reviews the record as it currently exists without the submission of additional evidence. This option is most beneficial when the Veteran and his representative are confident that the existing evidence supports service-connection of the condition. This option is also useful because it results in a much quicker decision by the Veterans Law Judge. Alternatively, the Veteran can request a “Board Hearing” in front of a Veterans Law Judge.
The benefit of a Hearing in front of the Veterans Law Judge is that the Veteran is able to present new evidence and testimony to the Judge which further supports his or her claim for service connection. Further, the Veteran is able to discuss any gaps that the Veteran Law Judge sees in the evidentiary record which would otherwise lead to service connection. With their testimony, the Veteran is able to fill in these gaps. The down-side of a request for a Board Hearing is that Veterans often have to wait a year or more to have their hearing scheduled. However, in many, if not most situations, the Board Hearing is the better option because of the flexibility in submitting new evidence.
Choosing the right Board of Veterans’ Appeals lane can determine whether or not the Veteran’s claim for service connection is granted. An experienced Veterans’ Disability Compensation Attorney can help you navigate through the process of not only the appeals at the lower level, but also choosing which BVA lane best suits their case and claims. If you have a claim for disability and need assistance, please call our office and speak with one of our qualified Veterans’ Disability attorneys. Gardberg and Kemmerly is committed to helping injured and disabled Veterans obtain the benefits they deserve. If you need help with a disability claim, call the office at 251-343-1111 or 1-800-332-1529 for a free consultation. Gardberg and Kemmerly is proud to serve Veterans across the country from our home office in Mobile, Alabama.