If you are a veteran looking to appeal VA decisions, you can appeal via supplemental claims or request a higher-level review. You can also appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) according to the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA). Learn how to prepare for the hearing if you decide an appeal to the BVA is your best course of action.
Where BVA hearings occur
A BVA hearing can occur in one of three places. The first is at a local, regional office where you and the judge appear in person. The judge can also videoconference while you appear in person. The second location is the Board offices in Washington, D.C. Here, you and the judge must attend the proceedings in person. This option is quite rare and typically only advisable if you live within the vicinity. The last location is a scheduled virtual hearing, where you can attend an appeal from your home.
Preparing for a BVA hearing
It is essential that you are well-prepared for your BVA hearing. The first step to consider is double-checking which claims are managed by the board. It is counterproductive to spend time appealing claims the judge cannot decide. Confirm which claims you must present to the board and which are still within the control of the regional office.
Next, gather all relevant documents. These include medical records and independent medical opinions submitted to the VA. Bring multiple copies and request that the judge wait until these documents are provided as evidence to the VA before making a decision.
It can be helpful to have a friend or spouse attend the hearing. They can attest to your history of symptoms, in-service events, and the severity of your disability. Doing this will help establish the benefits you deserve.
You also have the right to have an attorney present at the hearing, but your attorney cannot represent you in absentia. If you are personally unable to attend, you will have to reschedule the hearing or request a virtual hearing if you cannot leave home.
Are BVA hearings formal?
BVA hearings are considered informal. Therefore, no standard procedures or practices are followed during the proceedings. Your representative may deem the hearing unnecessary if all vital arguments and evidence are submitted to the VA on paper. The judge will also not make a decision immediately after the hearing. Instead, they will write their opinion within a couple of months.