VA is bringing virtual hearings to Veterans who have disagreed with the decision VA made on a compensation claim and who have appealed the decision to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA, “the Board”).
If you have a cell phone, computer or tablet with Wi-Fi, you can have a virtual BVA hearing anywhere with a Veterans Law Judge (VLJ)! In fact, nearly 3000 Veterans have already requested virtual tele-hearings.
While the Board suspended all in-person hearings in March 2020 due to COVID-19, the Board kept working, and it issued decisions for waiting Veterans and provided hearings through virtual tele-hearings.
On April 10, 2020, President Trump signed legislation making virtual tele-hearings a permanent option for Veterans. Thanks to the Board and its partners at the Office of Information Technology, we’re proud to deliver this technology to waiting Veterans so quickly.
Virtual tele-hearings can happen wherever you are
Whether it’s eliminating a long drive to the nearest VA regional office, saving money on hotels, not having to take time off work, or providing a more comfortable and safe environment, virtual tele-hearings take the stress out of having a Board hearing.
Many Veterans tell us how much they appreciate the convenience of virtual tele-hearings. For example, one Veteran who recently started a new job was able to participate in his hearing on his cell phone while on lunch break. The Board even held a hearing with a Veteran working overseas who couldn’t travel back to the US. Several Veterans have had hearings from their homes for health reasons. And on multiple recent occasions, the Board connected with Veterans in hospitals. In each case, the Board team worked with the Veteran’s family and representative to ensure that each Veteran could have a hearing.
How does a virtual tele-hearing work?
It works similarly to VHA’s Tele-health appointment program: If you have access to Wi-fI with your cell phone, computer or tablet, you can have a virtual tele-hearing. If the technology appears daunting, you can ask a family member or caregiver to assist you. When connected, you and your representative simply talk to the Veterans Law Judge via a computer or cell phone screen. Veterans can test their equipment here.
How do I request a virtual tele-hearing?
If you have elected a hearing, the Board will reach out to you either by phone or letter to discuss your options. Make sure to contact your Veteran Service Organization or private representative and advise them that you want a virtual tele-hearing.
What if I want to wait or I no longer want a hearing?
If you choose to wait until you can have a video or Travel Board hearing, BVA will hold your place in line. However, please know we don’t yet know when the Board will be able to schedule video or Travel Board hearings. Also, this option means that your decision will be delayed until your hearing can be scheduled as soon as public health safety allows. This could mean additional delays of over a year.
If you no longer want a hearing, you can cancel your hearing and submit a written statement.
In the meantime, the Board has virtual tele-hearing openings available right now!
Cheryl L. Mason is the Chairman of the Board of Veterans Appeals (Board).