If you disagree with the initial decision VA made on your claim and decide to appeal the decision to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board), you have a few different options to choose how your appeal proceeds. But many people don’t know what to expect, which could cloud their ability to choose the best option for them.
In the video below, Judge Tanya Smith, a Veterans Law Judge, explains to Veterans what to expect, what to prepare, and what happens after a hearing.
As explained in the video above, one option is to have a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge (VLJ). Hearings are entirely optional and aren’t necessary to receive a decision from the Board.
(Some Veterans elect to a potentially quicker decision and, to save time, they can choose one of the other options the Board offers. Instead of a hearing, the VLJ will simply review any evidence/statements you have submitted before deciding your appeal.)
If you decide you want a hearing, consider choosing a virtual tele-hearing. Virtual tele-hearings are safe and secure, and they allow you to have your hearing from the comfort of your home instead of traveling to a VA facility. Virtual tele-hearings are a great option, especially during a pandemic. They do not negatively affect your appeal, so don’t postpone your hearing and delay your decision – choose a virtual tele-hearing.
What can you expect during a Board Hearing?
- At the start of the hearing, the judge will ask you to raise your right hand, if possible, and swear you in. The judge will ask you to take an oath, or affirm that you’ll tell the truth during the hearing.
- During the hearing, you, your representative – if you have one, and the judge will have a conversation about the issues on appeal. These hearings are an opportunity for you to tell your story, and you should be comfortable in doing so. The judge will listen to your testimony and may ask you a few questions to better understand your appeal.
What should you do during the hearing?
- Tell the judge why you think you qualify for the VA benefits in your appeal.
- Answer any questions the judge has about your appeal.
- Share any new evidence with the judge: You can choose to add new and relevant evidence, either at the hearing or within 90 days after the hearing. Adding evidence is optional.
What happens after your hearing?
- Please understand that the judge will not issue a decision on your appeal the moment the hearing has ended.
- When the 90-day time period for submitting new evidence after your hearing has ended, your appeal will be placed on the docket for a decision by a judge.
- You will receive your decision in the mail and your representative will also receive a copy. You can track the status of your appeal by signing in at www.VA.gov.
The video above has additional information.
Cheryl L. Mason is the chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.