When a Veteran requests a hearing for her appeal of a compensation claim decision, the Board of Veterans Appeals must hold the hearing before deciding the appeal. Once the hearing is held, the Veteran’s appeal is placed on the Board’s docket for a decision. So far this year, with 20,000 hearings completed by August 2021, the Board is on pace to best its previous record, smashing its historical average of 16,000 annually.
This is great news, but the Board also needs your help: The best and most important thing you can do to help the Board hold more hearings for more Veterans in line is to attend your hearing at the scheduled day and time. Currently, the Board schedules 1,000 hearings per week with more than 25 Veterans Law Judges scheduled every single day – but nearly 50% of these hearings go unheard.
Since October 2020, nearly 11,000 Veterans have postponed their hearings. Postponing a hearing adds months to the wait for a hearing and further delays the decision. Additionally, over 1,000 Veterans did not show up for their scheduled hearings. That represents more than 12,000 decisions delayed.
These missed and postponed hearings also impact other Veterans by lengthening their wait to schedule their hearings. The Board is required by law to let Veterans know at least thirty (30) days in advance and in writing when their hearing is scheduled. Unfortunately, the hearing slot is wasted if a Veteran postpones or cancels within 30 days of the hearing.
If you can’t make it to an in-person hearing, you can switch to a virtual tele-hearing. If you must postpone or no longer want your hearing, please notify the Board as soon as possible.
Types of hearings
Understanding that every Veteran’s situation is unique, the Board offers several types of hearings:
in-person hearings at our offices in Washington, D.C.; in-person video hearings at VBA regional offices where a Veterans Law Judge appears on video teleconference technology; in-person travel board hearings (legacy appeals only); and virtual tele-hearings.
How The Board is helping
The most quickly scheduled and easiest hearing type is virtual tele-hearings. You can have a hearing on your cell phone or personal computer from your location of choice. You simply connect with a Veterans Law Judge using your computer or cell phone with audio and video in a secure virtual hearing room.
The Board is increasing the number of hearing coordinators who are available to help Veterans and representatives with scheduling, rescheduling and providing technical support for virtual tele-hearings.
No matter what type of hearing is scheduled, the Board will send an initial scheduling letter to the Veteran within 30 days of the hearing, and then follow up with reminders to Veterans about their scheduled hearings using email, text and phone calls.
The Board provides training on virtual tele-hearings and works closely with Veteran Service Organizations and representatives to increase awareness, training and assistance with hearings.
The Board also provides current hearing information, including data and contact information, on its website at www.bva.va.gov.
Want to switch to a virtual hearing?
You can convert any type of hearing to a virtual tele-hearing. You no longer need to travel to a VA facility to have a hearing with a Judge. If you have a computer or cell phone, you can have your hearing with a Judge, virtually, and your representative or friend/family member/caregiver can attend with you. It’s safe and secure. If you’re interested in converting your hearing to a virtual tele-hearing, please email us at BVAVirtualHearing@va.gov, or click here.
If you don’t want a hearing
A hearing is not required to resolve an appeal. In fact, you don’t have to request a hearing. Instead, you or your representative can submit a statement in support of your appeal. Then simply let the Board know that you no longer wish to wait for a hearing and request the appeal be moved to the Direct Docket.
If you no longer want a hearing or want to move your appeal to Direct Docket, please send a written request by fax to (844) 678-8979, or by mail to Board of Veterans’ Appeals, P.O. Box 27063, Washington, DC 20038.
The Board strives to hold as many hearings as possible to get more decisions to more Veterans. While COVID impacted all of us, the Board worked to provide hearings in a safe and secure environment for Veterans, representatives and VA employees and still provide decisions to Veterans.
Working together, we can increase Veterans’ access to hearings and improve outcomes for Veterans by delivering decisions on benefits and services.