The initial claim for Veterans benefits must be filed with the local regional office of the Department of Veteran Affairs. Applications can be submitted on-line through www.va.gov or by using VA Form 21-526. Once the application is processed the VA will provide the Veteran with a "decision" explaining any benefits awarded or denied. If not satisfied, the Veteran can appeal this decision.
File Notice of Disagreement
If the Veteran does not completely agree with the VA's initial decision, the Veteran must file a Notice of Disagreement. THIS NOTICE MUST BE FILED WITHIN ONE YEAR. The Veteran can also request an in-person hearing at the VA regional office with a decision review officer, Veteran's can have attorney representation or be represented by a service organization at this hearing if they desire. The VA will issue a "Statement of the Case" that will further explain the VA's reasoning in denying the sought after benefit. The Statement of the Case will be mailed with a VA Form 9. TO CONTINUE TO APPEAL, THE VA FORM 9 MUST BE FILED WITHIN 60 DAYS.
Appeal to Board of Veteran Appeals (BVA)
By filing the VA Form 9, the Veteran's case will be appealed to the BVA. The BVA is located in Washington, D.C. but conducts hearings at regional VA offices, or via video teleconference, as well as at the D.C. location. The hearing allows the Veteran and their representative to submit argument and evidence in support of their claims. Following the hearing the BVA will issue a decision on the case. If the Veteran does not agree with this decision, they have 120 DAYS to request reconsideration by the BVA or appeal to the US Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims.
Appeal to US Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims
The US Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims is the first non-Department of Veteran Affairs decision maker in the claims process. They conduct almost all hearings in Washington, D.C. and will consider all evidence that has previously been submitted to the VA regarding the claim and apply the applicable VA regulations in determining the case. The court may also remand the claim tot he VA for further evaluation or consideration.