Taking Your Veterans Affairs Claim to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC)

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Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims (CAVC)

Disabled Veterans dissatisfied with a decision of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) may appeal the BVA’s decision to a special federal appeals court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). The Court was established following the Veterans Judicial Review Act in 1988 to provide an avenue for judicial recourse to Veterans whose claims are denied.

In addition to creating a means to provide judicial review to Veterans Administration claims, this Act provides the means for Veterans to seek representation through qualified lawyers who can aid in presenting their claims fairly. Furthermore, as a result of the Equal Access to Justice Act, Veterans seeking to appeal VA decisions receive increased protection when filing civil actions against the VA.

The CAVC is composed of judges confirmed by the United States Senate. Most claims are heard by a single judge. However, in some cases, a panel of three judges or an “en banc” panel of nine judges is required to reach a decision. Occasionally, retired judges are also appointed to serve as senior judges or to participate in reaching a court decision. The Court is located in Washington, D.C., and hears cases from anywhere in the United States.

The VA benefits attorneys at Berry Law fight for Veterans at the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. This court reviews final board decisions and how relevant statutes and regulations have been applied by the BVA to the VA benefits claim under review. Furthermore, it considers arguments that the BVA may have erred in its application of the law.

An appeal to the CAVC offers the Veteran an important opportunity to argue the core issues of their disability claim. Decisions here can change how the VA handles future disability claims. Our attorneys at Berry Law know VA law and focus on helping Veterans with the VA disability appeals process. We have successfully handled Veterans’ appeals cases before the CAVC and obtained not only benefits for our clients but also changes in the law to help all Veterans in the future.

Contact us today for assistance with a disability appeal.

Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: Types of Cases

The CAVC has exclusive jurisdiction to review decisions and decide appeals from the BVA. A Veteran who is dissatisfied with a BVA decision has the right to ask the CAVC to conduct a judicial review of their case.

The CAVC hears appeals about:

The CAVC is a different system from the VA

When a Veteran’s claim for VA disability benefits is still being heard by a VA Regional Office or the BVA, the Veteran is within a paternalistic, pro-claimant system where the VA has a duty to assist the Veteran in developing claims. In contrast, once a Veteran appeals a BVA decision to the CAVC, the process becomes adversarial; the Veteran is suing the VA to obtain the benefits they are due.

The judges of the CAVC hand down opinions that:

  • Interpret constitutional, statutory, and regulatory provisions of cases the BVA has decided
  • Determine the meaning or application of the BVA’s decision
  • Require the VA to follow the CAVC’s ruling

The CAVC may either affirm the BVA’s decision to deny the claim or send the case back to the BVA with instructions to correct an error of law in its original decision.

Generally, Veterans cannot submit new evidence to the CAVC

In most cases, the CAVC reviews only the Veteran’s existing VA claims file as it existed at the time of the BVA decision. A judge or panel of judges will review the claim. The court has the authority to request an oral argument but typically will do so only if the case before it seeks to establish a new interpretation of existing law.

Because the CAVC, in most cases, only reviews the case file as it was presented to the BVA, a Veteran’s prospects for success depend on the strength of the evidence in their file while their case is still at the VA. It is important to have an experienced CAVC appeal lawyer examine your claim file and prepare an appeal on your behalf.

Contact us now for help with preparing an appeal to the CAVC.

How to Appeal to the CAVC

A Veteran has 120 days after the BVA mails its decision to file a written notice of appeal on the proper form with the CAVC Clerk’s Office. There is also a $50 fee for filing the notice of appeal, or the fee can be waived in some cases when the Veteran files a Declaration of Financial Hardship.

The Veteran’s attorney, if they have one, must also file a notice of appearance. A Veteran who chooses to appeal to the CAVC pro se (on their own) must agree to follow all of the Court’s rules of practice and procedure.

After filing the notice of appeal, generally, the VA’s attorneys and a representative from the Court will schedule a pre-briefing conference with the Veteran’s attorney. Before this conference, the Veteran’s attorney must provide the VA attorneys with a statement of the issues on appeal. At the conference, the parties discuss the issues and determine if the VA will agree to a remand of all or part of the appeal (meaning that the VA attorneys agree the BVA made an error and will ask the CAVC to send the claim back to the BVA to fix the error).

If the parties decide to continue the appeal before the CAVC, then a briefing schedule will be set, and the Veteran must file the first brief.

The CAVC is a formal court where substantive law and evidentiary rules are strictly applied. The Veteran’s legal brief must present an argument based on sound legal reasoning, court decisions, and other applications of the law. It must counter any potential arguments by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, who is the opposing party in an appeal before the CAVC. In addition, the brief must adhere to very specific formatting and content requirements set forth in the CAVC’s court rules.

You can appeal to the CAVC pro se (without an attorney), but you will be at a disadvantage if you try to handle the appeal on your own. An experienced VA claims lawyer at Berry Law can develop a persuasive case about how VA law applies to your case and how and why you qualify for VA benefits.

After all the briefing is done, and after oral arguments, if the CAVC requests them, the CAVC hands down an opinion either affirming the BVA’s denial of VA benefits or remanding the case back to the BVA to fix mistakes in how it decided the appeal. If CAVC affirms the BVA’s denial, then the Veteran may file a motion for reconsideration within 21 days (or 51 days if the Veteran or their representative is outside the United States).

If the Veteran still disagrees with the CAVC’s decision after reconsideration, he or she may appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Decisions of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit are only superseded by decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court or by legislative changes in the law. Because Justices of the Supreme Court typically decline to review cases that do not address significant points of law, the Federal Circuit Court is often the last opportunity for a Veteran to have his or her case appeal heard.

Berry Law Can Help You
Appeal to the CAVC

Berry Law helps Veterans appeal disability claim decisions to the CAVC. We handle many appeals that seek to increase a Veteran’s VA disability rating and monthly benefit or to overturn the denial of a valid benefits claim.

Berry Law works to identify a solid basis for appealing a BVA decision by thoroughly reviewing the claim file and discussing the Veteran’s condition and needs with him or her, family members, and caretakers.

It is important to get knowledgeable assistance as soon as possible to appeal a VA disability claim decision. Remember, the appeals process goes from the VA Regional Office to the BVA and then the CAVC. The CAVC only reviews the claims file as appealed to the BVA in most cases. The Veteran cannot add evidence at this point, but your legal brief can explain the evidence in your file and what the CAVC judges should draw from it.

Before appealing to the CAVC, Berry Law’s VA Disability attorneys can help make sure that the claims file contains evidence that will improve a Veteran’s chances of winning an appeal. Our legal team can contact doctors, psychologists, and other medical experts who are familiar with VA claims to have them review medical records. And we have an extensive catalog of research, medical and scientific treatises and journal articles, and other evidence to support all types of VA disability claims.

The attorneys at Berry Law know VA rules, regulations, Diagnostic Codes, and court decisions guiding how disability benefits claims should be decided. We know what evidence the VA looks for as it evaluates a Veteran’s disability claim and how to prepare briefs that best portray the evidence in your file. And many of our attorneys are admitted to representing Veterans in appeals before the CAVC and are knowledgeable about the CAVC’s rules and what evidence and arguments are most effective in appeals to the CAVC.

Contact Berry Law About
Appealing a BVA Decision to the CAVC

If you need to appeal a denial of VA disability benefits by the BVA, it is important to reach out to an experienced and knowledgeable legal team right away. An appeal to the CAVC quickly becomes a formal legal matter requiring knowledge of VA law and court proceedings. Forging ahead on your own may ultimately cost you money if your claim is again denied or your disability rating remains too low.

Berry Law has decades of experience representing Veterans fighting for their VA disability benefits on appeal. Our lawyers understand what is necessary to ensure the legal brief in support of your appeal makes a case that will be persuasive to CAVC judges.

Let us review your VA disability claim file at no charge to you. If we can pursue an appeal on your behalf, we will not charge you a fee unless our work results in additional compensation for you.

Get help from our VA disability claims attorneys today.

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