Navigating the Appeal Process at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC)

 

Once a Veteran receives a decision from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board), what are their options?

When the Board decides on a claim that denies or does not grant full potential benefits to a Veteran, the fight for benefits is not over.  The Veteran can appeal their claims to the CAVC to overturn the findings of the Board.

The CAVC is not part of the Veteran’s Administration.  It is an independent impartial Court that decides whether the Board’s administrative law judge made an error of law when deciding to deny a Veteran’s claim.

Following a Board decision, a Veteran has 120 days to appeal the Board’s denial to the CAVC.  If a Veteran fails to file a notice of appeal with the correct filing fees or request for waiver of fees, the Board decision will become final and not appealable at the CAVC.

Once an appeal is accepted by the CAVC the only arguments that can be made at the Court are errors of law made by the Board judge.

What does this mean?

All arguments at the CAVC are limited to whether the administrative law judge made an error of law or applied the law incorrectly.  This means that no additional evidence can be submitted to the Court following the date of the Board decision.  No additional medical evidence or testimony may be added to the record at the Court.  This means that the Court only looks at the record as it was decided on the date the Board made its decision.

When a Veteran appeals a Board decision to the CAVC, the Office of General Counsel (OGC) for the Veterans Administration assigns an attorney to represent VA before the Court.  Essentially, the attorney for the VA will be arguing that VA did not erroneously decide the Veteran’s claims and that the Board’s decision should be upheld.  The VA attorney is an experienced attorney that has practiced at the CAVC many times and has specialized in defending the Veterans Administration’s decisions.

If you are a Veteran interested in appealing a Board decision to the CAVC, it is in your best interest to retain experienced legal counsel.  Unlike navigating the Veterans Administration claim process using forms and the Veterans Administration’s duty to assist the veteran in her claims, the proceedings at the CAVC are adversarial.  This means that the experienced Veterans Administration attorney will be fighting to defend the decision of the Board.

If you are a Veteran who has received a Board decision that denied your claims to VA disability benefits, you should seek out an experienced Veterans law attorney who is licensed to practice at the CAVC.  The Veterans Administration will assign an experienced attorney who is licensed to practice at the CAVC to fight to uphold the Board’s decision to deny your VA benefits.  You should have an experienced attorney representing you as well.

How do I hire an experienced CAVC attorney?

At Berry Law Firm, our attorneys who practice VA law are licensed to represent Veterans at the CAVC.  We have represented thousands of Veterans at the CAVC recovering over $100 Million in due back-pay for injuries suffered in service.

How do I afford an attorney to represent me at CAVC?

The attorneys at Berry Law Firm will not charge a Veteran a fee for representation at the CAVC.  Under the Equal Access for Justice Act (EAJA), if an appeal of a Board decision to the CAVC results in a victory for the Veteran, our attorneys will bill the United States government for our attorney fees, not the Veteran.  As well, if we continue to represent the Veteran at the Veterans Administration and are successful in achieving a grant of benefits on the same claim as was appealed to the CAVC, we will return the attorneys fees billed to the United States government to the Veteran.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision. If you have received an adverse Board decision denying your claims to VA benefits, contact an experienced Veterans’ rights attorney at the Berry Law Firm for a case evaluation.