Whether you are wanting to make a plea for appeal with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) regarding your initial Notice of Disagreement letter or making a second appeal after an unfavorable decision by a DRO, block 8 of Form 9, an optional BVA hearing may throw you for a loop. If you would like a hearing with a veterans’ law judge from the BVA as part of your appeal, this is where you must designate the type of hearing you will have.
Learn what your options are, and which avenue is best for you.
Should I have a hearing at all?
A hearing offers you the opportunity to appear before the veterans’ law judge responsible for the outcome of your appeal. Representation is not required, but may be in your best interest, especially if you wish to utilize witnesses in arguing your case. The advantage of having a hearing is that it will give you a chance to directly present witnesses and evidence to the board in the interests of persuading them into a favorable decision.
Of course, you may choose to not have a hearing at all. This may be a preferable option for you if:
- You are confident that you have already submitted sufficient material in support of your appeal to the BVA to decide your case without need for a hearing.
- Your appeal only consists of new material evidence in support of your prior claim; in this case, you will submit this evidence to the BVA or tell them that it exists.
Types of BVA Hearings
If you choose to have a hearing, you must select the type of hearing you want. Veterans are given three hearing options with a BVA member.
- A live BVA videoconference hearing – Veterans who select this option will be able to have a live videoconference, broadcast from their regional VA office, with a veterans’ law judge at the office located in the District of Columbia. The veteran is able to attend the videoconference with their legal representation and witnesses, and the veterans’ law judge is able to ask questions and hear testimony in real time. This cost-effective option is more easily scheduled than the alternatives, meaning a shorter wait for the veteran.
- An in-person hearing at the BVA in Washington DC – This option will involve the veteran, legal representation, and witnesses traveling to the District of Columbia for a hearing. It allows the veterans’ law judge to meet with the veteran and others involved in the claim face to face. Unfortunately, the VA is unable to pay any travel expenses for this option, which can make it an unrealistic option for many Texas veterans.
- An in-person meeting with a member of the BVA at your regional VA office – Here, the veterans’ law judge must travel to your Texas VA office to meet with you, your representation, and witnesses in person. The major drawback to this option is scheduling. Because the veterans’ law judge must make a special trip to a specific VA office, there can be a long wait before the hearing can take place.
If you’ve received a VA claim denial or unfavorable ratings decision, talk about your options for appeal with a Texas VA Disability Benefits Lawyer today. Call Morgan & Weisbrod at 877-898-1581today to arrange for a no-cost introductory consultation.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.