VA disability claims can take several years to process, sometimes creating severe challenges for veterans and their families. There are ways to help accelerate the process, including something known as filing a “motion for advancement.”
In accordance with law 38 U.S.C. § 7107(a) and 38 C.F.R. § 20.900(c), the Board of Veterans Appeals must review claims in what is known as “docket order,” or in the order in which they were received.
38 U.S.C. § 7107(a) states:
The United States Code is the law of the land – voted into law by both houses of Congress, and signed off by the President. 38 U.S.C. § 7107 gives us the following elements for advancing your appeal on the Board of Veterans Appeals Docket:
“(1) for cause shown…[but]…. Such a motion may be granted only—
(A) if the case involves interpretation of law of general application affecting other claims;
(B) if the appellant is seriously ill or is under severe financial hardship; or
(C) for other sufficient cause shown.”
The thing to note about this: “For good cause shown” allows the Courts to decide things based on their discretion of what is reasonable or not. So, according to this law, if you make a convincing argument that there is reason to advance your case, it should be granted.
38 C.F.R. § 20.900 states:
“A case may be advanced on the docket on the motion of the Chairman, the Vice Chairman, a party to the case before the Board, or such party’s representative. Such a motion may be granted only if the case involves interpretation of law of general application affecting other claims, if the appellant is seriously ill or is under severe financial hardship, or if other sufficient cause is shown. “Other sufficient cause” shall include, but is not limited to, administrative error resulting in a significant delay in docketing the case or the advanced age of the appellant. For purposes of this Rule, “advanced age” is defined as 75 or more years of age. This paragraph does not require the Board to advance a case on the docket in the absence of a motion of a party to the case or the party’s representative.”
CFR stands for Code of Federal Regulations, and this includes the basic statutory requirements, as stated above, and indicates that “other sufficient causes” include, but are not limited to:
- Where administrative error resulting in a significant delay in docketing the case
- The appellant’s advanced age (defined as 75 years or older).
The first may be very much open to interpretation. Until veterans start asking for advancement on the BVA docket due to administrative error and delay, and challenging denials of the requests before the BVA and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the law will not change or become more clear as to what this means exactly.
What is a Motion for Advancement on the Docket (AOD)?
A “motion for advancement on the docket” or an AOD, is filed when a veteran is suffering from unusual hardship or “other sufficient cause,” effectively asking the Board to expedite its review of their appeal. AODs can be submitted for some of the following reasons, but are not limited to them:
- Financial hardship (bankruptcy, homelessness, foreclosure)
- After having been affected by a natural disaster, such as a tornado, flood, hurricane, etc.
- Serious illness, including as of 2020, COVID-19
- Advanced age (which is defined as 75 years or older)
- Administrative error that resulted in significant delay in the appeal being added to the docket
- Former POWs and Award Recipients
What qualifies as financial hardship?
“Financial hardship” for purposes of expediting the VA disability claims process, means that you, the veteran, can’t make enough income and are unable to pay for day-to-day living expenses, relating to your disability. These hardships must be “extreme” in nature, bankruptcy, homelessness and foreclosure being among some of the examples.
What qualifies as homelessness for expediting a claim?
Homelessness, for the purposes of expediting the VA disability claims process, means you are lacking a regular and adequate living situation.
What are serious illness requirements?
There are two different scenarios that can qualify you for illness considerations when expediting a claim. These include:
- Serious illness or injury resulting from military operations
- Terminal illness
In order to qualify, you have to have documented evidence from a physician stating your diagnosis and testing that was done.
Former POWs and award recipients can also have their claims expedited
Former Prisoners of War or recipients of the Medal of Honor or Purple Heart award are also entitled to request expedited claims review.
What qualifies as advanced age?
Advanced age, for purposes of advancing a claim, means that, by the Board of Appeals, a veteran must be 75 years of age or older.
What do I need to file for a Motion of Advancement on the Docket and Where do I file it?
38 C.F.R. § 20.900 states these specific details regarding what is necessary to file a motion of advancement:
- They must be submitted in writing
- They must identify specific reason(s) why advancement is sought
- They must include the name of the veteran and the name of the appellant if not the veteran (i.e. a guardian or survivor)
- They must include the applicable Department of Veterans Affairs file number
The documentation can be mailed or faxed to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals at the address or fax number listed below:
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
P.O. Box 27063
Washington, DC 20038
When to file a Motion for Advancement on the Board of Veterans Appeals Docket
This answer depends entirely on where in the appeals process you are.
If your C-File has not yet been delivered to the BVA, you can read about the pre-file delivery process on the M21-1MR Section. You can file a request for advancement the minute you file the Notice of Disagreement (NOD).
If your C-File has been delivered to the VA, you can file a Motion of Advancement anytime up until the BVA issues a decision in your appeal.
Remember to always keep copies of your records both forms and evidence! It is possible you’ll be asked for these records more than once. You may also consider sending a “Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested” so you are aware when the VA receives your request.
Have Questions About Appealing Your Claim or Understanding How the Claims Process Works?
The attorneys at Hill & Ponton are here to support you with appealing a claim to get disability benefits.
If you do get denied, you can always file again if you have the necessary medical documents and nexus that support your claims. Don’t lose hope–especially when it comes to fighting for the benefits you deserve!
If you are intending to appeal a denied claim, you can contact us for an evaluation and we can help you with this process.
However, if you are considering filing an initial claim, or even if you are interested in learning about the appeals process, we offer a free ebook to get you started on the right foot!
The Road to VA Compensation Benefits will help break down the claims process from start to finish. Click the link below to learn more.
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