At our office, we are often asked by veterans WHY their cases are taking so long to get decided. Despite hearing that BVA is experiencing a “backlog,” it is still difficult for them to believe that it really could take the BVA several years to decide their appeal. The Chairman of the BVA, Carol A. DeBattiste, recently released a report showing some statistics regarding the large numbers of appeals that the BVA is handling. These numbers help to explain why cases can take as long as they do to finalize.
Statistics through 2016 show the following:
- Number of appeals certified to the Board during FY 2016 alone 86,836
- Total cases pending (certified) before the Board at the end of FY 2016 115,847
(Those numbers were anticipated to be even larger for the 2017 and 2018 years.)
Unfortunately, the BVA does not have a huge number of employees to handle this load of cases. The BVA Chairman’s report indicated the following number of employees work at the Board:
|The number of members of the Board at the end of FY 2016:||72 members|
|The number of professional, administrative, clerical and other personnel employed by the Board at the end of FY 2016:||
584 employees (not including 72 members above)
How is the appeal process broken down by average times? Here is a chart showing those astonishing numbers:
The Chairman’s report indicates that the average length of time between filing a Form 9 and the Board’s disposition of that appeal was 1,785 days. That’s about 4 years and 11 months! Given these numbers, it is obvious that a veteran should be prepared to stay in for the long haul to see his appeal to the final stage.
Here are additional statistics showing the numbers of cases decided by the BVA between 2013-2016 including what numbers were granted, denied or remanded back to the Regional Office for further development:
Keep in mind that under certain circumstance, a veteran’s case can be expedited. If a veteran is 75 years old or more, OR suffering from severe financial problems (such as bankruptcy or home foreclosure and can provide documentation proof of that), OR suffering from a serious illness (requiring a doctor’s statement specifying the illness and noting clinical findings), a veteran can request that the BVA expedite his/her case. However, even if the BVA agrees to expedite a case, it could still mean the wait time could go on for a number of additional months.
Suffice it to say, that unless the BVA implements measures to move cases along faster, you must be prepared to wait for a final decision.