Going through the appeals process for a VA disability claim can be confusing and frustrating. But, understanding the deadlines for VA disability claims can certainly make the process a little bit easier. One frustrating aspect of the appeals process for VA disability claims is the fact that it can take the VA months or even years to come to a decision on your claim. However, once the VA has finally come to a decision, you then have the right to appeal if you are not satisfied. Please note, if you do decide to appeal, there are deadlines that you must meet in order to file a timely appeal.
How long do I have to Appeal a Rating Decision Denial of Veterans Benefits?
Once the Regional Office has come to a decision on your claim and you have either been denied, given a low rating, or you disagree with the effective date of your award, you have the right to appeal that rating decision. You have one year from the date on your rating decision letter to file an appeal with a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). This is a final deadline. There are no extensions for this deadline.
If you have applied for multiple disabilities, keep in mind that the VA may not make a decision on all of your claimed disabilities at once. It is very common for the VA to send multiple rating decision letters, each with different dates, and deciding different issues. Therefore, please keep in mind that for each separate rating decision, you would have to file a separate Notice of Disagreement/appeal to each rating decision that you may disagree with.
How Long Do I have to Appeal a Statement of the Case?
Once you have received a Statement of the Case (SOC), you only have 60 days to file an appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). This SOC is a response to the Notice of Disagreement/appeal that was previously filed.
The Statement of the Case is a summary of the evidence that the VA used to make their new decision. It also includes an explanation of the laws the VA applied, as wells as an explanation of their decision.
To appeal the Statement of the Case, you need to file a VA Form 9, a substantive appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
In some cases, the VA will issue what is called a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC). A Supplemental Statement of the Case will present you with changes or additions to the prior Statement of the Case. An SSOC is usually issued because of additional evidence received after the VA issued the prior Statement of the Case or after a BVA remand.
When it comes to a BVA decision, one of three things can happen:
- The BVA can grant your appeal. Your claim will then go back to your Regional Office for a new rating decision, which may include issuance of an effective date, rating and then payment. If you are unsatisfied with the new rating decision, this triggers the one year NOD appeal deadline.
- The BVA can remand your appeal. Appeals can be remanded for many reasons, for example:
- If there has been a change in law
- If there has been a worsening of a disability on appeal and a new examination is needed
- If new evidence has been submitted
- If the Regional Office did not process your claim correctly
If the Board remands your appeal, the BVA judge will lay out clear steps which your Regional Office must complete before rendering you another decision on your appeal. After completing the required steps, your Regional Office will make a new decision that will either continue the prior denial or grant your appeal. If your Regional Office continues the prior denial, you will be issued a Supplemental Statement of the Case and your appeal will return to the Board for a final decision. The Board will review your case again and will then render another decision. It is important to note that the remand cycle can happen more than once.
- The BVA can deny your appeal. If this happens you can file an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). You only have 120 days from the date of the BVA decision to file your appeal. If you miss the 120-day deadline, you will lose your right to appeal to the CAVC. For more information on the CAVC and how it works, click this link.
You can request that a previously closed claim be reopened. There is no time limit for doing so. However, this request will only be granted if you have “new and material evidence”. This means that the evidence must be something that is material, and something that was not available and reviewed at the time of the original decision. The evidence may change the outcome of your new decision.
There is no limit to how many times you can file for VA disability benefits. This means that if you are denied benefits at every level of appeal, you can start all over again with a new application. However, please be aware that if you have to start all over by reopening, you may not be entitled to an earlier effective date prior to the date of the new claim where you filed to reopen, should your claim eventually be granted in the future.
Knowing what kind of appeals are out there and the deadlines to appeal can give you the knowledge you need to go through the appeals process with ease.