Matt Hill: Hello and welcome to another Hill and Ponton VA video blog. I’m Matthew Hill …
Carol Ponton: I’m Carol Ponton.
Matt Hill: Today we’d like to talk to you about remands from the Board of Veterans Appeals. Just to go over quickly where the Board of Veterans Appeals or the BVA is in the whole system, when you file a claim you file it at the regional office in your state. They make a decision. If you disagree, they get to look at it again and make another decision. After that, if you disagree, at that point you have the opportunity to file an appeal of the VA Form 9 up to Washington to the Board of Veterans Appeals. Then at the end of all that filing, maybe five years later, you get a decision from the Board of Veteran’s Appeals and a lot of time, from what the statistics say, the number one type of decision is a remand.
Carol Ponton: A remand. A remand can be a number of things. One of which, they are remanding, they are sending back a number of issues to the regional office and asking them to re-evaluate them. You could have a mixture. You could have a decision that has a denial of one claim, a grant of another and a remand of another several issues. What you need to know is, you need to get to the very bottom of the decision, the court will say what they are going to do. Whether they are going to grant, deny, or if they are remanding, why they are remanding. As Matt says, you’ve waited a long time to get this decision. What you want to do is make sure you do whatever it takes to hurry that up.
Matt Hill: At the bottom of the decision it will say that the regional office has to expedite your case because it’s coming back from the Board. The Court of Appeals of Veterans claims, which oversees the Board, has made a decision on what expedite means. Essentially the court says that has to be less than two years. If you think about it, two years is still a long time. Your options are it gets sent back and you can let the regional office do all the work. Typically what they are sending back for are getting records like social security records, treating medical records that might not be at the VA, sometimes service records …
Carol Ponton: Sometimes veterans records, VA records they haven’t put in the file.
Matt Hill: A lot of times, ultimately what it will lead to is another C and P exam because the Board of Veterans Appeals felt like there was an inadequacy in the prior exam. What we’re saying is that you can’t speed up the exam, but if you have a copy of the social security records, or you have a copy of your private doctor records, you submitting that would hopefully speed up the process instead of sitting back and letting the VA do all those issues.
Carol Ponton: I think it really helps if you outline to the VA, the regional office, I’m hereby submitting the following documents which were requested by the Board of Veteran’s Appeals. Social Security documents, all the other things, or if you have written for something and it no longer exists, you can say that as well. For instance, a lot of people are asking for employability and there’s no record from their last employer as to when they stopped working. That’s something that you can get and submit so it’s already in the record. Read through what the Board is looking for, try to get everything you can, and then outline in a letter to the VA, to the regional office, this is what I’m submitting. It complies with the Board’s request.
Matt Hill: One last note on this. It’s less than ten percent of the time that with remands, the regional office then grants the benefits. What will happen is the Board will remand it, ask them to do all these issues, get a C and P Exam, get all the records, and then the regional office has to make a decision again. If they grant it, great. They issue a rating decision, shows you what you were given. Most of the time, literally over 90% of the time according to the VA statistics, they are going to deny it and issue a supplemental statement of the case. An SSOC. At that point, the file is automatically sent back to the Board. You don’t have to file another appeal. They will give you a form to file one, but you don’t have to. It will automatically go back to the Board and the Board will make another decision based on the new evidence with the old evidence combined.
Carol Ponton: That way, if you send in evidence that is favorable, the Board will get to see it, even if the regional office didn’t approve, didn’t accept it, the BVA is going to look at it. That is when they look at, well, this seems to be a very good opinion. They have an ability to say I’m going to take this over the C and P examiner because this doctor has spent more time with you, his explanation was better. Give yourself every opportunity to be approved, whether it’s at the regional office or if you have to go to the BVA, back to the BVA.
Matt Hill: Thank you for joining us.
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