We urge vets to talk with an attorney.

It doesn't cost anything to discover your options.

VAWatchdog does not recommend that any veteran proceed beyond the DRO

Process unless he/she is represented by a skilled attorney.

Appeals, indeed all claims, have become much more complex.

This has opened a door to the VBA making more mistakes than ever before. Along with all this is the fact that VBA has become more willing to fight appeals.

Veterans need an advocate who is trained in law and skilled at the task.

How To Hire A Lawyer  

Update November 2014

VA now requires that veterans use a form to initiate an appeal.

Prior to this rule change, veterans could submit a simple letter stating

the Notice of Disagreement (NOD) and VA would be required to

adjudicate that as a formal appeal.

Although the rule won't formally go into effect until well into 2015,

we suggest that you begin to use the form today.

You may still attach a narrative letter or document to the required form.

We suggest that you do so. You should also attach copies of evidence that you determine will be necessary to prevail.

We see this as an unnecessary and adversarial move by VA. However,

as VA controls the rule book we should accept the new

way of appealing a claim and move forward.

As VA is becoming much more adversarial,

we urge every veteran to speak with a veterans law attorney.

VA Form 21-0958 Notice of Disagreement  (Fillable PDF)

The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) 
How To Appeal a Board of Veterans' Appeals Decision  
You must have a final decision from the Board of Veterans' Appeals before appealing to this Court. (The VA Regional Office is not the Board of Veterans' Appeals.)    
If you are not sure of the status of your claim at the VA or BVA, please call the BVA status line at 202-565-5436.   
Required Steps for Filing an Appeal:  
1. The appellant must file a written Notice of Appeal (NOA) that includes all of the following information:   

A. Current name
B. Current address
C. Current telephone number
D. Current e-mail address
E. VA claims file number
F. Date of Board decision being appealed  

2. The Notice of Appeal (NOA) must be received not later than 120 days after the date on which the Board mailed the notice of the decision to the last known address of the appellant. 

Please Note: The date stamped on the front of the BVA's decision is the date it was mailed.   
3. A $50 nonrefundable filing fee, paid by check or money order payable to the

"U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims," or a Declaration of Financial

Hardship must be received by the Court no later than

14 days after you send the Notice of Appeal (NOA).   
4. File the Notice of Appeal (NOA) and filing fee or Declaration of Financial

Hardship with the Court by mail, fax, or e-mail to the following address:     
Clerk of the Court     
United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims     
625 Indiana Ave. NW, Suite 900     
Washington DC, 20004-2950     
Fax: (202) 501-5848     
E-mail: e-submission@uscourts.cavc.gov

E-mailed pleadings must be in separate PDF files.   
5. Once the appeal has been docketed, the Clerk will send a Notice of Docketing to all parties advising them of the date the Clerk received the Notice of Appeal (NOA). 

The Clerk will also note what is next required of both the appellant and the Secretary.  

The Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA)  

The Board of Veterans' Appeals (also known as "BVA" or "the Board") is

a part of the VA, located in Washington, D.C.

Members of the Board review benefit claims determinations made by local VA offices and issue decision on appeals.  These Law Judges, attorneys experienced in veterans law and in reviewing benefit claims, are the only ones who can issue Board decisions. 

Staff attorneys, also trained in veterans law, review the facts of each appeal and assist the Board members.   {38 U.S.C. §§ 7103, 7104}

Anyone who is not satisfied with the results of a claim for veterans benefits

(determined by a VA regional office, medical center, or other local VA office)

should read the "How do I Appeal" pamphlet. 

It is intended to explain the steps involved in filing an appeal and to serve as a reference for the terms and abbreviations used in the appeal process.

Considering a BVA Hearing? Select a Video Hearing.
Board of Veterans' Appeals Decisions Search

To conduct a search of BVA's decisions, enter the word or group of words you are looking

for in the fields below. From the resulting list, you can connect directly to individual decision texts or you can return to this page to conduct additional searches. Personally identifying

information has been removed, so searching by the Veteran's name, C-File or Social Security Number will not be effective. Decisions are loaded monthly, usually within 45 days

after the end of each month.
VA Pamphlet 01-02-02A, April 2002 " 
How Do I Appeal " (PDF) 

The Steps To An Appeal  

* Veteran files a claim the usual way.

* The usual process occurs; This may take 12 to 24 months.

* The veteran receives the letter from VA that denies the benefit.

* The veteran then chooses how to appeal. There is a one year time limit.

* The veteran may then retain a lawyer, tell VA that a DRO Process

appeal is desired or the vet may seek a BVA hearing.

* If DRO Process is the chosen, the appeal is handled at the Regional Office.

* If BVA is desired, the claim will be "perfected" by the RO prior to being sent to BVA.

This may equal DRO Process.

* If BVA claim is denied, the veteran may proceed to the CAVC.

* VAWatchdog does not recommend reconsideration.

* VAWatchdog recommends that almost all appeals

be handled by an expert attorney.

How To Appeal A Claim That Is Denied By The

​Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

What to do when the denial letter arrives 
Do your best to decipher the reasoning VA offers you for the denial.

That may be the very problem you need to correct to perfect your appeal.
Or, there may be evidence that VA overlooked.

The rater may not have understood your claim as well as he or she should have.
In any case, don't get angry, get analytical and smart.

Anger wastes time and you have deadlines to meet.

Once you've read and you understand the reasons for denial,

you now must think of how to explain your appeal clearly.
We'll use the example of evidence that wasn't considered

or seems to have been overlooked in the decision process.
Let's say that your claim was for a knee injury that occurred during active duty.

You were treated at a clinic and then a hospital. Then your knee continued

to bother you for the duration of your active duty service. You had 2

more clinic sick calls prior to discharge.
In the denial letter VA may have told you that; "There is no evidence of a knee

injury occurring during your service." Don't worry about that. It happens all the time.

Overlooking or ignoring information that you're sure is in your record is common at your VA.
Are you sure the information is in your record?

Have you retrieved a copy of your records?

If not, as you file your appeal you should also seek out a copy

of every document that you are able to find.
Within a month of receiving the denial letter, you should proceed to formally appealing it.

We urge you toseek the services of a veterans law attorney for almost every appeal.

VAWatchdog believes that over 50% of all initial

applications for benefits will be wrongly denied.
It doesn't matter if the claim is well grounded or not. It is likely that your claim will

require an appeal. VAWatchdog advises that veterans must expect that their benefit

application will be denied and that the veteran should be prepared to appeal.

This is a routine and ordinary part of the process.
Denial of the initial claim  should not cause the veteran undue anxiety.

Most claims are won on appeal.
In every award (denial of award) letter there is information about why the veteran

was denied. Now is the time to carefully read through that.

You may want to read it a number of times.

The information contained in the letter may be full of

errors itself and it won't always be easy to understand.

The Appeals Process Is Broken


VA Benefits for Sleep Apnea

as a service

connection to PTSD
Brett Valette, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

The Veterans Voice


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Things You'll Need

Mail your forms, documents
and evidence here...
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 5235
Janesville, WI 53547-5235

Toll Free Fax: 844-822-5246

We recommend that you mail a copy
and then fax a copy!  Yes, it's twice the
work but maybe VA will only lose one
and the other will be processed.
Remember: Use Certified Mail!

Forms to File Claims

VA Form 21-526EZ
Disability Service Connection
Secondary Service Connection

IncreasedDisability Compensation

Temporary Total Disability Rating
 Individual Unemployability
Compensation under 38 U.S.C. 1151
 Special Monthly Compensation
Specially Adapted Housing

Special Home Adaptation

Automobile Allowance/Adaptive Equipment
Benefits Based on a Veteran's
Seriously Disabled Child

VA Form 21-0958 - NOD
​Notice of Disagreement

VA Form 21-534 EZ

Application for DIC, Death Pension
Change of Address​

TDIU Annual - VA Form 4140
Declaration of Status
of Dependents
VA form 21-686c

How To

How To Apply For SSDI

How To Apply For

TDIU Unemployability

How To Use

Disability Benefits Questionnaires


How To Apply For A Disability Rating

How To Apply For An Increase

to an existing rating

How To Retrieve Your

Military Personnel Records

Research Your Claim

The M21-1MR

The Schedule For Rating Disabilities

Many VA Benefits aren't.

Read why and what you

should do about

Permanent & Total (P & T)