What do you do if the VA has denied your claim or you disagree with the rating of compensation given to your disability? You can appeal for more with the help of an Alpha advocate.
Levels of Appeal for Disability Compensation
- Decision Review Officer (DRO) Informal Review Process
- Decision Review Officer (DRO) Formal Review Process
- Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA)
- Final Review Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC)
You have one year from the date of the VA’s rating decision on your claim to appeal that decision. Your Alpha Advocate will analyze your claim and proactively develop a strategy to obtain a higher rating of benefits for you.
Notice of Disagreement (NOD) – The document to initiate the review process
We will prepare a notice of disagreement (NOD) and request that a decision review officer (DRO) reconsider the initial decision and provide a new review of the case. At this level, the DRO has the authority to reverse the previous decision even if no new evidence is submitted.
The Statement of Case (SOC) – The document from VA if informal DRO denies the case
If the DRO denies the appeal, a Statement of Case (SOC) will be issued that explains the decision. It usually takes, on average, six to eight months from the submittal of the Notice of Disagreement for the DRO to issue an SOC. The statement will provide pertinent regulations to the issues you raised in the NOD and the reasons why your appeal was denied.
If the DRO at the informal review level makes a decision that is not fully favorable, our next step is to “perfect” your case for eventual review at the Board of Veterans Appeals.
The Board of Veterans Appeals may take two to three years before they review a “perfected” appeal. During this interim, Alpha will continue to examine the case to determine if additional development is needed to favorably resolve the case at the local level. Initiating this process requires the submittal of the VA Form 9.
VA Form 9 – Document to initiate this process
We will submit a substantive appeal, commonly known as the VA Form 9.
- The VA Form 9 must be submitted to the regional office within 60 days after receiving the SOC, or within a year of the rating decision.
- The timely submittal of VA Form 9 “perfects” the appeal.
- A perfected appeal is one that must be presented to the Board of Veterans Appeals unless it is fully granted or withdrawn at the regional office (local level.)
- By submitting this form, we protect your appeal should we not gain a favorable decision during the formal review process.
On average, the formal DRO review process takes just over a year to complete. During this time we will analyze the SOC to determine what evidence is needed to persuade the DRO to make a more favorable decision. We will advise and assist you wherever possible to obtain this evidence. When considering our overall strategy for your appeal, we may request a personal hearing if we feel it could be beneficial to your case. It takes, on average, eight months for the regional office to arrange a local hearing.
Supplemental Statement of Case (SSOC) – Document from VA if formal DRO denies the case
If the DRO at the formal review decides not to fully grant your appeal, a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) is issued. The SSOC explains the decision that was reached based on any new evidence that was received or testimony obtained during the local hearing.
- If a local hearing is conducted, or if new and material evidence is received, another DRO will conduct a new review of the appeal and issue a new decision in about a year following the SOC.
- If the decision is not fully favorable, the DRO will issue a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) that explains the reasons for the decision.
- This process of review is repeated every time new material evidence is added to the case.
- An SSOC is also issued again following each review of new evidence.
When it is determined that all possible evidence has been provided and a favorable outcome cannot be reached, the case will be certified for final review by the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA).
After you have exhausted all potential remedies for a favorable decision before your local VA regional office, your appeal will be certified to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) for a final review and proper disposition.
At this point in the process, Alpha reviews the entire case again and prepares a written document of supportive legal arguments for presentation to a Veterans Administrative Law Judge (VALJ). We may also request a hearing with the VALJ and state our case in person. It may take a year or more to get a hearing scheduled. On average, it takes three to four months from the hearing date to get a decision from the BVA VALJ. All BVA cases are handled in docket-date order.
It is common for an appeal to take two or three years before it is addressed by the VALJ.
The Judge’s Decision
After the VALJ considers all evidence, legal arguments and your contentions, a decision will be issued to:
- Grant the claim – The Board instructs the RO to satisfy the claim. It can take three to four months before benefits begin.
- Remand the claim – The Board returns the case to the regional office (RO) and requests that specific development be completed on the case. After the RO complies, the Board will decide the case. The *Appeals Management Center (AMC) operates in place of the RO to handle remanded appeals.
- Deny the claim– If the BVA denies the claim you still have options. You can:
- File a motion for reconsideration
- File a motion for revision
- Appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
- Reopen the claim with the regional office by submitting new evidence
* Appeals Management Center (AMC)
The AMC will complete all the development directives as set forth by the BVA. Once completed, they will consider the appeal again. If a fully favorable decision can not be reached, they will issue another SSOC and return the case to the BVA for final disposition where, again, the Board may grant, remand, or deny the claim again.
The advocates at Alpha help you navigate this process should your case get this far in the process.
Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC)
If your claim has been denied by a Veterans Administrative Law Judge (VALJ) you have the option to take your case to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The Court has exclusive jurisdiction to provide reviews of final decisions by the Board of Veterans Appeals. Find out more about the CAVC.
Win Your Appeal with an Alpha Advocate
At Alpha, we want to see your case granted as soon as possible. Our goal is to develop a strategy to help you win the highest level of compensation possible in the shortest amount of time.
Appeal for more with help from an Alpha advocate.
Note: All representation coordinated by Alpha is provided by our employees, the Advocates, who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). No private organization that trains and employs accredited agents has been legally recognized by the VA for the purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims. This work must be done by the Advocates themselves and not organizations.