We are providing a number of useful updates from the VA’s Board of Veterans Appeals “metrics” website that we will explain and link to below. The BVA is considered the first substantive appeal step where veterans law judges and staff sometimes will formally hear cases during a hearing and then decide appeals that were previously denied by lower regional offices. Under the legacy appeal system veterans could appeal to BVA using a form 9, but under the new AMA system there are three options for filing BVA appeals on a form 10182. These options include the hearing option, which takes the longest, next is the evidence lane, the second longest, lastly the quickest, the direct appeal lane. Definitely give us a ring if you aren’t sure which type of BVA appeal to file.
Untimely Appeal to BVA under AMA?
The BVA site features a potential issue that arose under AMA for veterans that filed a VA form 10182 between the very start of AMA, on February 19, 2019, and March 23, 2021. Some appeals that were timely filed may have been improperly rejected as untimely during this time period. They advise any veterans who were affected by an appeal rejection to contact the BVA clerk and request recalculation of timeliness with details of the appeal. This request can be mailed or faxed to: BVA Clerk, P.O. Box 27063, Washington, DC 20038, or fax to 1-844-678-8979 no later than March 1, 2022.
Covid 19 Updates
The BVA also gives very useful covid 19 updates including the option of in person hearings, however this is only at the central office in Washington D.C. This D.C. hearing option can be switched to a video hearing at your local VA office. Also, in person hearings can be easily converted to virtual tele hearing. This option has worked very well during covid since the attorney/rep, veteran, and Veterans Law Judge can easily connect via video web link using a smart phone or computer. It is very easy to setup and no special phone application is required such as zoom or similar. You can set up this virtual hearing by emailing BVAVirtualHearing@VA.gov or contacting your local hearing coordinator here. The BVA has been pushing this option and I’ll concede that I can’t think of many negatives of the virtual hearing particularly since even before covid 19 most of the hearings were video based at the regional office. Many cases may not require a hearing in any event, but the former availability of live-in person hearings is likely a past practice that’s no longer available.
The metrics can be viewed on their site are notable since the BVA is focusing on legacy-based decisions with around 87,000 legacy appeals still pending and around 113,000 AMA appeals with the vast majority requesting hearings at close to 62,000. The federal news network reported that they had hoped to resolve all legacy appeals by 2022 but now admit it will be 2023 before they are adjudicated. The board reportedly schedules 1,000 hearings a week, but only around 600 are ultimately held.