Since February 19, 2019, Appeals have changed!
I have just received an award letter or a rating decision from the VA that is not correct, what are my appeal options? Since February 19, 2019, there has been a new Decision Review Process regarding how veterans pursue their disagreement with a Regional Offices Decision.
After February 2019, when a veteran receives an initial claim decision that he disagrees with there are now a multitude of decisions committing the veteran to a specific type of appeat that have to be made immediately.
All appeals under the Decision Review Process must be filed within 1 year (PLEASE NOTE: An appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims must be made within 120 days from the Board of Veterans Appeals decision).
There are now 3 lanes of review under the Decision Review Process:
Lane 1, Higher Level Review. File VA form 20-0996, Decision Review Request: Higher Level Review. Under this option the veteran receives a de novo (new look) review of the claim by a more experienced adjudicator. You cannot submit new evidence. You can request an optional one time informal telephone conference with the reviewer.
If you later disagree with the decision from the Higher Level Review you can then file either a Supplemental Claim, or appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals.
Lane 2, Supplemental Claim. File VA form 20-0995, Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim. This option allows the veteran to appear at a hearing if requested. The veteran can also submit "new and relevant evidence" (different from the prior standard of "new and material evidence"). "New evidence" is evidence that has not previously been part of the actual record before the agency adjudicators. "Relevant evidence" is evidence that tends to prove or disprove a matter at issue in the claim.
If you later disagree with the decision on the Supplemental Claim you may file a new Supplemental Claim with new evidence, or seek a Higher Level Review, or appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals.
Lane 3, Board of Veterans Appeals (Notice of Disagreement). File VA form 10182, Notice of Disagreement. Electing the Board of Veterans Appeals option gives rise to an additional 3 options, each with their own separate Docket: i. Direct Review. You cannot submit additional evidence. No hearing is held;ii. Submit additional evidence. You have 90 days from the Notice of Disagreement to submit any additional evidence;iii. Hearing plus additional evidence. You may submit additional evidence at your BVA hearing, or within 90 days following the hearing.
Legacy Case opt in option. If you have a legacy appeal (a case on appeal prior to February 19, 2019) and you receive a Statement of the Case or a Supplemental Statement of the Case after February 2019, you may continue either as a legacy appeal or opt in to the Appeals Modernization Process discussed above, within 60 days after the Statement of the Case or Supplemental Statement of the Case is issued on or after February 19, 2019.