Understanding a Board of Veterans Appeals Disability Hearing

By Douglas I. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

If a veteran is dissatisfied with their VA disability rating, they can appeal the decision. During the appeals process, the veteran can request a hearing before the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) if they are displeased with the decision they received from the Decision Review Officer (DRO). The prospect of having a hearing before the BVA makes many veterans anxious and distressed because they do not know what to expect.

It is normal to feel some anxiety about unfamiliar things, but these hearings are designed to be an informal hearing to give the BVA a better understanding of the veteran’s case. An attorney is not required to be present at the hearing, but it is extremely beneficial to have an attorney as a guide through the process and to make sure that the case is presented in a favorable manner for the veteran.

A notice of the hearing will come in the mail with the hearing date and time about a month in advance. Hearings are usually held in a small room located at the VA Regional Office, not the commonly anticipated courtroom. The only people present are the veteran, their attorney, and the judge. The judge will be present in person or on a monitor during a video teleconference.

The hearing will begin by the judge explaining the procedure. Then the attorney will ask questions in the form of conversational talk that provides the judge with more information about the case. Questions that will be asked will be about military service, work history, and their daily activities that their disabilities affect. If necessary, the attorney will submit additional evidence such as medical records or photographs. Sometimes the judge will ask some follow-up questions.

The hearing usually takes less than an hour. Once the hearing is complete, the transcript of the hearing is sent to the judge and a decision is usually determined within several months.

If you have a hearing notice or just have questions about hearings, feel free to call us. You are under no obligation and we will be happy to answer your questions.