What are BVA Remanded Decisions?
The Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) may approve, deny, or remand your claim. If your VA disability appeal is remanded, it will be sent back to the VA Regional Office (VARO). Your claim will get further development or reconsideration once back at the VARO. BVA remanded decision occur because the VARO must get updated or additional evidence to issue a new decision.
If you were in a traditional court, a remand is when an appellate court sends a case back to a lower court. Because VA disability appeals have their own system, the BVA remands claims back to the VARO instead of a lower court.
Reasons VA Disability Appeals are Remanded
1. New Evidence Introduced During Appeal
If you introduce new evidence during the appeal stage, the BVA could remand your claim. Do not skip submitting new evidence because you are afraid your claim will take longer with a remand. Submit the best evidence you can to win your claim.
2. New Theory of Entitlement Introduced at the Board
If the veteran changes their theory of benefit entitlement while at the board, the claim might be remanded. You can expect BVA remanded decisions if you introduce new theories to the board. Our veterans disability benefits lawyers often have to go through this remand process. Usually, it is because a client’s theory for entitlement (before they became our client on appeal) never would have worked. Do not be afraid of a VA disability appeal remand if your new theory of entitlement is legally correct.
3. Veteran’s Disability Worsens
If the veteran’s disability significantly worsens, the BVA may remand the claim to gather new evidence or for a new medical exam. If the veteran’s disability worsens and is remanded, remember that you could end up receiving an increased rating.
4. Change of Law
If there is a change of law during your appeal phase and you are affected, your VA disability appeal may be remanded. An example of this would be the VA accepting new presumptive conditions and you have one of the conditions. If there is a change in the way your disabilities are rated during your appeal, you may face BVA remanded decisions.
5. Regional Office Processed Claim Incorrectly
BVA remanded decisions are often handed down because the VARO processed the veteran’s claim incorrectly. Unfortunately, the VA’s early claim mistakes can hurt veterans later and result in a VA disability appeal being remanded. If the VA made a processing mistake, the remand process can add lots of time to your VA benefits appeal.
What Happens After BVA Remanded Decisions?
The VA has a duty to assist claimants in obtaining evidence for their VA disability benefits claims. Under this rule, the VA must make reasonable efforts to obtain relevant records, not in the custody of a federal department or agency. The VA also has the duty to gather relevant records held by federal agencies. Unfortunately, the VA does not regularly do a very good job of obtaining records for veterans. The VA certainly isn’t going to contact experts to create medical reports as a veterans disability lawyer would.
1. New Medical Exam
One of the reasons you could have your VA disability appeal remanded is because the BVA wants a new medical exam. If your conditions worsened since your last exam, the new medical exam will detail how your disabilities have worsened. Because the VA application and appeal timeline is so long, many veterans find their conditions have worsened.
2. Gather New Records
If you have your VA disability appeal remanded, the BVA may tell the VARO to gather new evidence for your benefit claim. The VARO regularly does not gather all the evidence needed for a successful veterans disability benefits appeal. Because the VA has a duty to assist, the BVA is essentially saying that these records should have been included in the appeal.
3. Consider New Evidence
If you introduced new evidence during your VA disability benefits appeal, the BVA may remand your claim to consider the claim with the new evidence. That means the VARO will have to reexamine the claim with the new evidence. You can expect the BVA to do this particularly if they feel the new evidence will affect the benefit claim.
Learn More: Calculate your rating with our VA Disability Benefits Rating Calculator
FAQ: BVA Remanded Decisions
Q: Is a BVA remand always a bad thing?
A: No. Often BVA remanded decisions happen because the BVA is recognizing the VARO made an error on your claim. Clients are often frustrated by BVA remanded decisions, but it’s just the way the VA operates. Remember, the VA disability appeals process is slow and you are going to need patience.
Q: How long does a BVA remand take?
A: There is no set amount of time a decision must be made after a VA disability appeal is remanded. Some veterans will get a decision fairly quickly after a BVA remand, while other veteran’s claims could still take years. The VA is inconsistent on processing times for benefit claims.
Q: Is there a way to avoid having my VA disability appeal remanded?
A: The best way to avoid BVA remanded decisions is to get your evidence and legal theories right the first time. This often means hiring a VA benefits appeals lawyer as soon as you enter the appeal process. If you hire a lawyer half-way through the appeal process, your lawyer may need to introduce new evidence or legal theories to win your claim.
Q: Am I accruing back pay during the remand process?
A: Yes. If your VA disability appeal is remanded and you later are approved, you will receive back pay. This lump sum check will be for benefits dating back to your effective date. Generally, your effective date is the day you filed your claim. However, there are some exceptions that can take your effective date back years before your recent application.
Q: Can I expedite my VA disability appeal remand?
A: Veterans can expedite VA disability claims due to financial hardship, terminal illness, homelessness, or advanced age. Very few veterans are able to expedite VA disability appeal remands. The guidelines are strict and expediting doesn’t mean your claim moves to the front of the line.
Q: Should I get a lawyer if my VA disability appeal is remanded?
A: We do recommend every veteran at least talk to a law firm about their VA disability appeal remands. The VA disability appeal process is complex. We always suggest veterans obtain legal representation to fight the VA.
Q: Can I afford a lawyer if my VA disability appeal is remanded?
A: Yes. The VA disability compensation lawyers at Woods & Woods only charge a fee if your appeal is successful. Our fee is 20% of back pay and case expenses. If your appeal is not successful, you pay Woods & Woods nothing.
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