What is the success rate for VA disability appeals? It depends completely on your unique circumstances. But filing a sound, informed appeal with the accurate and necessary information makes your chances of success much greater. Hiring a certified VA disability attorney could also help.
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In this article about VA appeal success rates:
- Types of VA appeals
- VA higher-level review success rate
- VA supplemental claim success rate
- BVA appeals success rate
- What percentage of VA disability claims are denied?
- About VA disability appeal success rate statistics
- Woods and Woods disability appeal success rate
Whether you’re considering appealing your VA disability decision or you’re in the middle of doing so, it’s natural to wonder about the success rate for VA disability appeals. It is worth noting that so-called VA “success rates” are not an indication of the outcome of your appeal. It is difficult–if not impossible–to predict the success of an appeal, because of the number of variables of each case.
Types of VA appeals
The current appeals system is commonly called AMA which stands for Appeals Modernization Act. Congress passed the law in 2017 in an effort to streamline and accelerate the VA disability appeal timeline by providing alternative methods of reviewing a VA decision. The AMA program was officially implemented Feb. 19, 2019.
You have three options for VA disability appeals under AMA:
- Higher-Level Review (HLR) – asking the VA to review the original claim based on evidence taken into consideration in the prior decision.
- Supplemental Claim – asking the VA to review the original claim or prior decision with additional evidence
- Appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) – requesting a Veterans Law Judge review your claim
Regardless of your chosen path, your appeal must occur within a year of the original decision if you want to preserve your effective date as the date of your initial claim. To learn more about these paths, read our VA disability appeal process guide.
VA higher-level review success rate
A higher-level review is when you ask the VA to review its prior decision including, but not limited to, the assignment of incorrect disability ratings or incorrect effective dates.
This review is of the initial claim with no additional evidence. You submit the appeal to the VA Evidence Intake Center (EIC), then a senior reviewer at a VA regional office reviews and reconsiders your claim based on the evidence taken into consideration in the prior decision. This reviewer has the authority to reverse prior decisions.
In 2021, VA higher-level review decisions overturned 10.1% of VA ratings decisions, according to the AMA Metrics Report. Overturning means it changed the prior ruling.
VA supplemental claim success rate
You can file a supplemental claim if you have new and relevant evidence to support a previously denied claim. A supplemental claim asks a VA regional office to reconsider your claim while considering the new evidence.
The data for successful outcomes of supplemental claims does not appear to be available in any of the weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual reports published by the VA.
BVA appeals success rate
If you want the BVA to consider and adjudicate your claim, you must choose one of the three docket paths:
- Direct review docket – A Veterans Law Judge (VLJ) reviews the claim based on the same evidence as the prior decision and decides the case without a hearing.
- Evidence docket – A VLJ reviews the claim and considers new evidence submitted within 90 days of the evidence docket request, but there is no hearing.
- Hearing docket – You’ll have a BVA hearing with a VLJ where new evidence will be considered and may be submitted within 90 days of the hearing.
This table represents the success rate of claims considered by the BVA from May 2019 to August 2022:
BVA Success Rate May 2019 – August 2022
|NOD/BVA Docket||% of Appeals Granted|
What percentage of VA disability claims are denied?
There are many reasons the VA may deny a claim. It could be that the information provided doesn’t support the appeal or that the initial decision was simply the best, given the VA’s information. There is also the possibility that the VA made the same bad decision after the appeal, and in that circumstance, the veteran has the ability to choose another appeal lane in the AMA system.
In 2021, the VA denied 61.7% of higher-level review appeals. Similar data is not available for supplemental claims.
The BVA’s data for denied claims is a cumulative report from May 2019 (when the VA started tracking AMA data) through the current month. Here are the denial rates for the BVA docket lanes under the current appeal system as of August 2022:
BVA Docket Denial Rates 2022
|BVA: Direct review||BVA: Evidence||BVA: Hearing|
About VA disability appeal success rate statistics
You might be searching for VA appeal success rates to help you determine if you want to appeal and which of the appeal options to choose. Below is a table summarizing the outcomes of VA appeals in higher-level review and at the BVA (data is not available for supplemental claims). However, we emphasize that the success of your VA disability appeal depends on the unique elements in your case, not the outcomes of previous cases. Ethics laws prohibit us from publishing a Woods and Woods success rate, but that doesn’t stop anyone that’s used Woods and Woods to leave us a review.
|Higher-level review||% Overturned (granted)||% Upheld (denied)||% Error (returned for correction of an error)|
|NOD/BVA Docket (May 2019-Aug. 2022)||% of Appeals Granted||% Appeals Denied||% Appeals Remanded|
Some factors to consider when deciding how to appeal your VA decision include whether you have new evidence to support your claim and whether you prefer your case be reviewed by the VA regional office or a Veterans Law Judge.
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Woods and Woods disability appeal success rate
Woods and Woods, a family-owned law firm, has helped thousands of veterans.
While the ethics rules do not allow us to discuss our specific success rates, we promise to do everything we can to help you get the benefits you deserve. Our team of VA-certified disability lawyers, case managers, and legal analysts can help you file your VA disability claim or appeal a VA decision.
Making the decision to appeal and choosing the right appeal lane for your case involves many unique factors. If you need help navigating this process, consider calling us to find out how our experienced team can help.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends.” The chances of a favorable appeal depend on your condition, documentation of evidence in support of your claim, and the appeal path you choose. Hiring experienced legal representation to guide you through the convoluted process can help.
The VA’s goal for processing higher-level reviews and supplemental claims is 125 days. BVA appeals can take one to two years or longer, depending on which option you choose. That’s why filing an appeal soon after you receive an unfavorable decision is important. Having help from a certified VA attorney can help ensure you file all the proper information and have fewer slowdowns.