VA Form 9: Your Formal Appeal to the BVA Explained
VA Form 9 (often referred to as Substantive Appeal Form) is a formal appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals for disability benefits claims in the VA system. This form is intended to escalate the matter from the VA Regional Office (VARO), to a body known as the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). The Board of Veteran’s Appeals is the decision-making body that reviews Regional Office decisions for accuracy.
After filing a veterans’ disability benefit appeal, the Regional Office will issue what’s known as a Rating Decision. Here they take a quick look at your claim to review why you think your condition should be service-connected or why you believe your rating should be higher than it already is. Based on this review they will issue a decision.
After receiving this decision you have one year to submit your Notice of Disagreement (NOD) stating why you believe the Regional Office’s decision is incorrect. After receiving your NOD, the Regional Office is supposed to issue to you what is known as Statement of the Case, or SOC.
VA Form 9 Deadlines
After the above point you have the later of 2 dates to file a VA Form 9… either 60 days from the date that the VA mails you the Statement of the Case, or one year from when the Regional Office mailed the Notice of Disagreement to you. It is important to keep in mind that because of the tremendous backlog of claims, the wait for a Statement of the Case is usually much longer than 60 days.
The safe bet is to send it in as soon as possible, with an eye towards 60 days. Experience has shown that you don’t want to rely on the one year from when the Regional Office mailed the Notice of Disagreement to you even though there is a very often a substantial delay in the VA issuing the Statement of the Case.
It is possible to be granted what is known as a good cause extension for your VA Form 9 filing date, however, it is not recommended. Denials at the court of Veterans’ Appeals are very difficult to achieve because of the latitude the VA has. Usually, the only way that you can get those denials for your good cause extensions overturned is if you can show an abuse of discretion at that level, which is very difficult to do. Again we encourage you to file your VA Form 9 in as timely a manner as possible, as soon as possible, with an eye towards 60 days.
VA Form 9 Exception
There’s an exception with filing your VA Form 9, this exception applies to simultaneously contested claims. This is where two people are fighting over the same VA disability benefit, and when one person wins or receives the benefit, it would be to the detriment of the other person who would lose. In these cases, you only have 30 days to appeal with a VA Form 9.
VA Form 9 and The Statement of the Case (SOC)
It is very important that the substantive appeal on your VA Form 9 match your Statement of the Case for the issues that you want to appeal. You don’t want to leave off items on your VA Form 9 that appeared on your Statement of the Case, if you intend to continue to fight those issues. Leaving them off the VA Form 9 may very well cause your claim to die, and not move to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals for further consideration.
How the VA Form 9 Fits Into the Veterans Disability Appeals Process
The below lists compiles the steps needed for a successful VA disability benefits appeal. We go through all the steps so that you may understand how the VA Form 9 fits into the entire VA disability benefits appeal process.
- Low-Rating or Denial Received
The veteran must receive a VA disability benefits denial or a low-rating to start the appeals process. When this happens don’t worry, many veterans are denied benefits or rated too low. If you were denied or rated too low, it is now time to consider contacting a veterans disability benefits lawyer.
- Notice of Disagreement (NOD)
The NOD lets the VA know that you disagree with the Rating Decision letter you have received. Veterans and their family members must file the NOD within one year from the date the decision was made at the Regional Office.
- Statement of the Case (SOC)
The VA will send the SOC to the veteran or their lawyer. This often takes some time; sometimes around 200 days. The SOC should be reviewed carefully for any mistakes.
- VA Form 9
If you wish to appeal, you must now file a VA Form 9 to begin the appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). You must meet the time limits for filing a VA Form 9 or you forfeit your right to appeal.
- Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC)
These are generally required with new evidence that may have been submitted with the VA Form 9. SSOCs may also be provided after a VA disability benefits appeal is remanded to the VARO by the BVA for new or additional action.
- Certification to the Board
Hearings are scheduled after your certification to the BVA. You do have the option to submit paper briefs and skip the hearing. We generally do not see the upside to hearings. Paper briefs are sufficient to prove your VA disability benefits claim.
- Board of Veterans Appeals Decision
At this point in the VA disability benefits timeline, the BVA will make a decision. The BVA has the option to deny, grant, or remand (see below).
- Potential Remand of Claim
The BVA may decide to send your claim back to the Regional Office. Generally, a BVA remanded decision will instruct the Regional Office how to proceed on your VA disability benefits claim. The BVA may also direct the Regional Office to get more evidence or even schedule an exam.
Get Help With Your VA Form 9 From Our Veterans Benefits Lawyers
Since 1985, Woods & Woods has fought for injured and disabled people. Our VA disability compensation lawyers have successfully represented thousands of veterans and their families.
Our experienced VA benefits appeals lawyers have submitted thousands of VA Form 9’s. After a denial or low-rating, we can help. We highly suggest you talk with a veterans disability benefits lawyer before your file your VA Form 9. The VA disability appeals process is lengthy and confusing for veterans.
Our VA disability lawyers have guided thousands of veterans and their families through the entire veterans benefits appeals process. You don’t have to fight the VA alone. We have spent decades learning the law to assist clients. The VA expects veterans to learn VA law within a matter of a few months while applying and appealing – that just isn’t always possible. If you need help, reach out to Woods & Woods.
- Free Legal Consultations: Woods & Woods offers free legal consultations to anyone who needs help with their veterans disability benefits claim. We can talk about your claim and see what help is available to you. Our law firm will give you an honest opinion of your claim and discuss what options you should consider next.
- Free Help Applying: Woods & Woods never charges for help with your VA disability benefits application. If you haven’t applied yet, give us a call. We can help you get your VA disability benefits application started.
- You Only Pay if Appeal is Successful: If you hire Woods & Woods for your appeal, you only pay if your appeal is won. Our fee is a percentage of back pay and case expenses. Woods & Woods will never ask for money upfront. We never touch your future benefits. If your appeal is not successful, you pay Woods & Woods nothing. Our fair fee structure has allowed thousands of veterans to get the legal help they deserve when fighting for their VA disability benefits.