About the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) was established in 1988 by Congress and is located in Washington, D.C. Before the CAVC was established, the VA’s decision on disability claims was final. This often meant that eligible veterans were denied the benefits they deserve.
The VA was hesitant to allow the CAVC to hear disability claims at first. For the first time ever, veterans could have their VA disability claims heard outside the VA system. As we all know, the VA isn’t the biggest fan of oversight.
CAVC judges are appointed by the President and require Senatorial consent. Some cases are decided by a single judge, while other cases are decided by a panel of judges. These judges hear disability claims, survivor claims, pension claims, and even educational benefits claims.
FAQ: U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC)
Will I get back pay if I’m successful at the CAVC? Yes. If you are successful at the CAVC, you should receive your missing VA disability back pay. This payment should be for benefits missing back to your effective date. There is more information about back pay later in this article.
Do I have to travel to Washington, D.C. for my case? No. Neither the veteran or their Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims lawyer will need to travel to Washington, D.C. for their case.
Can I go directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans (CAVC)? No. Your claim will first need to be adjudicated by the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA).
Can I submit new evidence at the CAVC? No. The CAVC is only a judicial review court. You cannot submit new evidence with your CAVC claim. The CAVC is only going to review the BVA’s decision and all the evidence you previously submitted.
What rulings can the CAVC make on my claim? The CAVC has four options: (1) affirm the BVA’s decision, (2) vacate the BVA’s decision, (3) remand your claim back to the VARO, or (4) reverse the BVA’s denial.
How long do CAVC claims take? Your Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims lawyer will not guarantee a timeline because sometimes the courts are slow. However, at this moment, the median time from appeal to disposition of the claim is 272 days – which is much shorter than the BVA timeline.
Steps to Filing a Court of Appeals for Veterans Claim
Step One: Notice of Appeal (NOA): Your NOA should be filed within 120 days after your BVA decision.
Step Two: Notice of Docketing: The CAVC will place your claim on the docket, which means it is now officially a case. The CAVC will notify all legal parties that the claim is now under an appeal.
Step Three: Record Before the Agency (RBA): The VA must now send you the entire case file that the CAVC will consider and issue a 60 day Notice to File Brief.
Step Four: Designation of Record (DOR): You will want to review your records for discrepancies. If there are none, you will submit your DOR. This must be submitted within 60 days of your claim being docketed.
Step Five: Briefing Conference: This is a telephonic conference between your Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims lawyer, the VA’s lawyer, and a representative of the CAVC’s Central Legal Staff. This conference call offers all parties a chance to resolve the claim. If the claim is not resolved, it is time to file a brief.
Step Six: File Brief: Written briefs will provide all your legal arguments to the CAVC. You will want to cite case law, statutes, regulations, and use your evidence. Remember, you cannot submit new evidence if you appeal to the CAVC.
Step Seven: CAVC Decision: The CAVC will issue their opinion. The CAVC moves faster than the BVA. This decision will not take years like your BVA claim may have.
The CAVC and Your Missing Back Pay
When many veterans talk with a CAVC attorney, one of their first questions is “what about all my missing benefits?” If your CAVC case is successful, you will receive all of your missing benefits.
By the time you talk with a CAVC attorney, you probably have many years of missing benefits. It is important to know how to calculate the payments you earned but never received.
Suppose a veteran filed a PTSD veterans benefits claim in 2012 with a 2012 effective date. Then, suppose this veteran is awarded a 10% VA disability PTSD rating, but deserves a 100% VA disability rating.
Next, in 2016 the veteran is denied at the BVA and the case moves to the CAVC. If the CAVC case is heard and approved in 2017, that veteran should receive their missing benefits dating back to 2012 – that is five years of missing back pay at more than a 90% VA disability rating monthly rate.
Things You Should Know for Your CAVC Appeal
- Please note that a CAVC claim is different than an earlier effective date VA disability claim. The CAVC cases are for BVA denials and earlier effective date claims are challenges to your effective date during a BVA appeal.
- If your VA disability rating appeal has already been denied, it is important to talk with a CAVC attorney. The VA clearly doesn’t like something in your claim and it is important to have a qualified CAVC attorney review your file.
- One of the most common reasons your CAVC attorney sees BVA claims fail is because of secondary service-connected disabilities. The BVA denies a lot of claims because they fail to see the link between the service-connected disability and the secondary conditions. Any CAVC attorney can tell you that one of the best tricks to increasing veterans disability benefits ratings is by service-connecting all your disabilities.
- Another reason veterans end up talking with a CAVC attorney is because the BVA did not accept their combat and non-combat PTSD stressors. Sometimes the BVA may not give enough weight to your VA disability benefits buddy statements.
- CAVC attorneys also see lots of military sexual trauma (MST) claims. The BVA unjustly denies lots of MST claims. Many MST victims give up after a BVA denial and never contact a CAVC attorney to fight for them.
Hiring a Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Lawyer
Arguing before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims can be a daunting task for veterans to do on their own. That is why many veterans choose to hire a Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims lawyer. There are strict procedures, regulations, and laws that your Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims lawyer will already be familiar with. VA disability law is extremely complicated and we can’t stress how important it is to get an experienced Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims lawyer.