The CAVC is like the Supreme Court of veterans’ disability claim cases. The US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims(CAVC) was established in 1988 by Congress. It is a federal court in Washington, DC that has jurisdictions over decisions made by the BVA.
The CAVC reviews your appeals case de novo – they provide a fresh look to see if the VA broke any laws or Department of Veterans Affairs regulations when they denied your disability claim.
Appealing your case to the CAVC starts with an NOA (Notice of Appeal). Once this is filed, your claim is removed from the jurisdiction of the VA. At that point, it is no longer considered a VA claim. Instead, it’s a CAVC appeal and your case will be on the CAVC docket.
How Long Does CAVC the Process Typically Take?
The CAVC timeline can be as short as eight months or as long as three years. On average, the CAVC will come to a decision within eight to 10 months.
Within 30 days of filing your appeal, a copy of the BVA’s decision will be filed with the Court. After that, an Office of General Counsel (OGC) will assign an attorney to represent the VA and they’ll file an appearance.
Will You Need to Pay a Fee?
Currently, there’s a $50 filing fee. In some cases, veterans who cite financial hardship can have the fee waived. You’ll need to fill out a form to assert your hardship while e-filing your appeals claim.
What is a CAVC Remand?
A CAVC appeals case has three possible outcomes:
Reverse – The court favors your claim and reverses the BVA’s ruling
Affirm – The court agrees with the BVA and VA’s original ruling
Vacate – The BVA must issue a new decision in addition to fixing any legal errors that caused an erroneous decision
Vacating the Board’s decision is called a remand, and it allows you to reargue your case to the BVA.
Once the Board has received notification of a remand, they’ll send you a letter giving you 90 days to present new evidence in your case to argue the validity of your disability claim. You can choose to waive the 90 days or not. In either case, you’ll need to inform the Board of your intentions.
After the 90 days – or when you waive your right to the 90 days – the Board will close the record and render a new decision.
If you’re denied again, you may be able to take your case to the CAVC a second time. You’ll need to file with the CAVC within 120 days after the BVA renders their decision.
The VA Will Have an Attorney – You Need One, Too
The VA claims process is deemed to be “non-adversarial.” Nevertheless, Congress outlines that proceedings before the CAVC are, in fact, considered “adversarial.” Therefore, the VA will have an attorney to defend their position. The attorney will present the VA’s case, explaining why they decided to deny disability compensation in your case. The sole purpose of these attorneys is to represent the government’s interests, not yours.
You can and should hire an attorney. You need someone on your side, someone familiar with the laws, the VA, the veterans’ claims process, and the VA disability rating system.
What if you can’t afford an attorney? Under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), if you are the “prevailing party” at your appeals case, your attorney can petition the CAVC to have the VA pay your legal fees. Your attorney is permitted to ask for reasonable repayment of costs if you win your appeal. The legal limit is 30% of your back pay, but most VA accredited attorneys only ask for 20% — and only once they win your case. If they don’t win, you don’t pay.
Having a seasoned attorney at your side while before the CAVC will give you more confidence in your case and increase the likelihood that you’ll get the compensation you deserve. Call a VA accredited attorney today to discuss your claim and the prospect of winning an appeals case.