If the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) denies or partially grants a Veteran’s service-connected compensation claim, they may start the appeal process by filing a Notice of Disagreement (“NOD”). I explained the NOD in detail in my last post on 12/23/2011. This post explains the Statement of the Case (the “SOC” – VA’s explanation of why it decided a Vet’s claim the way it did.
When you are denied and file a NOD, you can elect the Decision Review Officer (“DRO”) process or go straight to a Board of Veterans Appeals (“BVA”) appeal. If you opt for a DRO and the DRO does not award your benefits or you opt for a BVA appeal, the VA Regional Office (“VARO”) will issue a SOC explaining the basis for its decision. When it issues the SOC, the VARO is also certifying that the RO cannot resolve your disagreement after further development and review. VA’s Regulations about the SOC are found at 38 U.S.C. § 7105(d)(1).
The SOC should include a list of the issues that the VARO considered, a discussion of the evidence the VARO considered, the laws and regulations the VARO relied upon, as well as an explanation of how the VARO applied the law to the facts of your case.
If the VARO considers additional evidence after it issued an SOC, the VARO will consider that evidence and make a new determination on your claim. Then, it will issue a Supplemental Statement of the Case (abbreviated “SSOC”) that will explain its decision with the new evidence included.
After the VARO sends the SOC, you may move forward with your appeal to the BVA by filing VA Form 9. At the minimum, you have 60 days from the date of the SOC (or the SSOC) to file your appeal form. You may have more time if you have any remaining portion of the one-year period after the VARO’s initial notice of its decision (the one that caused you to file your NOD). You get 60 days or the remaning portion of that year, whichever is later, to file a substantive appeal to the BVA using VA Form 9.
If you have received a SOC or SSOC and want to appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals, call VA Disability Attorney John V. Tucker toll free anywhere in the United States at (866) 282-5260 for a free consultation.