If you disagree with the initial decision VA made on your claim and decide to appeal the decision to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board), you have a few different options to choose how your appeal proceeds. But many people don’t know what to expect, which could cloud their ability to choose the best option for them.

In the video below, Judge Tanya Smith, a Veterans Law Judge, explains to Veterans what to expect, what to prepare, and what happens after a hearing.

As explained in the video above, one option is to have a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge (VLJ). Hearings are entirely optional and aren’t necessary to receive a decision from the Board.

(Some Veterans elect to a potentially quicker decision and, to save time, they can choose one of the other options the Board offers. Instead of a hearing, the VLJ will simply review any evidence/statements you have submitted before deciding your appeal.)

If you decide you want a hearing, consider choosing a virtual tele-hearing. Virtual tele-hearings are safe and secure, and they allow you to have your hearing from the comfort of your home instead of traveling to a VA facility. Virtual tele-hearings are a great option, especially during a pandemic. They do not negatively affect your appeal, so don’t postpone your hearing and delay your decision – choose a virtual tele-hearing.

What can you expect during a Board Hearing?

  • At the start of the hearing, the judge will ask you to raise your right hand, if possible, and swear you in. The judge will ask you to take an oath, or affirm that you’ll tell the truth during the hearing.
  • During the hearing, you, your representative – if you have one, and the judge will have a conversation about the issues on appeal. These hearings are an opportunity for you to tell your story, and you should be comfortable in doing so. The judge will listen to your testimony and may ask you a few questions to better understand your appeal.

What should you do during the hearing?

  • Tell the judge why you think you qualify for the VA benefits in your appeal.
  • Answer any questions the judge has about your appeal.
  • Share any new evidence with the judge: You can choose to add new and relevant evidence, either at the hearing or within 90 days after the hearing. Adding evidence is optional.

What happens after your hearing?

  • Please understand that the judge will not issue a decision on your appeal the moment the hearing has ended.
  • When the 90-day time period for submitting new evidence after your hearing has ended, your appeal will be placed on the docket for a decision by a judge.
  • You will receive your decision in the mail and your representative will also receive a copy. You can track the status of your appeal by signing in at www.VA.gov.

The video above has additional information.

Cheryl L. Mason is the chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

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Published on Jan. 5, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 1,568


  1. ANDERSON HIGGINS January 16, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    the appeal was a total waste after all the documentation was presented and confirm the judge sent me for another evaluation where of course no change the judge didn’t try to make a decision

  2. Marcee Davis January 12, 2021 at 3:29 am

    FYI- the after the decision process, when it goes back to your VA regional office is the WORST part about this whole process.

    From someone that went through this recently , go to video teleconference. If you have a VSO that helped file your claim – either an org or the state ( if you use the county veterans service office in your state) they are your representative in the hearing and each major VSO has an office at your local regional office.

    I met my provided rep ( not VSO) the morning of my hearing. If the rep you get is good they will help prep you the morning of your hearing ( mine was a god send).

    The judge was amazing – kind, considerate, wanted to hear everything I had to say. He took his time questioning me ( and so did my rep ) and let me express some of the issues with my case. The judge told me what he needed, and I submitted new evidence.

    The hearing was the BEST part of my whole appeal process.

    The hardest part isn’t the waiting for the hearing, speaking to the judge or prepping for the hearing, or even getting my verdict 4 months later ( 5 grants, a remand, and one denial)

    It is this back and forth and BS after the hearing.

    If you are granted your claims – it goes back to your regional office to be rated and processed. THIS COULD TAKE SEVERAL MONTHS! I WAS T TOLD THIS BEFORE HAND. I am almost a year out from my hearing and still waiting for my ratings on claims that were GRANTED.

    And if the regional office decides to low ball your rating, even after your hearing, you then appeal to the BVA again. The nightmare continues!

    The remand goes back and forth from the regional office and BVA too!

    And the whole time you will be told: “there is no time line to make a decision, you will not be able to speak to anyone about your claim, you will have no way to track where your claim is.” They don’t give you any information with appeals that get this far.

    I would never tell a vet not to pursue an appeal. Just be sure you are prepared for what comes after. The hearing is not the hardest part. These bullsht games they play with no timeline and no accountability- especially from these regional VA office is almost too much to handle.

    This is an excruciating, painful process. I am eight years into it and I feel vindicated that almost all my claims have been granted after years of “NO” from my regional office.

    Just be prepared for the Mind games after the hearing process – they are endless.

  3. s alan January 7, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    Easier just to contact your State Senator.

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