Last week, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals [hereinafter “Board”] released its 2014 Annual Report. The report can be accessed at the following link BVA 2014 Annual Report.
Statistically, the Board has seen a steady increase in the number of appeals filed since fiscal year 2011. The Board also anticipates an increase in the number of appeals in fiscal year 2015. The Board documents a significant increase in the number of Notice of Disagreements (the initial phase of appealing a VBA decision) filed before the Regional Offices (Agency of Original Jurisdiction). In short, the number of appeals of VBA decisions at every stage of the adjudication process is statistically higher than four years ago.
From the standpoint of timelines for appeal, the Report documents an average timeline from filing of NOD to adjudication of 330 days. I don’t believe this figure accurately reflects the average timeline on appeal subject to NOD as of current. Once a VA Form 9 (substantive appeal to the Board) is filed, the Board documents an average timeline of 681 days from submission of the VA Form 9 to certification to the Board. This period represents the timeline it takes to transfer jurisdiction to the Board once the Regional Office receives the VA Form 9. This figure has remained consistently high for years with little explanation to account for this delay (two possible variables are the time it takes to schedule a personal hearing if one is requested and the submission and consideration of new evidence after filing the VA Form 9).
In terms of decreasing the timeline on appeal, the Board has increased the number of staff (both attorney and non-attorney) and — most significantly — begun transitioning more fully to paperless adjudication of appeals.
If you have questions regarding your eligibility for benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (732) 382-6070 or via email at sdirector@FRE-L.com.