The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC) is a federal court that hears appeals from veterans who have received final denials by the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). The USCAVC is made up of nine judges (as of 2022), who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The court is located in Washington, D.C., but has jurisdiction to decide appeals from all over the United States.
Jurisdiction of the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC)
The USCAVC has jurisdiction to hear BVA denials. Any Board decision that is less than a full grant of benefits is appealable to the CAVC. In addition, the USCAVC does not have jurisdiction to address BVA remands.
Types of Cases the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC) Handles
The USCAVC hears appeals from decisions made by the Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA), and original jurisdiction petitions (writs of mandamus).
Appellate Procedure of the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC)
The appellate process of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC) begins when a party files a Notice of Appeal with the Court. The Notice of Appeal must be filed within 120 days of the date of the final agency action or the date of the VA's mailing of the decision on a motion reconsideration, whichever is later. The appeal is then docketed.
As to motions for reconsideration at the BVA, a claimant must file his or her motion for reconsideration within 120 days of the Board denial if he or she wants to preserve the right to later file an appeal to the USCAVC. Assuming the reconsideration motion was filed within 120 days after the Board denial. The claimant has another 120 days to file an appeal to the CAVC after the BVA decision on the motion for reconsideration.
The USCAVC is a specialized court that hears only appeals on veterans’ related matters. Cases before the USCAVC are generally more complex than those heard by other courts, and the court's decisions are binding on the BVA.
How Do You Appeal to the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC)?
If you receive a BVA denial, you must file a Notice of Appeal within 120 days of the Board denial. As stated earlier, you cannot appeal the BVA’s decision to remand your claim. However, in an increased rating claim, if the Board grants a higher rating but not the maximum rating, you can appeal to the CAVC if the BVA grants anything less than the maximum.
When Are You Allowed To Appeal to the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC)?
The US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC) hears appeals from Veterans who have been denied benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans can appeal to the USCAVC if they believe that the VA has made a mistake in their decision. The USCAVC is a court of law, and Veterans must follow the same procedures as any other litigant. The USCAVC is a federal court, and its decisions are binding on the VA.
Do You Need an Attorney To Represent You at the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC)?
You may represent yourself at the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC). You are not required to have an attorney represent you. There is no legal requirement that a Veteran should be represented by an attorney at the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC).
However, the USCAVC is a federal appellate court where government lawyers represent the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is an adversarial venue, unlike the non-adversarial setting within the agency. This means that any veteran seeking to represent himself needs to know that he will be going up against highly skilled and experienced attorneys for the government.
The laws are complex, and the amount of materials to review is extensive. As such, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims recognizes that an attorney may be helpful in presenting the claimant's case. Attorneys representing claimants before the USCAVC are required to comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Rules of Practice and Procedure for the United States Court of Veterans Appeals. They also must be members of the USCAVC bar. Not just any attorney can appear before the CAVC, but only members of the Court’s bar.