The Appeals Process: Step 5

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If you wish, you can also have a personal hearing. A personal hearing is a meeting between you (and your legal representative, if you have one) and a VA official who will decide your case. During this meeting, you present testimony and other evidence supporting your case. There are two types of personal hearings: local office hearings and BVA hearings.

A local office hearing is held at your local VA office between you and a "hearing officer" from the local office's staff. To arrange a local office hearing, you should contact your local VA office or your appeal representative as early in the appeal process as possible.

In addition to a local office hearing, you have the right to present your case in person to a member of the Board of Veterans' Appeals (a BVA hearing). In most parts of the U.S., you can choose whether to hold this hearing at your local VA office, or at the BVA office in Washington, DC (but not both).

To request a BVA hearing, check the appropriate box on VA Form 9. If you have already submitted your VA Form 9 without checking the box, you can request a hearing by writing directly to the Board of Veterans' Appeals within 90 days. Be sure you clearly state whether you want the hearing held at your local VA office or in Washington. Please note that the BVA cannot pay for any expenses A? such as lodging or travel A? in connection with a hearing.

Basically, to "testify" at a BVA hearing just means to tell what you know about your case. VA hearings are much more informal than court hearings, so you don't need to worry about technical rules of evidence or being cross-examined when you testify.

Some local offices offer video teleconferencing, so you can have your BVA hearing at your local office while the BVA member talks to you from Washington. Check with your local VA office to see if it offers this option.

Be aware that a personal hearing may take some time to arrange. Most BVA hearings are held about three months before the case is actually reviewed by the Board.

Move on to Step 6

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Related Topics

VA Claims and Appeals