Your Case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
After you have filed your appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, you can follow your case as it progresses. After the Court receives your notice of appeal, the Court assigns a docket number to your case. You can always search your case online to see the status of your appeal. The docket search page can be found here: Docket Search-U.S. Court of Appeals.
The Court will issue a "notice of docket" instructing the VA to file a copy of the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) decision and to send to you a copy of your VA claims file. The VA has 60 days to respond to the "notice of docket." While the BVA decision is often provided quickly, it may take the full 60 days for the VA to provide your VA claims file and mail it to you.
The copy of your VA claims file is called the "Record Before the Agency (RBA)." When you get the RBA, you have 14 days to go through it, and see if there are documents missing or documents that might be partially blurred. While your attorney will be able to assist you, you must review your VA claims file because you are the only one who has lived the life reflected in those papers. It's important to keep the RBA papers in order, because they are numbered. The RBA is the key to your case. You cannot add documents after the RBA is produced.
Once the 14-day RBA period has passed, the Court will give you and your attorney 60 days to file a brief. This provides the legal basis for what you think the Court should do, and it will include the RBA documents that you and your attorney feel are helpful and support your case. It should be noted that even if you do not have an attorney, an informal brief can be filed by a veteran without legal representation, and your case can still go forward.
After the brief is filed, the VA gets 60 days to write its brief, which presents the VA position on your case and why it was denied. If necessary, you will get 14 days to respond to the VA's brief. Then the central legal staff of the Court will prepare a compilation of all of the briefs and the documents referred to in those briefs, called the Record of Proceedings. The Record of Proceedings is given to the judge. Then the case is considered to be "in chambers." The case may be "in chambers" for a few weeks or up to a year.
During this time period, you will again have to wait and there is unfortunately nothing you can do to speed up your case. The Court could reverse the board decision, which is extremely rare. It's more likely the Court will remand the appeal, or affirm the board decision. If the case is remanded, it will be returned to the VA. This means the Court believes that the VA made a mistake and wants the VA to "do it right." A remand gives the veteran an opportunity to submit additional evidence.
If the Court affirms the Board's decision, it means the case is completed at the Court. You may still file an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, even with an affirmation of the Board decision by the Court, if you want to do so.