The Court's Decision
Frequently Asked Questions About the Court's Decision
- What happens if the Court rules in my favor? How much money will I receive?
- What happens if my case is sent back to the BVA?
- Do I still need a lawyer to represent me after a remand, after it is sent back to the BVA?
- Will the Pro Bono Program still help me after a remand?
- What if I disagree with the decision of the Court?
- Is assistance available to help pay the fees and expenses of a private lawyer?
Also see How to Appeal Your Claim & FAQs.
1. What happens if the Court rules in my favor? How much money will I receive?
If the Court believes your appeal has merit, usually it will remand (send back) your case to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals for additional action or to resolve the question that has been appealed.
- Only rarely does the Court reverse a BVA decision or substitute a decision of its own.
- Even if the Court decides you are entitled to benefits, the VA determines how much money is owed to you.
Once your case has returned to the BVA for resolution by the VA at the Court’s direction, there may be basis for another appeal if you think VA:
- Did not pay you all the money that you believe you should have received or
- Did not grant the proper or complete rating.
2. What happens if my case is sent back to the BVA?
If the Court remands your case, the BVA will review its original decision as directed by the Court. The BVA may also send your case to a VA regional office (or the Appeals Management Center) for additional information, especially if an examination is requested.
If you have hired a lawyer, he or she may continue to assist you if the case is returned to the BVA.
3. Do I still need a lawyer to represent me after a remand, after it is sent back to the BVA?
This decision is strictly up to you. You may find it helpful to have someone to assist you with the remand process. You may ask your appeals attorney if they will continue with your case.
If your lawyer does not continue to help you, you may want to contact a veterans service organization who can help.
If you worked with a veterans service organization before, you may have previously given a power of attorney to them.
4. Will the Pro Bono Program still help me after a remand?
The volunteer lawyers in the Pro Bono Program are allowed but not required to continue to work with you at the VA level. Their agreement with the Program was to provide free representation at the Court, and they have been successful if you have received a remand of your case.
- Continuing representation by a lawyer originally assigned by the Pro Bono Program may be for free or for a fee, depending on what the lawyer offers you and you agree on.
- If it is for a fee, the lawyer is required to enter into a written fee agreement with you and must send a copy of it to the BVA.
5. What if I disagree with the decision of the Court?
You or your lawyer can ask the Court to reconsider its decision. You have 21 days from the date of the Court’s decision to do this.
- If your case was decided by a single judge, you can also ask for review by a panel (three judges) of the Court. And
- If your case was decided by a panel, you can ask for review by the entire Court (seven judges).
If the Court rules against you on these requests, you may be able to appeal to a higher court—the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
- That Court may only review certain decisions of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
- Remember that neither the Pro Bono Program, nor the lawyers in the Program, are required to provide assistance to you beyond the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Your lawyer can explain your options further.
6. Is assistance available to help pay the fees and expenses of a private lawyer?
There may be financial assistance available under a federal law called the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).
- This law permits an appellant to ask the government to pay his or her lawyer’s fees and expenses.
- You can only apply for EAJA fees if you are represented by a lawyer and if you win. “Winning” for EAJA purposes is sometimes complicated.
- Whether or not your case qualifies under EAJA depends on the result in your case and the reason the case was resolved in a particular way. If it seems your case could qualify under EAJA, your lawyer will submit an EAJA claim to the Court.
- An EAJA award does not reduce or otherwise affect any money that you might receive from VA. This money is not part of your VA benefits, nor is it intended to be compensation for you.
- It represents payment to the lawyer for the work that he or she did on your appeal. For this reason, the retainer agreement that you signed with your lawyer at the beginning of your case may contain a power of attorney that permits your lawyer to cash the EAJA check.
7. How do I contact the Pro Bono Program?
The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program
2101 L Street NW, Suite 840
Washington, DC 20037
(888) 838-7727 (toll-free)
P: (202) 628-8164, option 3
F: (202) 628-8169
How to Appeal Your Claim & FAQs
This website is intended to provide information to individuals who have an active appeal at the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. It is based on the Veterans Consortium’s understanding of the Court’s Rules of Practice and Procedure as of this posting, May (2011). Those rules are subject to change, but an appellant will receive a complete set of current Rules of Practice and Procedure from the clerk of the Court after the Notice of Appeal is filed.
The current Rules of Practice and Procedure are also available at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims website.