Hearings at the VA can be very intimidating. Common questions that I hear about hearings include: Who will be present during a hearing? Do I have to talk during the hearing? What should I wear to a hearing?
In general, a hearing before the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) can be requested in the Substantive Appeal or VA Form 9. This is filed after the Statement of the Case or Supplemental Statement of the Case. The BVA hearing may be held either by video or in person at the Regional Office, or in person at the BVA office in Washington, D.C. The hearing will be recorded and a transcript of the hearing will be made part of the record and will be considered as evidence.
The hearing is relatively informal. As far as clothing, I would recommend that a Veteran wear whatever makes them comfortable. No need for a three piece suit! The parties present at the hearing will include, the Vetearns Law Judge (VLJ), the Veteran or appellant, and the attorney or representative. Initially, a pre-hearing conference will be held between the parties. This conference is held off the record and the purpose of the pre-hearing conference is to clarify the issues that will be discussed during the hearing. This allows for an organized and productive hearing.
Once the hearing has begun, you will be asked to swear/affirm your testimony. The VLJ will do a brief introduction identifying the claimant and the issues to be discussed, the location of the hearing, and the name of the attorney or representative. Normally, the attorney or representative will make an opening statement and perform the initial questioning of the claimant and any witnesses. During this stage, is when the Veteran should be prepared to explain why he/she thinks the case should be granted. I believe that this personal account, in the Veterans own words, is invaluable and creates a personal connection between the Veteran and the VLJ.
Next, the VLJ may ask a few questions. It should be noted that the VLJ’s questions are not meant to be adversarial, but to explain the issues presented at the hearing and to discuss what evidence is needed to substantiate the claim.
At the end of the hearing, the attorney or representative will be allowed to make a closing statement. Typically, the VLJ will ask the appellant whether he is satisfied with the hearing and if there is any additional statement the appellant would like to make. The VLJ will then formally adjourn the hearing.
After the hearing, additional evidence or statements may be submitted directly to the BVA. It should be noted that for this evidence to be considered by the BVA in support of the claim, the appellant must waive regional office consideration of this evidence. If a waiver is not submitted, the case will be remanded back to the Regional Office for further adjudication.
If you have been denied VA benefits, and are facing an appeal to the BVA, I can help. I am an experienced and trusted VA accredited attorney that can help you obtain success against the VA and get you the benefits you have earned.
Call Amy R. Fochler for a FREE CONSULTATION! (704) 243-0053.