Frequently asked questions about decision reviews
On this page
- What’s new and relevant evidence?
- What’s “Duty to Assist”?
- What if I miss the deadline for submitting my request?
- What should I expect if I request a call with a senior reviewer?
- What should I expect if I request a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge?
- What if I want to change my review option after submitting a form?
- How do I opt in if I want my legacy claim or appeal to be considered in the modernized system?
What’s new and relevant evidence?
In order to file a Supplemental Claim, you have to add evidence that’s both new and relevant. New evidence is information that VA didn’t have before the last decision. Relevant evidence is information that could prove or disprove something about your case. VA can’t accept a Supplemental Claim without new and relevant evidence. You can either submit the evidence yourself or identify evidence, like medical records, that you’d like VA to get for you.
What’s “Duty to Assist”?
VA’s Duty to Assist requires VA to assist you in getting evidence, such as medical records, that’s needed to support your case. VA’s Duty to Assist applies during your initial claim and if you file a Supplemental Claim. If you request a Higher-Level Review or Board Appeal, Duty to Assist doesn’t apply. However, the reviewer or judge will look at whether VA met its Duty to Assist during your initial claim or Supplemental Claim, and if not, they’ll have VA correct that error. Your review may take longer if this is needed.
What if I miss the deadline for submitting my request?
Submitting your request on time will ensure that you receive the maximum benefit if your case is granted. Please check the deadline for each review option and submit your request before that date.
If the deadline has passed, you can either:
- Add new and relevant evidence and file a Supplemental Claim. Because the deadline has passed, the effective date for benefits will generally be tied to the date VA receives the new request, not the date VA received your initial claim.
- Send a letter to VA requesting that it revise the decision based on a Clear and Unmistakable Error (CUE). CUE is a specific and rare kind of error. To prove CUE, you must show that the correct facts, known at the time, were not before VA or that VA incorrectly applied the law as it existed at the time. It must be undebatable that an error occurred and that this error changed the outcome of your case. Misinterpretation of the facts or a failure by VA to meet its Duty to Assist aren’t sufficient reasons. Please seek guidance from a qualified representative, as you can only request CUE once per decision.
If you disagree with a Board decision, your decision will have information on additional ways to address errors.
What should I expect if I request a call with a senior reviewer?
If you request an informal conference with a senior reviewer on the Higher-Level Review option, they’ll call the phone number that you or your representative provided on the Higher-Level Review form to schedule a time to discuss your case with you. The senior reviewer will try to reach you or your representative by phone twice. If no one answers, they’ll leave a voice mail.
During the call, you and/or your representative can talk about why you think the decision should be changed and identify errors. There won’t be transcripts of this call.
What should I expect if I request a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge?
You have the option to request a hearing with a judge. A video conference hearing will take place at a VA location near you.
At your hearing, you and the judge will have a conversation. The judge will listen to your testimony. The judge may ask you a few questions. Your representative, if you have one, may help you at the hearing.
The hearing will be transcribed and added to your appeal file. You can add new and relevant evidence within 90 days after the hearing, but it isn’t required.
What if I want to choose a different review option after I’ve already submitted a form?
If you’ve submitted a form and want to change your review option, you can send in a new decision review request form within 1 year from the date on your VA decision. You must include a letter that says you want to withdraw your existing review and switch to a different option.
If you requested a Board Appeal and want to switch to a different appeal option, you can send in a new Board Appeal form with a different option selected. You can switch appeal options within 1 year from the date on your VA decision or 60 days from the date you submitted your original form. You can’t select a different appeal option if you’ve already submitted evidence or had a hearing.
How do I opt in if I want my legacy claim or appeal to be considered in the modernized system?
If you disagree with a VA decision you received before February 19, 2019, you can opt in to the modernized review system after you’ve received a VA Statement of the Case (SOC) or Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC). To get either a SOC or an SSOC, you must file a Notice of Disagreement (VA Form 21-0958) within 1 year of the date on your decision.
Find out how to file a Notice of Disagreement
After you receive either a SOC or an SSOC on the issue(s) in your Notice of Disagreement, you have 60 days or the remainder of the 1-year period following the decision you appealed, whichever is later, to opt in to the modernized system by submitting one of the following forms (and checking the SOC/SSOC opt-in box):
- Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim (VA Form 20-0995)
- Decision Review Request: Higher-Level Review (VA Form 20-0996)
- Decision Review Request: Board Appeal (VA Form 10182)