I got a letter from the VA a few days ago saying that they have me scheduled for my video hearing on April 22. Need some advice as to what to expect. What tips can you pass along to help me get through this?
I have a VSO from DAV going with me. Just thought somebody here may have already done it.
Sounds like a Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) Hearing, right, about your claim(s)?
1) become very familar with your VA Rating Decision Letter, Reasons and Basis section, and Statement of the Case (SOC). It will tell you why you were denied the claim or why you got a rating, but not a higher rating.
2) hopefully, you have a full copy of your C-file to include your Service Medical Record (SMR). Extract your EVIDENCE from your C-file that you believe is important. NOTE: it is possible that an important issue in your C-file was not cosidered in your Rating Decision; make a point of it.
3) have a copy of the VA Rating Schedule of your disabilities.
4) type a dialog statement that shows how your EVIDENCE corresponds to the higher rating in the VA Rating Schedule. Be specific and detailed, names, dates, etc. My evidence in my C-file is date-stamped as to when the VARO received it and also has a VARO watermark across each and every page.
NOTE 1: if there is a C&P Report in your C-file that has specifics that you do not recall being discussed or measured, be truthful, but state, "I do not recall this being discussed or measured during the C&P evaluation dated XXX 11, 200X". This is possible. Related, if there is a critical issue that was discussed or measured during a C&P, but was not documented in the C&P Report, make a point of it with details. NOTE 2: you don't have to have all the symptomologies (100%) of a particular rating to deserve that rating. NOTE 3: argue that the Benefit of the Doubt should favor the you.
5) on the Internet site, look-up your disability (Search) at http://www.index.va.gov/search/va/bva.html Get smart.... learn how similar cases were won or lost. Prepare.
6) REHEARSE your dialog with your VSO. He/she may have some very important points of consideration for your dialog (pitch). Have copies of your critical documents to include your signed/dated dialog statement. As the final paragraph of your statement, include the following sentence: "I hereby certify that the information I have given is true to the best of my knowledge and belief." Give the BVA Official a copy of your dialog statement.
Good luck.This message has been edited. Last edited by: RVN1968,
|"Has Been 5"|
RVN gave good advice here are a couple links
Great Job RVN1968!!
Yes, this is a BVA hearing.
Thank you all. Very good advice. Things that I had not even thought about. Looks like I need to get my ducks in a row now. When I called the VSO rep, all he told me was to bring any evidence that I knew that the VA didn't already have on file. He really didn't seem too interested in my case. Just told me to show up an hour early to his office. Glad I found you guys.
On your VSO's advice, it makes me wonder (and feel disappointed):
1) how knowledgeable will your VSO be concerning your claim/appeal? Yes, he knows you have filed an appeal, but does he know WHY you feel you were short-changed on your rating and will he be prepared to argue your points? My guess is... he doesn't have your C-file. If he doesn't have your C-file and read EVERY little detail of it, how can he argue your case?
2) He said, bring any evidence that has not been submitted.... obviously, if there is new evidence that hasn't been submitted, the BVA Official will have no knowledge of it. Any new evidence should have been submitted with the VA Form 9, Appeal.... or, even before that.
3) I've been to government video conferences (not BVA, though) and they can load a MS PowerPoint presentation where both side can view a presentation. Normally, there is a videoconference Technician that can make that happen, an on-screen display for both sides to view. The presentation should be a copy of the dialog statement that I suggested earlier. The BVA Official is going to have to have something that shows why you deserve a higher rating. To go into a BVA video conference without a document that can be shared.... seems like suicide.... at least to me it seems so.
Comments, pls, MODS. Is a PowerPoint presentation of his dialog statement possible at a BVA videoconference ? At a minimum, I would ask your VSO about an on-screen PowerPoint presentation. That way, the meeting has organization and has an agenda. Without an agenda, most meetings become misdirected and confused. Heck, the presentation could be just an outline of the agenda.... that would be better than nothing. Then, either the Vet or the VSO can talk about the specifics of the agenda issues and make your case. To me, that seem VERY important.
I guess, it comes down to the Statement of the Case versus the Vet's interpretation of his/her evidence as it relates to his disability and the VA Rating Schedule.
§ 19.29 Statement of the Case.
The Statement of the Case must be complete enough to allow the appellant to present written and/or oral arguments before the Board of Veterans' Appeals. It must contain:
(a) A summary of the evidence in the case relating to the issue or issues with which the appellant or representative has expressed disagreement;
(b) A summary of the applicable laws and regulations, with appropriate citations, and a discussion of how such laws and regulations affect the determination; and
(c) The determination of the agency of original jurisdiction on each issue and the reasons for each such determination with respect to which disagreement has been expressed.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 7105(d)(1))
This message has been edited. Last edited by: RVN1968,
|"Has Been 5"|
In my experience a power point has never been used, nor considered. However several years ago one of my clients who was in I Corps as a BMSN, was assigned duties requiring him to wear a sidearm as a courier. He was on the river traveling on boats.
The Rating Specialist had literally called him a liar, as she knew for a fact E-3's were not allowed sidearms. He also went to a VSO who told him he was lying. She was wrong, the VSO was wrong.
He came to me and I reviewed his case and his naval records. When I told the veteran to go to his Mom's house and dig out everything he brought back from Vietnam, he found the memographed duties sheets, as well as his Super 8 film taken while he was in DaNang showing, he and some other sailors on the dock, then the boat. We took the film and a projector to the hearing. The Judge granted the claim.
Until I am told direct I cannot do it, it may well happen.
I'm trying to visualize how a video conference is held and I have been to many government video conferences. The problem is sharing an agenda that has some key bullets. Of course, it comes down to the Statement of the Case (SOC) versus what the Vet thinks he deserves because of the evidence in his C-file and the criteria of the VA Rating Schedule.
Wonder, if its just the info in the SOC or will the BVA Official go into more stuff in an effort to validate the denial/lower rating? Of course, the BVA Offcial will not make an immediate decision at the video conference. He will take notes, I'm sure, and what I understand, the conference is "taped" for later reference, right? Thus, it becomes imperative that the Vet or his VSO make specific references to critical documents, etc. My C-file is 4" thick with no page numbers, so if the Vet talks about a document in his C-file, how the BVA Official will locate the correct document(s) as referenced by the Vet? Yes, the Vet should state the names of doctors, dates, and signatures, etc, during the discourse of the conference. Then, it would be up to the BVA Official to locate that particular document for reconsideration. Seems if they would load a PowerPoint slide presentation (or text file), the BVA Official would have a better chance of locating the critical documents and minimize errors. That fact, seems like a flaw in the design of a video conference BVA Hearing.
YOU'D BE SURPRISED WHAT ALL IS IN YOUR C-FILE AND SMR. Everytime I read thru it, I find more important stuff.
WONDER, knowing you are sworn-in to tell the truth, after you say, "I will", can you say, "BVA Offcial, do you promise to go by the SOC and nothing but the SOC?"This message has been edited. Last edited by: RVN1968,
As one who does not know, but has the same questions as you, here is some of my take.
I am not sure where I read it, but it is my understanding that ONLY the SOC specific items are on the table for discussion, other points are considered closed, and therefore acceptable and approved.
My C file is more like 6 inches thick now, and very confusing for anyone to read, in fact I feel my problems stem from that volume of papers for a rater to wade thru. I know for a fact that several times they have simply overlooked pertinent documents that are in my file.
I am sure I won't have a VSO, especially one that has time or interest to go thru the 6 inches of C file and memorize enough to be an effective advocate, so I don't have the luxury of just handing a VSO my files and tell him to go for it. I will somehow have to go over each SOC point and somehow make references to items in my C File that were not noticed by a rater.
Sounds good. Attack the SOC with your evidence. You may want to rehearse your pitch with your VSO. He may have some important suggestions.... 2 heads are better than one.
I had visualized that my VSO would do the pitch.... but, now, I am not sure of that. But, I am SCed for PTSD (and on appeal) and if you look like a logical "smart" guy.... they may think that you're not seriously disabled. ??? Then again, in a BVA Hearing, its SOC versus evidence.... ONLY.... regardless if you come-across like Einstein.
I'm trying to prepare for this hearing, but I'm having trouble coming up with a dialog statement. I don't know what to say, how to say it, or how long it should be. If any one of you could help me with this, it would be greatly appreciated.
I got a letter today from the VSo that will be representing me. Just letting me know to be there on time, and to bring evidence, and even witnesses, if I have some. Does my wife count as a witness? She has been with me through everything, and knows what I go through.
OK, its a BVA Hearing. You need to focus on the Statement of the Case (SOC) that the VA sent you concerning the decision on your NOD. That will be the main subject of the hearing. You need a dialog statement that shows that the SOC is not correct according to the evidence in your C-file. That's the bottom line. Further, you should state that you deserve the Benefit of the Doubt if there is conflicting evaluations (C&P conclusions versus other medical evidence on-file).
|Facilitator, Veterans Issues|
On the benefit of doubt - it is important to try and show that the evidence in your favor is stronger than the material that they have used to deny the benefit.
If the C&P doctor is the typical disability expert or an internist and you have been treated by a recognized specialist in the field of your disability, then having information on the doctor, his appointments (like hospitals, faculty), training (residencies and fellowships) and research. A University based doctor who teaches and trains doctors in the field is great and there is a good chance that that doctor is also a VA consultant - most University doctors where both hats.
The NIH has a search site where you can find out what research your doctor has done. It is at:
Enter the doctors name as lastname followed by first and middle initial so a search for my doctor would be McCormack FX and you will find 78 papers he worked on. You will then see an abstract. So if you have a disease they researched, get the abstract and use it to justify why your doctor is better than their doctor.
One note many doctors do a little research during training, so they may have one or papers with their name even if not at a research hospital.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Dave_M,
|"Has Been 5"|
Your wife can be a witness on what she has observed, not to make a diagnosis unless she is a medically trained professional. I have spouses in hearing with my clients as often as not. Other family members and friends who can give supporting credible evidence as well. Key word: credible.
Discuss this with your VSO before you take witnesses.
Sorry it took me so long to get beack to everyone with this. Anyway, I got a call from my VSO rep on the day before the hearing. He said that the VA official looked at my appeal, and requested that I opt for a medical review at the VA hospital in lieu of the scheduled hearing. I didn't have a good feeling about it, but I agreed and faxed off a request to cancel the hearing and take their recommendation.
So I went to the med eval down in Nashville, earlier this month, and the doc took notes, checked me out and said that I would hear something in about 2-3 months. I got the results last week, and they increased my disability from 30% to 50%, with effective date of 1 Dec 05. Only a few days after I got the new rating, I got a deposit in my bank account for $10K, and it said VA benefit. Is that my retro pay? If so, was that taxed, and what at rate? What happens now? Do I get the concurrent pay, or is it just that 50% of my retirement pay is non-taxable?
I know that's a lot of questions, but I really can't find the answer anywhere.
Thanks, and God bless.
|Facilitator, Veterans Issues|
It is back pay without tax. There is no tax on VA compensation. Concurrent pay depends. Are your retired from the Military for time of service? DO you have combat related disabilities?
Its GOOD to hear your disability rating was increased and you got retro-$pay. YES.
Sorry about not specifying that. Yes, I am retired Army, 20 yrs, 8 months. No combat related disabilities.
Thanks for all the good work everybody does on this forum.
|Facilitator, Veterans Issues|
Then this applies:
You are eligible for CRDP if you have a DVA-rated, service-connected disability of 50 percent or higher and have twenty (20) or more qualifying years of service for a normal retirement.
I am pending a video hearing in the near future (mid November??), and wondering if I should provide the DRO with additional supporting documents before the hearing, or wait until the hearing.
I am trying to justify both an increase in % of award (granted by BVA-decided by RO)as award failed to consider nerve damage and other related maladies, and a CUE, as evidence and records prove claims were originally filed in 93' and 01'.
VA psychologist has diagnosed me with mood disorder/depression/ED/ directly related, and caused by, injuries to my entire spine in the service.
In his file notes, he states that directly due to my 'personality issues', I was unable to pursue the appeal process at both previous claims.
I am on medications for numerous problems, have undergone over a dozen epidural injections in the last 2.5 years, and both the VA and my civilian neurosurgeon's have recommended immediate surgury. I'm withholding the procedures until I get this resolved, as if I don't get off the table , my family has NOTHING.
God Bless, and thanks to all for all the help
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