This post covers the VA disability appeal success rate and the VA disability appeal denial rate. We’ll explain some helpful tips to increase your chances of a successful VA disability appeal.
VA Disability Appeal Success Rate Statistics
The numbers below come from the BVA’s 2019 annual report. You may notice that the BVA approval and denial rates do not equal 100%. That is because the rest of the claims are remanded for further consideration, which is explained in the next section. Many VA disability appeals are approved after the BVA remands the claim.
VA Disability Appeals Approved at the BVA
- 46.31% approved with an attorney
- 37.09% approved with an agent
- 36.53% approved with VFW representative
- 33.74% approved with DAV representative
- 31.89% approved with AMVETS representative
- 26.18% approved with no representative
VA Disability Appeals Denied at the BVA
- 13.03% denied with an attorney
- 18.59% denied with an agent
- 19.77% denied with VFW representative
- 21.04% denied with DAV representative
- 23.92% denied with AMVETS representative
- 32.61% denied with no representative
BVA Remands Explained
The Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) has the option to remand your claim. That means your claim will go back to the VA Regional Office (VARO). A remand happens for several different reasons. First, if there was a change in the law, your claim may be remanded for reconsideration under the new law.
The second reason many VA disability appeals are remanded is the veteran’s disability worsened on appeal. In other words, the veteran’s conditions have worsened since the application or appeal was filed.
The third reason for a BVA remand is the veteran introduces new evidence or theory of entitlement to the BVA. This happens to a very large number of VA disability appeals because lots of new evidence is generally submitted on an appeal.
The final reason the BVA may remand a VA disability appeal is if the VARO did not process the claim correctly. This scenario also happens a lot. I’m sure that surprises you that the VA makes mistakes when processing claims.
Tips to Increase Your VA Disability Appeal Success Rate
- Use Doctors Reports: You can drastically improve your VA disability appeal success rate by using relevant medical evidence and reports from medical professionals. Veterans should use reports from vocational experts, doctors, and psychologists. One reason our VA benefits appeals lawyers have been so successful is because we almost always use medical reports. Too often veterans believe their C-File contains all the evidence they’ll need. Unfortunately, your C-File may be missing records. Other time the VA denies a condition because the C-file did not link the condition to service. You can use medical reports to link conditions to your time in the service.
- Focus on Your Central Arguments: Too often we see veterans throw everything at the VA and hope something will stick. That is not the best strategy. Think like a veterans disability benefits lawyer or agent. Have a main argument in your appeal and keep hammering at your main point. Remember, you want to argue why a condition is service-connected and explain the severity of your condition.
- Service-Connect Secondary Conditions: The more service-connected disabilities you have, the more likely you are to obtain a higher rating. One great way to increase the number of disabilities you are compensated for is to secondarily service-connect conditions. For example, if you were exposed to Agent Orange and you have diabetes, your condition should be presumed service-connected. But what about conditions that are caused by diabetes and diabetes medication? Those conditions can be considered service-connected as well. These medical conditions are called secondary service-connected disabilities and they are compensable by the VA.
- Forget the VA’s Duty to Assist: The VA has a duty to assist veterans with their VA disability compensation claims. You might as well go ahead and forget that law exists – the VA does a bad job of assisting claimants. Do not rely on the VA for help, correct information, or assistance with your claim.
- Use Case Law: The VA disability appeal success rate may increase for well-thought-out briefs that cite legal precedent. This is where VA appeals get tricky for veterans and non-lawyers, legal researching is an art and it’s not always easy to find what you are looking for. However, you can do some homework on your own. Click here to search U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans (CAVC) decisions.
Things That Will Not Improve Your VA Disability Appeal Success Rate
- Being the Squeaky Wheel: You can attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Being mean, rude, and yelling at VA employees will not improve your VA disability appeal success rate. Remember, the VA employees are over-worked and aren’t given the resources to do their jobs. Be kind to the VA employees, most of them actually do want to help you!
- Letters From Members of Congress: Letters from Members of Congress won’t improve your VA disability appeal success rate. Sorry. Your claim is going to be decided upon its merits, not by letters from Members of Congress.
- Using Irrelevant Evidence: Don’t give the VA every medical record you can find. Give them the medical records they need for your conditions. Suppose you are solely filing for bipolar disorder benefits, you don’t need to also submit records that show you stubbed your toe in basic training. The two are unrelated.
- Taking Advice From Friends: Unless your friend is a highly-skilled VA disability lawyer, you might not want to take their advice to help your VA disability appeal success rate. We have heard some pretty crazy rumors about getting VA benefits from veterans over the years. Some of the rumors clients have told us are potentially devastating actions to take for your claim.
Think Strategy Under AMA
Study the above chart of BVA statistics well. This chart shows that the allowed and remand rate for FY2019 was a whopping 74.72% at the #BoardOfVeteransAppeals. That’s major in terms of the chance for some type of favorable outcome at the #BVA.
Might you consider that instead of getting denied another supplemental claim after presenting positive(and sometimes expensive) private medical nexus evidence that you might want to consider taking your chances with your appeal at the BVA. Truth is your evidence was probably enough for a grant of service connection but the VA ordered another unnecessary exam at the agency level.
You might also notice that those with representation at the BVA level fair much better than those without it.
The fastest route is not always the most beneficial.
You must evaluate these stats within the merits of your own appeal as every claim is different but please know you have more options after a denial than a supplemental claim. Also, please note that this chart is for legacy claims. Will post more on AMA appeals when there is more info available.