The BVA is a 58 member Washington-based review body that holds formal hearings on appeals from the RO. In 2004, it received 39,956 new cases and disposed of 38,371 cases. Vets had a 73% win rate before the BVA in 2004. When a veteran has a lawyer working on the BVA appeal, the veteran has a greater chance of success than when the vet goes it alone or is represented by a National Service Officer.
The seven member CAVC is a true appellate court that reviews BVA decisions for errors of law. In 2005, more than 58% of appeals from the BVA to the CAVC were filed without a lawyer's help. 29% were decided without a lawyer's help. When a lawyer presents an appeal, the success rate is 80% or greater.
Free Legal Aid
The Veterans Law Clinic offers free legal aid to veterans living at 150% of poverty level who have been denied benefits by the Regional Office and wish to take an appeal to the BVA.
- Case Evaluation. Staff or volunteer attorneys with veterans benefits law experience assisted by law student interns will review your case and advise you on your chances of success with the BVA.
- Representation. If you meet the qualifications for representation (150% of poverty level), and your case has a reasonable probability of success, a VLC staff attorney or volunteer lawyer will work with you.
- People. The VLC program has a director and two staff attorneys assisted by unpaid volunteers who give their time and knowledge of veterans' law as part of Widener University School of Law's outreach to Delaware and Pennsylvania veterans who otherwise would not have a lawyer at a critical time in their lives.
- Action. If you live in Delaware or Pennsylvania, and your Regional Office has denied your claim, and you do not know where to turn, call the Veterans Law Clinic Program at 302-477-2090, 302-477-2116 or 717-541-3800 for an appointment.