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Prepare For Video Bva Hearing


major1

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I need information on how to best prepare for a video hearing at our VARO. Also any information on what to expect, chances of success, so forth would be helpful. I will be making a statement for a young OIF veteran. He was granted 30% for PTSD on the first claim, however, he has had considerable difficulty since then. A suicide attempt, alcohol treatment, and a job termination have all occurred since the initial rating. Will the Board consider this new evidence? Or...will they remand back to the VARO for reconsideration?

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I don't think anyone here, including yours truly, could predict what the BVA will do or how it will rule.

How could we?

Yes, the BVA will consider all your evidence. Your claim is not "sealed" until you get to the CVA level where no more evidence is allowed to be submitted. At the BVA level, submit/state everything you want them to consider! Even if it's evidence the VARO hasn't seen yet, for whatever reason.

I would suggest that you take a written statement with you, read the statement (if it's not too long) so that it is included in the video record, state that you are then sending in the same statement in writing right after the video hearing (submit it to a VA Benefits rep who is probably down the hall) so that it will be included in the written record, and of course, getting it date-stamped and a date-stamped copy for yourself.

EDIT: If your written statement IS pretty long, just make a verbal statement at the hearing saying that due to time restraints, you won't be reading the whole statement presently at the hearing but will be sending it in directly after the hearing...that way you will have it stated in the hearing record that you're sending in a written statement (evidence) in case they later "lose" it, and there will be proof in the hearing record that you DID have something written to send in to the BVA (get the NAME of your hearing's BVA judge and make sure his/her name is on the document so it goes to the right judge...mark it ATTN: ________ and even your case # if you have it). But of course, be sure to verbally bring up your main points contained in the statement at the hearing so they are in the hearing's video/sudio records also.

[be advised that when they do a written transcript of what everyone says at the video-conference-hearing, it often is full of typos becuse the person doing the transcript can't understand some words from the audio and just guesses at what the word is, its spelling, etc.. Consequently, said transcript probably won't be 100% accurate in that sense]

After the statement, then be prepared for questions...and making a closing statement at the end.

If you have a VSO, he/she (usually a VSO rep located at the VARO rather than one in your locale) should be ALSO at the meeting (via 3-way video-conference) and may ask you some questions to answer for the BVA judge in order to get the important points covered (but if like many VSOs, he/she just glanced at your case and doesn't know it very well...so it'll be UP TO YOU to bring up important issues/agruments lest they be overlooked). Also, the judge may ask some questions, maybe not.

You will be asked then if there is anything more you'd like to ask or say...if so, then do so.

If not, make a closing statement outlining (restating your points, but don't reread the statement, just cover the points briefly) your main arguments why a BVA decision should GRANT the claim. Repetition of your main arguments is good so it is clear what you are arguing and so it can sink in.

If you DO have a VSO, a rep should telephone you the very morning of the hearing (yes, they wait until the last minute...not cool IMO) to speak with you about it...you can ask some questions of him/her at that time.

If you DO have a VSO and you do NOT hear from anyone prior to the hearing, get a new VSO because you SHOULD have heard from someone prior to the hearing and not be left hanging and facing the BVA judge by yourself.

But even if you DO face the judge by yourself, remember that the BVA level is NOT ADVERSARIAL and it is an informal/fact-finding session, NOT a courtroom-type setting (like the CVA is), so try to relax and not get stressed out over it. The judge is not going to cross-examine you like some hostile witness or something. At the BVA level, it's still "vet friendly" if you will, so just make sure you cover ALL you need to in order to get it into the audio and written record...and don't worry about a hostile BVA judge...or a no-show or incompetent VSO.

Good luck,

-- John D.

P.S. Yes, a REMAND is likely...the BVA remands LOTS of stuff back to the VARO. But reamnds can often turn into wins back at the VARO, too, so don't be too concerned about a remand.

Remember, the BVA can grant, deny or remand. If you have multiple issues, it can be a combination of those three: Some parts get granted, some denied, some remanded.

The odds are still in your favor because a grant is a win (of course), a remand often turns into a win later on at VARO (if not, you can STILL APPEAL IT back to he BVA), so that leaves a flat-out BVA denial as your MAIN problem. But then, you can appeal even a BVA denial...to the CVA.

-- JD

Edited by cloudcroft
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I need information on how to best prepare for a video hearing at our VARO. Also any information on what to expect, chances of success, so forth would be helpful. I will be making a statement for a young OIF veteran. He was granted 30% for PTSD on the first claim, however, he has had considerable difficulty since then. A suicide attempt, alcohol treatment, and a job termination have all occurred since the initial rating. Will the Board consider this new evidence? Or...will they remand back to the VARO for reconsideration?

I think that you need to be organized and ready to present a clear case. I would make a presentation and submit the other information for the record. Although it is Video you will still be like a Hearing and be prepared for questions.

Good Luck

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"He was granted 30% for PTSD on the first claim, however, he has had considerable difficulty since then. A suicide attempt, alcohol treatment, and a job termination have all occurred since the initial rating. Will the Board consider this new evidence"

The medical proof of his suicide attempt (hosp records), alcohol treatment records, and even a copy of his personnel record that shows why he lost his job -these are all evidence that his PTSD is greater than 30%-

in my opinion-

but I cant control what the VA will do- the evidence of all above should be identified clearing to the HO and the put into the hearing record.This will all be part of the taped proceedings.

I suggest you read the Schedule of Ratings here at hadit to see how he would fit into higher criteria for better % on his PTSD award.

Does he have current PTSD treatment records since the last decision awarding 30%-bring them too-

has he been to a vet center? if they have records bring those records too-

is he in an alcohol rehab program at VA or with AA?

bring that proof too.

As Pete said get this all rganized so that you can pick out the exhibits of evidence quickly.

I suggest using yard sale stickers or any type of color tabs and tab the evidence and then have a cover sheet with you that refers to the same color tab as well as the same evidence.And/or put each piece of evidence in a separate manila folder and label it correspoding to your evidence list.

Dont give the VA anything to keep -without getting a copy of it-

Focus also on his last award and their rationale at tat time as to why the % was not higher.

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  • In Memoriam

In the VC (Video Conference) waiting room waiting for my VC hearing, there was a small 19" TV with a tape of what to expect in the VC hearing.

After waiting about 30 minutes, the vet in front of me had finished with his VC, and I was called to the VC room next.

Expect a 25" TV set with a web cam attached, about 10 feet in front of your table, in the VC room. The table has two chairs with a few other chairs on the side. It takes about 3 months for the judge to make a decision, so there will be plenty of time to introduce any new evidence used in the hearing.

The judge didn't ask any questions. I took my laptop, with all my presentation setup in Power Point, as there was a 120V wall plug in the room. I talked for quite a long time. The judge was very patient with my clumsiness.

I forgot to mention my meds and their side-effects during the hearing. The tape, in the waiting room, showed that the guy brought each of his meds, in the bottles; explained each med; what he was taking them for and meds side effects.

The setup was very informal with no one else in the room except my relative and myself.

My relative would mention things, when I left out something out or got off track. I could see that the judge had my 12" high C-File there propping up his left arm and using his arm for a head rest. I didn't have a VSO.

I was very angry at having to travel 3 hours, to this hearing, but I was not disrespectful except for pressing the judges tolerance with my lengthy talk. You will have as much time as you need so don't rush.

I asked for transcripts at the end of the hearing. Next time I will be prepared and organized a little better. I kept rambling all over the place.

I was successful.

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I was led to believe that there WAS a time limit...my BVA hearing was only the first one of many my judge had to hear that day.

-- John D.

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In the VC (Video Conference) waiting room waiting for my VC hearing, there was a small 19" TV with a tape of what to expect in the VC hearing.

After waiting about 30 minutes, the vet in front of me had finished with his VC, and I was called to the VC room next.

Expect a 25" TV set with a web cam attached, about 10 feet in front of your table, in the VC room. The table has two chairs with a few other chairs on the side. It takes about 3 months for the judge to make a decision, so there will be plenty of time to introduce any new evidence used in the hearing.

The judge didn't ask any questions. I took my laptop, with all my presentation setup in Power Point, as there was a 120V wall plug in the room. I talked for quite a long time. The judge was very patient with my clumsiness.

I forgot to mention my meds and their side-effects during the hearing. The tape, in the waiting room, showed that the guy brought each of his meds, in the bottles; explained each med; what he was taking them for and meds side effects.

The setup was very informal with no one else in the room except my relative and myself.

My relative would mention things, when I left out something out or got off track. I could see that the judge had my 12" high C-File there propping up his left arm and using his arm for a head rest. I didn't have a VSO.

I was very angry at having to travel 3 hours, to this hearing, but I was not disrespectful except for pressing the judges tolerance with my lengthy talk. You will have as much time as you need so don't rush.

I asked for transcripts at the end of the hearing. Next time I will be prepared and organized a little better. I kept rambling all over the place.

I was successful.

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Thanks to cloudcroft, Berta, Pete 53,Stretch. I got a lot of info. I think he has a great chance for a substantial increase.

We took him to VA emergency room the night of the suicide attempt. He was under watch all night. All of his alcohol treatment has been through the VA. He took off from his job for a month(FMLA) for alcohol treatment. He was fired about two weeks after his return to work.

All of this happened after the case was decided. Again thank you. The information I received from this forum will be a tremendous help.

BH

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You're welcome.

But be advised the VA may say he is causing his own problems due to substance abuse (alcohol and/or drugs, self-inflicted) so be ready to deal with that point.

Good luck

-- John D.

Thanks to cloudcroft, Berta, Pete 53,Stretch. I got a lot of info. I think he has a great chance for a substantial increase.

We took him to VA emergency room the night of the suicide attempt. He was under watch all night. All of his alcohol treatment has been through the VA. He took off from his job for a month(FMLA) for alcohol treatment. He was fired about two weeks after his return to work.

All of this happened after the case was decided. Again thank you. The information I received from this forum will be a tremendous help.

BH

Edited by cloudcroft
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