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GuaymasJim

Bva Central Office Hearing In Dc

Question

After being jerked around and ignored by the RO in Houston, we have finally gotten the veteran's appeal certified and transferred to BVA in DC. His C-File is in DC. We have the Dear Appellant letter and have confirmed the C-File location. With all the inaccurate and misleading information we have received from RO Houston, this has been the most frustrating experience imaginable. Now, there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

Someone on hadit asked about hearings being scheduled faster at Central Office. The hearing hasn't been scheduled yet, BUT we have been told that the BVA is scheduling about 6-7 months ahead. It APPEARS that CO hearings are scheduled much quicker. The BVA staff have repeatedly confirmed this. They have also been very helpful and supportive! The BVA phone is always answered. If the first person doesn't know the answer to our questions, they usually put someone on the line who does know the answer. Quite a pleasant change from the horrible anti-veteran attitude at Houston RO!!!!!!

Our questions:

(1) Will I be allowed to assist the veteran during the hearing if I am not his POA or do I have to be appointed on the one time appointment? Veteran does not have a POA.

(2) How much time is allowed for a hearing? an hour? two hours?

(3) Who actually determines the pace and format of the hearing? Veteran presents evidence/arguments OR Hearing officer asks questions

(4) Are attorneys and/or service officers available in DC to help? Again, veteran does not have a current POA.

The last, and probably the most important, question concerns the RO letter to the veteran informing him that his appeal had been "certified" to the BVA and records were being transferred to "the Board of Veteran' Appeals in Washington, D.C." also states:

"Under the Board's Rules of Practice, you have 90 dates from the date of this letter, or until the Board issues its decision in your case, whichever comes first, to do any of the following: 1. Ask for hearing 2.Send additional evidence. 3. Appoint or change representative.

Do we just start sending in the additional evidence--NOW? The deadlines seem strange. We have asked for in-person hearing but it will more than likely not happen within 90 days of the letter dated 02/14/2011. The veteran has waived RO review/consideration of additional evidence. It will be months before the actual hearing takes place. The additional evidence we have are multiple VA Progress Notes containing numerous PTSD dx's from his two (2) VA mental health providers (one psychiatrist MD and one psychologist PhD). He will have additional Progress Notes containing more PTSD dx's right up to and after the hearing. Does the window for submitting additional evidence close at 90 days and then open again at the hearing?

The veteran qualifies for SC PTSD under both the new and the old PTSD rules. He has received SSDI based solely on the evidence in his VA C-File since 2004.

Any input would be greatly appreciated!

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3 answers to this question

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After being jerked around and ignored by the RO in Houston, we have finally gotten the veteran's appeal certified and transferred to BVA in DC. His C-File is in DC. We have the Dear Appellant letter and have confirmed the C-File location. With all the inaccurate and misleading information we have received from RO Houston, this has been the most frustrating experience imaginable. Now, there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

Someone on hadit asked about hearings being scheduled faster at Central Office. The hearing hasn't been scheduled yet, BUT we have been told that the BVA is scheduling about 6-7 months ahead. It APPEARS that CO hearings are scheduled much quicker. The BVA staff have repeatedly confirmed this. They have also been very helpful and supportive! The BVA phone is always answered. If the first person doesn't know the answer to our questions, they usually put someone on the line who does know the answer. Quite a pleasant change from the horrible anti-veteran attitude at Houston RO!!!!!!

Our questions:

(1) Will I be allowed to assist the veteran during the hearing if I am not his POA or do I have to be appointed on the one time appointment? Veteran does not have a POA. You'll need to go with the one-time appointment if you expect to represent him....but, I'd do something even different than that..................see question #4.

(2) How much time is allowed for a hearing? an hour? two hours? Usually an hour, depending upon circumstances.

(3) Who actually determines the pace and format of the hearing? Veteran presents evidence/arguments OR Hearing officer asks questions. Hearing Officer asks questions......but, of course, one of those questions will be "What evidence or arguments does the Veteran have at this time........." or some such question as that.

(4) Are attorneys and/or service officers available in DC to help? Again, veteran does not have a current POA. Referring back to your question #1: Contact the VVA. I've found that they have, probably, more on the ball, when it comes to representation before the BVA, than anybody else I know of, including my OWN VSO.........and are who we use.

The last, and probably the most important, question concerns the RO letter to the veteran informing him that his appeal had been "certified" to the BVA and records were being transferred to "the Board of Veteran' Appeals in Washington, D.C." also states:

"Under the Board's Rules of Practice, you have 90 dates from the date of this letter, or until the Board issues its decision in your case, whichever comes first, to do any of the following: 1. Ask for hearing 2.Send additional evidence. 3. Appoint or change representative.

Do we just start sending in the additional evidence--NOW? The deadlines seem strange. We have asked for in-person hearing but it will more than likely not happen within 90 days of the letter dated 02/14/2011. The veteran has waived RO review/consideration of additional evidence. It will be months before the actual hearing takes place. The additional evidence we have are multiple VA Progress Notes containing numerous PTSD dx's from his two (2) VA mental health providers (one psychiatrist MD and one psychologist PhD). He will have additional Progress Notes containing more PTSD dx's right up to and after the hearing. Does the window for submitting additional evidence close at 90 days and then open again at the hearing? You really do not want to wait until the hearing to present additional evidence (it kinda slows things down and you don't want to slooooow things down, 'cause the Hearing Officer has allocated time slots for hearings and this really does kinda upset them), and, as relates to the 90 day period, they have "assistants" that are constantly compiling these cases, making neat little stacks of documents for each hearing/case, and they really do need to get all your ducks in a row and your file in the stack in the proper order, so there has to be a limit set as to a cut off date, otherwise there would be a terrible mess made of EVERYone's documentation.......

The veteran qualifies for SC PTSD under both the new and the old PTSD rules. He has received SSDI based solely on the evidence in his VA C-File since 2004.

Any input would be greatly appreciated!

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Larry is right!~!! OF COURSE!!!!

Good reply Larry-

"Under the Board's Rules of Practice, you have 90 dates from the date of this letter, or until the Board issues its decision in your case, whichever comes first, to do any of the following: 1. Ask for hearing 2.Send additional evidence. 3. Appoint or change representative.

Do we just start sending in the additional evidence--NOW? The deadlines seem strange. We have asked for in-person hearing but it will more than likely not happen within 90 days of the letter dated 02/14/2011."

Yo can send in evidence right up to the minute they decide the case. But best NOT to wait.

It seems your friend has the PTSD diagnosis he needs-and that is half of the battle-

does he however have proof of the stressor ?

I assume (but could be wrong)that VA denied due to no nexus between his PTSD and a confirmed stressor?

If so I hope that is covered by his additional evidence.

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Our questions:

(1) Will I be allowed to assist the veteran during the hearing if I am not his POA or do I have to be appointed on the one time appointment?

Veteran does not have a POA.

Jim - I can only share with you how my 2 in person BVA hearings went, they were both held

at my VARO with a BVA - ALJ. He was not referred to as a Hearing Officer.

Hearing # 1 -

Just me representing myself (pro se) and the judge - the hearing was recorded and I was sent

a copy of the transcripts.

This ALJ was a real sheet-head and spent more time reminding me he had

to be at the airport by XX:XX pm to catch his plane.

He wore an Armani suit and a Movado watch, which neither were a knock-off but the real deal.

This judge made a couple of decisions that were denials and remanded the remaining decisions to the AMC and RO.

I had brought additional evidence and also evidence I felt was not considered, all laid out nice in a binder to leave

with the ALJ, he provided me with a Waiver of RO Consideration, which I signed and was provided a copy of.

I read a list into the record for transcripts - the highlights of this evidence.

This judge then retired prior to final resolve of my claim and all of the issues.

I was notified he retired and offered an additional hearing with the ALJ that took over his cases.

Of course the RO TRIED to let me feel assured it was not necessary for me to have an additional hearing -

OH hell no - I want the additional hearing - and I'm not waiting 2 years for it due to the judge retiring, I felt

that was on them not on me.

So I called the BVA Ombudsman's Office and got all of the exact dates

the new ALJ would be at my VARO - took this info to my VARO and TOLD them I want my additional hearing

to be during one of those time frames and I did not care which one. YES - I got what I asked for.

Hearing # 2 -

Again I represented my self (pro se).

The hearing was recorded, people sworn in and I received a copy of the transcripts.

A great ALJ that listened and asked questions, did not try to cut anything short at all.

I had one witness present to present verbal testimony for the record.

I asked the ALJ to excuse me outside of the hearing room while this witness provided testimony

and he allowed this.

I had a fellow disabled vet that also attended. As I would speak and start getting off track of an

issue and loose my focus, she would speak up and bring me back to the issue we were discussing.

The ALJ was thankful for this and we did not sign or submit POA of any kind.

I also brought a binder of evidence to this hearing, the ALJ provided me with a Waiver of RO Consideration,

which I signed and was provided a copy of.

I read a list into the record for transcripts - the highlights of this evidence.

This ALJ changed the prior ALJ's denials into issues granted and remanded other issues to the RO

NOT the AMC of death !

I still have issues at the RO under the ALJ's remand instructions - but for the issues the ALJ granted

my RO did the follow-up work for effective date and percentage, I received over 50 K.

(2) How much time is allowed for a hearing? an hour? two hours?

Jim - I was told it would be one hour, but I am positive we went over 2 hours.

(3) Who actually determines the pace and format of the hearing? Veteran presents evidence/arguments OR Hearing officer asks questions

Jim - there should not be a "hearing officer" it should be a bona fide ALJ.

If there is a representative they can set the pace and bring up each issue and discuss

the evidence that either supports a grant or rebutts prior denials, etc...

If there is no representative other than the claimant and you - then ya'll set the pace.

BE REAL CLEAR ON THE ISSUES ! ! !

If the ALJ does not come right out and ask any questions - then when I finished discussing each issue

I would ask the ALJ, was this presented clearly, do they have any questions and is there anything else

they would like me to submit to help support my contentions for each issue.

I feel it is very important for people not to just know and understand they have claims with VBA, DRO, BVA, ALJ, etc...

You have to attack the claims - issue by issue.

Issues include: SC - Effective Date - Percentage, sometimes staged ratings and more but I'm getting brain dead for now.

(4) Are attorneys and/or service officers available in DC to help? Again, veteran does not have a current POA.

I would certainly think so but call the organization and ask.

The last, and probably the most important, question concerns the RO letter to the veteran informing him that his appeal had been "certified" to the BVA and records were being transferred to "the Board of Veteran' Appeals in Washington, D.C." also states:

"Under the Board's Rules of Practice, you have 90 dates from the date of this letter, or until the Board issues its decision in your case, whichever comes first,

to do any of the following:

1. Ask for hearing

2.Send additional evidence.

3. Appoint or change representative.

Do we just start sending in the additional evidence--NOW? The deadlines seem strange.

We have asked for in-person hearing but it will more than likely not happen within 90 days of the letter dated 02/14/2011.

The veteran has waived RO review/consideration of additional evidence.

It will be months before the actual hearing takes place.

The additional evidence we have are multiple VA Progress Notes containing numerous PTSD dx's from his two (2) VA mental health providers

(one psychiatrist MD and one psychologist PhD).

He will have additional Progress Notes containing more PTSD dx's right up to and after the hearing.

Does the window for submitting additional evidence close at 90 days and then open again at the hearing?

The veteran qualifies for SC PTSD under both the new and the old PTSD rules.

He has received SSDI based solely on the evidence in his VA C-File since 2004.

Jim - Personally I would notify the BVA in writing that I fully intended to present additional evidence during the hearing

and will need to be provided with a Waiver of RO Consideration at the hearing.

I would have it all in a binder to leave with the ALJ and during the hearing we would discuss each piece of this evidence

and how it is credible - probable and fully supports a grant for SC at XX% , with my belief that an effective date

of XX/XX/XXX due to 38 CFR 3.400 - which ever one fits.

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