The Basics

The most important questions to determine if you can file an appeal are as follows:

  • Have you applied for VA benefits?
  • Was your claim for VA benefits denied?
  • Did you appeal that denial?
  • Was that appeal then denied by the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA)?
  • Are you unhappy with the BVA’s decision?

If the answer to all those questions are yes, you probably have the right to appeal the BVA’s decision denying your claim for VA benefits. However, the appeals process can be confusing and you may have many questions. The most common questions include:

  • How do I file an appeal?
  • Is there a deadline?
  • Do I need a lawyer?
  • How do I find one?

We created this classroom to help you understand your rights. This classroom will walk you through the steps to appeal the BVA’s decision denying your claim for VA benefits.

Don’t delay! You only have 120 days from the mailing date of your BVA decision to file an appeal. You won’t get an extension.*

*Extensions may be granted in rare circumstances, such as extended hospitalization. File your appeal promptly to meet the 120-day deadline.



Do I need a lawyer?

There is no requirement to have a lawyer represent you with your appeal. However, your likelihood of success increases significantly if you have one.



Why should I find a lawyer?

The appeals process can be very confusing. A lawyer can guide you through the system and help you make the best arguments for your case. The Court has specific rules and procedures that may be unfamiliar to you. You will be facing a lawyer from the VA who is an expert in veterans' benefits law. It is a good idea to have a trained professional on your side.



What will a lawyer do for me?

If a lawyer assists you with your appeal, he or she will:

  • Talk with the Court staff and VA lawyers for you
  • Prepare paperwork for the Court
  • Review laws and regulations relating to your case
  • Prepare written legal arguments (briefs) explaining why the BVA decision was incorrect
  • Ask the Court to hear an oral argument about your case (if appropriate)
  • Attend meetings with the VA and Court lawyers about your case
  • Keep you informed about the status of your appeal



How do I find a lawyer?

If you want a lawyer and you have a legally viable claim, the Pro Bono Program will refer you to a free lawyer who will assist with your appeal.



How much will it cost?

Below are the costs you should expect:

  • A $50 nonrefundable filing fee, paid by check or money order payable to the “U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims”. In the alternative, you can pay the fee electronically, using . This must be done after the appeal is filed, as you will need your new docket number the Court will give you.

NOTE: You can ask the Court to waive this fee if you consider the $50 filing fee to be a hardship for you. All that is needed to request a waiver of this fee is the Declaration of Financial Hardship form. It should be sent to the Court no later than 14 days after you send your Notice of Appeal.

If you are asking the Court to waive the fee, do not send the $50 filing fee with your Notice of Appeal. Instead, complete and send the Declaration of Financial Hardship.

You can send the Declaration of Financial Hardship at the same time as the Notice of Appeal or you can send it after you send the Notice of Appeal. However, if you send the Declaration of Financial Hardship after sending your Notice of Appeal, it must be received by the Court no later than 14 days after you send your Notice of Appeal. This does not mean postmarked. 





This resource is generously supported by: