The Board of Veterans’ Appeals
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board or BVA), which is located in Washington, D.C., is the highest level of review within the VA. In both the modernized and legacy systems, the Board issues decisions on appeals for entitlement to veterans benefits, including claims for service-connected disability compensation, non-service connected disability pension, educational benefits, home loan guaranties, vocational rehabilitation, and eligibility for VA medical care. The Board will not, however, consider purely medical determinations; treatment decisions must be made by medical experts.
The Board’s activities are directed by a chairman, who is appointed by the President for a six-year term. The BVA has approximately 125 Board Members, including those serving in managerial capacities. Board members use the title “Veterans Law Judge.” Board members are subject to periodic performance reviews to determine whether they should be recertified as Board members, receive conditional certification, or be noncertified (in which case their appointment as a Board member is terminated).
During its review of a claim, the Board is not supposed to give any special weight to the RO’s decision or reasoning, except for claims in the modernized review system. For claims subject to the modernized review system, prior RO (or BVA) findings that are favorable to the claimant are binding on the Board unless there is clear and unmistakable evidence to rebut the favorable finding.