The ongoing coronavirus has disrupted the department of veteran’s affairs normal operations. To slow the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is taking into account social distancing guidelines. As a result, the VA has shut down its benefits offices to protect veterans and employees from COVID-19. So what does this mean for your VA disability claim? Below our attorneys discuss what to expect from the coronavirus and VA disability during this time.
Is the VA Still Investigating Claims and Working on Appeals?
While VA regional offices around the country have closed their physical doors, normal operations will continue online. This means that most, if not all, in-person appointments and services are now canceled or postponed. Instead, veterans, VA officials and judges will communicate via telephone or a video conference call.
It is important to note that the VA is still taking new disability claims at this time. This means that you absolutely can file a claim for VA disability benefits right now. At the same time, veterans who are already pursuing a claim can continue to submit their evidence and supporting documents. To do so, veterans should consider mailing or faxing their documents to follow social distancing guidelines. Additionally, veterans who are already receiving monthly benefits can expect these payments to continue as usual.
How Is the Board of Veterans Appeals Operating During the Coronavirus Outbreak?
Under normal circumstances, the board of veterans appeals conducts hearings to assess cases that are on appeal. It will then render a decision to either approve or deny appealed cases. With the coronavirus, these VA disability operations are continuing mostly as usual. Much of this work already occurs remotely or via telework behind the scenes.
The biggest change involves conducting the appeals hearings in a way that complies with COVID-19 guidelines. Virtual hearings will now be taking place, although this may pose unique problems. Issues with securing the necessary technology or older veterans’ lack of experience with this technology may deter these virtual hearings. Our VA disability lawyers are ready to provide veterans with assistance in these areas.
Advance Appeals for Veterans Who Contract COVID-19
It is also important to note that the board of veterans appeals will advance an appeal on their docket for veterans who contract COVID-19. An advance appeal on the docket essentially allows veterans with serious conditions or circumstances to jump ahead of the line so that they can receive a decision on their case. The board of veterans appeals considers COVID-19 to be a serious condition which warrants this treatment. However, you must file the appropriate motion to take advantage of this allowance. Our VA disability lawyers can put together this motion for clients diagnosed with COVID-19.
How Is the Coronavirus Impacting the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims?
If your claim gets denied by the board of veterans appeals, you can take your claim to the court of appeals for veterans claims (CVAC). The CVAC is relatively smaller than the board of veterans appeals and most of their work already occurs behind the scenes. As a result, the CVAC’s operations are now conducted remotely as well, with minor issues. However, the CVAC will see similar challenges that the board of veterans appeals also faces.
Need Help Securing Your Benefits During the Coronavirus Outbreak? Contact Our VA Disability Lawyers Today
While changes to the VA’s normal operations aim to protect veterans’ health, they also pose unique challenges. Veterans may run into issues with technology or have difficulty understanding how to pursue their claim now. If you need help appealing a denied claim, contact our firm today. Our attorneys may be able to help you file an appeal with the VA. We have helped thousands of clients nationwide fight for the disability benefits they deserve. If you have more questions about the coronavirus and VA disability benefits, feel free to contact us. You can schedule a free consultation by calling (866) 233-5044.