skip navigation

Court Process

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims provides judicial review of the final decisions by the Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA or Board). The Court reviews the BVA decision, the written record, and the briefs of the parties.


A person who files an appeal at the Court is called an "appellant." An appellant appealing a BVA decision is bringing legal action against the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, who is also referred to as the "Secretary" or "appellee."

(PDF Version)





  • Notice of Appeal
    • The appeals process starts when a Notice of Appeal (NOA) is filed with the Clerk. The Notice of Appeal (NOA) must be received by the Clerk within 120 days after the BVA decision. See instructions on How To Appeal and Rules 3 and 4 of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Notice of Docketing
    • Once the Notice of Appeal (NOA) is filed, the Clerk will send a Notice of Docketing assigning the case a number and providing instructions for both parties. The Court's case number is different from the VA's claims file number. Place the Court's case number on every pleading sent to the Court. See Rule 4(b)(3) of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Copy of the BVA Decision
    • The Notice of Docketing instructs the Secretary to file with the Court and serve on the appellant a copy of the BVA decision within 30 days. See Rule 4(c) of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Record Before the Agency
    • The Notice of Docketing instructs the Secretary to serve on the appellant the Record Before the Agency (RBA) and file a notice with the Court certifying that the RBA has been served within 60 days. The RBA is a collection of the following:
      - All materials that were contained in the claims file on the date the Board issued the decision being appealed
      - any other material from the Record before the Secretary and the Board relevant to the issues listed in the Board decision on appeal
      - a list of any record matter that cannot be duplicated.

  • Motion to Dispute the RBA (Optional)
    • The appellant may file a motion to dispute the RBA within 14 days if there are documents missing in the RBA that are pertinent to the appeal. Please remember that the Court does not receive new evidence. See Rule 10(b) of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Notice to File the Appellant's Brief
    • Once both parties agree on the content of the RBA, the Clerk will issue a notice instructing the appellant to file a brief within 60 days.

  • Appellant's Brief
    • The appellant must file a brief within 60 days. Pro se appellants may use the Informal Brief form sent by the Clerk. An appellant, whether represented or pro se, may not fax his or her brief. Instead of attaching copies from the RBA, to cite recorded facts an appellant should refer to specific pages in the RBA. A brief may not exceed 30 pages. Please remember that the Court does not receive new evidence. See Rules 28, 31, and 32 of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Secretary's Brief
    • The Secretary must file a brief within 60 days after service of the appellant's brief. See Rules 28, 31, and 32 of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Appellant's Reply Brief (Optional)
    • The appellant may file a reply brief in response to the Secretary's brief. The reply brief may not exceed 15 pages. See Rules 28, 31, and 32 of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Record of Proceedings
    • The Secretary must file and serve the appellant the Record of Proceedings (ROP) within 14 days after service of the appellant's reply brief or within 14 days after the reply brief was due (if a reply brief was not filed). The Record of Proceedings (ROP) is a collection of materials, which come only from the RBA, that is required to decide the appeal. Only documents that are relevant to the issues decided by the BVA that are on the appeal are included in the Record of Proceedings (ROP).

  • Motion to Dispute the ROP (Optional)
    • The appellant may file a motion to dispute the ROP within 14 days if there are documents missing in the ROP that are pertinent to the appeal. See Rule 38.1(c) of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Decision of Judge(s)
    • Cases may be decided by a single judge or, if the case presents a particularly significant legal question with broad application to more than one veteran, or presents a question of "first impression," meaning that the case presents a new legal question not considered by the Court previously, the case may be decided by a panel of three Judges or the en banc court (all nine Judges). The Court may affirm the Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA) decision in whole or in part, meaning the Court agrees with the BVA and will uphold all or part of the decision. In the alternative, the Court may reverse (overturn), vacate (cancel), or remand the decision of the BVA in whole or in part, sending it back for action by the BVA or VA regional office. The Court may also dismiss the appeal, leaving the BVA decision in effect, if the Court does not have the jurisdiction (or legal authority) to consider the appeal, if the appellant has not followed the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure, or if the appellant withdraws the appeal.

  • Motion for Reconsideration (Optional)
    • After the decision of the Court, the appellant may file a motion for reconsideration within 21 days (or 51 days if the appellant, practitioner, or representative is outside the United States, Puerto Rico, or Virgin Islands). See Rule 35 of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Judgment
    • The Court enters judgment on its docket 21 days after it issues its decision (if no motion for reconsideration is filed) or at the expiration of time allowed for reconsideration under Rule 35 of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Notice of Appeal to the Federal Circuit (Optional)
    • If the appellant still disagrees with the Court's decision after reconsideration, he or she may file a Notice of Appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit through this Court, the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, within 60 days after the judgment has issued. The Court will forward the Notice of Appeal and filing fee to the Federal Circuit. The case at this Court will be stayed pending the decision of the Federal Circuit. See the Federal Circuit's Rules of Practice.

  • Appeal to the US Supreme Court (Optional)
    • The decision of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit may be further appealed to the US Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court's Rules of Practice. The case at this Court (the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims) will resume after the Federal Circuit issues its decision and the case will resume through the Court even if the appellant has an appeal at the Supreme Court.

  • Mandate
    • The Court issues mandate 60 days after the date of the entry of the judgment or in accordance with 38 U.S.C. § 7291. Mandate confirms the closing of the appeal. See Rule 41 of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) Application (Optional)
    • If the appellant wins the case, the appellant's representative may file an EAJA application for attorney fees within 30 days after the mandate has issued. The EAJA process does NOT affect the decision on the appeal. An EAJA award does NOT affect the money that the appellant receives from VA. See Rule 39(a) of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Secretary's Response to the EAJA Application
    • The Secretary must file a response to the EAJA application within 30 days, stating whether VA is contesting the application. See Rule 39(b) of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Appellant's Response to the Secretary (Optional)
    • If the Secretary is contesting the EAJA application, the appellant's representative may file a reply to further justify the EAJA claim. See Rule 39(c) of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • EAJA Decision
    • Uncontested EAJA claims are reviewed and approved by the Clerk of the Court. Contested EAJA claims are decided by a Judge or panel of Judges. The single Judge assigned to the case may decide to have the case heard by a panel of three Judges or en banc (all nine Judges) if he or she believes that the case presents a particularly significant legal question with broad application to more than one veteran, or presents a question of "first impression."

  • Motion for Reconsideration (Optional)
    • After the EAJA decision, the appellant's representative may file a motion for reconsideration within 21 days. See Rule 35 of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • EAJA Judgment
    • The Court enters judgment on its docket 21 days after it issues its decision (if no motion for reconsideration is filed) or at the expiration of the time allowed for reconsideration under Rule 35 of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Notice of Appeal of EAJA Decision to the Federal Circuit (Optional)
    • If the appellant's representative still disagrees with the Court's EAJA decision after reconsideration, he or she may file a Notice of Appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit through this Court, the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, within 60 days after the judgment has issued. The Court will forward the Notice of Appeal and filing fee to the Federal Circuit. The case at this Court will be stayed pending the decision of the Federal Circuit. See the Federal Circuit's Rules of Practice.

  • Appeal to the US Supreme Court (Optional)
    • The decision of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit may be further appealed to the US Supreme Court. See the Supreme Court's Rules of Practice. The case at this Court, that is, the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, will resume after the decision of the Federal Circuit and will resume through this Court even if the appellant's representative has an appeal at the Supreme Court.

  • EAJA Mandate
    • The mandate of the Court will be issued 60 days after the date of the entry of the judgment or in accordance with 38 U.S.C. § 7291. Mandate confirms the closing of the appeal. See Rule 41 of the Court's Rules of Practice and Procedure.