Veterans Benefits Committee
BY VVA VETERANS BENEFITS STAFF
Q: My family member died before a decision was made on his claim. Will the VA continue the claim?
A:If a veteran died after October 9, 2008, pending a decision on an appealed claim, certain family members may be substituted to continue the veteran’s claim. Family members eligible to continue a claim include: a surviving spouse, a minor child or child up to age 23 still enrolled in school, and a dependent parent. Currently, the VA only allows for substitution to occur if a Notice of Disagreement already has been filed on a previously denied claim. However, this rule is not final, and it may change once the VA issues its final rules and regulations.
Q: My claim was denied, and I am in the process of appealing. Should I request a Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) hearing?
A:It is your right to request a hearing, and there is no right or wrong answer as to whether a hearing should be held. Hearings are not necessary for the Board to make a decision on your claim. Before deciding whether you would like to request a BVA hearing, you should first consider the pros and cons.
A hearing may not be helpful if a veteran’s claim lacks certain medical evidence, because the veteran is not a medical professional and generally is unable to provide medical evidence through his or her testimony alone. Conversely, a hearing may help a veteran’s case if the severity of the veteran’s symptoms is at issue and the veteran wishes to speak about symptoms. Similarly, a hearing may help a veteran’s case if the veteran’s claim file is missing evidence as to whether the veteran set foot in Vietnam and the veteran wishes to testify as to his or her physical presence in Vietnam.
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