I received my Season’s Greetings from the Board of Veterans Appeals on Friday. No drum rolls are in order. It was anticlimatic to say the least. Instead of a decision on my claim, they unceremoniously declined to advance my claim on the docket.
There was no specific reason for not advancing it. They cited to the fact that there was an absence of sufficient cause. That is legitimate. I can’t win everything all the time with them. However, I do think that being put on hold on January 5th, 1995 and leaving me there constitutes an administrative error resulting in a significant delay in docketing the case. That was my argument.
The BVA, as is their wont, is extremely sparse in verbalizing their reasons for denial. You do not get a blow by blow description of the whys and why nots. You get a straight forward summary of the regulation and an equally worded denial. The good news is I don’t need to spend my waking hours curled up near the computer checking the Ebenefits page every morning and evening. This probably will not see the light of day for some time.
This makes for dry reading, but is instructional insofar as it allows you to peek under the curtain to see what’s happened and what’s in store for you on appeal in 2012-2013.
I see the BVA issued 49,127 2010 decisions- an increase of 323 cases over the prior year of 2009. Whoo-hoo! The author had this excuse for why there weren’t more forthcoming.
The Board’s productivity in Fiscal Year 2010 represents the greatest number of decisions issued by the Board in any year since the beginning of judicial review of Board decisions. Our productivity would have been greater in Fiscal Year 2010, but for two unforeseen events which dramatically affected our output. Record snow storms struck Washington, DC in February 2010, shutting down the majority of operations for nearly a week. Although the Board continued to hold hearings during this time, this period was far from fully productive. Even more seriously, in April 2010, the Board’s computer system was attacked by a crippling virus that suspended virtually all operations for approximately 10 days. As the Board generally averages 1,000 appeals decided per week, these disruptions took a significant toll on productivity. The Board was able to bounce back from the effects of the inclement weather much more effectively than the computer virus, as the virus also affected the ability of our staff to telework due to the lack of a functioning computer system, the residuals of which lasted several weeks.
Looking to the future, I see a big roadblock. The BVA still hasn’t hired more VLJs in spite of their stated intention to do so. I cite to the list of 48 on page 15. This will result in more days and an increased backlog. Look at this cute little powerpoint poster:
Why the disparity of 5,000 + fewer appeals docketed than filed at the RO (AOJ)? Do some Vets change their minds? The numbers speak volumes but do not speak for themselves here. I love the fact that the word “Apelas” escaped everyone there as well as the spellchecker. At any rate, it appears I may be several years older and closer to Stage 4 decompensation when this is handed down. Hopefully it will occur before I start out on my new adventure.
In other words, what the BVA is saying is “your claim has the right to remain dormant. If and when we get through this horrendous backlog, we’ll get back to you. Should you pass away before a decision is reached, we won’t have to adjudicate it. Your spouse can, if she wishes, elect to resurrect this at the AOJ, but that will take another year or two after filing. With luck she may see justice before 2018 unless, of course, she has to appeal it…”
I’ll keep readers apprised of the progress annually assuming I hear back from them.