HomeVeterans Guide to VA BenefitsAppendix I - GeneralACRONYMS AND DEFINITIONS


The following is a sampling of some of the acronyms that a claimant or appellant may see in various VA records and documents.

1151 Claim A claim for benefits under 38 U.S.C. Section 1151 as a result of injury caused by VA treatment or rehabilitation services similar to a medical malpractice claim.
Appellant The party in an appeal who is challenging the decision on appeal. At the Board and the Court, the claimant seeking benefits (veteran or dependent) is always the Appellant.
Appellee The party in an appeal who is defending the decision on appeal. In the Veterans Court, the VA Secretary is always the Appellee.
Board The Board of Veterans' Appeals. The Board is the organization within VA that reviews appeals of unfavorable initial rating decisions.
BVA An acronym for the Board of Veterans' Appeals.
C-file Claims file. VA creates a hard copy paper file for each claimant that contains all the documents related to that claimant since the first application for benefits. C-files can contain thousands of pages of documents and must be physically shipped between offices when claims are reviewed by different VA groups or the Veterans Court.
CAVC The Unites States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The appellate court to which claimants can appeal adverse Board decisions. Also known as the "Court," "CAVC," or "Veterans Court."
Claim Number Each claimant is assigned an unique VA claim number that VA uses to identify that claimant for life. Claimants should put their claim number on each document and correspondence sent to VA.
Compensation A monetary benefit awarded based on the degree of disability caused by a service-connected condition.
DIC Dependency & Indemnity Compensation. A benefit awarded to surviving spouses and qualifying dependents and dependent parents when a service-connected condition is a cause of a veteran's death.
DRO Decision Review Officer. Usually an experienced member of a regional office rating team who reviews a rating decision at the request of the claimant after an initial denial. DRO review is optional and cannot change decisions favorable to a claimant except for fraud or similar issues.

The Department of Veterans Affairs. A technically more accurate acronym than "VA," although not as widely used.


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Federal Circuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The federal appellate court to which claimants and VA can appeal Court decisions.
Form 9 The VA form that must be submitted after receipt of a Statement of the Case to perfect an appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals.
NOD Notice of Disagreement. Claimants must file a written NOD within one year of receiving a rating decision to be able to appeal that decision.
Pension A VA benefit based on financial need available to fully disabled veterans and unemployed veterans over age 65 who served during a time of war.
Presumption A legal term meaning that no evidence of a nexus between a current medical condition and an in-service occurrence is required. A claimant currently suffering from a "presumptive condition" only needs to establish he or she experienced the specified in-service event to be awarded service connection.
PTSD Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Rating Decision The initial VA decision on a claim which either grants or denies an award. In some cases, VA may "continue" a claim for further development.
Rating Schedule The table of medical conditions and disabilities established by law that VA raters use to determine the degree of disability for compensation purposes.
Remand Return of a decision to the organization that made it for additional review and revision. For most claimants, the Board remands decisions to the originating regional office or the AMC. The Court remands Board decisions to the Board.
Secretary The Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The Cabinet officer who is the administrative head of VA.
Service Connection A requirement that a claimant for VA compensation must (1) have a current medical condition; (2) identify an event or condition during military service; and (3) establish a nexus or connection between the medical condition and the in-service event or condition. Without establishing service connection, VA will not award compensation benefits.
SMC Special Monthly Compensation. Additional compensation available to the most seriously disabled veterans for anatomical loss of limbs or loss of use of body parts, aid and attendance, and other special needs.
SOC Statement of the Case. A document that VA must prepare and provide to a claimant who has submitted a timely Notice of Disagreement. The purpose of an SOC is to identify the facts and law VA used to reach the decision(s) with which the claimant disagrees.
TDIU Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability. A special rating that considers whether a claimant who does not meet the rating schedule requirements for 100% disability is still unable to work in a substantially gainful occupation. A TDIU award pays benefits at the 100% scheduler rate even though the actual rating percentage is less than 100%.
VA The most commonly used acronym for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans Court Another common name for the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. See also CAVC.
VLJ Veterans Law Judge. A member of the Board of Veterans' Appeals who hears appeals from claimants who disagree with a rating decision.
VONAPP Veterans Online Application. A VA website for electronically applying for VA benefits. https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal?_nfpb=true&_nfxr=false&_pageLabel=Vonapp


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