HomeVeterans Guide to VA Claim FilingPerfecting an AppealSubstantive Appeals

8.1. Substantive Appeals

If a claimant receives a decision from VA and notice about how to appeal that decision but does not submit a timely Substantive Appeal, the decision becomes final.  See 38 U.S.C. § 7105(d)(3) ("The claimant will be afforded a period of sixty days from the date the statement of the case is mailed to file the formal appeal."); 38 C.F.R. § 20.302(b); see also Morgan v. Principi, 327 F.3d 1357, 1359 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (affirming that the "time limit for filing an appeal is sixty days from the date the statement of the case is mailed to the appellant, or one year from the date the notification of the determination is mailed, whichever is later"); Jamias v. Derwinski, 2 Vet. App. 507, 509 (1992) (rejecting the argument that a claimant had one year from the date of an SOC to file a Substantive Appeal as "inconsistent" with the plain meaning of the statute).

"A substantive appeal consists of a properly completed VA Form 9, "Appeal to Board of Veterans' Appeals," or correspondence containing the necessary information.  38 C.F.R. § 20.202.  An appellant bears burden of demonstrating error on appeal.  Hilkert v. West, 12 Vet. App. 145, 151 (1999) (en banc).  So if the Statement of the Case addressed several issues, the substantive appeal must either indicate that the appeal is being perfected as to all of those issues or must specifically identify the issues appealed.  38 C.F.R. § 20.202.  The Court reviews conclusions of the Board in this area to determine whether they are "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law."  38 U.S.C. § 7261(a)(3)(A); Foster v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 383, 394 (1991).

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