The Veterans Law Clinic provides free legal aid to qualified veterans and their families primarily in Pennsylvania and Delaware, but occasionally in surrounding areas such as Maryland and New Jersey, who have been denied compensation benefits. In the Future
The Clinic is currently doing the groundwork to expand the types of legal services the Clinic is able to offer veterans.Appeals
When a veteran's compensation claim is turned down by the Regional Office (RO), the veteran may have grounds to appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). The VLC specializes in taking appeals from the Regional Office to the BVA and beyond, if necessary, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).
- Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA):
The BVA is a Washington-based review body that holds formal hearings on appeals from the RO. As of 2012, the BVA consisted of 64 members. In the 2012 fiscal year, the BVA received and docketed 49,611 appeals, issued 44,300 decisions and conducted over 12,334 personal hearings. When a veteran has an attorney working on the BVA appeal, the veteran has a greater chance of success than when the veteran attempts to pursue his or her appeal on their own or is represented by a National Service Officer. For more information see the Board of Veterans’ Appeals Report of the Chairman for Fiscal Year 2012 at http://www.bva.va.gov/docs/Chairmans_Annual_Rpts/BVA2012AR.pdf.
- U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans' Claims (CAVC):
The seven member CAVC is an appellate court that reviews BVA decisions for errors of law. In 2012, 44% of the appeals from BVA decisions were filed without the assistance of an attorney; 27% were still without the assistance of an attorney by the time the CAVC issued a decision on the appeal. For a break-down of how many appeals resulted in a favorable decision see the CAVC Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2012 at http://www.uscourts.cavc.gov/documents/FY2012AnnualReport.pdf.