Can Homelessness Extend VA Benefit Appeal Deadlines?

Generally, veterans have 120 days to appeal unfavorable Board decisions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). It is extremely important that veterans meet this deadline. In very rare circumstances, the Court will consider extending this deadline, but there must be very special circumstances. In Checo v. Shinseki, the Court was asked, under specific circumstances: Can homelessness extend VA benefit appeal deadlines?

Checo v. Shinseki

In the recent case of Checo v. Shinseki, No. 11-3683, a homeless veteran failed to appeal her unfavorable Board decision within the 120-day period. The veteran apparently had difficulty receiving her mail, although the Court highlighted that it was unclear whether the veteran was having trouble receiving mail during the 120-day appeal period. Ultimately, the Court determined that homelessness could be a reason to extend the 120-day period, but the veteran would have to prove that being homeless somehow caused the late appeal, and that he or she acted diligently in pursuing the appeal. Because the veteran had not proved that being homeless caused the late filing or that she acted diligently in pursuing the appeal, the Court refused to extend the deadline.

The case probably would have turned out differently if the veteran had been able to show she was unable to receive mail during the 120-day appeal period, but she was not able to prove this fact. It is so important that veterans do not delay in responding to VA deadlines, because some of these deadlines cannot be extended.

An advocate at Veterans Help Group can not only make sure you meet your deadlines, but help represent you in the next stage of the appeal. Contact our advocates for veterans today.

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