Review Hearings - Transcript
This video will explain who we are and what we do, and what you can expect at a Review hearing before the Veterans Review and Appeal Board.
The Veterans Review and Appeal Board is a federal tribunal.
We exist to support Veterans, members of the military and RCMP, and their families in receiving the benefits they’re entitled to for service-related disabilities.
We do this by providing an independent avenue of appeal for disability benefits decisions made by Veterans Affairs Canada.
We offer two levels of redress. First, you have the right to a Review hearing. And, if you’re still dissatisfied, you have the right to an Appeal hearing.
It's important to remember that we are an entirely separate organization from Veterans Affairs Canada. This ensures that we can offer you a fair and independent appeal process.
Before you can apply to the Board, you must have received a disability benefits decision from Veterans Affairs Canada.
If you’re dissatisfied with this decision, you can come to the Board for an independent review. And, there is no time limit to do so.
Contacting a representative is the first step to take. You have access to free legal representation from the Bureau of Pensions Advocates. Or, you may choose to be represented by a Service Officer from the Legion. You also have the option of hiring a private representative at your own cost, or of representing yourself.
Your representative’s job is to help you prepare your case.
After they register your application with the Board, we assemble an evidence package called the Statement of Case. This includes documents from your service and medical records, as well as previous decisions on your application.
The Board then shares this evidence package with your representative, who, in turn, will share it with you. Reviewing the evidence package will allow you and your representative to know what information is already on record, and whether any important information is missing.
Your representative will advise you on what additional evidence you will need to support your case.
Once your case is ready, your representative will ask the Board to schedule your hearing.
We hold Review hearings in locations across Canada. Your hearing will be scheduled in the location nearest you.
In most cases, hearings are held at local Veterans Affairs Canada offices. In some smaller locations, we may use hotel meeting rooms. And, for a small number of hearings in low-volume locations, Board Members may appear by videoconference or teleconference.
Most people attend their hearing in person because it is their first, and only chance to tell their story to decision-makers. Note that you will be reimbursed for your travel costs to attend your hearing.
If you are unable to attend, we can arrange for you to participate by telephone.
On the day of your hearing, you will go to the office where your hearing will be held. If you wish, you can bring a family member or friend for support.
In most locations, you’ll have to sign in with building security before making your way to the hearing room.
You will meet your representative before the hearing begins and enter the hearing room together when you’re ready.
There, you’ll meet the Commissionaire who is there to provide support and the two Board Members who are hearing your case.
Board Members, who hear and decide cases, are knowledgeable about the military and RCMP, as well as the medical conditions commonly related to working in these environments. They also have training and experience in reviewing medical evidence.
Prior to the hearing, the Board Members will already have reviewed the evidence in your case.
Before the hearing begins, recording equipment will be turned on to make an audio recording of your hearing.
And, you will be asked to swear an oath or make a solemn declaration about the testimony you are about to give.
With these first formal steps out of the way, Board members will welcome you and explain how your hearing will proceed.
Then, they will ask your representative to present your case and make arguments on your behalf.
Your representative will explain your case, highlight the evidence, and ask you to speak about certain details related to your service and medical condition.
Remember, the Review hearing is your chance to be heard. You should be prepared to tell your story. This could include talking about your military or RCMP service, how your disability came about, and how it has affected you.
During the hearing, Board Members will ask you and your representative questions in order to gather as much information as possible. This will help them make a fair and informed decision.
These questions are not meant to challenge you. Rather, they help Board Members better understand the evidence and arguments in your case.
Remember, this is a non-adversarial process, which means that no one opposes your application or argues against you.
Once you’ve had the chance to tell your story, your representative has made their final arguments, and Board Members have asked their questions, the hearing will come to a close. Most hearings last approximately 30 minutes.
After the hearing is over, Board Members will deliberate, then rule on your case and write a decision that explains the reasons for the ruling. The majority of decisions are mailed within 6 weeks or less.
If you’re dissatisfied with your Review decision, you have the right to an Appeal hearing. For more information on this, please refer to our video on the Appeal hearing process.
Every year, thousands of Veterans receive new or increased benefits through the Board's program. If you are dissatisfied with a decision on disability benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada, remember that you have the right to appeal it. You have the right to be heard, and we are here to listen.
We hope this video has been helpful. If you have any questions or would like more information about the Board or its hearings, please visit our website or give us a call.