An appeal of a rating decision is a two step process. Filing an NOD is the first step. The second step is to "perfect" the appeal by filing a VA Form 9 with the same regional office that issued the SOC. By statute, a claimant must perfect an appeal within 60 days after the date of the SOC cover letter or within one year from the date of the rating decision that is being appealed, whichever is longer. If a claimant does not meet this deadline, the rating decision will become final. A claimant must use a VA Form 9 to perfect an appeal. Not using this form risks rejection of the appeal.
A claimant is free to submit additional evidence, which VA is required to consider, until the C-file is physically sent to the Board of Veterans' Appeals. In addition, VA will review the C-file and rating decision before forwarding the file to the Board. If VA identifies an issue, it may ask for additional information and may revise or reverse the rating decision. Once the claim file leaves the regional office to be delivered to the Board, the raters can do nothing to change the rating decision until and unless the claim is sent back ("remanded") to the regional 0ffice or, in some cases to the VA Appeals Management Center ("AMC"), for further action (see discussion of AMC in the next section).