In 1988, Congress set up the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). It is still the newest federal court in the federal system. It reviews final decisions from the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). 38 U.S. Code § 7252. This is an Article I court, meaning that Congress dictates its jurisdiction. Conversely, Article III courts have their jurisdiction granted by the US Constitution. According to §7261, the CAVC will set aside a decision of the BVA if the decision is found to be arbitrary, capricious, or if the BVA abused its discretion, or if the decision was not in accordance with the law. The court defers to the VA on questions of fact. It will not overturn a finding of fact, unless the finding is clearly erroneous. Additionally, the CAVC will not retry an issue of fact. This office takes cases to the CAVC.

38 U.S. Code § 7252 – Jurisdiction; finality of decisions

(a) The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims shall have exclusive jurisdiction to review decisions of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. The Secretary may not seek review of any such decision. The Court shall have power to affirm, modify, or reverse a decision of the Board or to remand the matter, as appropriate.

(b) Review in the Court shall be on the record of proceedings before the Secretary and the Board. The extent of the review shall be limited to the scope provided in section 7261 of this title. The Court may not review the schedule of ratings for disabilities adopted under section1155 of this title or any action of the Secretary in adopting or revising that schedule.

(c) Decisions by the Court are subject to review as provided in section 7292 of this title.

38 U.S. Code § 7261 – Scope of review

(a) In any action brought under this chapter, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, to the extent necessary to its decision and when presented, shall—

(1) decide all relevant questions of law, interpret constitutional, statutory, and regulatory provisions, and determine the meaning or applicability of the terms of an action of the Secretary;

(2) compel action of the Secretary unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed;

(3) hold unlawful and set aside decisions, findings (other than those described in clause (4) of this subsection), conclusions, rules, and regulations issued or adopted by the Secretary, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, or the Chairman of the Board found to be—

(A) arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law;

(B) contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege, or immunity;

(C) in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or in violation of a statutory right; or

(D) without observance of procedure required by law; and

(4) in the case of a finding of material fact adverse to the claimant made in reaching a decision in a case before the Department with respect to benefits under laws administered by the Secretary, hold unlawful and set aside or reverse such finding if the finding is clearly erroneous.

(b) In making the determinations under subsection (a), the Court shall review the record of proceedings before the Secretary and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals pursuant to section 7252 (b) of this title and shall—

(1) take due account of the Secretary’s application of section 5107 (b) of this title; and

(2) take due account of the rule of prejudicial error.

(c) In no event shall findings of fact made by the Secretary or the Board of Veterans’ Appeals be subject to trial de novo by the Court.

(d) When a final decision of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals is adverse to a party and the sole stated basis for such decision is the failure of the party to comply with any applicable regulation prescribed by the Secretary, the Court shall review only questions raised as to compliance with and the validity of the regulation.

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