United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

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United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
(Vet. App.)
LocationWashington, D.C.
Appeals toFederal Circuit
Appeals from
EstablishedNovember 18, 1988
AuthorityArticle I tribunal
Created by38 U.S.C. §§ 72517299
Composition methodPresidential nomination
with Senate advice and consent
Judges7 (2 add'l temporary seats)
Judge term length15 years
Chief JudgeMargaret Bartley

The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (in case citations, Vet. App.) is a federal court of record that was established under Article I of the United States Constitution, and is thus referred to as an Article I tribunal (court). The court has exclusive national jurisdiction to provide independent federal judicial oversight and review of final decisions of the Board of Veterans' Appeals.[1][2]


The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims is commonly referred to as the Veterans Court, USCAVC, or simply CAVC. The court was previously known as the United States Court of Veterans Appeals, but was changed to the current name by the Veterans Programs Enhancement Act on March 1, 1999 (Pub.L. No. 105-368).[3] Opinions for the Veterans Court and other information about the Court can be found at www.uscourts.cavc.gov.

The Veterans Court is located in Washington, D.C. but may sit anywhere in the United States. While the Board of Veterans' Appeals is part of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Court is not a part of the VA, it is an independent federal court. The Veterans Court hears oral arguments and reviews final Board decisions, the record before the agency, and briefs of the parties on appeal.[4] Each judge on the Court serves a 15-year term.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims was created on November 18, 1988, by the Veterans' Judicial Review Act of 1988.[5][6] Prior to the establishment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, from the U.S. Revolutionary War to 1988, there was no judicial recourse for veterans who were denied benefits.[7] The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, formerly titled the Veterans Administration, was the only federal administrative agency that operated without independent judicial oversight.[7] The Board of Veterans' Appeals, which is a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, provided the final decision in a veteran's claim for benefits.

Veterans, advocacy groups, and veterans service organizations fought and urged Congress to provide judicial review of VA decisions since the 1950s. The lack of judicial review persisted, however, until the increase in veterans claims following the Vietnam War. The struggles of these veterans to obtain VA benefits highlighted the lack of independent oversight in the adjudication process. The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs initially resisted, noting that the Department of Veterans Affairs stood in "splendid isolation as the single federal administrative agency whose major functions were explicitly insulated from judicial review."[7]

After decades of debate, on November 18, 1988, Congress created the United States Court of Veterans Appeals.[5][6] On March 1, 1999, the Court's name was changed from the United States Court of Veterans Appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims through the Veterans Programs Enhancement Act (Pub.L. No. 105-368).[3]

From 1990 to 2016, thirteen of the seventeen jurists who served on the CAVC had been veterans.[8]

The Judges of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims - December 2019


The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has "exclusive jurisdiction to review decisions of the Board of Veterans' Appeals ... [with the] power to affirm, modify, or reverse a decision of the Board [of Veterans' Appeals] or to remand the matter, as appropriate."[9]


Judges are appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate, in the same manner as Article III Judges.[4] They are appointed to serve fifteen-year appointments. Retired judges are routinely recalled to active service to assist the Court in issuing its decisions in a timely manner.

Current composition[edit]

As of September 3, 2020:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
16 Chief Judge Margaret Bartley Washington, D.C. 1959 2012–present 2019–present Obama
15 Judge Coral Wong Pietsch Washington, D.C. 1947 2012–present Obama
17 Judge William S. Greenberg Washington, D.C. 1942 2012–present Obama
18 Judge Michael P. Allen Washington, D.C. 1967 2017–present Trump
19 Judge Amanda L. Meredith Washington, D.C. 1972 2017–present Trump
20 Judge Joseph L. Toth Washington, D.C. 1973 2017–present Trump
21 Judge Joseph L. Falvey Jr. Washington, D.C. 2018–present Trump
22 Judge Scott J. Laurer Washington, D.C. 1965 2020–present Trump
23 Judge Grant C. Jaquith Washington, D.C. 2020–present Trump
1 Senior Judge Frank Q. Nebeker Washington, D.C. 1930 1989–2000 1989–2000 2000–present G.H.W. Bush
3 Senior Judge Ken Kramer Washington, D.C. 1942 1989–2004 2000–2004 2004–present G.H.W. Bush
5 Senior Judge Ronald M. Holdaway Washington, D.C. 1934 1990–2002 2002–present G.H.W. Bush
8 Senior Judge William P. Greene Jr. Washington, D.C. 1943 1997–2010 2005–2010 2010–present Clinton
9 Senior Judge Lawrence B. Hagel Washington, D.C. 1947 2003–2016 2015–2016 2016–present G.W. Bush
10 Senior Judge Bruce E. Kasold Washington, D.C. 1951 2003–2016 2010–2015 2016–present G.W. Bush
11 Senior Judge William A. Moorman Washington, D.C. 1945 2004–2015 2015–present G.W. Bush
12 Senior Judge Robert N. Davis Washington, D.C. 1953 2004–2019 2016–2019 2019–present G.W. Bush
13 Senior Judge Alan G. Lance Sr. Washington, D.C. 1949 2004–2017 2017–present G.W. Bush
14 Senior Judge Mary J. Schoelen Washington, D.C. 1968 2004–2019 2019–present G.W. Bush

Former judges[edit]

# Judge State Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
2 John J. Farley III NY 1942–present 1989–2004 2004–2012 G.H.W. Bush retirement
4 Hart T. Mankin DE 1924–1996 1989–1995 1995–1996 G.H.W. Bush death
6 Jonathan R. Steinberg MD 1939–2015 1990–2005 G.H.W. Bush expiration of term
7 Donald L. Ivers NM 1941–present 1990–2005 2005–2017 G.H.W. Bush retirement


  1. ^ "USCAVC – United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims". Uscourts.cavc.gov. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  2. ^ Jonathan M. Gaffney, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: A Brief Introduction, Cong. Research Serv. (November 18, 2019).
  3. ^ a b Pub.L. 105–368 (text) (PDF), 112 Stat. 3315
  4. ^ a b "USCAVC – About the Court". Uscourts.cavc.gov. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Pub.L. 100–687, 102 Stat. 4105
  6. ^ a b United States. Congress. House ... "Veterans' Judicial Review Act". Open Library. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c "USCAVC – History". Uscourts.cavc.gov. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  8. ^ Hennings, Bradley; et al. (2016). "Now is the Time: Experts vs. the Uninitiated as Future Nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims" (PDF). Fed. Circ. J.
  9. ^ 38 U.S.C. § 7252

Further reading[edit]

Ridgway, James D. (2015). Veterans Law: Cases and Theory. American Casebook Series. West Academic. ISBN 978-1628103489. OCLC 921166019.

External links[edit]