Rivera v. Shinseki, No. 10-7097 (Fed. Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
In 1971 the veteran unsuccessfully sought benefits. In 1979, he sought to reopen and provided a psychiatric evaluation. The veteran took steps to appeal the regional office's refusal to reopen. The regional office requested form I-9 to "reactivate" the appeal. He responded that he had already sent the form. The VA responded in 1980 that no further action would be taken unless he submitted the form within 30 days. The veteran did not respond. In 1994, he again sought to reopen. The regional office granted him service connection for bipolar disorder with an effective date of 1994. He contended that the effective date should be 1979. In 2005 the Board rejected his "pending claim" argument because he had not filed Form 1-9 within one year of the 1979 decision. The veterans court agreed. The Federal Circuit reversed. An appeal should set out specific allegations of error of fact or law, such allegations related to specific items in the statement of the case (38 U.S.C. 7105(d)(3) ); the statute must be construed liberally. Since there was a single issue identified in the statement of the case, the 1980 letters were sufficient to identify the issue on appeal and satisfy the statute.