Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act to Take Effect February 19, 2019
On February 19, 2019, the VA will implement the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, which will change the procedures of VA appeals and the options that Veterans will have when pursuing claims for disability benefits arising from in-service injuries or disorders. The new appeals process will give Veterans a choice of three different appeal “lanes” to pursue if they are unhappy with the decision the VA makes on their initial claim for benefits. Until now all claims were handled in the same docket causing incredibly lengthy delays. The hope is that the new appeals system will create a quicker and more efficient process for disability claims with VA.
If you file a claim on or after February 19, 2019 your claim will be placed into the modernized appeal system. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your initial claim you will have one of three options to appeal the decision within one year of your original decision:
1) Higher Level Review- This option allows your claim to be reviewed by a senior claims adjudicator without any regard to the prior denial from VA. In this lane there can be no submission of new evidence, and the previous decision can be overturned based on difference of opinion or clear and unmistakable error. The Veteran also has the option for an informal phone conference in this lane as well, but such a request could delay processing of the appeal.
2) A Supplemental Claim- You can submit or identify new and relevant evidence to support your claim and the VA will re-adjudicate your claim taking the new evidence and arguments into consideration. This will also allow the Veteran to preserve the effective date of the original application. VA will provide assistance in developing the evidence under its Duty to Assist.
3) Board of Veterans’ Appeals Review- This option allows you appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ where you can elect from one of three options:
I) Direct review: You have no new evidence and do not want a hearing.
II) Evidence submission: You have new evidence, but do not want a hearing.
III) Hearing: You have new evidence and want to testify before a Veterans Law Judge.
These new options should hopefully create a more efficient, accountable, and transparent process for Veterans to get the benefits that they are entitled to from VA.
If you have questions about the new appeals process and which option may be best for your case please contact the experienced Veterans’ disability attorneys at today for a free case evaluation. Gardberg & Kemmerly serves Veterans across the United States from their home office in Mobile, Alabama.