Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

Changes to the VA disability review process (Feb. 2019 update)

There are many veterans in an around Mobile, Alabama who have had their U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs disability claims either outright rejected or granted but with lesser benefits that one ought to have received. In either case, the applicants have the right to appeal the VA's decision, either themselves or with the help of a representative such as a claim agent, a veteran's service officer or an attorney.

For claim decisions made by the VA before February 19, 2019, the earlier appeal process continues. However, for decisions made on or after February 19, 2019, there are certain changes to the decision review process. Per new rules, applicants have to choose one of three available decision review options.

  • The first of those options is to file a Supplemental Claim wherein the applicant needs to submit new and relevant medical information that supports the original claim. This review process can take four to five months before the VA reaches a decision.
  • The second option is to request a Higher-Level Review, which is the second review of the claim application by a senior reviewer. This process can take four to five months, and even longer if the VA needs to conduct additional medical examinations to correct an earlier error.
  • The third option is to file a Board Appeal in which the claim application is taken up for review by a Veterans Law Judge. This review process can take up to one year, provided that no new evidence has been submitted and no additional hearings are required.

It is important to remember that applicants whose VA disability claims have been rejected need to initiate the review process within one year of the date on which the initial decision was made, unless the applicant has a fiduciary claim or a multiple party claim. Also, applicants should know that they are free to choose any of the three available review options initially, and if they are not satisfied with the result of one review option, they can move on and try a different review option for that same claim.

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