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Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017

 

Frequently Asked Questions

When will VA start to offer the three new “lane” options detailed in the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017?

We plan to fully implement the three “lane” options by February 2019. The law allows an 18-month implementation period, during which we must, among other things, issue regulations and adjudication procedures, train employees, adjust IT systems, and revise forms and decision notice letters.

What are the benefits of giving Veterans the choice of the three lanes? Is the idea that this will make VA more efficient and thus benefit Veterans?

In the new process, you can select a review option that best addresses the circumstances of your claim. Here are some examples:

  • If you learn from the initial decision that the claim could be granted based upon the submission of additional evidence, the supplemental claim lane is the best option.
  • On the other hand, if you believe that the initial claim processor made a mistake,you may request a higher level review by a more senior VA employee.
  • Finally, you may want VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals, to review your claim and make an independent final decision.

Thus, the choices provided give you flexibility in the review process. In addition, by protecting your effective date for benefits regardless of the choice, the new process incentivizes early resolution at the lowest possible level. The new law also establishes a more streamlined process that we can operate far more efficiently. The result is faster decisions for you and long-term taxpayer savings.

What was the average wait time for Veterans in the old appeals process?

Veterans waited an average of three years for resolution of their appeal. Those that chose to appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals waited an average of seven years from the date that they initiated the appeal for a Board decision. The new appeals process is more efficient and provides you with options for early resolution of your disagreement with decisions we made.

What is VA’s strategy to address the inventory of legacy appeals as it transitions to the new appeals system?

We are committed to addressing the pending inventory of legacy appeals. We worked with stakeholders to identify and evaluate various options that would allow Veterans to enter into the new process. After assessing these various options, and collaborating with our partners, two opt-in opportunities were identified to address the issue of the legacy appeals inventory. Both opt ins were included in the Appeals Modernization Act. In addition, we are examining other opportunities for Veterans with pending appeals to take advantage of the more efficient system.

How does appeals reform relate to VA’s modernization efforts?

Modernization is about simplifying the organization, removing burdensome bureaucracy, and focusing resources to deliver on the promise of better care and better service for Veterans and their families. The new appeal process simplifies the current complex process, provides Veterans more options to meet their needs, and speeds the resolution of appeals.