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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?

These options will be available by February 2019. The law allows 18 months to fully implement. To prepare, we are:

  • Issuing regulations and adjudication procedures
  • Training employees
  • Adjusting IT systems
  • Revising forms and decision notice letters
What are the benefits of the three lanes? Will this make VA more efficient?

Yes. The new process allows you to select a review option that best fits your claim. Here are some examples:

  • If you have additional evidence to support your claim, the supplemental claim lane is the best option.
  • If you believe the claim processor made a mistake, you can request a review by a senior VA employee.
  • You can also request the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to review your claim. This is an independent final decision.

These choices provide flexibility in the review process. The new process also protects your effective date for benefits, regardless of outcome. This ensures early resolution at the lowest level. The new process is also streamlined for efficiency. This leads to faster decisions and taxpayer savings.

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

On average, Veterans waited three years for resolution. Veterans who appealed to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals waited an average of seven years. The new efficient process leads to much earlier resolution.

What is the plan to address pending legacy appeals?

We are committed to addressing the inventory of legacy appeals. We met with stakeholders and partners to determine the best options. Then, we identified two opt-in options for legacy appeals. These options are included in the Appeals Modernization Act. We will continue to examine other opportunities for Veterans with pending appeals.

How does appeals reform relate to modernization?

The goal of modernization is to simplify. This involves focusing resources to better care for Veterans and their families. The new appeals process simplifies a previously complex one. This provides Veterans with more options to meet their needs and receive faster resolution.