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Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017


The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (Appeals Modernization Act) became law on August 23, 2017 (Pub L. 115-55). You can read the law in full on, or at

Here is what the new law will do:

  • Modernize our current claims and appeals process.
  • Include three options for Veterans dissatisfied with VA's decision on their claims to seek review.
  • Require improved notification of VA decisions.
  • Streamline the claims and appeals process to provide you with the earliest possible resolution of your claim.
  • Provide safeguards to ensure you receive the earliest effective date possible for your claim.

What are the new options for review?

Under the new Appeals Modernization Act, you'll have one of three options to choose from for review.

Option 1: A Higher-Level Review

This review is done at the VA office that made the original decision. Here's what is involved:

  • A reviewer will conduct a higher-level de novo review (or new look) of the decision based on the same evidence of record.
  • The higher-level review consists of a closed record, therefore there is no submission of new evidence.
  • A reviewer can overturn previous decisions based on a difference of opinion, or based on clear and unmistakable error.
  • A reviewer who identifies or learns of a duty to assist error, can return the claim for correction of the error.
  • You or your representative (such as your VSO) can request a telephonic informal conference to identify specific issues or errors with your case.

Option 2: A Supplemental Claim Lane

This review is done at the VA agency that made the original decision. It allows you to submit new evidence to support your claim. We will provide assistance in developing the evidence.

Option 3: An Appeal Lane for Appeals to the Board

This lane provides you with the ability to appeal directly to the VA Board of Veterans' Appeals (the "Board"). You'll have the ability to choose between three options for review at the Board:

  • Direct review: Choose this option if you do not have additional evidence to submit and you do not want a hearing.
  • Evidence submission: Choose this option if you don't want a hearing, but you do have additional evidence to submit.
  • Hearing: Choose this option if you want to testify before a Veterans Law Judge, and submit additional evidence.