Monday, June 26, 2017

Veterans Appeals improvement and Modernization Act

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, H.R. 2288 / S.1024, Sponsored in the House by
Rep. Mike Bost [R-IL-12], was introduced 05/02/2017 and in the Senate by John Isakson [R-GA].

An Act to Amend title 38, United States Code, to Reform the Rights and Processes relating to Appeals of Decisions regarding Claims for Benefits under the Laws Administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

Passage of the Act is expected to speed VA Claim Appeals and shrink the Backlog by creating three "Lanes" for Appealing Decisions. The intent is to give Veterans options for Appeal that are better suited to individual circumstances.

A new "Local Higher-Level Review Lane" would allow an Adjudicator to review the same evidence considered by the original Claim Processor, to at least reassure Veterans about the Original Decision.

In a "New Evidence Lane", Veterans can present New Evidence for Review and also have a Hearing.

A third Appeal path would be the longer "Board Lane", where Jurisdiction is immediately transferred to the Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA).

One critical change The American Legion and other Advocacy Groups insisted on is "Effective Date Protection", so Veterans don't risk losing Original Claim Decision Dates, if it gets slow to bring forth New Evidence or to Appeal VA Claim Denials to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. That punitive results of the Current Process angers many Veterans and inspired the New Bill to widen certain Time-to-Appeal Windows.

Another Key part of the Bipartisan effort to modernize Appeals is VA's Agreement to Improve Original Claim Decision Notices so they more clearly inform Veterans and Advocates of the reasoning behind Original Decisions. This will help them determine whether to File an Appeal and the best Lane to take, reducing unnecessary Appeals.

I have been in the VA system since 1972.

CLICK HERE for more information about this Bill.

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