Congress passed sweeping legislation in August 2017 to overhaul the veteran disability appeals process. Now that legislation is about to be put in place. Starting next month, veterans whose disability claims are denied will have new, streamlined options to appeal the initial decision.
Veterans will now have three options for appeals, and the ultimate hope is that, this way, even the most difficult case reviews will be completed in less than a year.
Under the first process, veterans can appeal their denial by filing a supplemental claim to introduce new evidence to back their case. Regional office specialists will handle the review and render a final decision.
If the veteran believes that a clear error or a misinterpretation of a statute has occurred in his or her denial, he or she can use the second process, which allows the veteran to request that his or her claim be reviewed by a senior claims adjuster. If the adjuster does find such a mistake, he or she can mandate a correction for the case.
In the last process, veterans can appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. These cases will likely take the longest to process because legal work will be involved. Veterans will get a direct decision from the board or can request a hearing before the board this way.
Any veterans with claims appeals currently pending will be able to opt-into the new systems beginning in February.