Today marks one year since President Donald J. Trump signed into law one of the most significant statutory changes in decades to affect the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Veterans it serves.
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (Appeals Modernization Act) was signed Aug. 23, 2017, aimed at transforming a complex, frustrating appeals process into one that is simple, timely and transparent.
“Before reform, Veterans experienced a complicated appeals system that was buried in several layers of law,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “The Appeals Modernization Act has since allowed VA, with the help of our partners, to design a new process that offers greater choice to Veterans and faster decisions from VA.”
Today, VA is working toward full implementation of the law, scheduled to take effect in February 2019. The new system features three differentiated lanes from which a claimant may choose in seeking review of a VA denial (or partial denial):
• Higher-level review;
• Supplemental claim;
• Appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) --.
Veterans are already benefitting from the new process. In November 2017, VA began the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP). RAMP allows Veterans with an eligible, active appeal to choose between two of the three new lanes now. Implementation of BVA’s appeals lane for Veterans who have appealed their RAMP decision by VBA is expected to begin in October 2018.
To date, more than 40,000 Veterans have chosen RAMP, and more than $45 million in retroactive benefits has been paid to Veterans. Additionally, BVA has issued more than 73,000 decisions thus far in fiscal year 2018, a historic high, and is on track to deliver over 81,000 decisions to Veterans by the end of the fiscal year.
For more information about VA’s appeals modernization process, go to https://benefits.va.gov/benefits/appeals.asp.