Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Bost, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee, announced his legislation to reform the appeals process at the Department of Veterans Affairs was signed into law today by President Trump. Bost introduced the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (H.R. 2288) in May and the final version of the bill was passed unanimously by the Senate and House earlier this month.
“This new law is vitally important for America’s heroes and their families,” said Bost. “Too many veterans are faced with intolerable delays during the VA’s benefits claims appeal process. By modernizing the system, we can now ensure they get the help they need in a more efficient and effective manner. I thank my colleagues in Congress - both Republican and Democrat – for working together across the aisle to help our nation’s heroes. I also want to thank President Trump for signing this legislation into law and prioritizing veterans’ issues.”
“For far too long, veterans with pending appeals on their disability claims have been stuck in an outdated and cumbersome process,” said Roe. “In the last two fiscal years, the number of pending appeals increased almost 20 percent, meaning nearly half a million veterans are in limbo waiting for a decision on their appeal. This is absolutely unacceptable, which is why the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, led by Subcommittee Chairman Bost, came together to move legislation that will modernize the appeals process. In keeping with the committee’s tradition of bipartisanship, the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 was cosponsored by every single member of the committee. This new law will create three lanes for appeals claims which will undoubtedly speed up the appeals process and give veterans the certainty they deserve. I thank President Trump for signing this important legislation into law and commend my colleagues on the committee for their leadership on this bill, especially DAMA Subcommittee Chairman Bost and Ranking Member Esty.”
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, as amended, would create three “lanes” for veterans’ appeals, including the “Local Higher Level Review Lane” in which an adjudicator reviews the same evidence considered by the original claims processor; the “New Evidence Lane,” in which the veteran could submit new evidence for review and have a hearing; and the “Board Lane,” in which jurisdiction for the appeal would transfer immediately to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
The bill, which was cosponsored by every member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, passed the House 418-0 on May 23, 2017. The Senate amended and passed H.R. 2288 on August 1, 2017. The Senate’s substitute amendment clarifies that in certain circumstances the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must correct duty to assist errors unless VA can grant the maximum benefit; provides for a limited duty to assist in connection to a supplement claim when veterans identify additional evidence needed to decide a claim; clarifies the difference between an “issue” and “claim”; and includes some changes to the reports and reporting requirements included in the House bill. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.