Hoeven: Veterans Legislation Signed Into Law

Bill Updates and Modernizes the VA Benefit Claims Appeal Process

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the President has signed into law bipartisan legislation he cosponsored to update and improve the benefit claims appeals process at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which was passed unanimously by the Senate on August 1, modernizes the VA appeals process and reduces wait times for veterans who are not satisfied with the VA’s initial decision on their benefits claims. Currently, veterans face a five-year wait on average if they appeal a decision. 

“This bipartisan legislation modernizes the VA’s claims appeal process and will help ensure that our veterans have better options when they don’t agree with a benefit decision,” said Hoeven. “We need to ensure the highest quality care for the men and women who have served our nation and this legislation will help us to do that.” 

Specifically, the bill:

  • Includes reforms consistent with legislative proposals by the VA, veterans groups and other stakeholders
  • Creates three options for veterans dissatisfied with the initial decision on claims:
    • Higher-level review by a regional office with the same evidence presented to the original claim processors
    • Supplemental claim with a regional office that would include the opportunity to submit additional evidence
    • Appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, resulting in a possible hearing and an opportunity to submit additional evidence
    • Helps ensure that current pending appeals will be acted on as quickly as possible
    • Requires the VA Secretary to certify that the VA has the necessary resources to implement the new system and requires the VA to report to Congress as to whether or not the new system is succeeding in better serving veterans, their families and their survivors
    • Protects the effective date of a benefits award by dating back to the original filing of the claim