Isakson, Tester Applaud Timely Implementation of VA Appeals Reform

VA implements new veteran appeals process designated by ‘Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017’

ATLANTA – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today released the following statements on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) timely implementation of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017:

“I am pleased with the VA’s timely implementation of the legislation we enacted to dramatically improve the appeals process for our nation’s veterans,” said Isakson. “For too long, our veterans have faced unacceptable delays in their claims appeals. I am optimistic these reforms will improve the VA’s ability to provide timely and quality decisions for veterans.”

“This new system is a huge win for thousands of veterans who have waited far too long for an answer on their VA benefits,” said Tester. “The VA has communicated with us every step of the way on the roll out and I’m assured that they have the staff and technology they need to begin this reform and finally tackle the appeals backlog.”

Senators Isakson and Tester authored the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 in May 2017 to modernize the VA’s woefully outdated benefits claims appeals process. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 creates three separate paths for veterans to choose from when seeking redress from a decision by the Veterans Benefits Administration on their claims for VA benefits. On Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, the VA fully implemented its new appeals process for veterans who are dissatisfied with the initial decisions on their claims.

Under the new process, veterans dissatisfied with the initial decisions on their claims are able to:

  • Seek a higher-level review by a regional office on the same evidence presented to the original claims processors;
  • File a supplemental claim with a regional office that would include the opportunity to submit additional evidence; or
  • Appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, resulting in a possible hearing and/or the opportunity to submit additional evidence.

A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.

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The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 116th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as nearly 700,000 veterans.