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The Veterans Administration is making big changes to its appeals process.  If you have or will be filing a claim(s) for service-connected disability benefits, you should be aware of these important changes.

In 2017 the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (VAIMA) became law.  The VAIMA makes major changes to the VA appeals system.  Under the new system, after the veteran files a notice of disagreement, the veteran will no longer have the right to a regional office hearing, the VA will no longer need to prepare a statement of the case or a supplemental statement of the case, and the veteran will no longer need to submit a substantive appeal.  These changes are scheduled to go into effect on February 14, 2019.

Once the changes go into effect, the VA will operate two different claims and appeals systems at the same time. Some VA claims will be subject to the “new system” while other VA claims will be subject to the “old system.”  This means every claim for which the Regional Office issues a decision before February 14, 2019, is subject to the “old system” (the current system), while decisions issued after February 14, 2019, is subject to the “new system.” Unfortunately, these changes will further complicate the VA disability process.

Under the “new system,” veterans have the option to: (1) request “higher-level review” by a more seasoned employee at the Regional Office; (2) file with the Regional office a supplemental claim with new and relevant evidence; or (3) file a notice of disagreement to appeal the decision directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeal (BVA).

Regardless of which system applies to your claim, it is critical that you are aware of the changes and the implications of the appeal option you select.  At Blachly, Tabor, Bozik and Hartman, Attorney Angelica Schultis is a VA-accredited lawyer who can help you navigate the new, or old, system.  You are welcome to contact her to schedule an appointment to discuss your options.

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