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By Ken Cruickshank
Veterans Corner 

New Appeals Process


Last updated 5/28/2019 at 11:09am | View PDF

Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) formalized the process to update their appeals process. This process was the result of the Veteran Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, also known as the Appeals Modernization Act, which became law on August 23, 2017 (Pub L. 115-55).

Under the initial implementation, the VA had established both option 1 and 2 below. As of February 19, Option 3 has been implemented as well.

The new law:

• Modernizes the current claims and appeals process,

• Includes three review options for disagreements with decisions,

• Requires improved notification of VA decisions,

• Provides earlier claim resolution, and

• Ensures that you receive the earliest effective date possible.

Option 1: Higher Level Review

Your claim is now reviewed by a more senior claims adjudicator and involves:

• A higher level de novo review (new look) of the decision,

• No submission of new evidence allowed, and

• The possibility of overturning the decision based on a difference of opinion or a clear and unmistakable error. The reviewer, who identifies or learns of a duty to assist error, can return the claim to the regional office for correction. You or your representative can request an informal phone call to identify specific issues. You will only be allowed to select this option once during the appeals process.

Option 2: A Supplemental Claim Lane

You can submit or identify new and relevant evidence to support your claim. VA will provide assistance in developing the evidence.

Option 3: Appeal Lane for Appeals to the Board

This option allows you to appeal directly to the Board of Veterans' Appeals. You can choose among three options:

• Direct review: You have no new evidence and do not want a hearing.

• Evidence submission: You have new evidence, but do not want a hearing.

• Hearing: You have new evidence and want to testify before a Veterans Law Judge.

The VA currently expects to run the new process as well as the older appeals process (legacy) simultaneously until all legacy claims have either been decided or the option to go into the new system has been utilized. All new appeals will be required to choose one of the three new options.

Should you have questions, we are here to assist you.

Ken Cruickshank, the Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County, is a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. Contact him at the Veterans Services Office at 3348 W. Mineral King Ave., Visalia; by phone at (559) 713-2880; or by email at


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