Senate passes Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act

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Thanks to Senators Thune and Rounds for the passage of S. 1024, the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, to overhaul the current appeals process and replace it with a new multi-track system to ensure veterans and their families receive timelier decisions on essential benefits provided by the Veteran’s Administration (VA).

S. 1024 is the product of collaborative discussions among veterans, veterans service organizations and the VA, and provides the following key reforms to improve the appeals process:

  • Requirement that the VA design a comprehensive solution for addressing the backlog in the current system and publish workload and performance outcomes;
  • Establishment of a new three-lane appeal process with flexibility to change lanes;
  • Expedited treatment of claims remanded to local VA offices due to staff error;
  • Ability for certain veterans with claims pending in the old system to opt into the new system;
  • Facilitation of independent medical opinions needed to file an appeal; and
  • Requirement for the VA to educate veterans on how to use the new system.

Senators Thune and Rounds have been leading advocates in Congress to reform the appeals process.