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Will the Appeals Modernization and Improvement Act Help my Claim?

Published on October 8th, 2019

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which the is also called the AMA, became law in 2017 but only began to be applied on February 19, 2019. It made changes to the veterans disability compensation claim appeals process. The goal is to make the appeals process faster and more fair, but it’s too early to tell how well the new process works. This is because the AMA’s changes only apply to you if you received your rating decision after February 19, 2019. If your rating decision was sent to you before that date, any appeals will proceed under the old rules.

Under the current system, veterans disability compensation claims commonly take five to seven years to go through the appeals process. Some cases take even longer. If the AMA works as planned, the appeals process will be shorted to only three to five years and sometimes taking only 125 days for certain types of review. Regardless of the path your claim may take, we at Jackson & MacNichol will stand by you at every step of the way to help you get the justice you deserve. Call us today at 800-524-3339 if you want to appeal a bad ratings decision from the VA.

The AMA Streamlines the Appeals Process, but It’s Too Early to Tell if It Works

Under the new law, the VA rating decision you receive will present a summary of the issues, the evidence that was considered, the laws that guided the decision, the findings that were favorable to you, and in some cases an explanation of why the VA denied your claim. The ratings decision will also give you some indication of what you can do to fix your claim. The VA will tell you how to get more evidence, and what you need to establish for you to obtain a higher disability rating, or for your condition to be considered service related.

Since it’s only been a few months since claims have become eligible for the new appeals process, it’s too early to tell if it’s faster and more fair than the old process. But that’s the goal. For now, what we do know is that every veteran will be in a position to choose between three options for appealing a ratings decision from the VA:

  • Higher Level Review–This appeals process is supposed to take an average of 125 days to resolve, and involves a new review of your decision by a more experienced case worker. However, when you select this option, you are not permitted to submit additional evidence to support your claim. But if your appeal is rejected, you still get the chance to submit a supplemental claim or to go directly to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals (BVA).
  • Supplemental Claim–Whether you choose this as your first option, or you are appealing again after a bad decision from a higher level-review, the supplemental claim process is expected to take an average of 125 days. Here, you can present new evidence to support your side of the story. In fact, the VA even has a duty to assist you in developing this evidence.  What is critical for you to know, however, is that whenever your claim has been denied and you file a supplemental claim, you must provide new evidence to the VA.  If you do not, the claim will not be considered.
  • Appeal to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals–This process is supposed to take an average of 365 days to complete, however it is currently taking longer. You can use this as your first option, or after a supplemental claim or request for higher level review was denied. You can choose to have your claim considered under direct review, meaning that it requires neither new evidence nor a hearing, or you can choose to submit evidence only, or to have a hearing at or after which you can submit new evidence. The last two options will take significantly longer. Unfortunately, in almost every case you must pick one of these two options in order to win your case, since the VA has already decided that the evidence you have given them was not enought to win your case.

If you do not succeed, you can file an appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims up to 120 days after receiving the decision from the BVA.

Take Control of Your Disability Claim With a Veterans Benefit Lawyer

Many veterans apply for disability compensation and quickly get compensation that fits their circumstances. Unfortunately, many others are not so lucky. If you’re a veteran who received an unfairly low disability rating, or whose claims were denied, Jackson & MacNichol can often help. We’ve gotten people just like you the compensation they deserve for their military service. Call our veterans disability lawyers today at 800-524-3339 for a free consultation about how to appeal your ratings decision under the new AMA process and get justice.


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