Recently, there have been some changes to the VA Appeals system that may affect your current and future appeals. Let’s explore those changes and how you can benefit from them.

The previous VA Appeals system, now referred to as the Legacy system, only featured one option for appealing a VA decision while the new AMA system features three. The Legacy system was consistently backlogged and unable to keep up with the growing amount of appeals per year. This was causing an unsatisfactory amount of time for Veterans waiting to hear back about their appeals process. There was no time frame in place for reaching a final decision and Veterans would sometimes wait years before their appeal was handled.

Along with the extended length of time it would take to reach a final decision on an appeal, the process itself was too long and complicated. There were too many steps, making it difficult to relay to Veterans.

The VA AMA system intends to address all of these issues with a more simplified method and multiple avenues to reach a quicker resolution.

What Are The New Changes to the VA Claims System?

There are now three (3) options for the appeals process: Supplemental Claim, Higher Level Review, and BVA Hearing and Decision.

Here’s how they work:

● Supplemental Claim:

○ If your appeals claim does not go your way and you believe the decision would have been different if more evidence was provided, you can use this avenue.You are able to file a Supplemental Claim any time after a ratings decision with these key components:

i. You will need to have “new and relevant evidence”.

ii. You will need to submit a Supplemental Claim form.

iii. You will need to submit your new evidence within 30 days of filing your Supplemental Claim form.

○ If your Supplemental Claim form is filed within 1 year of your VA Ratings Decision, your effective date will remain the same. If you file more than 1 year later, your effective date will be the date of the Supplemental Claim.

○ There is no limit to how many Supplemental Claims you can file at one time.

○ The VA’s goal to settle these claims is around 125 days.

● Higher Level Review:

○ If your appeals claim does not go your way but you don’t have any new evidence to present, Higher Level Review is the avenue for you. This option will send your claim to another experienced VA Rater. You are no longer allowed to submit any new evidence or argue your claim directly to the senior VA Rater. The decision will be made solely by the VA Rater and what was previously in your file.

○ The VA’s goal to settle these claims is around 125 days.

● BVA Hearing and Decision:

○ If the other levels of appeals do not fit your needs, you are still able to argue your appeal directly to the Board of Veterans Appeals. You will have 1 year from the date of your VA Ratings Decision to file a Notice of Disagreement to initiate appellate review. You will also select one of these three dockets:

i. Direct Docket Review: You have no new evidence and do not want a hearing.

ii. Evidence Docket: You have 90 days from the NOD to submit new evidence but you do not want a hearing.

iii. Hearing Docket: You have new evidence and wish to testify before a Veterans Law Judge.

○ The VA’s goal to settle these claims is around 365 days.

If your appeals claim is already in the Legacy system, you are able to opt into the new AMA system if you think it will better benefit your case.

We know handling the VA Appeals system can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate on your own. The Success Firm is dedicated to helping Veterans who feel they received an inaccurate VA decision. If you are ready to start the appeals process, give us a call at (404) 709-2158, or book an appointment here to get started in the new AMA system.

The Success Firm

Attorney Success is a licensed member of both the South Carolina and Georgia State Bars, accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as a registered neutral with the State of Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution. She is a lifelong resident of central DeKalb County and a graduate of the University of Georgia. The Success Firm is serving the growing needs of the Metropolitan Atlanta area located in Decatur, GA. Attorney Success delivers legal solutions in the best interest of her clients.