The Department of Veterans Affairs has implemented a new law designed to speed up the appeals process for disability claims, which often can drag on for years. Some veterans who have experienced those delays are hopeful – but skeptical – about the changes.
The VA estimates it takes three to seven years on average for veterans to get through the appeals process. In an attempt to reduce that, Congress passed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017. After a pilot phase, in which veterans were given the choice of opting into the new system, the new process officially went live for all new claims Feb. 19.
“Over time, our inventory of appeals just kept growing and growing and growing,” says Dave McLenachen, director of the VA’s Appeals Management Office. “You just can’t keep throwing more resources at it. At some point, you’ve got to revamp the system to make sure it’s more modern, and that’s essentially what we did.”