“The process a veteran goes through when filing an appeal is a never ending story that this Subcommittee has heard many times before,” said Chairman Hall. “A new claim is more like a short story. Upon submission, it can be developed and rated in about six months. However, if a veteran disagrees with the VA decision and files an appeal, then it becomes an epic tale that can go on for years or even decades. Our goal today is to learn more about the causes of delays in order to improve the administrative and judicial appeals processes to more efficiently serve veterans.”
At the hearing, Members heard the frustrations that veterans and survivors encounter waiting months and years on an appeal decision. Veterans who are denied or have benefits delayed as a result often face socioeconomic hardships, lack access to medical care, and miss opportunities to take advantage of other benefits that would come with service connection, such as vocational rehabilitation, life insurance or housing allowances. Veterans also find traveling to Washington, DC or even a Regional Office (RO) for a personal hearing with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) to be cost prohibitive and travel boards often are difficult to schedule.