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Appeals Modernization Act 2017

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (Appeals Modernization Act) became law on August 23, 2017 (Pub L. 115-55). You can read the law in full on Congress.gov, or at https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2288.

Here is what the new law will do:

  • Modernize our current claims and appeals process.
  • Include three options for Veterans dissatisfied with VA's decision on their claims to seek review.
  • Require improved notification of VA decisions.
  • Streamline the claims and appeals process to provide you with the earliest possible resolution of your claim.
  • Provide safeguards to ensure you receive the earliest effective date possible for your claim.

 

What are the new options for review?

Under the new Appeals Modernization Act, you'll have one of three options to choose from for review.

Option 1: A Higher-Level Review

This review is done at the VA office that made the original decision. Here's what is involved:

  • A reviewer will conduct a higher-level de novo review (or new look) of the decision based on the same evidence of record.
  • The higher-level review consists of a closed record, therefore there is no submission of new evidence.
  • A reviewer can overturn previous decisions based on a difference of opinion, or based on clear and unmistakable error.
  • A reviewer who identifies or learns of a duty to assist error, can return the claim for correction of the error.
  • You or your representative (such as your VSO) can request a telephonic informal conference to identify specific issues or errors with your case.

Option 2: A Supplemental Claim Lane

This review is done at the VA agency that made the original decision. It allows you to submit new evidence to support your claim. We will provide assistance in developing the evidence.

Option 3: An Appeal Lane for Appeals to the Board

This lane provides you with the ability to appeal directly to the VA Board of Veterans' Appeals (the "Board"). You'll have the ability to choose between three options for review at the Board:

  • Direct review: Choose this option if you do not have additional evidence to submit and you do not want a hearing.
  • Evidence submission: Choose this option if you don't want a hearing, but you do have additional evidence to submit.
  • Hearing: Choose this option if you want to testify before a Veterans Law Judge, and submit additional evidence.

Upcoming Events

Veterans Experience Action Center - Dunn

Date & Time: Wednesday through Friday, July 25 - 27, 2018
8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Location: Dunn Community Center
205 Jackson Rd., Dunn, NC, 28334

Veterans Benefits and Health Administrations, Vet Center and Veterans Service Organizations representatives will assist with:

  • Face-to-face explanation and assistance facilitating and expediting existing claims and appeals
  • Filing new claims
  • Providing information regarding benefit-related VA programs: VRE, education, home loans, insurance, education and burial benefits
  • Counseling for bereavement, military sexual trauma, substance abuse and mental health screening
  • Information about eligibility for Healthcare

 

For more information or to register, please visit Eventbrite.

 

Expected Participants: Veterans, their families, and survivors 

Upcoming Event 2

Veterans Experience Action Center - Cary

Date & Time: September 13 - 15, 2018 | Time to be determined.

Veterans Benefits and Health Administrations, Vet Center and Veterans Service Organizations representatives will assist with:

  • Face-to-face explanation and assistance facilitating and expediting existing claims and appeals
  • Filing new claims
  • Providing information regarding benefit-related VA programs: VRE, education, home loans, insurance, education and burial benefits
  • Counseling for bereavement, military sexual trauma, substance abuse and mental health screening
  • Information about eligibility for Healthcare

 

Expected Participants: Veterans, their families, and survivors

Burn Pit Registry Update

Burn Pits

Man throwing trash into a burn pit

Photo: U.S. Department of Defense

Burn pits were a common way to get rid of waste at military sites in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At this time, research does not show evidence of long-term health problems from exposure to burn pits. VA continues to study the health of deployed Veterans.

Health effects from burn pit smoke

Toxins in burn pit smoke may affect the skin, eyes, respiratory and cardiovascular systems, gastrointestinal tract and internal organs.

Veterans who were closer to burn pit smoke or exposed for longer periods may be at greater risk. Health effects depend on a number of other factors, such as the kind of waste being burned and wind direction.

Most of the irritation is temporary and resolves once the exposure is gone. This includes eye irritation and burning, coughing and throat irritation, breathing difficulties, and skin itching and rashes.

The high level of fine dust and pollution common in Iraq and Afghanistan may pose a greater danger for respiratory illnesses than exposure to burn pits, according to a 2011 Institute of Medicine report.

Type of waste burned

Waste products in burn pits include, but are not limited to: chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, metal/aluminum cans, munitions and other unexploded ordnance, petroleum and lubricant products, plastics, rubber, wood, and discarded food.

Burning waste in open air pits can cause more pollution than controlled burning, such as in an incinerator.

Health concerns?

If you are concerned about your exposure to burn pits, talk to your health care provider or contact your local VA Environmental Health Coordinator to help you get more information from a health care provider.

VA health care is available to all combat Veterans for conditions possibly related to service for five years after discharge. Not enrolled in the VA health care system? Apply online.

Registry

Join the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry and contact your local Environmental Health Coordinator to help you complete the free voluntary medical evaluation. Check your eligibility and sign up through an online questionnaire.

Compensation benefits for health problems

Veterans may file a claim for disability compensation for health problems they believe are related to exposure to burn pits during military service. VA decides these claims on a case-by-case basis. File a claim online.

Read Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors to learn more about VA benefits.

                  

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