VA Filing, Appeals System Changes Begin; Advocates Voice Concerns

Stars and Stripes | Mar 24, 2015 | by Heath Druzin

WASHINGTON — Beginning Tuesday, veterans filing or appealing claims must use standardized forms, a controversial move that the VA says will streamline the process, but some advocates say it will cost tens of thousands of veterans their benefits.

“This change is largely unnecessary and it’s been made solely for the convenience of the VA,” said Gerald Manard, Veterans of Foreign Wars National Veterans Service deputy director.

Until now, veterans have been able to begin the claims or appeals process by submitting a letter or even a scrap of paper. That informal system preserved the initial date of their claim, meaning any benefits awarded would go back to the date that the VA received the note. Under the new system, benefits will still go back to the date of claim or appeal, but the clock starts only when a veteran files standardized VA paperwork. Continue reading