The President signed into law the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, also known as the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA)
By PVA National Staff
In response to the growing backlog at the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA), the President signed into law the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, also known as the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA). Along with AMA, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) implemented the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP), a program that provides veterans with more appeals options.
This law, which is expected to go into effect in February 2019, creates a new framework for veterans who are dissatisfied with decisions rendered on their claims. Progress has been made in implementing the law; however, many questions remain unanswered, including:
- What choices will veterans make under the AMA framework, and what factors will influence those choices?
- What resources and information will veterans and their representatives need to effectively navigate the available options?
- How easy or difficult is it to understand and use AMA forms, and how can they help avoid errors and confusion?
- Will VA have all processes in place to smoothly implement AMA in February 2019?
To answer these questions and assist with the implementation of the AMA at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, VA has implemented the Board Early Applicability Appeals Modernization program (BEAAM). This program allows up to 50 veterans and their representatives to participate in a “dry run” of AMA, including all appeal options, culminating in decisions by December 2018.
VA partnered with PVA, CalVet and the National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA) and veterans they are representing to take part in the BEAAM program.
BEAAM offers veterans three “lanes”, or choices; veterans may choose one of the following options:
- Direct Review: Judges will review the appeal using the same evidence that was considered in the original decision. The record is closed, so there is no submission of additional evidence.
- Evidence Submission: Veterans may submit additional evidence with their appeal, or within 90 days of filing their appeal.
- Hearing: Veterans may request a hearing before a Veterans Law Judge (VLJ); additional evidence may be submitted at the hearing or 90 days thereafter.
Currently, PVA has chosen 20 veterans who will participate in the BEAAM program.