H.R. 2288, Veterans Appeal Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017
On Tuesday, May 23, 2017, the House will consider H.R. 2288, Veterans Appeal Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, as amended, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on May 2, 2017, by Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) and was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, which ordered the bill reported by voice vote on May 17, 2017.
H.R. 2288 reforms the VA appeals process by giving veterans more options. Specifically, veterans could choose between three options: to waive a hearing and the ability to submit additional evidence, submit additional evidence and have a hearing, or transfer jurisdiction to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
The bill also authorizes the Board to maintain at least two dockets—one specifically for an expedited review for veterans who waive the hearing and chance to submit new evidence.
Additionally the bill would: (1) allow veterans to maintain the original effective date of their claim, as long as the veteran submits new and relevant evidence at least once a year, (2) allow certain veterans who have an appeal pending at the VA prior to the bill’s effective date, to opt-in to the new system, (3) require the VA to provide a comprehensive plan for processing of legacy appeals and implementing the reform proposal to Congress and GAO within 90 days of enactment, (4) require the Secretary to certify that the VA has sufficient resources to carry out the new appeals system and timely address to both new and legacy appeals, (5) give the VA the authority to either phase-in the new system or conduct a pilot program of the new system prior to full implementation, and, (6) require the VA to submit regular reports to Congress.
The VA’s current appeals process is broken and the backlog of appeals is exploding. As of January 1, 2015, there were 375,000 appeals pending in VA, including at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. As of May 1, 2017, there were almost 470,000 appeals pending—an increase of 95,000 pending appeals in a little more than two years.
This legislation would streamline the VA’s appeals process, allow veterans to retain the original effective date of their claims throughout the appeals process, and provide faster appeals decisions for veterans.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “I am proud to introduce this long –overdue legislation to provide veterans with a streamlined process to have their appeals decided in a timely manner.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates implementation would cost about $2 million over the 2017-2022 period and such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.
For questions or further information please contact Dominique Yantko with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 3-1555.
 See Rep. Bost Press Release, May 2, 2017.