The Higher-Level Review Lane is a new way to appeal for VA disability benefits. Rather than sending your appeal to the same-level employee who denied your initial claim, you can submit it to a more senior VA official. This option puts your appeal in front of a fresh set of eyes who may be more experienced in handling VA claims and appeals.
The Higher-Level Review Lane is one of three appeal options established by the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017. This law came in response to years of complaints and concerns from veterans about long wait times and excessive rigidity in the appeals process. Now, veterans have a greater choice in how their appeals get handled.
Why VA Changed Its Appeals Process
VA changed its appeals process in response to pressure from veterans for greater autonomy and faster reviews. Under the old process, veterans could appeal a rating decision by filing a Notice of Disagreement on which they would select traditional review or Decision Review Officer review for their appeal. The appeal review queue was constantly backlogged, resulting in long wait times.
The new law creates three separate “lanes” for appeals. It gives veterans increased choice within the process, as they can select the review option that best suits their unique circumstances. And, in theory, because each lane handles only one-third of the total appeals volume, the hope is for wait times to decrease considerably.
Higher-Level Review Lane vs. the Other Lanes
- The Supplemental Claim Lane: Veterans can submit additional evidence to support their claim, but the evidence must be new and relevant. Your appeal gets reviewed by the same-level employee who denied your initial claim. (The Higher-Level Review Lane does not offer the ability to attach further evidence not included within your initial claim.)
- The Notice of Disagreement Lane (appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals): Your appeal gets reviewed by the Board, and you have the option to select the direct docket, the evidence docket, or the hearing docket.
Which lane is best for your appeal? It depends on your unique circumstances. If you have a complicated case you may feel as though a higher-level employee may be better suited to handle it. Therefore, your best option may be the Higher-Level Review Lane.
If you were denied because of a lack of evidence, and you believe you now have the evidence that would have resulted in a grant of benefits, you should consider the Supplemental Claim Lane.
If you believe your claim is strongest when you explain it in person, then you may consider requesting a Board hearing. Your VA disability attorney can help you select the best option for your claim.
Call 800-544-9144 Today for a Free VA Disability Consultation with Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD
A VA disability lawyer from Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD may be able to help you appeal your denied claim for VA disability benefits. We are eager to hear from you and find out how we can help. For a free consultation, call us at 800-544-9144.
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