On May 10, 2018, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) announced that they are adopting a new template for issuing BVA decisions. The new template is called the Interactive Decision Template (IDT) and will replace the current decision template used by the BVA. The changes went into effect May 14, 2018.
How Is the IDT Different From Previous Board of Veterans’ Appeals Decisions?
The IDT is different in how it retrieves language and data for BVA attorneys, and how the decision itself is laid out. The template allows attorneys to add relevant language into each decision, and also aims to “ensure consistency and brevity of all BVA decisions.” The new template seeks to make Board of Veterans’ Appeals decisions easier to understand for veterans by using clear language and a more intuitive layout.
Overall, the template is designed to provide clear and consistent decisions to veterans with more concise and relevant language.
The Main Changes
The new template will offer a new format for BVA decisions, in which the Order and Remand sections will be listed first, rather than later in the decision as they were previously. An Order is when BVA grants or denies benefits, and BVA remands an issue when there is a need for more information and development before BVA makes a final decision. Read more about BVA remands here.
The memo released by BVA concerning IDT states that in the new decisions, the caption “includes listing how many issues are decided and how many are remanded.” This is all done in an effort to make BVA decisions more easily understandable for veterans, and give the “bottom line up front,” as the memo states.
The memo also notes that the IDT will be integrated with the BVA’s case management software so BVA attorneys can insert hyperlinks to relevant evidence within the decision. The BVA states that this will allow attorneys to review cases more efficiently and accurately.
Board to Hear RAMP Appeals Beginning in October 2018
These changes come right before the Board begins deciding appeals through VA’s Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP). Previously, the Board lane was closed until February 2019 at the earliest for veterans who opted in to RAMP. However, in March 2018, BVA announced that it will start deciding RAMP appeals as soon as October 2018.
Board Update: Board of Veterans’ Issued Record Number of Decisions in Fiscal Year 2018
On June 4, 2018, VA issued a press release stating that the Board of Veterans’ Appeals has resolved a record number of appeals so far in Fiscal Year 2018. As of May 27, the Board “has signed more than 53,650 decisions to date in fiscal year (FY) 2018, which is approximately 86 percent more than the 28,839 decisions signed through the same period last year.”