How Can You Receive Help Navigating the New Review System?

You may need to receive help under the new system when you receive an unfavorable decision and you don’t know which of the 5 options to follow.

The new review system has 5 possible avenues to follow when you receive an initial unfavorable decision. Here are those 5 possible avenues.

  1. You can submit a supplemental claim with new and relevant evidence and ask for a new decision. VA promises to process supplemental claims within 125 days of submission.
  2. You can ask for a higher-level review if you feel that the original adjudicator made an error in his or her decision. The higher-level review will go to 1 of 2 special teams either in the Seattle-Tacoma Regional Office or the St. Petersburg Regional Office. These special teams have been set up specifically for reviewing the decisions of the adjudicators in the other Regional Offices. The higher-level review is supposed to be conducted by an adjudicator with more experience and thus afford a new opportunity for a different decision. You cannot submit new evidence with a higher-level review, but you can request a phone consultation with the adjudicator to discuss why you believe the original decision was wrong. Requesting this phone consultation is an extremely important step and should always be done. VA promises to process a higher-level review within 125 days of submission.
  3. You can request a review and a new decision by the Board of Veterans Appeals. This review allows for 3 different lanes of appeals. The first lane is called an expedited appeal. It does not allow for any new evidence or any request for a hearing. VA promises that expedited appeals will not take any longer than 1 year from submission.
  4. The second review Lane with the BVA allows for submission of new evidence but no hearing. The Board of Appeals will consider your new evidence and issue a new decision. VA does not promise how long this review will take, and it could take a number of years before a decision.
  5. The third review Lane with the BVA allows for submission of new evidence and a hearing. VA does not promise how long this review will take, but it will likely take longer than the second lane option.

It is important for you to understand that any new decisions or reviews could result in a reaffirmation of the original decision that you are challenging. In other words you may not change anything by following any one of the 5 avenues of review. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of any of these challenges, you can submit new and relevant evidence through a supplemental claim if you have that evidence. On the other hand if you did have significant evidence to warrant a new decision, you would likely have submitted that after the initial decision was issued.

There are various reasons why you might choose any one of these 5 options. You need to consult with an experienced claim representative who understands which of these you should pursue. Contact us at the Senior Veterans Service Alliance and we will be able to answer your questions. Click on the "contact" link at the top of this page.


Please refer to the table of contents in the top right column of this page for more topics on Unfavorable Decisions.