Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Elise Stefanik co-led the Veterans Appeals Efficiency Act of 2024 with Mike Bost (R-IL), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (VA), to reform the lengthy appeals process veterans may face when filing claims for the VA benefits they have earned. This bill would ensure that the VA Board of Veterans’ Appeals does its job of issuing timely final decisions in veterans’ claims.

“As the representative to one of the largest populations of veterans in New York, working to solve inefficiencies in the appeals process for veterans filing claims is one of my top priorities. This bill will equip the VA Board of Veterans' Appeals with tools necessary to efficiently process claims,” said Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. “Our veterans make immeasurable sacrifices to serve and protect our country which is why I will continue working on their behalf to bring their concerns to the highest levels of government.” 

“There are too many veterans who wait years for a decision from the VA Board of Veterans’ Appeals on their claims for disability benefits. This is simply unacceptable,” said Chairman Bost. “We will continue to prioritize making this process as timely and as smooth as it can possibly be, which is exactly what the Veterans Appeals Efficiency Act would do, and why as a veteran who has been through the VA benefits process, I am proud to have introduced it. I look forward to seeing it move through the House to get this system working more like a well-oiled machine.” 

Specifically, this bill:

  • Would require the VA Secretary to report to Congress the average length of time a claim or issue within a claim is pending after a remand by the VA Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board).
  • Would require the Secretary to use technology to track and maintain certain information related to the timely processing of claims and appeals, as well as instances where the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) fails to comply with a prior remand by the Board, and instances where a Board remand was unnecessary under the law.
  • Would require the Secretary to ensure that a claimant or their representative may view or otherwise obtain notice of the reasons a claim was deferred for additional action, or assigned a suspense date for further action, by the VBA in the National Work Queue (or any successor system).
  • Would authorize the Board to aggregate appeals that involve substantially similar questions of law or fact.
  • Would codify current law providing that the Board must ensure that the VBA substantially complies with the Board’s prior remand orders, and that the Secretary may waive that compliance requirement if the Board makes a written determination in its decision in an appeal that the evidence added to the evidentiary record after the prior remand is sufficient to resolve the issues underlying why the Board remanded the case, or that such prior remand was unnecessary. 
  • The bill would codify the Board’s authority to request a binding opinion from the VA Office of General Counsel (OGC), and would allow appellants to submit a motion for an OGC opinion, on a question of law arising in an appeal.
  •  Would authorize the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Court) to certify class actions to include veterans with claims for which no final decision has been issued.
  • Would authorize the Court to remand a matter to the Board for the limited purpose of ordering the Board, within a certain deadline, to address a question of law or fact that the Board should have addressed, and for the Court to issue a final decision on the case as a whole when the Board completes that Court order.
  • Would require the Board to identify, and report to Congress, questions of law or fact that the Board commonly considers, for which binding guidance would assist the Board in issuing final decisions on such appeals.
  • Would require the Secretary to contract with a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) for the FFRDC to assess (a) the feasibility of authorizing the Board to issue binding decisions, and (b) recommend procedures and principles for the Board to aggregate appeals, and for the Secretary to report those findings to Congress.
  • Would require the Secretary to develop a plan to ensure claims are assigned to a VBA adjudicator in a timely manner in the National Work Queue (or any successor system) and submit that plan to Congress. 

Read the full text of the bill here.