In a recent article, we mentioned that VA had changed it rules to require veterans to file standardized forms. These forms would do away with the informal claims process that has existed for many years. The change went into effect in March 2015.
According to article from Stars and Stripes and Military Times, AMVETS, American Legion, and other groups have filed a lawsuit to undo the VA rule changes. The lawsuit appears to focus on the problems associated with doing away with the informal claims process. VA indicates that doing away with the informal claims process will help VA develop claims quickly, but many people are concerned the process will hurt veterans. For example, veterans may intend to file a claim but not use the correct form. This may prevent the veteran from actually starting the claim.
Even when the correct form is filed, a veteran may only start the claim for the disability listed on the form. VA may not have to consider a disability that is not listed. Many people are concerned that this is in opposition to VA’s longstanding role of assisting veterans in the claims process. If VA discovers an unclaimed disability while processing a claim, VA should not just be able to ignore that disability and only focus on what was claimed.
This lawsuit does not stop the changes that VA made. If you are going to file a claim for veterans benefits or a notice of disagreement, you need to be sure you use the new forms. If you have any questions, one of our veterans benefits attorneys will be happy to talk to you for free.