(Washington, D.C.)-- “Vietnam Veterans of America has joined four other veterans service organizations as a co-plaintiff to The American Legion et. al. v. McDonald in an effort to stop the implementation of a new rule eliminating most informal VA claims and limiting the types of claims the VA will adjudicate,” announced John Rowan, VVA National President. “Informal claims account for approximately half of all claims the VA receives,” said Rowan. “The new rule, which went into effect March 25, eradicates the decades-old right of a veteran to write a letter to the VA, seeking a specific VA benefit and having the VA consider that letter as an informal claim. The new rule also prevents the VA from considering claims that are supported by the evidence in the VA record but have not been specifically claimed by the veteran.”
The new rule changes, which require claims to be submitted on the VA’s standardized forms, will impose barriers for all those without access to those forms, as well as those without the medical and legal knowledge needed to fill them out correctly. “While the VA has promoted this rule change as being more efficient and therefore favorable to the veteran, in fact, this rule change over-formalizes the veterans claims process, making it more adversarial than ever before. We will not stand by silently as our government places further obstacles in front of our injured and disabled veterans and their families, undermining our nation’s pledge to care for those who have borne the battle and their families,” said Rowan.
Prior to March 25, under the informal VA claims system, any benefits awarded would be paid back to the date that the VA had received a notice from the veteran, signaling his or her intent to file. Under the new rule changes, however, the clock for an effective date for benefits starts only when a veteran files the standardized VA paperwork. The suit, which seeks to have the Department of Veterans Affairs’ new rule declared unlawful by the courts, was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals on March 20 and was entered into the court’s docket on March 26. The other co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the American Legion, AMVETS, The Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the National Veterans Legal Services Program.