A press release from the Military Veterans Advocacy Group reports the following…
Slidell, Louisiana based Military Veterans Advocacy (MVA) group has filed suit in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit against Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Wilkie, seeking judicial review of the new VA appeals system that went into effect Tuesday February 19, 2019.
MVA Executive Director, Commander John B Wells, USN (ret.) has been a frequent critic of the new system. MVA testified against the plan in Congress and filed comments with the Secretary last October after a proposed rule was published in the federal register.
“This plan was written by the VA, for the VA and designed to make it easier for the VA to deny appeals,” Wells said. “It contains a number of bait and switch pitfalls for the unwary veteran designed to limit their ability to appeal an initial denial.”
Unlike other federal adjudication systems, veterans are prohibited by law from paying an attorney during the initial claim process. John Wells noted that, “the original claim process is where the record is constructed and filed. This new procedure limits the ability to submit additional evidence at the appellate stage. It also strips the veteran of their right to ask the VA for assistance in obtaining records once the appeal is lodged.”
Although the new plan is supported by many Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), Wells has always harbored significant reservations. “It will probably reduce the backlog by speeding up the process,” Wells said.
Commander John Wells went on to say, “It will deprive the veteran of a fair hearing. It will also limit an attorney handling the appeal from reconstructing or supplementing the record.”
Last month, MVA won a landmark case in the same court restoring the presumption of herbicide (Agent Orange) exposure to tens of thousands of veterans who served in the bays, harbors and territorial sea of Vietnam.
A copy of the lawsuit can be found HERE.