Veterans Can Attend Their VA Claims Hearings at Home Starting Next Year

A volunteer users a computer.
The MHS Genesis Patient Portal is designed to allow 24/7 access to your health information, including managing appointments and exchanging messages with your care team.(U.S. Army/Amy Urbina)

Veterans who appeal a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decision on their benefits claim will soon be able to make their appearance before the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) from the comfort of their home.

Beginning in 2020, VA will implement virtual claims appeals through the same technology they use for virtual medical appointments. The technology has been tested more than 150 times and works on both computers and cellphones.

Currently, if you appeal your claim with the VA and the appeal reaches the BVA you must either travel to D.C. to make an in-person appearance in front of the board or travel to a nearby VA office which has video-conferencing capabilities.

The new virtual hearing capability should make it much easier for veterans to have their appeals resolved without the added expense, time and inconvenience a trip to DC involves. VA officials said that they have even conducted a hearing with a veteran who was in a hospital bed, the BVA in D.C. and the veteran's lawyer who was in a third location.

Related: VA Plans to Resolve all 'Legacy Appeals' by the End of 2022

"VA strives to provide integrated solutions that leverages 21st century technology to significantly increase the number of hearings completed annually," VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a release. "Giving veterans the ability to participate in secure, confidential virtual hearings is another aspect of VA's modernization to provide veterans with the ultimate customer experience."

Officials hope that offering virtual hearings before the BVA will speed up appeals processing which according to the most recent data available was taking more than 550 days in September 2019.

For fiscal year 2019, more than 13,000 appeals were cancelled or rescheduled due to the veteran not appearing before the board, the release said.

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