WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) wrote to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie requesting an extension for filing of claims and appeals for veterans’ compensation benefits. Due to the Department of Veterans Affairs closing regional offices, Board of Veterans' Appeals hearings have been postponed until at least May 1, 2020. Under current law, an extension to the 60-day period for filing a Substantive Appeal or to the 30-day period for responding to the Supplemental Statement of the Case may be granted for good cause.
Therefore, in order to prevent a burden on the system, the senators request that the Secretary approve a six-month delay for each of the phases of claims and appeals at the Department of Veterans Affairs for claims and appeals that are coming due during the current COVID-19 crisis until September 1, 2020.
“We would like to ensure that our veterans will not be penalized for their inability to respond in the standard timelines due to the nationwide disruption caused by the novel coronavirus response,” wrote the senators.
“Senator Portman and Senator Brown have always been an invaluable advocate for Ohio’s heroes and I fully support their efforts in extending the filing deadlines for veterans during this pandemic. Just as Governor DeWine has been at the front lines of protecting the health and safety of Ohio’s veterans at the state level, our Ohio senators are leading the charge in our nation’s capital. Having this extension will protect our Veterans’ opportunities to pursue the benefits they earned through their services to this great nation," Deborah Ashenhurst, Director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.
"Recognition of a service connected condition by the VA for many of our Veterans validates their service and provides resources for their families. Without an extension to the various claim processes, our Veterans stand to lose thousands of dollars which for many is a make it or break it situation. The thought of losing these benefits, as a result of this pandemic, could also have a psychological impact; and, I worry that many Veterans may simply not reapply. As many of the local courts and states are extending deadlines, the VA should follow suit and extend those deadlines for a minimum of 180 days,” Robert (Buck) Bramlish, Executive Director of the Franklin County Veterans Service Commission.
A copy of the senators’ letter can be read here and below.
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of the Secretary
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
Dear Secretary Wilkie:
Under 38 C.F.R. §20.303, an extension to the 60 day period for filing a Substantive Appeal or to the 30 day period for responding to the Supplemental Statement of the Case may be granted for good cause. Because of the inevitable disruption to workflow caused by the unprecedented pandemic due to the novel coronavirus, we write to request that you implement the following extensions to all veterans undergoing the veterans benefits claims process under Title 38 of the United States Code and the corresponding Code of Federal Regulations:
- For any intent to file a claim submitted between March 1, 2019 and March 1, 2020: the subsequent deadline to submit a claim for benefits is extended 180 days from the date of the original one year deadline. 38 C.F.R. § 3.155.
- For the requirement to submit a Notice of Disagreement in response to a Rating Decision: for a Rating Decision issued from February 1, 2020 through September 1, 2020, the deadline to submit a Notice of Disagreement is extended 180 days from the standard deadline. 38 C.F.R. § 20.302(a).
- For the requirement to respond to a Rating Decision under the Appeals Modernizations system to choose a higher level review, supplemental claim, or direct appeal to the Board: for any rating decision issued from March 1, 2020 to September 1, 2020, the standard deadline to submit a response is extended 180 days.
- For the requirement to submit a substantive appeal (Form VA-9) in response to a Statement of the Case: for a Statement of the Case issued from February 1, 2020 to September 1, 2020, the deadline to submit a substantive appeal (Form VA-9) to perfect an appeal is extended 180 days. 38 C.F.R. § 20.302(b).
We would like to ensure that our veterans will not be penalized for their inability to respond in the standard timelines due to the nationwide disruption caused by the novel coronavirus response.
Thank you for your prompt consideration and response to this request.