New VA appeals status tool provides tracking and transparency for Veterans
VA launched a new update for the appeals status tracker and now Veterans with a compensation appeal can view their past and current appeals issues, receive alerts for deadlines when action is required, preview the next events in their timeline, and see estimates of how long it will take to reach those events.
The new tool, designed with help from Veterans, is an effort to improve data and provide transparency. The appeals status tracker now clearly answers three questions the team consistently heard during feedback sessions:
What’s happening with my appeal and what happens next?
What do I need to do?
How long will my case take?
View appeals status and next steps
When Veterans log on to Vets.gov and click “Check your claims and appeals status,” they will go to a screen that lists all of their past and current claims and appeals.
Each appeals card includes information regarding the type of appeal, the date they received the claim decision, a short status update, description of the issue on appeal, and a button that will expand the view and show them information that is more detailed.
When Veterans click the view status button, they will see a descriptive story of their appeal. Veterans can click “See Past Events,” to view all events in the appeal that have led to the current status:
Receive alerts for deadlines
When Veterans need to take action on their appeals there will be an alert box in the detailed view. This alert will tell them what action they need to take (e.g. submit evidence, completing and returning a form) and the date by which they need to take that action.
Locate the case in the progress bar
For each appeal, Veterans will be able to see the next step in the process as well as an estimated wait time for when they will reach that step.
Sometimes the choices a Veteran makes may have an effect on their appeal, for example, submitting new evidence. In these cases, the Veteran will see multiple wait times and events so that they can make informed decisions about which actions they want to take and why those actions may add more time.
When Veterans decide to continue their appeal at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals by submitting the VA Form 9, their appeal will get a spot on the docket. The board hears cases in the order they are received, and the progress bar shows Veterans how many cases are ahead of them.
What’s next for Veteran-facing tools
This appeals status update includes improvements to underlying data that will support future implementations of the Veterans Appeals Improvement & Modernization Act. The focus includes providing more transparency and designing a user interface that is easy to use and allows Veterans to make informed decisions. The team hopes to continue improving the system by possibly connecting claims and appeals information so that Veterans can see their whole story from the original claim through to the appeal decision.
The Digital Service at VA team would like to thank VBA and the Board for providing invaluable feedback and supporting these efforts.
About the author: Gina Kim is a UX Designer and Chris Given is a Data Engineer with Digital Service at VA, an agency team of the U.S. Digital Service, which transforms critical, Veteran-facing digital services by applying modern technology best practices.