Sullivan’s VA Express Appeals Bill Included in Comprehensive Veterans Accountability Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, applauded the rollout of the Veterans First Act, a bipartisan bill combining several pieces of legislation aimed at increasing accountability of senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and improving services for our nation’s veterans. Among the provisions included in the bill is S. 2473, the Express Appeals Act of 2016, legislation authored by Senator Sullivan that requires the VA to carry out a fully developed appeals pilot program, which will allow the VA to start testing the concept of a heavily streamlined appeals process.  

“The average veteran waits nearly 1,000 days – or three years – for the VA to resolve an appeal of one of their benefit decisions. That is absolutely unacceptable,” said Senator Sullivan. “Proud veterans across the U.S., including more than 77,000 in Alaska, should not have to endure these absurd, multi-year wait times just to see their cases resolved. My Express Appeals Act will create a less-bureaucratic express lane through which the VA can resolve its growing backlog of appeals quickly and favorably for all of our nation’s veterans. I thank Chairman Isakson and Ranking Member Blumenthal for their leadership in holding the VA accountable to the promises made to our veterans."


  • As of January 2016, over 400,000 veterans have appeals pending with the VA. 
  • The Express Appeals Act would establish a new channel whereby veterans, upon receiving a decision on an original claim by the VA, would have the option to file an express appeal with the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA), in lieu of the traditional appeals process. 
  • The express appeals process would consolidate the traditional process aimed at reducing veterans’ wait times.  
      • First, the appeals pilot program would omit the remand process, in which the BVA sends a veteran’s appeal back to the VBA for additional evidence development, saving the veteran an average of 545 days.  
      • Second, the veteran would submit a “Statement of Argument,” detailing how the VBA decided their original claim incorrectly, in place of the VBA’s own time-consuming development of a “Statement of Case,” saving the veteran an average of 408 days. 
  • Additionally, entrance into this program would be completely voluntary and a veteran would be able to exit the express appeals process at any time and re-enter the traditional pipeline at the end of the line with no adverse consequences.