The new VA Appeals Modernization Act, which went into effect on February 19, 2019 replaced the old “Reconsideration” or “Re-Opening” of a previously adjudicated claim with something called the VA Supplemental Claim, aka, Option #2, the Supplemental Claim Lane in the new VA appeals process.
If you’re thinking about filing a Supplemental Claim, that means your previously submitted VA disability claim was denied, and most likely, denied for one of three reasons:
- No medical diagnosis of a disability or condition
- No clear “Nexus” meaning the disability or condition was NOT caused or made worse by your active duty military service (direct service connection) or by another service-connected disability (secondary service connection)
- No evidence of symptomatology to support a VA disability rating under the law
Now, in order to qualify for a Supplemental Claim, a veteran MUST present “NEW” and “RELEVANT” evidence NOT previously considered.
This is a big concept, and one that all veterans need to understand.
As defined in 38 CFR 3.2501:
NEW evidence is evidence not previously part of the actual record before agency adjudicators.
RELEVANT evidence is information that tends to prove or disprove a matter at issue in a claim. Relevant evidence includes evidence that raises a theory of entitlement that was not previously addressed.
When determining if evidence is relevant consider whether the evidence:
- Relates to an element for which the claim was previously denied, OR
- Raises a theory of entitlement NOT addressed by the previous decision.
Okay, let’s look at some examples to clear things up a bit:
Example #1: After VA denies service-connection of lumbar strain due to “no Nexus,” the Veteran submits a new medical nexus letter from a qualified medical professional. This would be considered “new” because the VA hadn’t seen it before and “relevant” because it would help to prove or disprove the “Nexus” aka, the link between the veteran’s current lumbar strain and his/her active duty military service. (NEW AND RELEVANT MEDICAL NEXUS OPINION)
Example #2: After VA denies service-connection for migraines because “disability does not exist,” the Veteran submits a medical report showing the existence of the disability along with a medical diagnosis of migraines. This would be considered “new” because the VA didn’t have this medical report at the time of the previous denial and “relevant” because it would help to prove or disprove that the migraines disability does exist and has been diagnosed in a medical record. (NEW AND RELEVANT MEDICAL RECORDS)
Example #3: After VA denies service-connection for knee injury as “not incurred in-service,” the Veteran submits a buddy statement for the first time from a friend who witnessed the event when the Veteran injured his knee in-service. This would be considered “new” because the VA hadn’t seen the buddy statement before AND “relevant” because it would help to prove or disprove that the knee injury did in fact occur in-service. (NEW AND RELEVANT LAY STATEMENT AKA “BUDDY LETTER”)
If you have new and relevant evidence not previously considered, then you’re ready to file a VA supplemental claim, and here are the steps:
How to File a VA Supplemental Claim:
A Veteran can file a Supplemental Claim within 1 year of a decision if you have new and relevant evidence not previously considered:
To file a Supplemental Claim, fill out the Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim (VA Form 20-0995). Download VA Form 20-0995.
Send the completed form and any supporting documents to the benefit office that matches the benefit type you selected on the form.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444
your completed form and any supporting documents to a regional benefit office.
Find a regional benefit office near you.
Fax your completed VA Form 20-0995 and any new and relevant supporting documents to 1-844-531-7818.
Need more medical evidence to service-connect and get rated at the appropriate level in support of your VA supplemental claim? Join VA Claims Insider Elite and have our medical team get started on your VA disability claim for FREE: http://www.vaclaimsinsiderelite.com
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About the Author:
Brian Reese is an Air Force service-disabled veteran, and his personal frustration with the VA disability process led him to found VA Claims Insider in 2016, which provides veterans with expert resources for successfully submitting winning VA disability claims. He is also the CEO of Military Disability Made Easy. His eBook, “The 9 Secret Strategies for Winning Your VA Disability Claim,” has been downloaded more than 250,000 times in the past three years and is the #1 rated free VA disability claims guide for veterans. Brian is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011. Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy and holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).