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February 2, 2024

Why Did the VA Reopen My Claim? [2024 Quick Guide]

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Why did the VA reopen my claim?

Imagine you wake up with an email from the VA saying they’ve reopened your disability claim. You try to avoid panicking as you wonder, “Are they going to take my VA rating away?”

Or, if you were previously denied benefits, an email like this could be encouraging. “Maybe they made a mistake and I actually won!”

In this Quick Guide, we provide a few possible answers to the common question, “Why did the VA reopen my claim?”

We’ll also discuss how you can reopen a VA disability claim if you feel the VA has wrongly denied you VA benefits and compensation.

Let’s take a look!

WHY DID THE VA REOPEN MY CLAIM

Why Did the VA Reopen My Claim?

So, why did the VA reopen my claim?

The truth is, whether a closed VA claim was previously denied or if you won, there are several reasons the VA could have for reopening it.

It’s frustrating, but the VA won’t always tell you why you have a VA reopened claim. Even if you call them to ask, the rep may not understand why the system is doing what it’s doing.

After all, the VA is a massive bureaucratic organization with several moving parts that don’t always talk to each other. Just like the military.

Below are a few possible reasons why you may have a VA reopened claim.

VA CLAIM CLOSED MEANING

VA Reopen Claim Reasons

VA Clear and Unmistakable Error (CUE)

The first possible reason is that they made a clear and unmistakable error (CUE) during their previous evaluation of your claim.

If this type of error is found during an audit or some other type of investigation, it triggers a reevaluation of your claim—which reopens it.

Clear and unmistakable errors happen when the VA fails to consider a piece of evidence that could be a deciding factor in your claim. They also occur when the rater fails to follow claim evaluation procedures.

VA System Error

Sometimes, the VA’s digital filing system can malfunction and impact thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of claims.

In September of 2023, the VA announced that a glitch caused upwards of 32,000 claims to get lost in the system. Some of these claims were submitted as early as 2018. 

Those veterans waited 5+ years for a decision on their claim with no idea that it would never come.

When system errors like this occur, the VA may reopen a large batch of VA disability claims they think were impacted.

VA REOPENED CLAIM EFFECTIVE DATE

VA Quality Review

The VA routinely conducts internal audits as a quality control measure. This is to make sure that VA raters are following procedure and making the most accurate decision on your VA claim possible.

The VA also conduct audits to assess and clean up the fallout of system errors like the one described in the section above.

If a quality review finds that your VA claim was impacted by an error of any sort, it will likely be reopened as a CUE.

Law or VA Rule Change

From time to time, a law or VA rule will change that affects your eligibility for certain benefits.

For example, the recently passed PACT Act added 23 disabilities to the presumptive condition list. It’s possible you could now be eligible for any of these 23 disabilities, even if your VA disability claim was previously denied.

To determine if your eligibility is affected by the PACT Act or any other law change or VA rule change, the VA will reopen your claim and reevaluate your eligibility.

For claims reopened due to the PACT Act, you should get some sort of notification from the VA explaining the situation. But I wouldn’t hold your breath. Just know this is one possible explanation for why the VA reopened your claim.

PACT Act Resources

Maximizing Your PACT Act Compensation
23 Burn Pit Presumptive Conditions Added by the VA PACT Act
What are VA Presumptive Conditions

WHY DID THE VA CLOSED MY CLAIM

Human Error

VA employees are humans, too, and make mistakes. Sometimes, claims get accidentally closed.

And if the VA can accidentally close a claim, they can accidentally reopen a claim.

If your VA claim was unexplainably closed or reopened, don’t wait for the VA to catch the mistake. Give them a call and let them know something fishy is up. If your claim was reopened due to human error, they’ll be able to fix it.

VA REOPENED CLAIM

How You Can Reopen Your Claim

As you probably know, the VA denies claims all the time. Sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly.

If you disagree with the VA’s decision on your claim, or you feel your disability has worsened to the point you now qualify for a higher VA rating, you have a few options for getting your VA claim reopened.

Appeals Modernization Act

In 2017, Congress passed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act. This act replaces the outdated veterans appeals system with a decision review process.

The VA implemented the new appeals process in 2019. All claims filed after then are now subject to the decision review process.

But if you filed a claim before February 19th, 2019, the claim still falls under the old legacy appeals system.

The new decision review process has three options:

  1. Higher-level Review. With this type of review, a more experienced rater will reevaluate the claims and either agree with or disagree with the prior decision. You can’t submit new evidence with this type of review.
  2. Supplemental Claim. For this type of review, you need to have new and material evidence. “New” means that it isn’t already in your C-File, and “material evidence” just means it’s relevant to your claim.
  3. Board Appeal. If you request a Board Appeal, a judge who’s an expert on VA law will review your case.

You can read our blog, Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, to learn more about each of these options.

VA Reopened Claim Effective Date

Your VA reopened claim effective date is the date the VA received your claim OR the date entitlement arose—whichever is later.

See also: Your VA Effective Date

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Phot of Clay Hutson

Clay Huston

Clay Huston is a former U.S. Army Reserves Blackhawk Pilot and officer. Clay enlisted in the Army in 2013 and was commissioned as a 2LT in 2017 after earning a business degree from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.

Since separating from the military, Clay has pursued a career as a writer. He also runs the nonprofit notfatherless.org, which fundraises for Children’s Homes in Mexico.

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