Under current law, veterans who apply for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may appeal a decision on that application to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), a VA organization that reviews claims decisions. Veterans who appeal may request a hearing at BVA and may attend the hearing in person at the BVA headquarters in Washington, D.C., or by video teleconference from a VA regional office.
H.R. 4771 would allow veterans who request an appeal hearing with BVA to attend from any location using video and audio technology on a secure Internet platform that would be developed by VA. The bill also would require VA to provide a report to the Congress on its implementation of the requirement to facilitate such tele-hearings.
The department believes it can enable tele-hearings at locations other than VA regional offices under current law, and it has begun doing so on a trial basis. The department expects to permit all veterans who request a BVA hearing to appear remotely by the beginning of calendar year 2020. As a result, CBO does not expect that implementing H.R. 4771 would increase the cost to develop the tele-hearing platform. The bill’s additional reporting requirements would cost less than $500,000 over the 2020-2024 period, subject to the availability of appropriated funds.