TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Sen. Jerry Moran has introduced legislation to address the VA’s backlog of claims and speed up getting veterans benefits.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) Says he’s joined Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in introducing bipartisan legislation that would tackle the Department of Veterans Affairs’ backlog of claims and provide them with faster access to earned benefits.
“Our nation’s veterans deserve a VA system that provides access to their earned benefits in a timely and reasonable manner,” said Senator Moran. “These changes and improvements to the Veterans Benefits Administration and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals would help hire and retain quality staff at the VBA and board, make improvements to the veterans disability claims process, and increasing access to disability medical screenings for veterans who live overseas.. I appreciate working with Senator Tester to lead these reforms to improve the experience of veterans within the department and advice.
Moran said the Enhanced Veterans Benefits Act, 2021 strengthen the recruitment of employees for the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and improve the VA’s scheduling of disability medical exams by increasing communication between the contractors who perform the exams, the veterans service organizations and the attorneys who help veterans make claims.
“When it comes to receiving the support they deserve, veterans need to know that their claims will be resolved fairly, accurately, and quickly,” said Sen. Tester. “Our bipartisan bill will make it easier for people to get their VA benefits, reducing claims processing time, increasing process transparency and reducing backlogs in a system that was created to effectively serve those who served us.”
Among its many provisions, Moran said the legislation:
- Require the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to establish a competitive internship program to attract high-performing law students, and a competitive “honours program” to provide certain incentives to high-performing entry-level lawyers;
- Improve VA disability benefit questionnaires to help veterans save time during the claims process by allowing them to complete forms ahead of time;
- Require VA contractors to contact a veteran’s representative, in addition to the veteran, when establishing contact with a veteran to schedule an exam;
- Instruct VA to enhance department outreach efforts and work with veterans groups to educate veterans on how contract disability reviews are scheduled; and
- Allow the department to provide instant electronic notification of claims decisions, allowing for faster delivery of benefits, especially in the event of COVID-related mail delays.
“The pandemic has created disruptions in the VA disability application process, causing issues with compensation and pension reviews and creating delays on multiple fronts,” said Kristina Keenan, associate director, National Legislative Service. , VFW. “The VFW supports the Enhanced Veterans Benefits Act, 2021 which is tackling the backlog of claims through various initiatives. This would require disability review contractors to improve their communications with veterans and their claims representative to schedule reviews. This would provide veterans with the ability to receive electronic notifications, avoiding delays with regular mail. It would also create recruitment incentives to attract more lawyers to the Board of Veterans Appeals. The VFW thanks Senator Tester and Senator Moran for addressing this important issue to ensure veterans receive their earned benefits in a timely manner.
Moran said various VSOs have applauded efforts to improve the claims process and provide veterans with timely benefits.
“Vietnam Veterans of America fully supports the Enhanced Veterans Benefits Act, 2021said Greg Nembhard, director of benefits, Vietnam Veterans of America. “This law, when enacted, will give military officers the tools and resources to provide effective support to veterans and their families. In addition, the development of an electronic notification system will require access to these resources and will promote greater transparency, speed and accurate distribution of benefits, allowing service agents to see, in real time, decisions and other notifications issued to veterans and their family members.”
To read the full text of the law, click HERE.
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