Congress is back and has just a few weeks remaining this year to pass historic claims and appeals modernization legislation and we need your help to make sure they don’t leave town without getting this done.
To address this issue, DAV, other VSOs and VA officials developed and agreed on a new framework for processing appeals that also included changes to the claims process. This new framework is contained within several pieces of legislation (S. 3170, S. 3328, H.R. 5083 and H.R. 5620) and Congress must pass one of these bills, or another bill containing the appeals modernization framework before they adjourn for the year.
This new appeals process would create multiple options for veterans to redress benefit decisions made by the Veterans Benefits Administration and reduce the amount of time a veteran must wait to receive a decision. If a veteran continuously pursues redress within one year of the last decision, either at the Regional Office (RO) level or at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board), they would be able to preserve their earliest effective date. The legislation would let veterans file a formal appeal directly to the Board, allows the Board to consider evidence in the first instance in certain circumstances and retain hearing options before the Board or at the RO.
The new appeals process envisioned within and pending legislation would provide veterans with a more equitable and flexible claims and appeals process. There is rare bipartisan support in the House and Senate for claims and appeals modernization legislation as contained within these bills. Time in the 114th Congress is running out quickly and we need Congress to act on this legislation before they adjourn.
Currently, veterans are experiencing extreme delays waiting for decisions on their appeals. Over the past few years, the number of appeals awaiting decisions has risen dramatically to over 460,000 and the average time for an appeal decision is between three and five years, this delay is simply unacceptable.
A failure of Congress to act now will result in continued growth of the appeals backlog and veterans will have to wait longer and longer for decisions on their appeals. If faithfully implemented and fully funded by Congress, this legislation would enable veterans to get more timely and accurate decisions on their appeals. We have a unique moment in time with significant support from major VSOs, the Administration and both chambers of Congress for VA claims and appeals reform.
DAV needs its members and supporters to reach out to their Members of Congress and request their support for claims and appeals reform legislation contained within S. 3328, S. 3170, H.R. 5083 and H.R. 5620. Please use the prepared emails to contact your Senators and Representatives and ask them to take action to get the legislation enacted before the end of the 114th Congress.
As always, thank you for your support of DAV’s legislative efforts. Your participation in DAV’s Commander’s Action Network makes us a more effective advocate to protect and enhance the interests of veterans who have sacrificed in service to our country.