Veterans waiting for decisions from the Department of Veterans Affairs on their appeal claims may receive some relief from the arduous bureaucratic process.
Passed in the Senate on Tuesday, the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 would give veterans three options to appeal their claims for benefits: veterans could appeal directly with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, request a higher-level VA office to decide the claim, or they would be able to appeal the same office, but with information not previously provided.
“I applaud the Senate for passing this critical legislation,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “For too long our veterans and their families have faced unacceptable delays during the VA’s benefits claims appeal process. I urge the House of Representatives to follow suit and pass this bipartisan measure to help ensure we get veterans a response to their appeals in a timely manner.”
Currently, the appeals process takes an average of six years when a veteran appeals a claim with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. There are more than 470,000 veterans waiting on a decision of their appeal claims.
The bill would also require the VA to more efficiently notify veterans about the status of their appeals.
“This bipartisan bill will cut government red tape and give the VA the flexibility and resources to process claims in a faster and more accurate way,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the committee’s ranking member. “I look forward to working with the President to get this bill signed into law soon, so that veterans in Montana and across America get the much-needed answers they have earned.”
The bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday and must return to the House for a final vote before being sent to the President’s desk. President Donald Trump is expected to sign this bill into law in September, after members of Congress return from their August recess.