It is no secret that America’s Department of Veterans Affairs is currently struggling from inefficiencies that are harming veterans. These inefficiencies are especially prevalent within the disability claims process, which has not been updated since 1933. According to New Hampshire Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, 450,000 veterans around the country currently have disability claims submitted that are sitting in “pending” status. “Most veterans wait years for a decision on their appeals,” the senators explained in their joint statement. This is exactly why Shaheen, Hassan, Bernie Sanders, and 14 other senators have introduced legislation into the Senate that would overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs appeals process.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Appeals Modernization Act
First introduced to the Senate in September 2016, but ultimately dropped by the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, The Department of Veterans Affairs Appeals Modernization Act was re-introduced on Thursday, March 23. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) also released its “Timeliness of Appeals Decisions” report the same day, which further emphasized the urgency of the bill. According to the GAO’s report, “veterans may have to wait an average of 8.5 years by fiscal year 2026 to have their appeals resolved” if appeals-related staffing is not increased.
Shaheen further explained the urgency for the bill to pass: “Our veterans deserve an appeals process that makes sense and allows claims to be processed in a timely manner, not a complicated process of red tape. The VA Appeals Modernization Act is a smart bill to help fix this broken system…and an important step in supporting our veterans, service members and their families, who have sacrificed bravely in defense of our freedoms.”
Fighting for Veteran Rights
So many veterans around the country are in the process of waiting years to obtain the disability support they need based on service-related injuries, and it’s not uncommon for veterans who started their process in 2008 or 2009 to still be waiting for an answer in 2017. This new bill attempts to solve this problem by dividing the appeals process into three “lanes.” Simple claims can be on a faster track and clear through the system easily, leaving room for the more complex cases to be evaluated.
Only time will tell if Hassan and her fellow senators are able to pass this important bill through the Senate. In the meantime, veterans needing assistance with their disability claims should find an experienced attorney like Kimberly K. Muenter. Muenter serves the Tampa, Florida area with comprehensive legal support and defense for veterans in need of disability benefits. Give her a call today at 941.567.1671 to learn more about how she can help you work through the complex VA system to obtain the benefits you deserve.