Introduced the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act – comprehensive legislation designed to reduce the backlog of veterans' disability claims
Mar 06 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and co-chair of the VA Backlog Working Group, today joined Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and other members of the Working Group to introduce the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act – comprehensive legislation designed to reduce the backlog of veterans’ disability claims. The Senators also released the VA Backlog Working Group March 2014 Report in which the Working Group analyzes the many factors that contribute to the claims backlog and offers recommendations to reform the claims process.
“I continue to hear horror stories from Kansans and Veteran Service Organizations about the VA claims process—from systemic issues with the back-and-forth of how claims are handled, to the absurd 9-to-18 month waiting game,” Sen. Moran said. “We know our veterans deserve better; they deserve the best our nation has to offer. I’m proud to be a part of the VA Claims Backlog Working Group, a thoughtful effort to take clear and decisive action. The common-sense solutions we offer in the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act are overwhelmingly supported by Veteran Service Organizations, who know this issue inside and out. The Senate now has a set of concrete solutions that deserves a vote and that the VA should adopt to make real and meaningful change."
The 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act includes proposals to reform three areas: the benefits claims submission process; the practices of regional offices; and government response to backlogs. The report and legislation were embraced by several Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), including The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). These organizations have provided the Working Group with invaluable input. Additionally, the American Federation of Government Employees offered its support to the VA Backlog Working Group and the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act.
The VA Backlog Working Group provides a forum for lawmakers, veterans and VSOs to tackle the disability claim backlog. The March 2014 Report is a product of input from these groups, and provides a broad guideline for areas of improvement that can help shape a more efficient system.
Details of the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act:
Whereas the VA Backlog Working Group March 2014 Report identifies problems in current processes, the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act aims to provide a comprehensive solution. The bill is divided into three sections:
Title I – Benefits Claims Submission. This section is designed to encourage, assist and educate veterans on the benefits of submitting a completed claim, when possible, as well as reinforce the services available to help a veteran complete a claim.
- Includes proposals to improve veterans’ access to information about the claims process;
- Provides Veterans Service Organizations and veterans’ preferred secondary contact with better access to information; and
- Authorizes monetary benefits to incentivize developed claims submission.
Title II - Reforming Practices of Regional Offices. Personnel and management must be given tools to perform efficiently. This section requires the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) to make structural changes that increase accuracy and efficiency at the regional office level in the following ways:
- Calls for audit of regional offices of the Veterans Benefits Administration;
- Ensures improved accountability and oversight of VARO management;
- Provides resources to VBA employees and implements changes in process that allows VBA employees to move claims through the electronic benefits awards structure more efficiently; and
- Improves transparency to the public on the size and scope of the current backlog.
Title III - Government Response. This section holds the government accountable and helps to ensure the claims process is a priority.
- Demands greater cooperation from federal agencies to transfer requested information; and
- Presses VBA employees to process information it receives from these agencies in a timely fashion.