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Murray: “Far too often, I hear from veterans in Washington state that the benefits and care they earned have been caught up in bureaucracy outside their control” 

Legislation would replace complicated VA appeals system with simpler process 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Angus King (I-ME), Tom Udall (D-NM), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to introduce legislation to reform the appeals process for veterans benefits. Because of redundancies and inefficiencies in the current process, most veterans wait years for a decision on their appeals. The Department of Veterans Affairs Appeals Modernization Act would replace the current appeals process, which today stands over 450,000 appeals awaiting a decision, with one that is simple, fair, and transparent.

“Our country makes a promise to care for the men and women who serve, but far too often, I hear from veterans in Washington state that the benefits and care they earned have been caught up in bureaucracy outside their control,” Senator Murray said. “This is a disservice to those who sacrificed so much on our behalf. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues as we work to simplify the system so it works better for our veterans.”

The legislation introduced today would give veterans clear options after receiving an initial decision by consolidating the current appeals process into three distinct tracks:

  • Local Higher Level Review:  This lane would provide the opportunity for a quick resolution of the claim by a higher-level adjudicator at the VA Regional Office. This lane would be a good option for veterans who are confident they have all the evidence necessary to win their claim.
  • New Evidence: This lane would be for submitting new evidence at the VA Regional Office. This lane would serve as a good option for veterans who believe that they can succeed on their claim by providing additional evidence.
  • Board Review: In this last lane, intermediate steps currently required by statute to receive Board review would be eliminated. Furthermore, hearing and non-hearing options at the Board would be handled on separate dockets so these distinctly different types of work can be better managed. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs Appeals Modernization Act is supported by: American Legion, American Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Military Officers Association of America, National Association of County Veteran Service Officers, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, National Organization of Veteran Advocates, National Veteran Legal Services Program, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans of America.

 

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