Rep. Peters Helps Pass Bipartisan Bill to Reform VA Appeals Process
Today, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) helped pass a bill that will modernize and improve the process for veterans who are appealing decisions about their VA benefits. Veterans file these appeals when they believe they are not receiving the benefits they have earned based on service-connected and non-service-connected claims. According to the VA, there are more than 368,000 veterans waiting to have their appeals resolved. Right now these cases typically take three or more years to fully complete, with some lasting as long as eight years.
By increasing accountability and creating three new methods that veterans can use to file their appeals depending on their circumstances, this bill will streamline the process and help veterans get answers more quickly. Rep. Peters is an original co-sponsor of the bill, urged his colleagues to support it at a hearing earlier this month, and voted to advance it out of the House Veterans Affairs Committee last week. Today, Rep. Peters also helped pass the Veterans Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act, which increases payments for veterans benefits this year by the same percentage as social security payments to keep up with the cost of living.
“It’s outrageous that we have so many veterans who are waiting just for answers on which benefits they are eligible to receive. My office helps countless San Diego veterans who are having issues getting their appeals reviewed expeditiously – and we always will – but it shouldn’t take congressional intervention to get them the answers they deserve,” said Rep. Scott Peters. “By modernizing the process, these bipartisan reforms should expedite answers for new appeals, reduce the backlog, and ensure that our veterans receive the attention and benefits they have earned in service to our country.”
Click here or above to hear Rep. Peters tell the story of a San Diego veteran his office helped with an appeal and urge his Veterans Committee colleagues to support this appeals reform bill.
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act is the product of collaboration between Congress, the VA, and veterans service organizations. It updates the current appeals systems by increasing accountability and oversight and restructuring the way that appeals are adjudicated. Depending on the circumstances of their case, veterans will be able to choose one of three types of reviews for their claims:
- A high level new review for veterans who want to have a fresh set of well-trained eyes review their cases
- An opportunity to add evidence to their claim without review of original submission; and
- A full review done by the Board, either with new evidence or as an expedited review without new supporting documents.