Congressman Donnelly Lauds Unanimous Passage of Legislation to Improve Disabled Veterans' Benefits
Today, Congressman Joe Donnelly lauded the unanimous passage of H.R. 5892, The Veterans Disability Benefits Modernization Act, which would modernize and improve the Department of Veterans (VA)'s outdated disability claims process. It also includes a provision which would make mandatory the partial ratings and eligibility for temporary disability benefits for severely injured soldiers. The legislation is based on Donnelly-introduced legislation, H.R. 4219, The Immediate Benefits for Wounded Warriors Act.
"I am pleased that Congress took steps to ensure that our veterans are receiving the care they deserve," Donnelly said. "This legislation would reform the disability claims process so it is more efficient and better serves our men and women who have fought to protect our country."
Under the current system, veterans must wait for the VA to assign them a disability rating in order to receive their disability benefits. As of now, it takes an average of six months for a veteran to receive a decision on his or her claim. If the disability claims process is not reformed, it is expected that the wait would grow even longer as tens of thousands of new veterans apply for their benefits.
H.R. 5892 would make mandatory the partial ratings and eligibility for temporary disability benefits for severely injured soldiers. As a result, severely injured soldiers would be able to receive their benefits immediately rather than having to wait for the VA to initialize a partial rating or for their claims to be processed.
Last November, Donnelly introduced The Immediate Benefits for Wounded Warriors Act, which aims to guarantee that temporary disability benefits are given immediately to service members seriously injured in Iraq and Afghanistan with wounds whose combat-relatedness are not in doubt.
Donnelly also sent a letter to House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Chairman John Hall and Ranking Member Doug Lamborn this past April calling on them to include in upcoming veterans disability legislation a requirement that the VA provide temporary or partial disability ratings immediately to seriously-injured combat-disabled veterans.
"Since I came to Congress, I have been working to improve the way in which we treat our veterans. These men and women have fought and sacrificed for our nation and we likewise owe them our greatest effort to ensure that they receive their disability benefits in a timely fashion. "