Today, Congressman Joe Donnelly joined members of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee in introducing bipartisan legislation to reduce the time veterans must wait when they appeal a VA decision regarding their benefits.
"Our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country should not have to jump through so many hurdles to appeal a benefits decision," Donnelly said. "Often, the appeals process drags on for years, which is simply unacceptable. This bill will help streamline that process and ensure that our veterans can receive the benefits that they deserve in a timely manner."
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2009 would simplify both the administrative appeals process within the Department of Veterans Affairs and judicial review process through the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. By cutting out the regional office and having veterans report directly to the Board of Veterans Affairs, much of the bureaucracy that delays the benefits decision would be eliminated. In addition, the bill calls for the creation of a Veterans Judicial Review Commission to serve as an independent arbiter of the disability and survivor benefits claims process and suggest improvements.
Veterans may appeal the VA's decisions on their claims for benefits and compensation. Currently, approximately 178,000 appeals are pending before the VA, a process that can take years.