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Public Statements

Veterans Appeals Improvement Act of 2011

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. RUNYAN. I thank the chairman for the time.

I rise today in support of the manager's amendment to H.R. 1484, as amended, and the Veterans Appeals Improvement Act of 2011.

The veterans disability claims policy is very complex, and all of us on the Veterans' Affairs Committee are constantly seeking ways to improve the process for both our veterans and the VA. This bill is a good first step in accomplishing the goal by improving upon the current process. Specifically, section 2 will work to simplify the process for submitting evidence to the Board of Veterans Appeals by allowing veterans to keep their place in line at the Board of Appeals for Veterans Claims when they submit new evidence in support of their claim.

Under current law, if a veteran submitted new evidence to their case with the intention of expediting their adjudication, they may have actually made the adjudication take longer due to the VA's archaic rules that require the agency to resubmit the claim back to the regional offices. This bill corrects that problem.

While I'm hopeful that the VA's new electronic processing system, which is currently being developed, will alleviate the backlog, we must do right by our veterans by continually improving the claims process and continuing to make changes, no matter how small, to help our veterans who are currently stuck in a failed paper-based system.

This bill is one of many steps my subcommittee will take in this Congress to address the backlog of veteran disability claims. On Thursday, the subcommittee will be holding a hearing on underperforming regional offices, and my staff is currently working on ways to improve training and accountability at all VA regional offices. Every veteran has the right to have their claim adjudicated in a prompt and accurate fashion.

I am proud that many veteran service organizations, as well as the VA, have expressed support for H.R. 1484, as amended; and I urge all Members to support H.R. 1484, as amended.

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