Representative Sean Patrick Maloney introduced the Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act, HR 1521, to help address the Veterans Administration (VA)'s backlog of disability claims. This bill allows veterans to have their medical examinations done by physicians outside the VA system to help process veterans' disability claims faster. Currently, 20% of claims are processed through physicians outside the VA system, but the program is set to expire this year. Without timely action from Congress, the VA system would be even more overburdened.
"After fighting for our freedom, veterans are now forced to fight with our government -- we owe them better. The Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act keeps in place a tool the VA needs to address the growing backlog problem," said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. "This program works - that's why we need to keep it in place. The idea that Congress would let this expire, when our VA system is already overburdened, is just unconscionable."
Nationally, more than 900,000 veterans are seeking compensation and pension disability benefits with nearly 600,000 backlogged claims. The average wait to receive disability compensation and other benefits is 273 days, and up to 327 days for veterans making claims for the first time. In the New York regional office currently has over 12,000 veterans waiting on disability claims with the average wait time 471 days as of April 2013. Nearly half of those veterans have been waiting over a year for the result of their claims and for those veterans filing for the first time, the average wait is 642 days.
"With hundreds of thousands of veterans waiting on disability claim decisions, we are proud to support Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney's legislation. Our National Service Offices, who represent more than 250,000 claimants annually, find that the contract exams almost always offer much more than in-house VA exams and contractors work better with vets when scheduling or rescheduling the exams," said Joseph Violante, National Legislative Director of the Disabled American Veterans.
The Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act also has the support of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars.