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Establishing Commission or Task Force to Evaluate the Backlog of Disability Claims

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. TITUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Michaud for yielding to me.

As ranking member of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, I strongly support the bill before us, the omnibus bill, H.R. 2189.

This legislation includes my bill, H.R. 2086, the Pay As You Rate Act, which would require the VA to pay benefits to veterans as individual components of their claims are reviewed rather than at the completion of the entire claim.

Currently, veterans typically receive payments when all medical conditions within a claim are fully adjudicated. Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan average 8.5 components in their claims. While some of these are very complex and time-consuming, other components are simpler.

The Pay As You Rate Act will require the VA to pay veterans as individual medical conditions are adjudicated, providing tens of thousands of veterans and their families much-needed financial support while the VA continues to work on the more complex aspects of their claims.

I thank Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Michaud, and Chairman Runyan for including my provision and other Democratic bills in this legislation.

Collectively, the legislation before us today should assist VA in its continued effort to transform the claims process from mountains of paper to a more efficient, effective electronic system. In just the past few months, the VA has made great strides in serving our Nation's heroes by reducing the benefits backlog. The VA has set ambitious goals, and Congress should work to support those efforts. More needs to be done, and it needs to be done quickly to ensure that veterans receive the benefits they have earned in a timely fashion.

I am also pleased to have worked with Chairman Miller on some of the task force provisions of this legislation. The provision that I added at the full committee markup would improve the proposed task force by including a subcommittee to look at the appeals process. While the VA is making significant progress in reducing the backlog, it is important that we are not creating a new backlog of appeals in the years to come. This subcommittee would be charged with making recommendations aimed at preventing that future backlog of appeals.

So I thank you, and I support the bill.

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