Baca bill aims to reduce veterans claims backlog
Washington - Rep. Joe Baca (D-Rialto) reintroduced legislation yesterday that will benefit thousands of veterans by reducing the backlog of pending claims at the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
"As a nation we have an obligation to provide the benefits and services that our veterans have earned through their honorable service," Baca said. "That is why I'm introducing the Department of Veterans Affairs Claims Backlog Reduction Act of 2005. It will tell our veterans that a promise made is a promise kept."
"Given the proposed cuts to veterans programs in the President's 2006 budget, this legislation is especially critical to ensure that veterans receive their benefits in a timely manner."
Currently there are over 500,000 veterans that have pending claims for federal benefits. Approximately 100,000 claims are over one year old without resolution.
"Thousands of veterans are currently waiting for decisions on their appeal for federal veterans benefits. Some claims take years to handle, and many veterans pass away before they are settled," said Rep. Baca. "It is the responsibility of the United States government to live up to the promises that were made and accepted."
The bill would require that:
The Department of Veterans Affairs refer backlogged claims to the nearest County Veterans Service Office.
Once the CVSO receives the claim, the bill would require the CVSO to make personal contact with the veteran, dependent or spouse and develop the claim.
The CVSO would then submit the claim to the Department indicating that the claim is ready to be dispensed with.
Allowing the CVSO to date stamp and develop the claim, the claims process would be streamlined, allowing the claim to be processed more efficiently. More efficient processing would lead to the reduction of the claims backlog.
"Our veterans should not have to wait for months and even years to receive the benefits to which they are entitled," said Rep. Baca. "We have always been able to count on the men and women who served in our armed forces with great courage, and they should always be able to count on us."