Casey, Isakson Introduce Bill to Help Injured Veterans Keep Their Homes

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) today introduced a bipartisan bill to help prevent injured veterans from losing their homes while awaiting adjudication on their disability claims.  The Disabled Veterans Homeownership Preservation Act would help disabled veterans who are caught up in the extensive backlog of claims pending in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  

“While foreclosures are on the rise all across this country, this housing crisis has been especially hard on our injured veterans returning from war,” said Senator Casey.  “Our veterans deserve to have a policy in place to protect them from losing their homes while waiting to hear back on their claims from the Veterans Administration.  I’m pleased to join Senator Isakson in working on this important issue, and it is my hope that this bill will help more injured veterans to keep their homes.” 

“I have always said that the most important responsibility we have as a Congress is to see to it that the treatment and services we give our veterans are the very best our country can offer,” said Senator Isakson, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “It is incomprehensible that our injured veterans and their families, who have sacrificed tremendously for this nation, could be losing their homes due to bureaucratic delays.  I’m pleased to introduce this legislation with Senator Casey to help prevent this problem.” 

The Casey-Isakson bill would amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act in two major ways.  First, the foreclosure grace period would be extended from 90 days to one year for any servicemember who incurs a serious illness or injury during their military service.  Injured veterans deserve time to recover from their wounds and transition back into a normal life.  


Second, the bill would protect disabled injured veterans from foreclosure while their claim is under review by the Veterans Administration.  The deadline to apply is one year after leaving the service and the protections begins when the claim is filed.  Disabled veterans with legitimate claims to benefits should not suffer because of a bureaucratic backlog.  

Currently, the VA’s compensation and claims backlog is over 800,000 which is an increase of over 180,000 since 2004.  The initial decisions from the VA on disability claims average six months and appeals can average two years.  As of September 2007, over 220,000 veterans filed disability claims with the Veterans Administration. 

This legislation would specifically amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief law in the following ways:

1)     For all servicemembers who incur a serious illness or injury during their military service, the foreclosure grace period provided in current law would be extended from 90 days to one year. 

2)     A servicemember who, within one year after completing their military service, files a claim with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall be protected from foreclosure throughout the application process and until 30 days after their claim is adjudicated.

3)     “Serious injury or illness” is defined as rendering the servicemember medically unfit to perform the duties of their rank.

 

 

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