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Joined By Veterans from Northeastern Pennsylvania Casey Details Legislation, Recent Report Highlighting Challenges that Veterans Face When Trying to Have Disability Claims Processed / Plan Includes Bipartisan Legislation, Administrative Actions that Could be Taken Right Away to Better Process Vets’ Disability Claims / Casey Worked to Assemble Bipartisan Backlog Working Group that Has Produced Consensus Legislation, Recommendations

Kingston, PA- On the heels of Memorial Day, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) laid out a bipartisan plan to reduce the Veterans Administration claims backlog. Casey was joined by veterans from Northeastern Pennsylvania who discussed how the claims backlog has impacted veterans across the region. Casey detailed bipartisan legislation and administrative actions that can be taken right away to better process veterans’ disability claims. Casey formed a bipartisan backlog working group that helped produce this consensus plan.

“We must take actions that are worthy of the valor and sacrifice of our veterans. These are commonsense steps that can reduce the claims backlog and help our veterans,” Senator Casey said. “No veteran should have to wait an unnecessary amount of time for their disability claim to be processed. I’m hopeful that we can pass this legislation this year and the VA will implement the recommendations contained in this report.”

Details of the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act:

Whereas the VA Backlog Working Group March 2014 Report identifies problems in current processes, the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act aims to provide a comprehensive solution. The bill is divided into three sections:

Title I – Benefits Claims Submission. This section is designed to encourage, assist, and educate veterans on the benefits of submitting a completed claim, when possible, as well as reinforce the services available to help a veteran complete a claim.

  • Includes proposals to improve veterans’ access to information about the claims process;
  • Provides Veterans Service Organizations and veterans’ preferred secondary contact with better access to information;
  • Authorizes monetary benefits to incentivize developed claims submission.

Title II - Reforming Practices of Regional Offices.  Personnel and management must be given tools to perform efficiently. This section requires the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) to make structural changes that increase accuracy and efficiency at the regional office level in the following ways:

  • Calls for audit of regional offices of the Veterans Benefits Administration;
  • Ensures improved accountability and oversight of VARO management;
  • Provides resources to VBA employees and implements changes in process that allows VBA employees to move claims through the electronic benefits awards structure more efficiently;
  • Improves transparency to the public on the size and scope of the current backlog.

Title III - Government Response. This section holds the government accountable and helps to ensure the claims process is a priority.

  • Demands greater cooperation from federal agencies to transfer requested information;
  • Presses VBA employees to process information it receives from these agencies in a timely fashion.

PDF copies of the VA Backlog March 2014 Report and the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act are attached with this release.