Philadelphia, PA- Ahead of Veterans Day, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called for action on a disability claims backlog bill as Pennsylvania veterans continue to wait as long as an average of 266 days to see their claims resolved. Joined by Philadelphia veterans who have experienced difficulties with the claims process, Casey released a new letter calling for action on a bill to reform the disability claims process. Casey’s bill has broad bipartisan backing and he will push for passage in the new Congress.
“The backlog has been a persistent and inexcusable problem,” said Senator Casey. “We must take actions that are worthy of the valor and sacrifice of our veterans. Our nation’s heroes shouldn’t have to wait for months or more for their claims to be addressed. It is unacceptable that some veterans in Pennsylvania have waited a year or longer to get their disability claims processed. Veterans deserve a comprehensive and permanent solution to this problem, and this legislation will ensure we reach that goal.”
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.
The text of Senator Casey’s letter is attached.