WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a hearing today on how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) processes claims from veterans seeking benefits, U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, urged interested parties to continue offering suggestions on how to improve the timeliness and accuracy of VA’s claims adjudication.
“Compensating disabled veterans is among VA’s most solemn obligations, and fixing the current system demands our best ideas. I am pleased that the Claims Processing Improvement Act is moving the discussion - from whether to change the status quo - to how to change it. I intend to move a claims processing improvement bill forward, and I ask those with an interest in this issue to continue to share their ideas,” said Akaka.
Last month, Senator Akaka introduced S. 3517, the Claims Processing Improvement Act of 2010, to improve VA’s disability claims processing. The bill would make various changes to the way VA processes disability compensation claims, including provisions to:
• Set up a process to fast-track claims that have been fully developed;
• Help veterans with multiple disability claims by allowing VA to provide partial disability ratings; and
• Require that the Department give equal deference to the medical opinions of a veteran’s non-VA doctor.
At today's hearing, top VA officials, veterans organizations and advocates testified about the current status of VA’s claims processing system and made suggestions for changes to S. 3517.
Today’s hearing and the current legislation are a continuation of Senator Akaka’s ongoing effort to improve the claims processing system. Akaka sponsored many of the provisions of the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008, enacted as Public Law 110-389. This and other bills have improved claims processing and enhanced compensation and other benefits for veterans. During Akaka's chairmanship, Congress has funded the hiring of thousands of Veterans Benefits Administration employees to respond to the rising number and increasing complexity of claims for disability compensation and other benefits.
More information about the hearing including statements, testimony and the webcast is available here: veterans.senate.gov
July 14, 2010