WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) introduced legislation today to make much-needed improvements to VA’s disability claims processing. VA provides disability compensation to approximately 3.1 million veterans across the nation.
“VA’s system to provide veterans with disability compensation is well intended, but it is broken. This bill will move the Department closer to fulfilling its obligation to provide every eligible veteran with timely and accurate disability compensation,” said Akaka. As Chairman, Akaka has held a series of hearings on improving the veterans’ disability compensation system (to view the Committee’s hearings click here). The Committee will hold a hearing to review disability claims processing on July 1, at which time witnesses will testify about Akaka’s legislation.
The Claims Processing Improvement Act of 2010 (S.3517) 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
• Provide that the Department give equal deference to the medical opinions of a veteran’s non-VA doctor.
The bill would also establish a test program at several Regional Offices replacing VA’s method for identifying musculoskeletal disabilities. Compensation under the pilot would be based on a functional assessment of limitations due to the disability, such as standing, walking or lifting, and would take into account the severity, frequency and duration of symptoms of the disability. To identify disabilities, the pilot would use the common language of the International Classification of Diseases, rather than VA’s current Rating Schedule.
To read Senator Akaka’s statement in the Congressional Record introducing the bill, click here: LINK
June 22, 2010