WASHINGTON, D.C. -U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, thanked his Senate colleagues and urged the House of Representatives to promptly consider S. 3023, the Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2008, following the bill's Senate-passage by unanimous consent last night.
"We must remember that veterans' compensation, and indeed all benefits earned by veterans, are a continuing cost of war. This legislation would improve the care and benefits America's veterans have earned through their service. We have a small number of days left in this legislative session to gain final passage and I urge my colleagues in the House to promptly consider this important bill," Akaka said.
S. 3023 contains six titles and 34 provisions that are designed to enhance compensation, housing, labor and education, and insurance benefits for veterans. A full explanation of the bill is available in the Committee's report, Senate Report 110-449. These improvements include provisions on:
Claims Assistance: Simplification of letters to veterans claiming disabilities, to provide meaningful notice of the information and evidence needed to substantiate a claim.
Veterans Housing: Enhancement of home loan refinancing options, an extended increase in the maximum loan guaranty amount, and an extension of the soon-to-expire authority for VA-guaranteed adjustable-rate mortgages.
Improving Access to the Court System: Expansion of the number of judges on the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to decide the increased number of cases filed and removal of the ban on judicial review of actions concerning VA's rating schedule.
Employment Rights: Updating of veterans' rights to return to work, federal agency assistance in that effort, and more timely Department of Labor investigations of potential violations of veterans' employment rights.