(U.S. Senate) – President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan bill backed by U.S. Senator Jon Tester into law, allowing veterans to appear in cases before the Board of Veterans' Appeals remotely.
“During this unprecedented time, it’s critically important that we provide our nation’s veterans with the flexibility to dispute their disability claims from the safety and comfort of their homes,” said Tester. “This new law is welcome news for veterans in rural states like Montana, who will no longer be required to travel long distances to get the benefits and care they’ve earned.”
The VA Tele-Hearing Modernization Act requires the Board of Veterans’ Appeals—the branch of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that provides individuals with an opportunity to disagree with VA decisions on benefits eligibility— to permit veterans with pending appeals to teleconference into Board hearings. This law will limit vulnerable veterans’ exposure to COVID-19, bringing much needed relief to veterans in Montana and across the country during the outbreak.
As Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Tester played a key role in the bill’s passage in the Senate. He garnered major support from former Chairman Isakson, VA officials, and Veterans Service Organizations, and worked with Chairman Moran to successfully push this bipartisan, commonsense solution over the finish line in Congress.
“Tele-hearings provide veterans with an opportunity to conveniently attend hearings for their disability compensation cases before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Executive Director BJ Lawrence. “The VFW lauds the enactment of this law, which will significantly improve access for veteran appellants in disability compensation cases and would permit a greater number of veterans to participate in the appeals process. Now more than ever, this capability is critical to making sure veterans who have waited years for their hearings may not have to wait because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.”
Full text of the bill can be found HERE.