Heller introduces bipartisan legislation to reduce VA backlog
Four U.S. senators including Den Heller, R-Nev., introduced this week bipartisan legislation to establish a new, voluntary five-year pilot program to help reduce the large backlog of appeals made by veterans to the Veterans Benefits Administration.
“As co-chair of the Senate VA Backlog Working Group, ensuring Nevada and our nation’s veterans receive a decision on their disability claims in an accurate and timely manner has been a top priority for me in the Senate and on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee,” Heller said. “The story is no different when a veteran appeals their claim decision. These heroes feel the VA has made a mistake and may not be penalized by having to wait two or more years for an appeal to be complete. ‘
Heller said the bill, The Express Appeal Act, gives veterans more choice and flexibility to expedite their appeal while also preserving their rights.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said while the VA is making progress on reducing the overall disability claims backlog, veterans who file an appeal are too often waiting years to get a final determination by the VA.
“By cutting bureaucratic red tape, this legislation provides veterans the option of having their disputes with the VA determined in a much more timely manner that reflects our commitment to them and their families,” Tester said. “This is a common-sense bipartisan bill that will save the VA millions.”
With over 400,000 appeals sitting in a growing backlog, Garry Augustine, Disabled American Veteran Washington Headquarters executive director, said it is imperative to move forward with commonsense reform proposals like the FDA, which have broad support in Congress, the VA, the Board of Veterans Appeals and the veterans community.