President signs Tester's bill to reform VA disability appeals

by NBC Montana, Steve Fetveit

MISSOULA, Mont. – In Nevada Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s bipartisan bill to streamline the appeal process for VA disability benefits.

Tester’s Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act will allow the VA to address the massive appeals backlog that has more than 470,000 veterans waiting for a decision on their disability claims.

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act will give veterans three options: they can appeal their existing claim to a higher-level office, appeal at the same office with new information or appeal directly to the Board of Veterans Appeals.

“Montana veterans and their families have been waiting for answers on their disability benefits for too long,”
said Tester. “Our bipartisan bill reforms this outdated and cumbersome process so a veteran can get answers faster.”

Nearly 22,000 Montana veterans receive disability compensation from the VA with an average degree of disability of 44.75 percent.

The Modernization Act is the fifth of Tester’s bipartisan bills to reform the VA. Earlier reform bills signed into law include the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, the Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act, the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act and the Forever GI Bill.