Tester introduces bill to eliminate claims backlog at the VA

Senator’s bipartisan legislation address disability claims backlog

(U.S. Senate) – Continuing his efforts to improve benefits for Montana’s veterans, Senator Jon Tester introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure veterans receive their disability benefits in a more timely manner, and to eliminate the disability claims backlog at the VA.

Tester’s 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act will allow the VA to more quickly and efficiently process claims and to better withstand future surges in disability claims without creating another backlog that slows down the delivery of benefits. This bill is a product of the VA Backlog Working Group, a bipartisan group of Senators who are working to better understand the VA claims process and what contributes to the backlog of VA disability claims.

“The VA has made great strides to process disability claims in a more accurate and timely manner, particularly considering the increased number and complexity of disability claims,” said Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “However, until the backlog is completely eliminated, more work remains to be done. This bill will give VA the tools and flexibility it needs to eliminate the backlog for good and to ensure veterans get the benefits they have earned in a timely manner.”

The 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act will reduce future backlogs at the VA by ensuring veterans have access to information about the claims process through eBenefits and directing the Defense Department to increase the participation of Veteran Service Organizations in Transition Assistance Program seminars.

The bill also grants more expeditious hearings for veterans appealing a claim decision and increases transparency to the public and lawmakers on the size and scope of the current backlog.

Tester’s bill is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans , Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America , and the Military Officers Association of America.

Tester’s bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Senators Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine)

Text of the legislation is available by clicking HERE.