Tester introduces bill to cut bureaucratic red tape at VA

Senator’s Express Appeals Act will streamline appeals process for Montana veterans and save millions

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today introduced bipartisan legislation that will streamline the lengthy VA disability appeals process, provide faster care for Montana veterans, and save millions of dollars.

According to the VA, over the past three years, the number of veterans who are appealing their VA disability rating has risen by more than 30 percent. The current appeals process is archaic, cumbersome, and frustrating for veterans. Whenever new evidence is filed in support of a veteran’s appeal, it effectively hits reset on that appeal and delays the process, often by years.

Tester’s bipartisan Express Appeals Act creates a new VA initiative where veterans can opt to file a fully developed appeal that would be processed through a more streamlined and expedited process. The VA estimates this bill will reduce the amount of time a veteran waits for their ruling by up to 1,000 days.

“Thankfully the VA is making progress on reducing the overall disability claims backlog, but unfortunately veterans who file an appeal often wait years to get a final determination by the VA,” Tester said. “By cutting bureaucratic red tape, this bill gives veterans the option of having their disputes determined in a much more timely manner. This is a common-sense bipartisan bill that reflects our commitment to veterans and their families, while also saving taxpayers millions.”

Tester’s Express Appeals Act also frees up additional VA resources that could be used to better address the overall appeals backlog.

The VA backlog of disability claims has dropped by over 530,000 cases since 2013.

The Express Appeals Act is also sponsored by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.).