Legislation Would Streamline VA Appeals, Provide New Options for Veterans to Pursue
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced Wednesday Senate passage of theVeterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, legislation Brown co-sponsored to help speed up the appeals process for veterans seeking assistance from the Veterans Administration (VA).
The bill will now go to the House for approval and then to President Trump to be signed into law.
While the current appeal process includes several levels of hearings and appeals, Brown’s bill would:
Create three options for veterans to pursue when appealing a VA decision including, seeking a higher-level review, submitting additional evidence, or appealing directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
Require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the VA’s plan to address pending appeals.
Require the VA to report performance outcomes on their efforts to address veteran appeals.
“Veterans shouldn’t have to wait years to secure the benefits they’ve earned,” said Brown. “We need to speed up the appeals process so that veterans can get the treatment they need in a timely manner. I’m glad to see this bipartisan bill move forward, and I will continue working with Republican and Democratic colleagues to help Ohio veterans.”
The bill would allow veterans currently in the appeals process to opt in to the new appeals system and would allow the VA Secretary to test portions of the new appeals process prior to full implementation.
Brown’s bill is supported by Paralyzed Veterans of American (PVA), Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Gold Star Wives of America National Military Family Association, Special Operations Warrior Foundation National Association for Uniformed Services, Military Officers Association of America, The Enlisted Association, Air Force Association, Air Force Sergeants Association, Fleet Reserve Association, and the Association of the United States Army.
Brown is also working on bipartisan legislation to expand educational opportunities for post-9/11 student veterans and provide relief for veterans who attended now failed for-profit colleges. Brown’s bill passed out of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee last week, setting it up for a vote in the full Senate.