WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced bipartisan legislation to reinstate a critical rule allowing veterans and their representatives 48 hours to review and dispute disability claims verdicts before they are finalized.
In April 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) eliminated the critical 48-hour review period—a decades-old practice allowing veterans and their representatives time to review benefits determinations prior to VA’s final decision. Reinstating this necessary tool will result in greater efficiency, mitigate potential errors and reduce the need for appeals. The Veterans Claim Transparency Act would resume the review period to ensure accredited Veteran Service Organizations, attorneys and claims agents have the ability to review and course correct benefits determination, prior to VA’s final decision.
“Restoring the VA’s practice of allowing veteran service representatives time to review benefits claims will help prevent errors and ensure a timely and fair process,” Boozman said. “I’m pleased to join Senator Tester in introducing this legislation so we can reduce the burden on veterans who file a VA claim.”
“Veterans are relying on their earned benefits more than ever, and they deserve a strong voice at the table when it comes to their disability claims and appeals,” said Tester. “Our bipartisan bill is simple—it would bring back the 48-hour review period to allow veterans and their representatives time to fix any mistakes before they’re made final by VA.”
Veterans Service Organizations applauded Boozman and Tester for their leadership to provide veterans the ability and resources they are due when disputing their disability claims with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).
“The 48-hour review period is an essential feature of the VA claims process,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Associate Director Kristina Keenan. “It functions as an independent quality review check on claims decisions before final ratings are sent to veterans. The VFW thanks Senators Tester and Boozman for introducing this important legislation, which would rightfully reinstate the 48-hour review policy.”
“VVA fully supports the Veterans Claim Transparency Act, which would reinstate the 48-hour review window, allowing the Veteran Service Officer to review a veteran’s disability claim prior to sending it to the veteran,” said Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) National President John Rowan. “Often, errors are found during this 48-hour window, which allows the VSO to work with the VA to make corrections. Correcting an improper negative decision before it is received by the veteran protects the veteran from having to file an appeal—which results in an extended delay in receiving benefits and adds to the backlog of claims—as well as saving the veteran from the emotional distress of feeling like their service and sacrifice are not recognized and valued by the country they served.”
“DAV supports the Veterans Claim Transparency Act as it would provide representatives the ability to work with VBA to identify and correct errors in VA decisions prior to final promulgation, acting as another layer of quality review for VA and veterans,” said Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “DAV is disappointed with VA’s decision last April to eliminate this practice, which had been in place for over seven decades. We believe the Veterans Claim Transparency Act can assist in alleviating potentially thousands of new appeals and provide immediate justice for veterans and their families.”
“AMVETS is supportive of this important legislative effort to ensure our veterans claims are done right the first time,” said AMVETS Executive Director Joe Chenelly. “Reinstating the 48-hour rule allows our organization as well as other representatives the time to review a veteran’s disability rating before it is finalized by the Secretary. Not only has this been a longstanding normality, but it is necessary to help a veteran achieve the disability rating they deserve.”
“PVA thanks Senator Tester and Senator Boozman for introducing the Veterans Claim Transparency Act to ensure the accuracy of veteran claim decisions,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Associate Executive Director of Government Relations Heather Ansley.
Original article source: https://www.boozman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2021/2/boozman-tester-spearhead-bipartisan-legislation-reinstating-vets-representation-in-disability-claims-process | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council