Collins Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation Reinstating Vets Representation in Disability Claims Process

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) joined Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and John Boozman (R-AR) in introducing 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.

 

“Supporting our veterans and those who serve today is among our greatest obligations,” said Senator Collins. “To help ensure that veterans receive the benefits they deserve, this bipartisan legislation would require VA to resume its practice of allowing veterans service organizations to review disability rating decisions on behalf of their members.  I have heard from veterans throughout Maine about how this additional check increases the accuracy and efficiency of benefit determinations.  I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.” 

 

The legislation is supported by several Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) including the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and American Veterans (AMVETS).

 

“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.”

 

Click HERE to read the text of the bill.

 

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