A bipartisan pair of senators filed a bill on Wednesday that aims to reduce the backlog of claims for veterans’ disability benefits by pointing applicants to filing methods with the quickest turnaround.
Sens. Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Democrat, and Dean Heller, Nevada Republican, said their Veterans Benefits Claims Faster Filing Act will help the system switch from cumbersome paper claims to an online system known as the Fully Developed Claims program.
Specifially, the bill forces the Department of Veterans Affairs to track and post average turnaround time on claims so veterans can evaluated their filing options.
“Too many veterans are waiting far too long to receive the benefits they have earned,” Mr. Heinrich said. “This commonsense approach will help accelerate the claims process while reducing the number of backlog claims.”
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been sounding the alarm over the size of the backlog, which consists of claims pending for more than 125 days.
The problem, senators said, is that 82 percent of VA disability claims are still filed on paper, increasing the likelihood it will end up in the backlog.
VA officials are trying to eliminate the backlog of compensation claims by 2015.