President Trump Signs Another Bill to Reform The VA

Claudine Rigal
Août 27, 2017

President Donald Trump has signed into law a bill that would cut the amount of time the Department of Veterans Affairs takes to decide veterans' appeals of their disability payments. "Passage of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 into law today marks an important step forward in creating a more timely and accurate system for processing veterans' appeals".

The bill was co-sponsored by Esty, a Democrat who represents greater Danbury and Connecticut's Fifth Congressional District, and Illinois Rep. Mike Bost, a Republican.

"Veterans should start to see some signs of improvement at the VA as a result of the actions the Trump administration is taking to help them, however, the fight is far from over", she said.

The new law marks the first significant update to the VA appeals process in 30 years, according to the release. Currently, veterans face a five-year wait on average if they appeal a decision.

Esty is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. "Our souls fill with pride every time we hear the national anthem", Trump said.

Trump touted the progress made on VA reform in his speech Wednesday, particularly in terms of passing legislation aimed at more easily removing bad employees at the VA.

About 10 to 12 percent of disability claims are appealed at the VA, and the agency expects the number of appeals to grow as it works to get through pending and backlogged claims more quickly.

The speech comes a day after a campaign rally in Phoenix in which Trump emphasized divisions, criticizing Arizona's two Republican senators and lashing out at the media. He discussed his early efforts to restructure and improve the Department of Veterans Affairs. Our unrivaled expertise is often challenged by a labyrinthine, protracted review process where a growing backlog, coupled with inconsistent and arbitrary decisions, hurt those who rate the benefits they're pursuing.

I can think of no better place for the president to sign this bill than at the national convention of America's largest and most influential veterans service organization. It would also allow some veterans already going through the appeals process to opt into the new system. Under the the "Board Lane", jurisdiction for the appeal would transfer immediately to the Board of Veterans' Appeals. Under the "New Evidence Lane", a veteran could submit new evidence for review and have a hearing. This legislation was in response to the 2014 VA waiting list scandal.

According to the White House, there are more than 470,000 veterans waiting for a decision on their particular appeal. "I applaud the President for making this a priority".

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