Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill intended to streamline the disability claims process for military veterans and help speed the current backlog of Veterans’ Disability applications.
The average wait time for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to process a claim is more than 300 days. There are currently more than 700,000 veterans awaiting word on their disability claims; more than half of those have surpassed the VA’s processing goal of 125 days.
The bill passed by the House and known as the “Ending the VA Claims Disability Backlog and Accountability Act” would implement nonpartisan recommendations to streamline the required paperwork and communications between federal agencies for disability claims. The legislation would also provide new training programs for VA employees responsible for processing claims.
The Veterans Disability backlog has been attributed to a number of factors, including the return of disabled veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, the extension of benefits to Vietnam veterans, inadequate staffing, and an outdated system.
The legislation passed the House by a vote of 404-1. The House also approved bipartisan legislation that would cut bonuses and performance awards for VA employees by almost 13 percent annually and save an estimated $310 million over the next five years.
In related news, those who receive Veterans Disability benefits will see a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 1.5 percent in their monthly benefits in 2014. This slight nature of this increase has been attributed largely to the relatively low inflation rate in the current economy.