WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today continued his push back on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) over its disability claims backlog, which has forced thousands of Arkansas veterans to wait years to receive their earned benefits. Pryor has cosponsored the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act, bipartisan legislation to reform the claims process and reduce veterans’ wait times.
“The VA needs more than a few minor changes to its flawed claims system—it needs a complete overhaul,” Pryor said. “Our bipartisan bill is a much-needed step to ensuring our veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned. I hope the Senate will take up and pass our bill immediately.”
The 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act would reform three key areas of the VA claims process: benefits claims submission, VA regional offices, and government responses:
• Benefits Claims Submission- Improves veterans’ access to information about the claims process, provides Veteran Service Organizations and veterans’ preferred second contact with better access to information, and incentivizes developed claims submission;
• VA Regional Offices—Increases accuracy and efficiency at the regional office level by calling for audits of the regional offices of the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA), ensuring improved accountability and oversight of VARO management, improving transparency, and providing resources to VBA employees to move claims through the electronic benefits award structure more efficiently;
• Government Response—Demands greater cooperation from federal agencies to transfer requested information and presses VBA employees to process information from agencies in a timely fashion.
The bill is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).
Pryor is also a sponsor of the Veterans Benefits Claims Faster Filing Act, a cost-neutral bill that would provide veterans with faster filing options, and the Accountability for Veterans Act, which would reduce the time allowed for government agencies to respond to VA record requests—a main bottleneck in the claims process.