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Akaka looks to improve veterans’ disability claims processing

MEDIA RELEASE

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) has introduced legislation to make much-needed improvements to VA’s disability claims processing. VA provides disability compensation to approximately 3.1 million veterans across the nation.

“VA’s system to provide veterans with disability compensation is well intended, but it is broken. This bill will move the Department closer to fulfilling its obligation to provide every eligible veteran with timely and accurate disability compensation,” Akaka said.

As chairman, Akaka has hosted a series of hearings on improving the veterans’ disability compensation system. The committee will hold a hearing to review disability claims processing July 1, at which time witnesses will testify about Akaka’s legislation.

The Claims Processing Improvement Act of 2010 (S.3517) would make various changes to the way VA processes disability compensation claims, including provisions to:

* Set up a process to fast-track claims that have been fully developed;
* Help veterans with multiple disability claims by allowing VA to provide partial disability ratings; and
* Provide that the Department give equal deference to the medical opinions of a veteran’s non-VA doctor.

The bill would also establish a test program at several Regional Offices replacing VA’s method for identifying musculoskeletal disabilities.

Compensation under the pilot would be based on a functional assessment of limitations due to the disability, such as standing, walking or lifting, and would take into account the severity, frequency and duration of symptoms of the disability. To identify disabilities, the pilot would use the common language of the International Classification of Diseases, rather than VA’s current Rating Schedule.

2 Responses to “Akaka looks to improve veterans’ disability claims processing”

  1. Nancy Gertner says:

    Thank you Senator akaka, for your leadership on this. Musculoskeletal problems are common to new veterans that have carried heavy packs and gear, and it's about time the process is streamlined to identify and assign disability ratings to veterans disabled in the line of duty.

  2. DO IT SOONER says:

    I feel that the VA takes entirely too long to rate you on your disabilty after it is already with the rating board. My claim has been with the rating board for two weeks and they still haven't made a decision.They received it on June 9, 2010 and it's June 23, 2010. What's the hold up because I have held off my creditors long enough and I put my claim in on April 28, 2010.

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