The Fair Access to Veterans Benefits Act Aids Veterans’ Appeals

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a reputation for being a very difficult system to navigate. The VA’s backlog of disability claims has been well documented. So when a veteran actually gets a hearing on his claim, is denied, and then has no more recourse available because of a broken appeals process, the need for correction becomes very obvious.

Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside/Long Island) has introduced legislation (The Fair Access to Veterans Benefits Act) in hopes to repair this broken appeals process. 200 veterans are currently being denied their chance to appeal final decisions made in regard to their benefits claims. These veterans all missed their deadline for filing for their benefits.

If passed, the Act will force the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims (the Veterans’ Court) to hear those appeals stemming from administrative decisions that deny veterans’ benefits. These appeals, however, are limited to those decisions denying veterans’ claims due to veterans missing their deadlines for filing their appeals. The deadlines, however, are often missed due to circumstances out of their control, e.g., because of their service-related disabilities.

Further, the bill will compel the Veterans Court to restore appeals previously dismissed due to the veteran’s failure to file their timely appeal as long as the veteran can show good cause.

Both this Act and the similar bill Senator Arlen Spector (D-Pennsylvania) introduced into the Senate, were triggered by a Veterans’ Court decision denying a veteran an appeal for a missed deadline. A deadline the veteran missed due to his disability.

Given the sacrifices veterans make, it is unconscionable they would be treated in such a fashion. Veterans are owed the absolute very best treatment this country can provide and should not be denied benefits because the very illnesses and disabilities they are seeking benefits for prevented them from filing an appeal within the limited time frame provided.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.