New legislation is in the works for veterans. If Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki is to be believed, the bill he introduced to Congress will help veterans process their claims much faster than current standards. The unsettling reality, however, is this bill will severely limit veterans’ rights and in the end, cause much more harm than good.
According to Sec. Shinseki, the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2010 will create “beneficial changes” for veterans through the faster adjudication of disability claims. Should the bill pass in its current form, however, multiple anti-veteran and anti-lawyer measures will take effect.
Veterans’ rights as far as collecting disability related to wounds and disease will be harmed upon passage of this bill. Additionally, considerable damage will be done to veterans’ appeals processes. Should a veteran have to appeal a claim rejected at a VA regional office, that appeal goes before a judge at the Board of Veterans Appeal. This new bill eliminates that judge’s requirement to explain the reasoning and logic of his reviewing decision. This would in turn strictly limit the higher court’s ability to accurately review the judge’s decision and would pretty much bar veterans from making an argument as to why the reviewing judge’s decision was incorrect.
Additionally, the bill would cut the appeal period in half. The VA claims this will speed up the appeals process but does not explain just how this is going to work.
The bill will also stop the issuing of attorney fees currently granted upon successfully overturning a board’s decision. Passing this bill will stop those fees and will not allow attorneys to collect their fees until the end of their appeal process, if at all. If the veteran does not win his case, there will be no compensation. This process takes can take years and will likely eliminate many attorneys from wanting to work on these cases.
So where does passing this act leave the veterans? Most likely it will leave them with under-qualified representation fighting an uphill battle against a layered and complicated bureaucracy.
Learn more about the , the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2010 and how it will disable veterans’ appeals process.
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.