By Su Phelps
In order to reduce a growing backlog at the VA, President Donald Trump signed into law H.R. 2288, The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, legislation Rep. Dina Titus crafted in order to reform the framework for processing appeals on disability claims for veterans’ service-related injuries.
President Trump signed the bill on August 23 at an event in Reno with VA Secretary David Shulkin and members of the American Legion.
Rep. Titus was elated to see the bill finally become a law. She had described the growing appeals backlog of veterans waiting for a decision on benefits claims, of which there are more than 470,000, as a tsunami that would have crashed down on the nation if it were not fixed.
“Having led the effort to reform the VA appeals process for more than four years, I am pleased that this legislation I introduced last year will finally become law. To develop this new system, I held hearings and convened a working group consisting of the VA, VSOs, and other experts to modernize a process that has not been updated since the 1980s. What the president signed today is a result of hard work, collaboration, cooperation, and creativity to fix a snarled system that will improve the lives of veterans. Now we must work to ensure that it is quickly and carefully implemented by the VA and the VSOs.”
The 470,000 veterans stuck in the appeals backlog would have grown to a million without the legislation. There are currently 2,500 Nevada vets with appeals. In 2014, there were 1,500. The average wait time is longer than three years and would have ballooned to a decade if Congress had not passed these reforms. The VA estimates that the framework drafted by Rep. Titus will significantly decrease wait times for veterans filing appeals. The appeals process was first created in 1933.