Earlier This Year, Senators Hassan and Shaheen Raised Concerns With the VA Over Ending Its 48-Hour Review Period
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) in introducing legislation to ensure that veterans and their representatives have 48 hours to review and dispute disability claims before they are finalized to make sure that veterans don’t lose out on the benefits that they have earned and deserve.
Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it planned to end its 48-hour review period for a claim determination that historically has helped make sure that veterans do not lose out on benefits because of technical mistakes in their application. Following the VA’s announcement, Senator Hassan led a letter along with Senator Shaheen and the rest of the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation raising concerns over these potential changes. However, the VA discontinued the 48-hour review period at the end of April. The Veterans Claim Transparency Act, which the Senators introduced this week, would require the VA to reinstate this critical 48-hour review period.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs should not have changed its process for how it considers veterans’ disabilities claims, especially in the middle of a pandemic,” said Senator Hassan. “Our bill reverses the VA’s rule change to ensure that veterans don’t experience delays in receiving the benefits that they have earned because of small or technical mistakes in the applications that they filed.”
“This is a commonsense bill that would help ensure our veterans receive the full benefits they’re entitled to and result in a more efficient VA process,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m glad to partner with Senator Tester on this legislation that supports our veterans in obtaining benefits and improves the VA claims process. The VA’s decision to eliminate this protection for veterans was misguided and counterproductive. I encourage members on both sides of the aisle to join us in this effort that rights this wrong.”
"The Veterans of Foreign Wars department of New Hampshire is proud that our Congressional delegation is leading the effort to correct this newest challenge to our Veteran community,” said Chris Peirce, State Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of New Hampshire. “To place an administrative process over people is not in line with the original goal of the VA; this is even more callous in the middle of a Pandemic. Over 40,000 men and women have been activated around the country in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. And now the VA has removed one the key groups that could be assisting these men and women in the future. The VSO 48 hour review is a final check to ensure documentation is correct and to aid Veterans in the lengthy procedure of submitting a claim. The Veteran Service Officers are trained and certified in the filing of claims and are the Veteran’s strongest advocates. Actions such as this increase the distrust of the VA and undermine the progress the agency has made in the previous few years in building accountability and quality service. Hopefully the Veterans Claim Transparency Act will gain support in Congress quickly and reverses the VA decision before significant harm is done in providing support to America’s Veterans."
Senators Hassan and Shaheen are working to support veterans, service members, and their families, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senators recently urged the VA to strengthen New Hampshire veterans’ access to telehealth as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread. Additionally, the CARES Act that Senators Hassan and Shaheen worked to pass into law included $2.15 billion in funding to the VA to enhance its ability to provide telehealth services to veterans. Senator Hassan also successfully led efforts to ensure that veterans, their caregivers, and family survivors who receive Department of Veterans Affairs pension payments, disability compensation, or survivors’ benefits automatically receive direct cash assistance included in the CARES Act without having to file tax returns.
A copy of the Veterans Claims Transparency Act can be found HERE.