1) Congress must direct the VA to immediately fund benefits for all veterans applying for VA disability.
Many of us have been involved as veteran advocates for more than 30 years. We see the VA’s efforts to make better decisions and improve services, “but we have a long way to go.” – Veterans at Backlog Forum
Veterans that have medical diagnosis supported by military records or who have valid Social Security claims that have been approved should be granted VA benefits when they apply without further development. Veterans who lack Social Security validation of disabilities or military records should be provided a disability stipend that would be recouped from benefits awarded once claim has been fully developed. A duplication of connecting system to local government i.e. IRS, SS and local state agencies would prevent duplication of benefit assistance. There should be no repayment if benefits are denied. Such a policy would end the government backlog and the financial hardship of veterans and survivors.
2) In order to clarify the origin of the 1 million case backlog and to facilitate its elimination, Congress should direct the VA to do an accountability audit of the last 5 years on the percentage of claims denied, overturned on appeal and ultimately awarded to the veteran.
3) Congress should direct the VA to empower and partner with nationally accredited Veteran Service Officers (VSOs) to prepare well-rounded claims for authorization to reduce the backlog.
• VSO’s are accredited through the VA General Counsel and are authorized agents to assist veterans with benefit claim filing and they receive mandated training from VA personnel.