Veterans hopeful about new fast-track appeals law

It's called the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017. It aims to create a fast-track for veterans, when they're appealing their claims for disability benefits with the VA.

At his rally Wednesday in Reno, President Trump signed into law something meant to help veterans.

It's called the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017. It aims to create a fast-track for veterans, when they're appealing their claims for disability benefits with the VA.

The president told the large room of veterans in Reno, "no longer will veterans be kept waiting for years to get an answer to their appeals. They will receive timely updates and they will get decisions much more quickly, in a fraction of the time."

What does that mean for veterans in our area?

Mike Andrade, a Vietnam War veteran, is a past commander at VFW Post 67 in Sacramento.

"This thing here would be great for the veterans," Andrade said. "I'm going to wait to see. You know, I hope it works like everybody's expecting."

Andrade has a 100 percent disability rating from the VA. He said veterans' disability claims can be denied based on typos and technicalities.

"For instance, if you file a claim and the words in the sentence is not the way the VA likes to have it, they'll turn it down," Andrade explained. "Then, after the second time, you get discouraged, say, 'I'm not going to file nothing anymore,' but yet you were over there risking your life for America. We don't want everything but what we're entitled to."

He admits, the claims and appeals processes are more efficient than they were several years ago.

In March of 2013, the VA faced a backlog of more than 600,000 claims, people waiting more than four months for a decision. Now, that number is down to 83,000.

But even when a decision is returned, if it's a denial - then that's when the lengthy appeals process begins.

That is what this new law aims to streamline.

"This is a big one," Trump told the crowd in Reno, signing the law while surrounded by veterans.

According to the White House, there are more than 470,000 veterans waiting for a decision on their particular appeal. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs now has three months to come up with a plan to create and implement this new fast-tracked appeals process.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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