DearColleague.us

Letter

From: The Honorable Paul A. Gosar
Sent By: trevor.pearson@mail.house.gov
Date: 2/29/2016

Support Our Veterans by Tackling the Veterans Board of Appeals Backlog in FY 2017

** THIS IS A PROGRAMMATIC REQUEST**
Members are required to submit the request online.
Deadline to sign on
5pm TODAY, February 29.

 

Current Cosigners: Paul Gosar, Raul Ruiz, Charles Rangel

 

Dear Colleague,

Please join us in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies asking the subcommittee to support the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) with resources appropriate to tackle the staggering backlog of pending appeals cases.

The VA has made significant progress in reducing the backlog of initial claims – from a peak of 600,000 in 2013 to less than 80,000 at the end of last year – yet, the number of these cases that are now stuck in the appeals process has swelled to an overwhelming 400,000.  Alarmingly, after navigating through the tedious initial claims process, a veteran may then have to wait on average three additional years to reach an appeal decision. This is unacceptable.

As we strive to develop a more streamlined and less bureaucratic method to process and administer veterans’ benefits, it is imperative that we support the VBA with the resources necessary to quickly and efficiently process appeals and reduce the backlog of claims that have accumulated.  We understand the particularly challenging fiscal climate we face and the difficult funding decisions that must be made.  Given the acute and timely nature of the challenge the appeals backlog presents to the Veterans Benefits Administration, we believe it should be a top priority in FY17.  We urge you to join us in supporting the Board of Veterans Appeals and efforts to improve care for our nation’s veterans.

The text of the letter is below.  Instructions will be sent along with the final signed letter for submitting this request. Should you have any questions or to sign on, please contact Trevor Pearson at trevor.pearson@mail.house.gov.

 

Sincerely,

 

Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S             Raul Ruiz M.D.

Member of Congress              Member of Congress

 

 

 

March __, 2016

The Honorable Charlie Dent                                       The Honorable Sanford Bishop
Chairman                                                                     Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations                                    Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Military Construction,                    Subcommittee on Military Construction,
Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies                     Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies
U.S. House of Representatives                                   U.S. House of Representatives
HVC-227, The Capitol                                               1016 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515                                              Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Dent and Ranking Member Bishop:

As you begin work on the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies bill, we urge you meet the President’s budget request for the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) and provide the BVA with the necessary resources to reduce the large backlog of appeals pending before the Veterans Benefits Administration.

The progress made by the VA to reduce the number of initial claims pending exceeding more than 125 days is commendable. The staggering 600,000 backlogged cases in the spring of 2013 has been reduced dramatically, dipping under 80,000 by the end of 2015.  However, as this sustained emphasis on reducing the initial-claims backlog has greatly improved the number of these cases processed, the number of claims decisions now being appealed across the VA and the Board of Veterans Appeals has ballooned to over 400,000.  The average wait time for these appeals has extended to nearly three years, with many cases stretching well beyond that. 

Our veterans have performed a valiant service to our nation and it is our duty and obligation to ensure that they have timely access not only to their awarded benefits but also to the decision process associated with those benefits.  As Congress and the VA work together to develop a more streamlined and less bureaucratic method to process and administer veterans’ benefits, it is imperative that we provide the BVA with the resources necessary to quickly and efficiently process appeals and reduce the massive backlog of claims that have accumulated.

We understand the particularly challenging fiscal climate we face and the difficult funding decisions that must be made.  Given the acute and timely nature of the challenge the appeals backlog presents to the Veterans Benefits Administration, we believe it should be a top priority in FY17.  As a result, we support appropriations for the Board of Veterans Appeals at the President’s requested level and are grateful for the committee’s efforts to improve care for our veterans.

We thank you for your consideration of this request, and for your leadership on the committee.

Sincerely,