Murkowski Fighting to Bring “Veterans’ Claims into the Daylight”

Senator Co-Sponsors Accountability for Veterans Act, Cutting Timelines in Half

WASHINGTON, DC — As part of her ongoing attempt to break the logjam of delays for veterans’ benefits, Senator Lisa Murkowski is co-sponsoring a bill designed to improve the needlessly-bureaucratic process and cut some paperwork timelines in half.  S. 674, the Accountability for Veterans Act would streamline the process while also demanding answers for any delays incurred along the way in records requests between the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense (DoD) or Social Security Administration (SSA).

A key contributor to the astonishing 467 day average wait for Alaskans is the process:

  1. VA faxes a request for records to the DoD and the SSA.
  2. VA must then wait 60 days before sending a follow-up fax.
  3. VA must then wait another 30 days before sending a follow-up e-mail.

The Accountability for Veterans Act proposes to do away with parts of this time-consuming process by first requiring DoD and SSA to respond to the VA within 30 days with either the requested record or the reason the record was not provided and an estimated date when it will be provided.  The VA would then have to report back to the veteran filing the claim and inform them of the reasons being given for a records delay along with a time-estimate for the records request.  Additionally, the VA would keep records of delays and send updates to Congress every six months to keep officials updated of any improvements being made.

“Alaska’s veterans deserve care close to home, timely service, and answers along every step of the way,” said Senator Murkowski.  “This common-sense bill brings veterans’ claims into the daylight and gives our men and women who served speedier results and accountability when there is lag time in processing their request for care.”

(Senator Murkowski reminds VA Secretary Shinseki of the challenges faced by Alaska’s veterans, 4/2013 – CLICK to view)

The Accountability for Veterans Act was introduced by Senator Dean Heller; co-sponsors joining Senator Murkowski are Senators Saxby Chambliss (GA), Rand Paul (KY), David Vitter (LA), and Roger Wicker (MS).