Maloney's Disabled Veteran Red Tape Reduction Act Passes House
Washington, D.C. – The House overwhelmingly passed bipartisan veterans bills on Monday which includes legislation authored by Rep. Maloney to help address the Veterans Administration (VA)’s backlog of disability claims. Earlier this year, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney introduced the Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act, HR 1521, to allow veterans to have their medical examinations done by physicians outside the VA system to help process veterans’ disability claims faster. Currently, 20% of claims are processed through physicians outside the VA system, but the program is set to expire this year. Without timely action from Congress, the VA system would be even more overburdened.
“Right now veterans are returning home after fighting for our freedom, and being are forced to fight with their own government – we owe them better. Working across party lines, we are able to keep in place an essential tool the VA needs to address the backlog problem,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. “This program works - that’s why we need it. The fact that Congress would otherwise let this expire, when our VA system is already overburdened, is just unconscionable.”
Rep. Maloney recently supported the continuing funding resolution that ended the government shutdown and gave the Department of Veterans Affairs a $300 million boost to resolve the VA’s backlog of disability claims. Nationally, more than 700,000 veterans are seeking compensation and pension disability benefits with more than 400,000 backlogged claims. In the New York regional office currently has over 10,569 veterans waiting on disability claims with the average wait time of 358 days.
“If we want Americans to serve in the future they are going to look at how we are treating these veterans right now,” said Col. John Hussey, chair of Rep. Maloney’s Veterans Advisory Board. “It is important that we have this act passed because this act will allow the backlog to be lifted and I applaud this bill going through and think it is a credit in particular to Rep. Maloney.”
“With hundreds of thousands of veterans waiting on disability claim decisions, we are proud to support Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s legislation. Our National Service Offices, who represent more than 250,000 claimants annually, find that the contract exams almost always offer much more than in-house VA exams and contractors work better with vets when scheduling or rescheduling the exams,” said Joseph Violante, National Legislative Director of the Disabled American Veterans.
“On behalf of the men and women of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) and our auxiliaries, we are pleased to offer strong support for the Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act. You legislation would ensure that VA has the necessary tools to maximize veterans’ access to care while continuing to make progress toward the monumental goal of ending the claims backlog,” said Raymond Kelly, Director of VFW National Legislative Service.
Since joining Congress in January, Rep. Maloney has helped obtain 25 service medals and secure $985,000 in guaranteed benefits for deserving Hudson Valley veterans like Robert Ferguson. Rep. Maloney currently has a full-time Veterans Advocate on staff to help veterans with their claims for educational, disability, retirement, medical, burial, spousal and dependents' benefits as well as the correction of military records and medals.
“I had all my doctor’s information, and I had all my ducks in order but my paperwork was just sitting somewhere,” said Robert Ferguson, a Hudson Valley veteran. “When Rep. Maloney’s office intervened it was settled in three weeks when I waited almost a year. I believe if it wasn’t for Rep. Maloney’s office intervening I would still be waiting for a decision on my case.”