WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced key progress in his continued effort to reduce the veterans disability claims backlog after the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs earlier this week passed by a voice vote, S. 1581, the Veterans Programs Improvements Act of 2013. The omnibus veterans bill includes language from S. 1148, the Veterans Benefits Claims Faster Filing Act, a proposal Senator Heinrich and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced in June.
"I'm pleased the committee took quick action to pass this commonsense approach that will help accelerate the claims process," said Sen. Heinrich. "We have an obligation to keep America's promise to provide our veterans in New Mexico and across the country with the best care and benefits we have to offer in the fastest way possible."
Language from the Veterans Benefits Claims Faster Filing Act would require the Veterans Benefits Administration, an agency under the VA, to provide veterans with accurate information for faster filing options. Filing claims online through the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program, instead of filing a paper claim, accelerates turnaround times and makes processing more efficient.
According to the VA, on average it takes 113 days for veterans to receive a final disability rating if they file a Fully Developed Claim online, compared to 373 days if they file a non-Fully Developed Claims on paper. Currently, the national average number of days it takes to process disability claims is 304. In New Mexico, the average is 271 days.