Presently, Congress is reviewing Secretary Shinseki’s proposed legislation called, “The Veteran Benefit Programs Improvement Act of 2011.” Most of the suggested revisions in the request confront issues of which the VA has yet to rectify. If approved, the bill could assist Veterans in receiving their benefits faster and with less hassle. Benefits being reconsidered are pension plans, education, appeals, insurance, and loans.
The bill largely focuses on expediting the process in which Veteran’s receive compensation and other benefits. Immediate pensions for disabled soldiers and their spouses seem like a logical demand. However, legal hurdles usually keep veterans and their families from understanding their rights, and therefore, delays their access to payments. With the new act, the VA would be required to simplify the legal jargon used in the pension proceedings, helping disabled veterans get their due payment quickly and easily.
People are going to college at older ages these days. For active duty soldiers, time in the service or recovering from duty related injuries might have delayed going to school. So, it makes sense for the VA to extend the deadline for one to claim their education benefits. Also, for veterans with disabilities, the VA will give rewards to employers who hire and train disabled veterans under this new act if passed.
Under Title II of the legislation, it proposes something that might not go over too well with all the lawyers out there. It suggests that veterans not have to pay any legal fees until their case is won. On the one side, this could be good for veterans who are denied benefits and need to appeal the decision but have no funds to hire legal representation. On the other hand, people argue that this could make it harder for veterans to get a lawyer because no legal council will want to work practically for free on a case that could take many months to resolve. Maybe the Veteran seeking legal help could remind the attorney why he or she is a lawyer in the first place.
This part of the act recommends extra life insurance for those not receiving full coverage. It also ensures life insurance for veterans who are completely disabled.
Such programs as the VA loan and Basic Allowance for Housing program have been much wanted improvements for veterans in need of a home. However, some veterans still continue to fall through the cracks. The new act advocates the single parents’ right to use loan funds for their children’s homing requirements while on duty. Veterans who have been misplaced due to disasters will receive aid from the VA. This part of the bill will hopefully also start to make it more mandatory that the VA start taking other factors and lifestyles into consideration when approving or denying VA Benefits.
If passed, the legislation could mean a system that works faster for service men and women who do not time to wait.
Photo thanks to wallyg under creative common license on Flickr.