Cassidy, Johnson, Kirk introduce bipartisan bill to help veterans and their families

Bipartisan legislation introduced on Tuesday by U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) would take steps to process the benefit claims of veterans and their families faster.

The Working to Integrate Networks Guaranteeing Member Access Now (WINGMAN) Act would remove the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a middleman between congressional constituent service representatives and veterans requesting help with claims.

“My office is here to help veterans,” Cassidy said. “The WINGMAN Act will allow my staff the ability to access VA files in a more timely manner and speed up the claims process.”

Under the bill, constituent service representatives would be able to directly access the electronic veterans benefits claims system upon requests from veterans.

The change would enable constituent service representatives to have access to medical records, compensation information, pension information, exam records, rating decisions, statements of the case, supplementary statements of the case, notices of disagreement and form 9 files to assist with claims processing.

“America’s veterans are the finest among us,” Johnson said. “Since I joined the Senate in 2011, thousands of Wisconsin veterans have asked my office for help navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs’ bureaucracy and benefits backlogs. This important bipartisan piece of legislation would improve congressional offices’ ability to assist veterans in receiving the benefits they were promised.”

Kirk said that the bill would enable his office to assist Illinois veterans in processing claims faster by providing access to important records that can take months for the VA to provide.

“One of my greatest honors as senator is helping the men and women who have served our country receive the benefits they deserve,” Kirk said. “This legislation will allow me to assist them better.”

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a cosponsor of the bill, said that the legislation would provide tools for casework staff to better respond to the needs of veterans.

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