Denham bill aims to reduce VA claims backlog while offering better access to care

Bipartisan legislation reintroduced by U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) on Tuesday aims to cut through a massive benefits claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by striking a rule that initial physical exams must be conducted by the VA in order for veterans to file claims.

The backlog of veterans benefits claims grew to more than 100,000 as of March 25, according to VA data, and is defined as claims that have been waiting to be processed for more than 125 days.

The Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act would enable veterans to see local doctors for the initial physical examination required to seek benefits in an effort to get faster diagnoses and to reduce the VA claims backlog.

“These men and women put their lives on the line for our country and it’s a disgrace the VA is putting those same lives at risk by refusing to cut through red tape and bureaucratic backlogs,” Denham said. “This bill will ensure our nation’s heroes, especially those here in the Valley where accessibility to VA facilities is limited, will get timely access to the care that they were promised.”

Denham, the co-chair of the Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus, introduced the measure with U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), the fellow co-chair of the caucus.

Under the Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act, H.R. 1725, the VA would also be required to report on the bill’s implementation and to provide more information about VA denial of claims in which local doctors were used.

The lawmakers previously introduced the bill in the 114th and 113th Congresses.