Text: H.R.3269 — 103rd Congress (1993-1994)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (10/13/1993)

 
[Congressional Bills 103th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 3269 Introduced in House (IH)]

103d CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 3269

  To amend title 38, United States Code, to make improvements in the 
 procedures used by the Department of Veterans Affairs in adjudicating 
         claims for veterans benefits, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                            October 13, 1993

  Mr. Evans introduced the following bill; which was referred to the 
                     Committee on Veterans' Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
  To amend title 38, United States Code, to make improvements in the 
 procedures used by the Department of Veterans Affairs in adjudicating 
         claims for veterans benefits, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; REFERENCES TO TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Veterans 
Adjudication Procedures Act of 1993''.
    (b) References to Title 38, United States Code.--Except as 
otherwise expressly provided, whenever in this Act an amendment or 
repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment to, or repeal of, a 
section or other provision, the reference shall be considered to be 
made to a section or other provision of title 38, United States Code.

SEC. 2. WORK RATE STANDARDS FOR ADJUDICATIVE EMPLOYEES.

    (a) In General.--(1) Chapter 7 is amended by adding at the end the 
following new section:
``Sec. 713. Work rate standards for adjudicative employees
    ``(a) The Secretary shall provide that under the work rate 
standards that apply to employees of the Department who adjudicate 
claims for benefits that have been submitted to the Secretary, those 
employees do not receive credit for work on a claim until the decision 
on the claim becomes final. Such a decision shall not be considered to 
have become final until the claimant has exhausted, or failed to timely 
exercise, the right to appellate review by the Board of Veterans' 
Appeals.''.
    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is 
amended by adding at the end the following new item:

``713. Work rate standards for adjudicative employees.''.
    (b) Effective Date.--Section 713 of title 38, United States Code, 
as added by subsection (a), shall apply with respect to claims for 
benefits that are submitted to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs after 
the end of the 180-day period beginning on the date of the enactment of 
this Act.

SEC. 3. ANNUAL REPORT ON STATUS OF CLAIMS FOR BENEFITS.

    (a) In General.--(1) Chapter 5 is amended by inserting after 
section 529 the following new section:
``Sec. 530. Annual report on status of claims for benefits
    ``(a) The Secretary shall submit to the Congress an annual report 
on the status of claims for benefits before the Department during the 
preceding fiscal year (beginning with the third fiscal year ending 
after the date of the enactment of this section). The report for any 
fiscal year shall be submitted in conjunction with the report under 
section 7101(d) of this title for that year. Each such report shall 
separately set forth, with regard to claims for benefits in which a 
decision of the agency of original jurisdiction or the Board of 
Veterans' Appeals became final during the preceding fiscal year, the 
average number of days that passed from the date on which the claim was 
initially received by the Department until the following dates, as 
applicable:
            ``(1) The date on which the notice of decision was provided 
        to the claimant, for those cases in which the claimant did not 
        file a timely notice of disagreement (along with the number of 
        such cases).
            ``(2) The date on which the statement of the case was 
        provided to the claimant, for those cases in which the claimant 
        filed a timely notice of disagreement, and the agency of 
        original jurisdiction did not conduct a hearing, and the 
        claimant did not file a timely substantive appeal to the Board 
        of Veterans' Appeals (along with the number of such cases).
            ``(3) The date on which the statement of the case was 
        provided to the claimant or the date on which the notice of the 
        decision rendered after the conduct of a hearing of the agency 
        of original jurisdiction, whichever is later, for those cases 
        in which the claimant filed a timely notice of disagreement, 
        and agency of original jurisdiction conducted a hearing, and 
        the claimant did not file a timely substantive appeal to the 
        Board of Veterans' Appeals (along with the number of such 
        cases).
            ``(4) The date on which the notice of the Board of 
        Veterans' Appeals decision was provided to the claimant, for 
        those cases in which the Board of Veterans' Appeals did not 
        remand to the agency of original jurisdiction before issuing 
        its decision and neither the agency of original jurisdiction 
        nor the Board of Veterans' Appeals conducted a formal hearing 
        (along with the number of such cases).
            ``(5) The date on which the notice of the Board of 
        Veterans' Appeals decision was provided to the claimant, for 
        those cases in which the agency of original jurisdiction 
        conducted a hearing, and the Board of Veterans' Appeals issued 
        a decision on the appeal of the claim without conducting a 
        formal hearing and without remanding the appeal to the agency 
        of original jurisdiction before issuing its decision (along 
        with the number of such cases).
            ``(6) The date on which the notice of the Board of 
        Veterans' Appeals decision was provided to the claimant, for 
        those cases in which the agency of original jurisdiction 
        conducted a hearing and the Board of Veterans' Appeals issued a 
        decision on the appeal of the claim after conducting a formal 
        hearing and without remanding the appeal to the agency of 
        original jurisdiction before issuing its decision (along with 
        the number of such cases).
            ``(7) The date on which the notice of the Board of 
        Veterans' Appeals decision was provided to the claimant, for 
        those cases in which the agency of original jurisdiction did 
        not conduct a hearing, and the Board of Veterans' Appeals 
        issued a decision on the appeal of the claim after conducting a 
        formal hearing and without remanding the appeal to the agency 
        of original jurisdiction before issuing its decision (along 
        with the number of such cases).
            ``(8) The date on which the notice of the Board of 
        Veterans' Appeals final decision was provided to the claimant, 
        for those cases in which the Board of Veterans' Appeals did not 
        conduct a formal hearing and remanded the case on one or more 
        occasions to the agency of original jurisdiction before issuing 
        its final decision (along with the number of such cases).
            ``(9) The date on which the notice of the Board of 
        Veterans' Appeals final decision was provided to the claimant, 
        for those cases in which the Board of Veterans' Appeals 
        conducted a formal hearing and remanded the case on one or more 
        occasions to the agency of original jurisdiction before issuing 
        its final decision (along with the number of such cases).
    ``(b) Each such report shall also set forth the number of claims 
for benefits pending a final decision as of the end of the fiscal year 
preceding the submission of the report.''.
    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is 
amended by inserting after the item relating to section 529 the 
following new item:

``530. Annual report on status of claims for benefits.''.
    (b) Effective Date.--Section 530 of title 38, United States Code, 
as added by subsection (a), shall apply only with respect to claims for 
benefits that are received by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs more 
than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 4. OFFICIALS DETERMINING ORIGINAL AND REOPENED CLAIMS FOR 
              BENEFITS.

    (a) In General.--Subchapter I of chapter 51 is amended by adding at 
the end the following:
``Sec. 5109A. Officials acting on behalf of Secretary
    ``(a) The functions of the Secretary under this chapter in making 
determinations on a claim for benefits filed under this chapter shall 
be carried out in each case by a single official (known as a `rating 
official'). A single rating official (rather than a board of officials) 
shall make the initial determination of the Secretary on all original 
and reopened claims filed with the Secretary.
    ``(b) Whenever a hearing is requested following a decision of a 
rating official denying (in whole or in part) a claim for benefits, the 
official who conducts the hearing shall make a determination in the 
case without referring the case back to the rating official who 
initially decided the case (or another rating official) and shall issue 
a decision on the case in the manner prescribed in section 5104 of this 
title.''.
    (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 
5109 the following new item:

``5109A. Officials acting on behalf of Secretary.''.

SEC. 5. BOARD OF VETERANS' APPEALS PROCEDURES.

    (a) Termination of Action by BVA Through Sections.--(1) Sections 
7102 and 7103 are amended to read as follows:
``Sec. 7102. Decisions by the Board
    ``A proceeding instituted before the Board shall be assigned to an 
individual member of the Board (other than the Chairman). A member who 
is assigned a proceeding shall make a determination thereon, including 
any motion filed in connection therewith. The member shall make a 
report under section 7104(d) of this title on any such determination, 
which report shall constitute the member's final disposition of the 
proceeding.
``Sec. 7103. Reconsideration; correction of obvious errors
    ``(a) The decision of the member of the Board determining a matter 
under section 7102 of this title is final unless the Chairman order 
reconsideration of the case. Such an order may be made on the 
Chairman's initiative or upon motion of the claimant.
    ``(b) If the Chairman orders reconsideration in a case, the case 
shall upon reconsideration be heard by a section of the Board. Any such 
section shall consist of not less than three members (and may include 
the Chairman). The member of the Board who made the decision under 
reconsideration may not serve as a member of the section.
    ``(c) When a case is heard by a section of the Board after such an 
order for reconsideration, the decision of a majority of the members of 
the section shall constitute the final decision of the Board.
    ``(d) The Board on its own motion may correct an obvious error in 
the record, without regard to whether there has been a motion or order 
for reconsideration.''.
    (2) The items relating to sections 7102 and 7103 in the table of 
sections at the beginning of chapter 71 are amended to read as follows:

``7102. Decisions by the Board.
``7103. Reconsideration; correction of obvious errors.''.
    (b) Conforming Amendments.--(1) Section 7110 is amended by striking 
out ``section'' both places it appears and inserting in lieu thereof 
``member''.
    (2)(A) The heading of section 7110 is amended to read as follows:
``Sec. 7110. Traveling members''.
    (B) The item relating to section 7110 in the table of sections at 
the beginning of chapter 71 is amended to read as follows:

``7110. Traveling members.''.

SEC. 6. REVISION OF DECISIONS BASED ON CLEAR AND UNMISTAKABLE ERROR.

    (a) Original Decisions.--(1) Chapter 51 is amended by inserting 
after section 5109A, as added by section 4, the following new section:
``Sec. 5109B. Revision of decisions on grounds of clear and 
              unmistakable error
    ``(a) A decision by the Secretary under this chapter is subject to 
revision on the grounds of clear and unmistakable error. If evidence 
establishes the error, the prior decision shall be reversed or revised.
    ``(b) For the purposes of authorizing benefits, a rating or other 
adjudicative decision that constitutes a reversal or revision of a 
prior decision on the grounds of clear and unmistakable error has the 
same effect as if the decision had been made on the date of the prior 
decision.
    ``(c) Review to determine whether clear and unmistakable error 
exists in a case may be instituted by the Secretary on the Secretary's 
own motion or upon request of the claimant.
    ``(d) A request for revision of a decision of the Secretary based 
on clear and unmistakable error may be made at any time after that 
decision is made.
    ``(e) Such a request shall be submitted to the Secretary and shall 
be decided in the same manner as any other claim.''.
    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is 
amended by inserting after the item relating to section 5109A, as added 
by section 4, the following new item:

``5109B. Revision of decisions on grounds of clear and unmistakable 
                            error.''.
    (b) BVA Decisions.--(1) Chapter 71 is amended by adding at the end 
the following new section:
``Sec. 7111. Revision of decisions on grounds of clear and unmistakable 
              error
    ``(a) A decision by the Board is subject to revision on the grounds 
of clear and unmistakable error. If evidence establishes the error, the 
prior decision shall be reversed or revised.
    ``(b) For the purposes of authorizing benefits, a rating or other 
adjudicative decision of the Board that constitutes a reversal or 
revision of a prior decision of the Board on the grounds of clear and 
unmistakable error has the same effect as if the decision had been made 
on the date of the prior decision.
    ``(c) Review to determine whether clear and unmistakable error 
exists in a case may be instituted by the Board on the Board's own 
motion or upon request of the claimant.
    ``(d) A request for revision of a decision of the Board based on 
clear and unmistakable error may be made at any time after that 
decision is made.
    ``(e) Such a request shall be submitted directly to the Board and 
shall be decided by the Board on the merits, without referral to any 
adjudicative or hearing official acting on behalf of the Secretary.
    ``(f) A claim filed with the Secretary that requests reversal or 
revision of a previous Board decision due to clear and unmistakable 
error shall be considered to be a request to the Board under this 
section, and the Secretary shall promptly transmit any such request to 
the Board for its consideration under this section.''.
    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is 
amended by adding at the end the following new item:

``7111. Revision of decisions on grounds of clear and unmistakable 
                            error.''.
    (c) Effective Date.--(1) Section 5109B and 7110 of title 38, United 
States Code, apply to any determination made before, on, or after the 
date of the enactment of this Act.
    (2) Notwithstanding section 402 of the Veterans Judicial Review Act 
(38 U.S.C. 7251 note), chapter 72 of title 38, United States Code, 
shall apply with respect to any decision of the Board of Veterans' 
Appeals on a claim alleging that a previous determination of the Board 
was the product of clear and unmistakable error if that claim is filed 
after, or was pending before the Department of Veterans Affairs, the 
Court of Veterans Appeals, the Court of Appeals for the Federal 
Circuit, or the Supreme Court on the date of the enactment of this Act.

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