Text: H.R.5928 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (07/29/2010)


111th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 5928

To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the efficiency of processing certain claims for disability compensation by veterans.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
July 29, 2010

Mr. Walz (for himself, Mr. King of New York, Mr. Donnelly of Indiana, and Mr. Heinrich) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs


A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the efficiency of processing certain claims for disability compensation by veterans.

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

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Veterans’ Disability Claims Efficiency Act of 2010”.

SEC. 2. Improvement of disability claims processing.

(a) Establishment of fast track interim disability ratings.—Section 1157 of title 38, United States Code, is amended—

(1) by striking “The Secretary” and inserting the following:

“(a) In General.—The Secretary”; and

(2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

“(b) Fast track interim disability ratings.—(1) In the case of a veteran who submits to the Secretary a claim for compensation under this chapter for more than one condition and the Secretary determines that a disability rating can be assigned without further development for one or more conditions but not all conditions in the claim, the Secretary shall—

“(A) expeditiously review the claim in accordance with section 5103B of this title;

“(B) assign an interim disability rating for each condition that the Secretary determines could be assigned without further development (except as provided in paragraph (3)(A)); and

“(C) continue development of the remaining conditions.

“(2) If the Secretary is able to assign a disability rating for a condition described in paragraph (1)(C) with respect to a claim, the Secretary shall assign such rating and combine such rating with each interim rating previously assigned under paragraph (1)(B) with respect to that claim.

“(3)(A) With respect to an interim disability rating assigned under paragraph (1)(B) for a condition that is rated less than the maximum rate, the Secretary shall continue development of such condition.

“(B) Except as provided in subparagraph (C), an interim disability rating assigned under paragraph (1)(B) for a condition shall remain in effect unless the Secretary later assigns an increased rating for such condition.

“(C) Under regulations prescribed by the Secretary, subparagraph (B) shall not apply to an interim disability rating assigned under paragraph (1)(B) for a condition if—

“(i) such rating was based on fraud; or

“(ii) such condition improves.”.

(b) Establishment of fast track claim review process.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Subchapter I of chapter 51 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 5103A the following new section:

§ 5103B. Expedited review of initial claims for disability compensation

“(a) Process Required.—The Secretary shall establish a process for the rapid identification of initial claims for disability compensation that should, in the adjudication of such claims, receive priority in the order of review.

“(b) Review of Initial Claims.—As part of the process required by subsection (a), the Secretary shall carry out a preliminary review of all initial claims for disability compensation submitted to the Secretary in order to identify whether—

“(1) the claims have the potential of being adjudicated quickly, including claims where an interim disability rating could be assigned under section 1157(b)(1)(B) of this title;

“(2) the claims qualify for priority treatment under paragraph (2) of subsection (c); and

“(3) a temporary disability rating could be assigned with respect to the claims under section 1156 of this title.

“(c) Priority in Adjudication of Initial Claims.—(1) As part of the process required by subsection (a) and except as provided in paragraph (2), the Secretary shall, in the adjudication of initial claims for disability compensation submitted to the Secretary, give priority in the order of review of such claims to claims identified under subsection (b)(1) as having the potential of being adjudicated quickly.

“(2) Under regulations prescribed for such purpose, the Secretary may provide priority in the order of review of initial claims for disability compensation based on the effect such priority would have on a claimant.”.

(2) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.—The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 51 of such title is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 5103A, the following new item:


“5103B. Expedited review of initial claims for disability compensation”.

(c) Reports.—

(1) FIRST INTERIM REPORT.—Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on—

(A) the implementation of sections 1157(b) and 5103B of title 38, United States Code, as added by this section;

(B) the workflow of the employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs who review and process claims for disability compensation, including an analysis of—

(i) the efficiency of such employees; and

(ii) whether such claims are directed to such employees based on the complexity of the claim in relation to the experience and skill of the employee; and

(C) pilot programs carried out by the Secretary relating to the review and process of claims for disability compensation, including—

(i) the status of such pilot programs;

(ii) an evaluation of any best practices learned from such pilot programs; and

(iii) whether such practices should be expanded.

(2) SECOND INTERIM REPORT.—Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees an update to the report submitted under paragraph (1).

(3) FINAL REPORT.—Not later than two years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees an update to the report submitted under paragraph (2).

(4) APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES.—In this subsection, the term “appropriate congressional committees” means the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate.

(d) Effective Date.—The amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply with respect to claims for disability compensation filed on or after the date that is two years after the date of the enactment of this Act.