Veteranclaims’s Blog

July 27, 2010

Veterans Benefit Act 2010 Said to Harm More than Help Veterans

Full Article at: Trojan horse bill hurts veterans it purports to help

DELAWARE VOICE • By THOMAS J. REED • July 25, 2010

“The Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2010 sounded positive enough when Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki sent the major piece of legislation to Congress on May 26.

However, according to Widener University Taishoff Professor of Law Thomas J. Reed [recently retired as director of the school’s Veterans Law Clinic], “the bill is a Trojan horse that introduces a number of anti-veteran and anti-lawyer measures under the guise of helping speed the veterans disability claim process.”

“When a vet’s claim is denied by the VA regional office, the vet may appeal that denial to the Board of Veterans Appeals, a VA internal review body. A veterans law judge conducts a hearing — which can take a year to get scheduled — and then issues a written decision. The Veterans Benefits Improvement Act[2010] would eliminate the statutory requirement that veterans law judges must explain the basis of, and reasoning behind, their decisions. Shinseki’s report claims that relieving judges of this writing requirement will speed up decision-making, but the court cannot review a veterans law judge’s decision adequately without knowing how the judge reached a decision. This is a retreat to the loose standards of the board in the 1980s. When the basis for a decision is not spelled out, a vet cannot argue why the veterans law judge was wrong.”

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