Two bills introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, passed the House and moved onto the Senate on Tuesday.
One bill would secure cost-of-living adjustments for service-related disability compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation, and a clothing allowance.
The levels would increase at the same rate as Social Security cost-of-living adjustments and go into effect on Dec. 1.
The second bill would reform the way the Veterans Administration would hear appeals.
According to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, they would include a “local higher level review lane,” in which old evidence would be reviewed by an adjudicator; a “new evidence lane,” in which new evidence would be heard by a claims processor; and a “board land,” in which appeals would go straight to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
“I appreciate my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this long overdue legislation to help fix the VA’s broken appeals process and backlog,” Bost wrote in a statement. He chairs the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.
The second bill also contained related measures that address how the reform will be rolled out.
For example, the bill would let some veterans in an appeal opt into the new approach. The bill would also require the VA to have a plan for rolling out the reform. Finally, the law would require the VA Secretary to send Congress reports on the new and old appeal systems.