H.R. 1484: Veterans Appeals Improvement Act of 2011

H.R. 1484

Veterans Appeals Improvement Act of 2011

Date
June 1, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, May 31, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1484, the Veterans Appeals Improvement Act of 2011, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for passage.  

H.R. 1484 was introduced by Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) on April 12, 2011, and was referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.  The Committee held a markup of the bill on May 12, 2011, and ordered it to be reported, as amended, by voice vote. 

Bill Summary

H.R. 1484 would provide a waiver of regional office jurisdiction if a claimant or the claimant's representative submits new evidence in support of a case for which an appeal has been filed.  The bill would require that evidence be submitted to the Board directly and not to the AOJ, unless the claimant or the claimant's representative requests that the evidence be reviewed by the AOJ before being submitted to the Board.

The bill would also establish a commission known as the “Veterans Judicial Review Commission” to evaluate and make specific decisions to improve the administrative and judicial appellate review processes of veterans' and survivors' benefits determinations.  The bill would require that the commission evaluate the administrative and judicial appellate review processes of veterans' and survivors' benefits determinations; and make specific recommendations and offer solutions to improve the accuracy, fairness, transparency, predictability, timeliness, and finality of such appellate review processes, including a recommendation as to whether the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims should have the authority to hear class action or associational standing cases.

H.R. 1484 would set the criteria for the commission’s membership, leadership, and qualification for such individuals.  Finally, the bill would require the commission submit to Congress a report of their evaluation and recommendations, as well as a report on their activities including: specific recommendations and solutions proposed by the Commission (including a recommendation as to whether the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims should have the authority to hear class action or associational standing cases); relevant background and statistical information associated with such recommendations and solutions; and other information the Commission determines appropriate.

Background

A claimant who files for benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must submit evidence in support of a claim to the appropriate Agency of Original Jurisdiction (AOJ).  For claims arising under benefit programs administered by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), the AOJ is generally one of 57 VBA regional offices.  Although the Veterans Health Administration and the National Cemetery Administration render decisions on benefit programs under their purview, the predominant arena for claims decisions is at VA regional offices.

Cost

According to CBO, enacting H.R. 1484 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.