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Enyart Introduces Bill To Help Disabled Vets

Office of Congressman William Enyart

A southern Illinois Congressman has introduced a bill to assist disabled veterans.

U.S. Representative Bill Enyart says the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act is designed to speed up the benefit claims process for injured veterans.

He says there are over 900,000 disability claims waiting to be processed by the Veterans Administration, some of which were filed over a year ago. Enyart says veterans deserve better.

“These are real Americans who deserve disability benefits because those injuries were sustained in service to their country,” Enyart said. “I know that because our office works everyday on some of these cases to help our veterans here in southern Illinois.”

Enyart's office has been able to assist Army and National Guard veteran Michael Boren of Energy, Illinois in getting his claim processed after 19 months. Boren injured his back twice and says he was surprised to learn how poorly VA offices communicate with each other in different regions of the country. He says the delay has cost him job opportunities.

“Jobs are hard as it is. But when you’re using a cane and you’re taking high dosage of strong medication, you don’t get much opportunity there,” Boren said.

Enyart's bill would require disability claims be processed within 125 days or the veteran receives a provisional benefit payment until the VA's ruling.

Enyart believes 125 days is a more than reasonable timetable.

“That’s over four months. If they can’t get it done in four months, then we believe the claimant should get a partial payment,” Enyart said. “Really all that partial payment is doing is serving as a down payment until the final ruling is made.”

Enyart says if the disability claim is ruled valid, the veteran will receive the remainder of the benefit payment. If it's not valid, the veteran will not be required to repay the partial benefit, unless the VA proves it was a fraudulent claim.

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