Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia has introduced a new bill called S1024 (pdf warning), the bill ends the VA’s legal duty to assist veterans once the claim is denied and goes to appeal.
- The bill fails to address the lack of precedent in the VA claims process and decreases decision finality at all levels of appeal.
- The bill fails to address VA’s inability to properly satisfy its duty to assist at the Agency of Original Jurisdiction-level.
- The bill attacks the uniquely pro-veteran system at the Board due to the limited applicability of the Secretary’s duty to assist.
- The bill encourages veterans to not exercise their right to a Board Hearing, not submit additional evidence, and not have their case reviewed by a Veterans Law Judge.
- The bill does not give adequate consideration to the legacy appeals that have already been pending for years.
- The bill should not include the Fully Developed Appeals Program due to problems with implementation with the other sections of the bill.
- The bill harms the veteran by permitting VA to prematurely “dismiss” appeals, even if the veteran intends to appeal an initial decision.
- . The bill harms veterans by creating a “new and relevant” evidence standard with a definition that is unclear.
- The bill fails to require reporting be made available to the public.
I urge you to contact your senator immediately and tell them to vote against this bill. This bill must die in the Senate and not go to the House. Action is needed now!