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ICYMI: Rep. Duarte’s Clear Communications Bill Would Reform Indecipherable VA Disability Claim Notice Letters

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mike Bost (R-Ill.), and Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.), released the following statements after Rep. Duarte introduced H.R. 7816, the Clear Communication for Veterans Claims Act, legislation to make the push to reform and improve the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) letters and correspondence to veterans to ensure that veterans and their survivors are receiving notice letters from VA that are concise, understandable, and provide sufficient information for them to make informed, clear decisions on their claims for VA benefits.


“For many veterans, filing a disability compensation claim for benefits from VA is one of the most important steps they’ll take after serving our country. Navigating this process should not be painstakingly difficult and confusing, like we’ve heard far too often that it can be,” said Chairman Bost. “That’s why I am pleased to see my colleague and friend, Rep. Duarte, introduce the Clear Communication for Veterans Claims Act, to ensure that VA’s notice letters for disability claims are straightforward and easy for veterans to understand, without the confusing legal jargon that we know can cause veterans and their survivors undue anxiety and stress.”


“The process by which veterans apply for and receive the benefits they earned in the course of their duty and service to this grateful nation is at best complicated, and at worst, broken. The VA should be able to clearly and concisely inform veterans of the status of their veterans benefits and claims, and yet, these written notifications can lead to more questions. This is unacceptable,” said Rep. Duarte. “My bill, the Clear Communications for Veterans Claims Act, seeks to ensure that the VA clearly and concisely communicates with veterans on the status of their benefits claims, and other applications so they can make informed decisions about the next steps they may need to pursue to obtain the benefits and support they have rightfully earned.”



Following a Subcommittee on Disability Assistance & Memorial Affairs oversight hearing, it’s clear that veterans and their survivors can struggle with the complexity of correspondence, especially Notice Letters, from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regarding benefits decisions, including those related to disability compensation, education, healthcare, and other services. The complexity of these correspondences can be confusing and overwhelming, which can be frustrating for veterans and their survivors and unintentionally increase stress levels.

  • The Clear Communications for Veterans Claims Act (H.R. 7816) would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to improve VA's Notice Letters so that they are shorter and easier to understand for veterans and their survivors.
  • Specifically, H.R. 7816:
    • Requires the Secretary to enter into an agreement with a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) to assess Notice Letters within 30 days after the Act’s enactment; and
    • Requires the VA Secretary, within 90 days of receiving the assessment, to submit the recommendations from the FFRDC to the Committees on Veterans Affairs in the Senate and the House, and to implement these recommendations.

To learn more about H.R. 7816, the Clear Communications for Veterans Claims Act, click here. Bill text can be found here.

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