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Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Chairman Luttrell Delivers Opening Remarks at Legislative Hearing on 12 Bills

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Morgan Luttrell (R-Texas), the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, delivered the following opening remarks, as prepared, at the start of the subcommittee’s legislative hearing on 12 bills to improve the disability claims process for veterans, and better support surviving family members:


The subcommittee will come to order.


Good afternoon.


It is good to see everyone here.


We are here to discuss twelve bills that would benefit veterans and their survivors.


These bills would:

  • Ensure that veterans receive faster and more accurate decisions on their claims for V.A. benefits from the V.A. Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the Veterans Benefits Administration,
  • Provide veterans with more choices to control how and when their claims are processed by V.A., thus building on the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017.
  • Make the V.A. claims and appeals process more understandable for veterans and their survivors by providing them with clearer updates and instructions.
  • Decrease the number of unnecessary disability compensation examinations that are causing delays in claims processing.
  • Improve access to V.A. benefits for veterans’ spouses after the loss of their loved one, and increase the compensation that survivors are eligible for.
  • And ensure that V.A. gives equal attention to the needs of our nation’s veterans as well as their survivors.


I am proud to have introduced two of the bills on today’s agenda.


My bill, H.R. 7777, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2024, would give a cost-of-living adjustment to veterans and survivors receiving certain V.A. benefits.


This increase would be the same as what Social Security recipients get.


In the face of rampant inflation, this bill is vital for ensuring that our veterans are able to pay their bills and put food on the table for their families.


I appreciate Ranking Member Pappas for co-leading this important bill. 


My other bill, H.R. 7919, the Veterans Claims Quality Improvement Act of 2024, would ensure that veterans receive accurate and fair decisions on their claims from the V.A. Board of Veterans’ Appeals.  


The Board claims to have quality rates over 90%. But a November 2023 Subcommittee oversight hearing revealed that those rates are inflated, and the Board’s quality control and training programs are ineffective.


As a result, each year, thousands of veterans receive Board decisions that are filled with legal errors.


To correct these errors, veterans must appeal those Board decisions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, which adds more months, or even years of waiting for an accurate final decision on their claims.


And we have heard that the Board often unnecessarily sends veterans’ cases back to V.B.A. instead of actually deciding their claims.


My bill would ensure that Board leadership and low-performing Board judges are held accountable for the errors that the Board makes over and over again. 


Further, robust quality control and adequate training are crucial for ensuring that the Board does its job of issuing accurate decisions.


My bill would ensure that the Board implements effective quality control and training programs.


Veterans wait years for a final decision from the Board, and each veteran deserves a high-quality decision when they finally get one. 


I would like to thank Representatives Stefanik and Bilirakis for signing on as co-leads of my bill. 


I look forward to working with Chairman Bost and my colleagues on this subcommittee to advance these important proposals today.


Chairman Bost and I have gone through the disability claims process ourselves, and it is a top priority for us to ensure that the process works for every veteran.


I know my colleagues have worked hard on each of these bills to improve the claims process and to increase access to V.A. benefits for veterans and their survivors.


I look forward to discussing these bills on our agenda and hearing from the witnesses who have joined us today.   


I now yield to Ranking Member Pappas for his opening remarks.

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