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Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News April 2014

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) says a proposed rule change by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) could place elderly, hospitalized and severely disabled veterans at a disadvantage in filing for benefits.

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PVA is opposing the change that would require all veterans seeking disability compensation to use only a standard form when initiating their claim.

The VA says the change will help streamline and modernize the claims process to ensure veterans receive their benefits more quickly.

Currently, a veteran, dependent or survivor can initiate a claim for benefits through any form of written communication to the VA, including something as simple as a handwritten note.

But PVA says the proposed rule changes would place greater burden on claimants in understanding the claims process before filing a claim. The rule changes proposed by the VA also presume that all veterans will have access to the standard form.

“This goes against the pro-claimant tradition idealized by President Lincoln and dramatically shifts the burden to veterans who are already frustrated by the delays and bureaucracy that typify their experiences with VA,” says Sherman Gillums Jr., associate executive director of veterans benefits at PVA.

The VA hasn’t specified a timeline on finalizing the proposal. If it moves forward with the regulation, it would take effect 30 days after its final publication in the Federal Register.

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