Padilla, Braun Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Streamline Veterans’ Access to Benefits Claims

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) introduced bipartisan legislation to streamline veterans’ access to their benefit claim files. The Wounded Warrior Access Act would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish and maintain a secure online tool or website to enable veterans or their representatives to make requests to receive their claim files electronically. Representative Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.-33) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

When a veteran submits a claim for benefits to the VA, a claims file (C-File) is created. C-Files contain a veteran’s service records, results of VA exams, additional information submitted by the veteran, and any material the VA deems necessary to decide the claim. Currently, veterans must travel to a regional VA location or mail in a form to request a paper copy of their C-Files, slowing down the process for individuals to gain access to their information. 

“Those who have served our country with honor, courage, and distinction deserve our nation’s enduring support and gratitude,” said Senator Padilla. “Veterans should not have to travel to a regional VA location to access their claim file or wait for a physical copy to come in the mail; they should be able to quickly access the information they need electronically.”

“American Veterans represent the absolute best our country has to offer – and they deserve the absolute best when they return home. Veterans should not have to jump through hoops just to gain access to benefits they are entitled to, and I’m proud to cosponsor this bill that will streamline the entire benefits process,” said Senator Braun.

“The Wounded Warrior Access Act will help the Department of Veterans Affairs take advantage of advances in technology to improve the process and create more transparency for veterans who wish to obtain their own VA claims files. Wounded Warrior Project thanks Senator Padilla for leading this effort to make personal VA files more accessible.  We urge the U.S. Senate to pass the Wounded Warrior Access Act as soon as possible,” said Jose Ramos, Wounded Warrior Project Vice President for Government and Community Relations.

“For more than 100 years, DAV has provided veterans assistance with their claims and appeals. Veterans often experience delays in receiving requested records which in turn can delay their ability to develop needed evidence or information for their claim or appeal. DAV strongly supports the Wounded Warrior Access Act as it calls for significant and meaningful claims reform while preserving and enhancing the veteran’s due process rights. Veterans must have expeditious access to their own benefits claims and appeals files,” said Disabled American Veterans National Service Director Jim Marszalek.

This legislation has been endorsed by Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Military-Veterans Advocacy, Inc., and Wounded Warrior Project.

Full text of the bill can be found here