In a letter to Shinseki on Tuesday, Grassley asked what the Department of Veterans Affairs is doing to improve the quality of VA claims decisions and reduce unnecessary appeals.
“The fact that the VA’s decisions are not only overturned on appeal frequently, but that a majority of claims were so wrongly decided in the first place shows me that there are serious, systemic problems with the process for approving veterans’ claims,” Grassley said. “After providing substantial increases in taxpayer dollars to the VA to address the claims backlog, it’s clear that devoting more money alone is not the answer. The VA needs to tackle this problem head on, because without substantial reform, thousands of veterans will continue to face needless delays and red tape.”
Veterans who are wrongly denied benefits often suffer significant harm, Grassley said, even if they eventually prevail. So does the taxpayer, he added, because when the government loses on appeal, it must not only pay the benefits in question, it also must cover the veteran’s attorneys fees when the court finds the government’s position to be unjustified.