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Amata details new Veterans bills recently signed into law

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Measures were all part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023

Source: Uifa’atali Amata’a Washington D.C. office press release

Washington, D.C. — Uifa’atali Amata is informing Veterans of a series of Veterans bills that were completed as part of the Appropriations package that closed out 2022, and are now law.

Amata cosponsored the bipartisan Faster Payments to Veterans' Survivors Act of 2022, improving the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) processes for identifying, locating, and paying hard-to-find survivors of recently deceased veterans.

 “It’s part of the commitment to our Veterans that their families receive any life insurance or other survivor benefits they are due,” said Aumua Amata. “This is the veterans’ last means of providing for loved ones, and timeliness can be important, helping care for an elderly loved one or providing a future such as college opportunities to a young survivor.”

When a veteran passes away, the surviving spouse or child is often owed benefits, such as life insurance. Despite the financial hardship the survivor family might face, timely payments are challenging as the VA attempts to identify and locate them, among millions of veterans, resulting in late payments. As of September 2020, the VA owed $155 million in life insurance to nearly 15,000 people, nearly $10,500 per family.

The new law requires the VA to cut the times by half, from two years to one in most circumstances; ensure consistent procedures; better publicize the online tool; provides necessary VA staff; establishes disbursement goals of two years even in difficult cases; and requires a report to Congress six months into this implementation effort.

OTHER VETERANS LEGISLATION NOW LAW

  • The Guaranteeing Healthcare Access to Personnel Who Served Act, a bipartisan effort addressing gaps in veteran health care to improve VA reach to serve veterans better in hard-to-reach places.
  • The Veterans Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research Act expands treatment and research of prostate cancer to help diagnose and treat veterans through the VA.
  • The Reaching Every Homeless Veteran Act of 2021 expands the Department of Labor Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.
  • The VA Supply Chain Resiliency Act includes the VA in the Department of Defense’s Warstopper program and ensures access to critical healthcare supplies in future pandemics.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs Provider Accountability Act addressing the 2019 GAO Report findings so the VA must take action to ensure its healthcare providers have appropriate qualifications and clinical abilities for safety and quality of care.
  • The Rural Veterans Travel Enhancement Act can improve transportation services for rural veterans regarding medical appointment travel.
  • The Post-9/11 Veterans’ Mental Health Care Improvement Act to improve mental health services and care for post-9/11 veterans and all generations of veterans.
  • The Revising and Expediting Actions for the Crisis Hotline (REACH) for Veterans Act to improve the Veterans Crisis Line’s staff training, management and response to high-risk callers at risk of suicide.