To provide for a presumption of service-connectedness for certain claims for benefits under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

As written, this bill does not benefit Blue Water Navy concerns and may actually slow down the VA claims processing system!

House Bill HR 1490 Currently Under Consideration

This bill was introduced on March 13, 2007 and is sponsored by Rep. Joe Donnelly [D-IN]. The bill is in the first stage of the legislative process where the bill is considered in committee and may undergo significant changes in markup sessions. The bill has been referred to the House Veterans' Committee. Below is the language of the Bill as it was presented:


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. PRESUMPTION OF SERVICE-CONNECTEDNESS FOR SUBMITTED CLAIMS.

(a) In General- Section 5107 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(c) Presumption of Service-Connectedness- (1) A claimant presenting a claim for benefits with respect to a service-connected disability or death shall be presumed to have presented a valid claim of service-connectedness, subject to the requirements of paragraph (2), unless the Secretary determines there is positive evidence to the contrary.

(2) A claimant presenting a claim described under paragraph (1) shall be required to support such claim with proof of service in a conflict referred to in such claim, and a brief description of the nature, including the connection to such service, of the disability or claim.

(3) The Secretary shall audit a percentage, to be determined by the Secretary, of the presented claims described in paragraph (1), to uncover and deter fraudulent claims.

(4) The Secretary shall award benefits for claims described in paragraph (1) and meeting the requirements under paragraph (2), immediately upon processing of such claim, at a median level, as determined by the Secretary, for the type of disability described in the claim, until such time as the appropriate level of benefits is determined.'.

(b) Applicability- Subsection (c) of section 5107 of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a) of this section, shall apply to claims presented on or after the date of the enactment of this Act and claims that are still pending or have not been fully adjudicated as of the date of the enactment of this Act, but shall not apply to claims which have been denied and fully adjudicated before the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 2. REDEPLOYMENT OF DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS CLAIMS WORKERS TO ASSIST VETERANS WITH CLAIMS.

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall redeploy a certain number of employees involved with processing claims that the Secretary determines are no longer needed to evaluate claims for benefits relating to service-connected disability and death, due to the presumption of service-connectedness for such claims under section 5107(c) of title 38, United States Code, as added by section 1, for the purpose of assisting veterans applying for such benefits. The Secretary shall redeploy such employees to centers for the provision of readjustment counseling and related mental health services established under section 1712A of such title (commonly referred to as `vet centers'), or to any other locations the Secretary determines are appropriate for such purpose.


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