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Rounds, Klobuchar Introduce Legislation to Improve Training for VA Personnel Overseeing PTSD Claims

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) reintroduced legislation to improve training for personnel handling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claims at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). By improving training for VA personnel who are responsible for processing disability claims, this bipartisan legislation would help make certain benefits are being correctly determined so veterans experiencing PTSD are able to access the health care, treatment and compensation they need.

“Our men and women in uniform have sacrificed so much to protect our freedom,” said Rounds. “Nearly 16 percent of veterans’ PTSD claims were incorrectly processed by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) in fiscal year 2019. This kind of error rate is unacceptable. The quality of life of our veterans is seriously impacted when these claims are improperly processed. This bipartisan legislation would establish and require a national training program for VBA claims processors to eliminate costly processing errors so our veterans receive the quality, timely care they have earned.”

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country. We must repay this service and make sure they’re able to access quality benefits that meet their needs,” said Klobuchar. “The VA estimates that nearly 16 percent of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD, making it all the more essential that we process PTSD claims efficiently and connect veterans with the care they have earned and deserve.”

This legislation would require implementation of recommendations made in a December 2020 report from the Office of the Inspector General, which estimated VA personnel inaccurately processed nearly 16 percent of PTSD disability claims completed in fiscal year 2019.

Specifically, The VA Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Processing Claims Improvement Act of 2023 would:

  • Require the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) Compensation Service to:
    • Update its ongoing national training program for claims processors who review PTSD disability benefit claims. This would include training on stressor development and verification.
    • Standardize station-selected training at regional offices.
    • Annually update the PTSD VBA’s procedural guidance to provide claims processors with better resources regarding best practices, including specific guidance regarding development of claims involving entitlement to service connection for PTSD.
  • Establish a formal process to annually:
    • Analyze training needs based on identified processing error trends.
    • Conduct studies on military PTSD stressors and decision-making claims for claims processors to help guide the national training program.

Rounds and Klobuchar also introduced this legislation in the 117th Congress.