June 28, 2016

Cassidy, Klobuchar, Johnson, Kirk Introduce WINGMAN Act

WASHINGTON—US Senators Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced the Working to Integrate Networks Guaranteeing Member Access Now (WINGMAN) Act to help veterans and their families process their benefit claims in a more timely manner.

“My office is here to help veterans. The WINGMAN Act will allow my staff the ability to access VA files in a more timely manner and speed up the claims process,” said Dr. Cassidy.

“Our veterans have served our country on the front lines. They shouldn’t have to face long waits to receive the benefits they’ve earned when they return home,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation would take an important step to cut out the middle-man and provide casework staff with the tools to better respond to the needs of our brave men and women.”

“America’s veterans are the finest among us. Since I joined the Senate in 2011, thousands of Wisconsin veterans have asked my office for help navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs’ bureaucracy and benefits backlogs,” said Sen. Johnson. “This important bipartisan piece of legislation would improve congressional offices’ ability to assist veterans in receiving the benefits they were promised.”

“This WINGMAN Act will allow my office to assist Illinois veterans in processing their claims faster by gaining access to the important records they need, which can take a VA bureaucrat months to provide. One of my greatest honors as Senator is helping the men and women who have served our country receive the benefits they deserve. This legislation will allow me to assist them better,” said Sen. Kirk.

Currently, it takes weeks or months for congressional constituent service representatives to receive files from the VA that they requested to help veterans with their claims. Constituent service representatives have permission to possess these files, but have to use the VA as a middle-man to receive them. Without access to the electronic VBA claims system, constituent service representatives lack the ability to create a dialog with the VA over disability claims.

The WINGMAN Act will eliminate the burdensome step of having to use the VA as a middle-man and allow constituent service representatives direct access to these files. This will allow constituent service representatives the ability to keep veterans better updated on the status of their pending claims, including medical records, compensation, pension, exam records, rating decisions, statement of the case, supplementary statement of the case, notice of disagreement and form-9 files.

US Representative Ted Yoho introduced a companion bill, H.R. 5166, in the US House of Representatives.

Read the legislation here.