Skip To Content

April 15, 2021

Rep. Trone Introduces Bill to Ensure Veterans Exposed to Toxic Substances Can Access VA Benefits Faster

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hannah Muldavin, Hannah.Muldavin@mail.house.gov

Rep. Trone Introduces Bill to Ensure Veterans Exposed to Toxic Substances Can Access VA Benefits Faster 

WASHINGTON — Today, Congressman David Trone (MD-06), member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced the Fairly Assessing Service-related Exposure Residual (FASTER) Presumptions Act to reform VA’S presumptive decision-making process and help veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service access their VA disability benefits much faster.

Countless servicemembers have been exposed to environmental hazards and other toxic substances, including water contaminated with PFAS and other toxins at military bases, airborne hazards from burn pits, and radiation from atomic testing and cleanup. Exposure often leads to adverse health impacts, including cancer, birth defects, infertility, respiratory conditions, and more.

Under the current VA claims process, the burden of proof is too often placed on veterans—forcing them to locate service records and provide medical evidence to support their claims of toxic exposure. This delay in benefits comes as health conditions worsen; some veterans have reported waiting years to receive the benefits they’ve earned as their health conditions worsen.

The FASTER Presumptions Act would modernize VA’s disability benefits claims process and remove barriers currently in place to ensure that veterans impacted by toxic exposure and related health concerns receive their benefits faster.

Specifically, the FASTER Presumptions Act will:

  • Create a new review process with a Formal Advisory Committee, independent Science Review Board, and a Working Group to streamline VA’s process and provide timelines for establishing presumptions for toxic exposure
  • Improve data collection between VA and the Department of Defense,
  • Commission studies related to veterans who served in Southwest Asia,
  • Establish an expert advisory panel for Constrictive Bronchiolitis, and
  • Require VA provide training to improve claims adjudications.

“Veterans put their lives on the line in service to our country. The least we can do is provide these heroes with the benefits they’ve earned in a timely manner,” said Congressman Trone. “By modernizing VA’s claims system, we will ensure that veterans receive their benefits in a timely manner while being treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

For bill text, click here.

For a summary of the bill, click here.

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Appropriations, Veterans’ Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees in the 117th Congress and previously served on the Education and Labor and Foreign Affairs Committees. In Congress, Trone is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the mental health and addiction crises, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.

###