WASHINGTON

VA moves veterans waiting for benefits to front of line

Veterans waiting more than a year for a decision on their disability claims are moving to the front of the line, under a new program announced Friday.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is responding to criticism about the soaring number of claims that have been pending for longer than 125 days. The VA said that of the nearly 900,000 claims pending in the system, some 250,000 are from veterans who have been waiting at least a year for a decision.

Veterans receive disability compensation for injuries and illness incurred or aggravated during their active military service. The amount of the compensation is based on a rating assigned by the VA.

Allison Hickey, the VA undersecretary who oversees the Veterans Benefits Administration, says provisional decisions will be made on the oldest cases based on the evidence currently in the veteran’s file. 

Appeals court denies lawsuit to keep Mexican trucks out

A federal appeals court has turned down lawsuits by two groups seeking to block a pilot program allowing Mexican trucks to operate throughout the U.S.

The three-judge panel Friday denied challenges by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

Among other things, the groups had challenged the program on safety, environmental and medical fitness grounds. The court said it found none to be persuasive.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement that took effect about two decades ago, trucks from both countries were supposed to have unhindered access to highways on either side of the border.

— From news service reports