VA Struggles to Overcome Claim Backlog

NGAUS Washington Report

(April 30, 2013) The giant number of claims not yet processed by the Department of Veterans Affairs has the attention of just about everyone, from veterans organizations to members of Congress. And, it seems, the VA itself has taken notice.

The VA announced that it will expedite compensation claims decisions for veterans who have waited one year or longer. VA claims raters are making provisional decisions on the oldest claims to allow veterans to begin collecting benefits.

Further evidence will be collected before a final decision is made.

“Too many veterans wait too long for a decision and this has never been acceptable,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki in announcing the new effort to shrink the backlog.

But this effort isn’t enough for 67 senators who sent a letter to President Barack Obama Monday asking him to take direct action to resolve the slow claims process at the VA.

“We need direct and public involvement from you to establish a clear plan to end the backlog once and for all,” the senators wrote.

Their letter follows one sent to the White House by 26 members of the House, all of them veterans, calling the backlog “unacceptable” and asking the president to make the issue a priority.

Meanwhile, members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee introduced 10 bills last week designed to eliminate the backlog at the VA by 2015.

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