Share This Page

VA injury claims backlog likely to grow

| Thursday, April 11, 2013, 7:51 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs will process almost 300,000 fewer injury-compensation claims from former troops next year than it previously estimated.

The department will handle about 1.32 million claims in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, according to budget documents released this week. That's about 280,000 fewer than the VA estimated a few months ago.

The discrepancy drew criticism from lawmakers at a congressional hearing on Thursday. They have pushed the department to deal with a backlog of injury-compensation and pension claims that has delayed payments to former troops.

“You talk about bold predictions for performance, yet year after year results don't back them up,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. “The goalposts keep moving.”

More than 885,000 compensation and pension claims were pending as of March 30, and about 69 percent of them have been in the system more than 125 days, the VA's goal for timely processing.

The lower projections for injury-compensation claims processing are due to changes that occurred as the result of legislation passed by Congress, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told committee members, without elaborating.

Miller said he was frustrated that lawmakers continue to increase the VA's budget while the issues persist.

“I believe this committee and this Congress has delivered everything the VA has asked for, but I've yet to see the benefits,” he said.

The Veterans Benefits Administration, which oversees claims processing, would receive $2.5 billion in President Obama's budget request released on Wednesday.

That includes $155 million to implement a paperless system and $136 million to convert medical records and other items to digital format.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.