VA reduces backlog of claims by 15 percent; GOP calls again for investigation
WASHINGTON — The Veterans Affairs Department is chipping away at an enormous inventory of disability claims for veterans, reducing the number of claims considered backlogged by about 15 percent in recent weeks.
Republican lawmakers are skeptical that the trend will continue, but they've been unable to agree on a solution to a problem that has become a major headache for the Obama administration.
The VA pays disability benefits to veterans who are injured or become ill as a result of their active service. For years, veterans have complained that it takes too long for their claims to be resolved. In late March, more than 633,000 claims, or about 70 percent, were pending longer than 125 days.
But in recent months, the department has taken steps to try to deal with the backlog. The oldest claims in the system were moved to the front of the line and claims processors were required to work at least 20 hours of overtime each month. That has helped to reduce the backlog to just over 531,000, the VA said on Thursday.
Among the claims cleared were about 65,000 cases that had been pending for longer than two years. About 2,000 such cases remain.
VA spokesman Josh Taylor said long-term changes, including moving to a new computer system, have had an impact.
Although the progress appears to have bought the department some time on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are still looking for a long-term solution to the backlog.
Rep. Jeff Miller, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, reiterated his calls for an independent commission to examine the root causes of the problem and more direct involvement from President Obama.
“If we can't bring collectively all the people to the table to help resolve it, I don't see a solution out there,” Miller said.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Police search for armed prisoner after Va. hospital escape
- Indiana officials try to quell backlash over religious freedom law
- Federal agents charged with plundering online drug bazaar Silk Road
- A revolt is growing as more people refuse to pay back student loans
- Girl, 10, killed in Youngstown blaze was linked to rape case
- Florida church bus crash kills 8
- Global warming is slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences
- Supreme Court allows Obamacare’s Medicare costs board to stand
- U.S. parks cope with aging visitor base
- Cause unknown for attack on NSA gates by 2 men dressed as women
- Defense mounted in Boston bombing