Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held a hearing entitled, "How to Improve Underperforming Regional Offices." The oversight hearing focused on the performance of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regional offices in adjudicating veterans claims for disability compensation.
At the end of May, VA had more than 800,000 disability claims pending rating across the country. Of those, more than 60% have been in the system for more than 125 days, with projections from VA that processing times in the coming year would rise from 165 days to 230 days.
"The failures of these offices to process claims in a timely manner is unacceptable," stated Rep. Jon Runyan (NJ-03), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. "We continue to throw money and employees at this problem to solve the claims backlog and yet the problems are getting worse. We need to change the culture of the regional offices to better serve our veterans."
The committee, in its oversight capacity, will continue to focus on how better to enforce training, quality controls, and accountability in the processing of claims by VA. The committee will also look to best practices in other governmental agencies and the private sector to fix the institutional culture and improve the quality of work at all regional offices.
"When our regional offices fail, those who suffer are the veterans served by that office," said Runyan. "Veterans should not be denied or delayed assistance, many for years, because of where their claim was filed."