Today, Chairman Jeff Miller (FL-01) made the following statement regarding the new Department of Veterans Affairs initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for veterans who have waited one year or longer.
"While this new approach sounds promising, we will be monitoring it closely to make sure it's good policy rather than just good PR. Driving our skepticism is the fact that Sec. Shinseki and VA benefits officials have testified before our committee several times in just the last few weeks, yet the first official notice of this initiative didn't come until today -- minutes before VA issued its press release. Nevertheless, VA has a responsibility to make sure it doesn't use this program as an excuse for letting average claims processing times continue their steady ascent indefinitely. Furthermore, the department must not shift resources and manpower away from processing new claims just to clear out old ones. Every veteran deserves a thorough, fair and timely evaluation of their claim, regardless of when it was filed. This policy should not interfere with that concept.
"The department's haphazard rollout of this plan has left us with a number of important questions. So in the coming days and weeks, we expect VA to fully explain to Congress precisely how this program will improve the department's claims processing efforts and help chip away at the mountain of backlogged benefits claims."