Today, Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51) is delivering a speech highlighting the urgent need to reduce the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) claims backlog. Efforts to reduce the backlog are seen in the "2014 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act" which has provisions that would help the VA reach its goal of ending its disability claims backlog by 2015.
"Eliminating the veterans claims backlog is essential to my district which is home to the third largest veteran resident population in the nation," said Rep. Vargas. "Sadly, the average processing time for a VA disability claim in my district is 334 days, longer than the national average of 321 days. That's completely unacceptable."
The "2014 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act," would support an increase of 94 claims processors, all of whom would work on disability claims, and provide funds to the Veterans Benefit Management System (VBMS) and the Veterans Claims Intake Program (VCIP) to convert paper records into digital files. The Appropriations Act would also require the VA to report monthly to Congress on several claims backlog reduction metrics, such as the processing time for veterans who have waited a year or longer for decisions on their claims.
"It is our responsibility to make sure that the men and women who have served honorably in our Armed Forces receive their benefits within a reasonable timeframe. I have seen first-hand the devastating emotional, physical, and financial effects that waiting for a disability claim can have on our veterans," said Rep. Vargas. "Reducing the backlog is the least we can do for those who have fought bravely and sacrificed so much for our country."