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Letter To James B. Peake, M.D., Secretary Of Veterans Affairs

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) today asked the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to locate a pilot program in Chicago that aims to process certain veterans' claims within ninety days.

"Delay in VA benefits processing is a top concern for veterans in Illinois and nationwide," the Illinois Members wrote. "Including the Chicago regional office in the pilot project will help the office reduce the number of delayed claims and will also help the VA achieve its strategic goal of processing compensation and pension claims in an average of 125 days."

Currently, compensation and pension claims submitted to the regional office in Chicago are delayed at a rate higher than the national average - 28.9 percent of such claims in Chicago have been pending more than 180 days, compared to 20.1 percent nationwide.

The pilot program mandated under the Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2008, which was signed into law in October, will be established in ten regional VA offices and will last for approximately one year.

Text of the letter appears below:

December 4, 2008

The Honorable James B. Peake, M.D.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20420

Dear Secretary Peake:

Recent legislation requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a pilot program to adjudicate fully developed compensation and pension claims within 90 days of their receipt. We write to ask that you consider Chicago's regional office for participation in the pilot program.

Compensation and pension claims submitted to the Chicago regional office are delayed at a higher rate than the national average - 28.9 percent of such claims at the office have been pending more than 180 days, compared to 20.1 percent nationwide. The actual delay for compensation and pension claims that originate in the office may be even higher, as claims are often brokered to other offices for processing.

Veterans assistance officers in Illinois, including the Illinois Association of County Veterans Assistance Commissions, have offered to actively support the Chicago regional office in such an effort. Their assistance, which the pilot program encourages, contributes to more accurate processing of veterans' claims.

Delay in VA benefits processing is a top concern for veterans in Illinois and nationwide. Including the Chicago regional office in the pilot project will help the office reduce the number of delayed claims and will also help the VA achieve its strategic goal of processing compensation and pension claims in an average of 125 days. Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

Phil Hare
Member of Congress


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