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Under Obama, Veterans Waiting Longer For Benefits

- March 12, 2013

After Four Years Of Empty Rhetoric, The VA Claims Backlog Continues To Grow

SHOT: In 2010, Obama Said "We're Hiring Thousands Of New Claims Processors To Break The Backlog Once And For All." OBAMA: "We're hiring thousands of new claims processors to break the backlog once and for all. And to make sure the backlog doesn't come back, we're reforming the claims process itself with new information technologies and a paperless system." (President Barack Obama, Remarks At The Disabled Veterans Of America Conference , Atlanta, GA, 8/2/10)

CHASER: New York Times Editorial Decries "The Grim Backlog At Veterans Affairs" After New Report Shows That The Claims Backlog "Has Gotten Far Worse In The Past Four Years" Under Obama. "A new report based on previously unreleased data from the Department of Veterans Affairs paints a distressing portrait of an agency buried helplessly in paperwork - with a claims backlog that has gotten far worse in the past four years. The average wait to begin receiving disability compensation and other benefits is 273 days, and up to 327 days for veterans making claims for the first time. Those in big cities wait far longer - up to 642 days in New York." (Editorial, "The Grim Backlog At Veterans Affairs," The New York Times, 3/11/13)

  • The Number Of Veterans With Backlogged Claims Is Expected To Pass One Million By The End Of The Month, And Is Still Growing. "The total number of veterans with backlogged claims, about 900,000, is expected to pass a million by the end of this month and keep growing through the year." (Editorial, "The Grim Backlog At Veterans Affairs," The New York Times, 3/11/13)
  • Despite A New $537 Million Computer System, 97 Percent Of Claims Are Still Filed On Paper. "The reporter, Aaron Glantz of the Center for Investigative Reporting, an independent organization based in Berkeley, Calif., plumbed the Veterans Affairs Department's records through the Freedom of Information Act, confirmed the data with the department and spoke with staff members, veterans, veterans' advocates and members of Congress. He found that while the agency has spent four years and $537 million on a new computer system, 97 percent of veterans' claims are still filed on paper." (Editorial, "The Grim Backlog At Veterans Affairs,"The New York Times, 3/11/13)
  • The Claims Backlog In One Office Was So Severe That The Files' Weight "Appeared To Have The Potential To Compromise The Integrity Of The Building." "His article includes a map showing the scale of the problem and a stunning photo from a report last August by the agency's inspector general about an office in Winston-Salem, N.C., that was so deluged with claims folders that they 'appeared to have the potential to compromise the integrity of the building.'" (Editorial, "The Grim Backlog At Veterans Affairs," The New York Times, 3/11/13)

The Report Highlighted The Contrast Between The Obama Administration's "Optimistic Reports" And The "Dismal" Reality Of The Status Quo. "The oddness of the agency's situation - optimistic reports of progress contrasted with dismal snapshots of the status quo - will surely be addressed in a hearing in the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on Wednesday. The under secretary for benefits, Allison Hickey, will be there, we hope, to add clarity to the unsettling picture." (Editorial, "The Grim Backlog At Veterans Affairs," The New York Times, 3/11/13)


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