Obama administration’s VA leaves more than 400,000 claims backlogged

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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The Obama administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) broke promises to Congress to speed up its claims processing and cut its share of backlogged claims, leaving more than 400,000 veteran benefits claims severely backlogged at the end of the 2013 fiscal year.

VA promised to receive 1,317,000 claims and complete 1,269,000 claims in fiscal year 2013. The department received its full requested budget appropriation from Congress based on these projections.

However, VA received only 1,044,508 claims (272,492 fewer than promised) and completed 1,169,085 claims (99,915 fewer than promised) in fiscal year 2013, which closed at the end of September.

VA’s progress on reducing the number of backlogged claims that have been waiting more than 125 days has also been woefully inadequate.

411,704 veteran benefits claims remain backlogged, according to a Monday report from VA officials.

VA projected that it would reduce its percentage of backlogged claims this past fiscal year to 40 percent, according to the department’s fiscal year 2014 budget submission, obtained by The Daily Caller. However, as September, and with it fiscal year 2013, came to a close, the department’s percentage of backlogged claims still stood at more than 58 percent.

“Even though VA has chipped away at the backlog over the last few months, the department still fell nearly 100,000 claims short of its Fiscal Year 2013 processing goal,” Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller. “Congress has provided VA with everything it has asked for to reduce the backlog, so why is the department not delivering the results its leaders promised?”

Despite VA secretary Eric Shinseki’s assertion to Congress that his department’s progress on backlogged claims “stalled with the government shutdown,” VA actually reduced its claims backlog during the shutdown, leaving no one for the administration to blame.

VA did not return a request for comment.

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