WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, held an oversight hearing today on the undue delay of veterans disability claims processing. This was the fourth in a series of hearings Chairman Akaka has held this year to review veterans' disability benefits. At today's hearing, Akaka sought input from VA and other witnesses on what improvements should be made to compliment the historic increase in staffing at the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) made by Congress during the last several years.
"I know there is no silver bullet that will solve the claims processing problems that exist at VBA, but we owe it to veterans to make certain that everything that can be done is being done to improve the situation.
"The number of veterans filing disability claims is increasing. As more war wounded return from Iraq and Afghanistan, and veterans who have conditions made worse by their advancing age turn to VA for increased ratings, we can anticipate that the number of claims received by VA will continue to increase. VA should make necessary technological, process and staffing improvements to expedite overall efficiency," said Akaka.
In his testimony, VA Acting Under Secretary for Benefits Patrick Dunne highlighted the fact that VA has reduced the backlog of disability claims to 390,000, and reduced average processing times from 183 days to 182. Dunne also reported that VA is processing more claims that they are receiving, despite a 5 percent increase in new claims since last year.
Senator Akaka added, "While I appreciate that the average processing time is decreasing rather than increasing, 182 days is still a far cry from VA's goal of 125 days. VA must work harder to reach their strategic goal."
The full witness list can be viewed here: link
The Chairman's opening statement can be viewed here: link