BURLINGTON, Vt., Aug. 19 – U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders today welcomed a Department of Veterans Affairs report that outlined significant progress in addressing an unacceptable backlog of claims for disability benefits.
There was a nearly 20 percent drop in the number of backlogged claims from a peak that was hit four months ago, according to a VA analysis released today.
“As chairman, I am pleased to see the VA making significant progress in reducing what everyone continues to recognize as an unacceptable backlog. No veteran should have to wait years to receive the benefits they have earned,” said Sanders (I-Vt.).
“We must remain aggressive and we intend to closely monitor the situation to ensure that the progress continues,” Sanders added, “but I am glad we are now making progress toward the goal of ending the backlog by the end of 2015.”
The VA considers a claim to be backlogged when it has been pending for more than 125 days. According to VA, as of Aug. 14, the backlog stood at 490,000 claims out of 773,000 total pending claims. That August number represents a nearly 20 percent drop from the peak four months ago.
The progress comes at a time when the VA has been handling an increasing number of claims; more than 1 million a year for each of the past three years.
Secretary Eric Shinseki set a goal of ending the backlog by the end of 2015 by developing a digital record-keeping system that is transforming a department that was mired in a paperwork processing system that slowed claims handling.