U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said President Barack Obama’s administration has a plan in place to eliminate a 600,000-case backlog in veterans’ disability and compensation claims by 2015.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is addressing the backlog as it makes the transition to digital processing from paper in the wake of two wars and decisions that have increased the number and complexity of claims, Shinseki said today in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
“We have put in place a robust plan to end the backlog in 2015; that’s been our commitment,” Shinseki said in the interview. “We’ve put 3 million claims out the door. If you have an inventory of about 875,000, a million claims decisions going out a year, you know we’re taking care of business.”
Shinseki, 60, was responding to complaints that wounded troops are being required to wait for the help they need because of delays in reviewing their claims. Since Shinseki set a goal of resolving disability claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy in 2009, the backlog has grown and the error rate has increased.
“The president has been very clear, veterans are a top priority with him, and ending the backlog is foremost in his mind,” Shinseki said today. “In the past four years, if you look at our budgets for VA, a 40 percent increase to our budgets at a time when other departments have gone through belt-tightening. Someone once told me that show me your budget and I’ll show you what’s your value.”