Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vets advocate: Obama must ‘step up’ to shrink disability benefits backlog

From:  Yahoo News 

Top Line
With nearly 900,000 veterans waiting to hear from the Veterans Administration about disability benefits claims—and the average wait time stretching to almost 300 days—the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is calling on the president to make policy changes that will help diminish the backlog.
IAVA’s Chief Policy Officer Tom Tarantino tells Top Line that, while the White House says President Obama is keeping a close eye on the situation, veterans needs proof that real change is on the horizon.
“What we need is the commander-in-chief to step up and say ‘Look, there is a plan,’” Tarantino tells Top Line, “and we have to articulate a plan that's actually measurable so that those of us in the veteran’s service community, as well as every vet out there, can actually see how we're going to go from point A to point B to point C and get rid of the backlog.”
Tarantino explains that the backlog of veterans waiting for the VA to respond to their disability claims is due in large part to an outdated processing system.
“Right now you have 97% of the claims at the VA still on paper,” he explains, “they are transitioning to an electronic record system by the end of the year. But the problem is we still have nearly 600,000 claims that are sitting right now.”
The struggle to attain disability benefits isn’t new to the veterans’ community, but Tarantino says the “decades-old” problem has gotten much worse in recent years. Veterans currently on the backlog wait an average of 273 days for the VA to process their claims, and Tarantino says some wait as many as 600 days for a response.  MORE

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