Veterans

February 25, 2013

Boehner says U.S. veterans’ claims system is broken

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said the system for handling veterans’ disability claims is broken and he wants the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs to explain what is being done to fix it.

Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, said in a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki this week that the benefit delivery system for veterans has not shown any noticeable improvement in the four years Shinseki has headed the department and the backlog of compensation claims “remains alarmingly high.”

The VA was preparing a formal response to Boehner’s letter, a VA spokesman said Feb. 22. The VA has said it completed a “record-breaking” 1 million claims per year the past three years.

But the speaker wrote in his letter that the backload remains high, especially in Ohio, despite the announcement at the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Regional Office last summer of a new organizational model to help reduce the backlog by 2015. The Cleveland office, which handles claims from around the state, is now processing claims in an average of 334 days compared with the national average of 272 days and the VA’s own goal of 125 days, Boehner said.

Since the transformation began at the Cleveland office, the average time to process a claim has increased by 20 percent, or about 56 days, and the current national average has increased by 17.7 percent since January 2012, Boehner said.

The speaker said in a statement that he has been “disappointed and disheartened by the results” of the new system and that system failures reported by Ohio veterans are “shameful.” His office is handling more than 100 unresolved claims from Ohio veterans, including one from Air Force veteran Tiffany Hilliard, of Troy.

Hilliard said Friday that she has been waiting more than a year to add her now 17-month-old daughter as a dependent. She said she was told when checking last month on the status of her October 2011 request that inquiries about claim statuses were no longer being handled because of the backlog. Hilliard said she has lost benefits by not having her daughter listed as a dependent but hopes that “speaking out might help other veterans who may need more help.”

Army veteran Randy Bitner, of Eaton, said he submitted a disability claim around March 2011 and received a form letter last month saying he was now in the system. Bitner said he has received no information about the timing for resolving his claim.

Data from a report on work load indicators reported by Veterans Benefits Administration field offices for Jan. 24, 2009, showed the number of pending compensation claims nationwide at roughly 390,000, with 10,500 of those pending at the Cleveland office, Boehner wrote. He said the report for Feb. 11, 2013, showed the total pending compensation claims had grown to 821,000, with more than 71 percent older than 125 days.

The VA said in 2010 that it invested $138 million in a digital paperless claims system that would be deployed in 2012. The VA has acknowledged that too many veterans have to wait too long to get benefits but says the paperless system will eliminate the backlog and the technology is expected to reach all 56 regional VA offices by the end of this year.

But Boehner wants answers now. He asked Shinseki to reply to his questions within 30 days.

Boehner’s questions include whether the VA’s benefits office has started to convert old paper files to digital ones and what end date is projected for conversion. Boehner also wants to know what the VA, which he says potentially made more than 400,000 errors in rating claims over the past three years, has done to reduce the time veterans are waiting to have claims reviewed and re-adjudicated.

He asked whether Shinseki believes the VA is on track to achieve its goals of processing claims in under 125 days and eliminating the claims backlog by 2015.

“America’s veterans,” Boehner wrote, “are counting on you.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines September 3, 2015

News Carter To China: US ‘Will Fly, Sail, Operate Wherever Law Allows’ Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech billed as all about a new personnel approach for the Pentagon, laid out a clear line in the sand of the temporary islands the Chinese have been building. http://breakingdefense.com/2015/09/carter-to-china-us-will-fly-sail-operate-wherever-law-allows/ LRS-B details emerge: Major t...
 
 

News Briefs September 3, 2015

Soldier injured after parachute failed to deploy A soldier was injured during a U.S. Army Special Operations parachute training exercise in western Montana. Army officials at Fort Bragg, N.C., say 16 soldiers were conducting a free-fall parachute jump from two Blackhawk helicopters near Hamilton Aug. 31 when one soldier had an equipment malfunction and was...
 
 

Boeing, Jet2.com finalize order for 27 Next Generation 737-800s

Boeing and UK Leisure Airline Jet2.com have finalized an order for 27 Next Generation 737-800s, valued at approximately $2.6 billion at current list prices. Jet2.com currently operates an all-Boeing fleet of nearly 60 aircraft; however, this is the organization’s first direct Boeing order.† The aircraft will be used to take the company’s package holiday and...
 

 
boeing-emirates

Boeing, Emirates celebrate airline’s 150th 777 delivery

Boeing and Emirates Airline Sept. 3 celebrated the simultaneous delivery of three 777s — two 777-300ERs and one 777 Freighter — marking the entry of the 150th 777 into Emirates’ fleet. The delivery marks the first tim...
 
 

U.S. Air Force selects Chromalloy for F108 gas turbine engine module repairs

Chromalloy announced Sept. 2 that it has been selected by the U.S. Air Force to provide repairs on low pressure turbine modules for the F108 aircraft engine fleet, in a contract valued at up to $74 million. The one-year agreement was contracted by the Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and includes four one-year options...
 
 
raytheon-colorado

Raytheon expanding in Colorado Springs

Raytheon will speed up growth of its Colorado Springs presence after signing a $700 million multi-year indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to support operations at NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Complex. Under the...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>