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New York Representatives Challenge VA to Improve Disability Claims Process

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) joined his colleagues from New York City and Long Island in calling for the VA to improve the claims process in the state's regional office.: Photo by U.S. House of Representatives

Members of New York’s Congressional delegation from New York City and Long Island have joined the growing chorus protesting what many view as the unacceptably long wait many Veterans have to endure until their disability claims are settled.

The New York politicians sent a letter to Eric Shinseki, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in response to a recent report by the VA Office of Inspector General that found that the Veterans relying on the New York VA Regional Office wait far longer for their claims to be processed than VA goals.

The report found that the New York Regional Office takes an average of 257 days to complete compensation claims – the national target is 175 days. The VAOIG also found that only 75 percent of claims processed by the regional office were processed correctly – VA’s target is 90 percent.

“The unreasonable delays and processing errors at the New York VARO must end,” Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman said in a statement. “Our veterans must not continue to be subjected to these dreadful and frustrating practices. They deserve better.”

This, unfortunately, is not a problem unique to the New York office. There has been growing concern nationwide over how long Veterans are waiting for their disability claims to finally be processed.
According to the San Bernadino County Department of Veterans Affairs, nationally, there are more than 512,000 claims pending and more than 90,800 pending appeals.

According to USA Today, the number of claims that take longer than 125 days to complete have increased from 200,000 to 450,000 over the past year.

Sen. Patty Murry, chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, expressed her displeasure at the VA’s slow pace in April.

The Washington Democrat said, “Without question, I believe that the VA disability claims system is broken.”

Shinseki has vowed to take measures aimed at eliminating the claims backlog. Earlier this month, he announced that the VA would be adopting a computer system that he hoped would help speed up the claims process.

For more information on Veterans’ benefits, please visit: www.vetlawyers.com.

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