Our poor guys just can’t get a break.
The Obama administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) saw its backlog of unprocessed veteran benefit claims increase at the end of the year, according to documents obtained by The Daily Caller.
In response the VA promised that it will re-institute mandatory overtime for department employees by the end of January.
Though VA promised Congress to cut its backlog and even recently hired many new staffers to address the problem, the department continues to leave hundreds of thousands of veterans waiting for benefits. The backlog again exceeded 400,000 severely delayed claims at the beginning of the new year.
As of December 21, 2013, the VA backlog stood at 388,719 unprocessed claims that had been pending for more than 125 days, according to VA. As of January 4, 2013, the backlog stood at 405,938 unprocessed claims pending more than 125 days. That’s an increase of 17,219 severely delayed benefit claims during the holiday season alone.
As of January 4, VA was overseeing 685,686 pending claims, 59.2 percent of which were delayed by more than 125 days.
“Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) will be re-instituting the mandatory overtime program for claims processors near the end of this month. I don’t have details yet, like an exact date, but should be getting a bit more on that soon,” VA spokesman Randy Noller told TheDC.
“The end of mandatory overtime, federal holidays, adverse weather closures, and a focus on completing the most complex one-year old claims have contributed to slower production in recent weeks,” according to a VA statement on its December production level provided to TheDC.
VA projected that it would reduce its percentage of backlogged claims this past fiscal year to 40 percent, according to the department’s fiscal year 2014 budget submission, previously obtained by TheDC. However, as September, and the fiscal year 2013, came to a close, the department’s percentage of backlogged claims still stood at more than 58 percent.
Imagine what a nightmare we’d have on our hands if our veterans did their job like the VA does. Over 58% of their work is backlogged for over 4 months and by the time they process those claims, the rest of them will be just as old.
They state their goal was to reduce the backlog to 40%, which might be a lofty goal for a government department, but out in the real world that percentage would be completely unacceptable.
Companies don’t stay in business very long if they only do half their job, but for the government it’s a goal instead of sloppy work. They shrug their shoulders and wait on word that overtime has been approved, which we’ll pay for, even though they just hired more employees.
Here’s the part that really fried my meter though – “a focus on completing the most complex one-year old claims have contributed to slower production” To have claims that are 4 months old is bad enough, but for claims to have been there long enough to have an anniversary is abominable.
My suspicious side wonders if this is another one of those intentional directives from O’s administration. I wouldn’t put it past him to order these delays as a way to snub our Veterans.