VA plan to solve claims backlog questioned

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 08:59 PM.

A local veterans organization is skeptical about a recent decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to target claims older than a year for completion by 2015.

Veterans whose claims fall in that time frame will be given a provisional rating and will have one year after receiving the rating to provide additional information before the VA issues a final decision.

"Too many veterans wait too long for a decision, and this has never been acceptable," said VA secretary Eric Shinseki in a release announcing the backlog initiative. "That is why we are implementing an aggressive plan to eliminate the backlog in 2015. This initiative is the right thing to do now for veterans who have waited the longest."

One veteran service officer sees a flaw in the VA plan.

"First off, all of their system is not intact yet," said Jim Foyil, the veteran service officer for the Military Order of the Purple Heart. "They aren’t fully funded and if it is fully funded people won’t be trained in time to start it on time. You have to go through development, coaching, the rating process, etc. I don’t think they can do it.

"It’s a valiant effort, but they wont have it done by 2015 because the claims that are still pending are still going to take anywhere from 12, 18 or 24 months unless they start changing the rating schedule tomorrow."

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, D-N.C., says she welcomes the news.

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