Ohio lawmakers assail VA, others for delays in handling benefit claims
By Marc Kovac
State lawmakers are blasting federal officials for time lags in responding to benefit claims made by disabled veterans.
“We have a very real concern for our comrades with whom we served, many of them in various foreign countries around the world,” said House Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina.
“Our concern turns on the [federal Veterans Affairs department] capacity to attend to those veterans who need our help.”
A resolution formally introduced in the Ohio House last week and signed by at least one Democratic member would urge the president and federal veterans affairs officials to “take prompt action to reduce the processing time for veterans’ disability benefit claims.”
According to statistics compiled by House Republicans, the time to complete a disability claim at the Department of Veterans Affairs has increased to 260 days from 161 days over the past several years. And the number of backlogged cases awaiting a final decision for more than 125 days has more than tripled.
That’s too long, Batchelder said.
“Many of these veterans are in tough shape,” he said. “They deserve having decisions made and provisions made for their health.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs last month acknowledged the delays and voiced its commitment to quickening the claims process.
“Too many Veterans wait too long for a decision, and this has never been acceptable,” Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a released statement.
“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.”