Congressman Garamendi Votes to Reduce Claims Backlog at VA
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), a Member of the House Armed Services Committee who represents thousands of veterans in the 3rd Congressional District, today supported five bipartisan bills designed to help veterans with disability claims, housing, and job opportunities. The bills – H.R. 1742, H.R. 2189, H.R. 2481, H.R. 1405, and H.R. 2011 – all passed with bipartisan backing.
“The claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs is a national disgrace. Today, the House took necessary steps to bring us closer to giving America’s veterans the prompt services they deserve,” Congressman Garamendi said. “No one who has donned the uniform should ever feel that their service was forgotten. I’ve been disgusted by the claims backlog and will support whatever legislation is necessary to bring this embarrassing episode to a prompt close.”
While the Administration has made progress over the past six months, with the backlog reduced by over 30 percent (190,000 claims resolved), the pointless government shutdown delayed progress. Currently there are over 700,000 disability claims pending, with over 400,000 in the backlog. Garamendi has called on his colleagues in Congress to pass legislation to completely resolve the backlog by 2014.
To reduce the backlog of pending veterans’ disability claims, Congressional Democrats introduced a legislative package of 10 bills – many of which have bipartisan support and are backed by veterans service organizations – that work to bolster VA’s current efforts to modernize and foster innovation that will get veterans’ claims and compensation settled faster. One bill voted on today, H.R. 2189, includes key provisions from the Democratic backlog reduction package including:
- Paying veterans more quickly by paying as their individual conditions are adjudicated (H.R. 2086, Rep. Titus);
- Providing veterans with information that may lead to quicker routes to the successful adjudication of their claim (H.R. 1809, Rep. O’Rourke);
- Strengthening accountability by requiring VA to regularly track and provide information to the public on claims processing and the performance of VA regional offices (H.R. 1623, Rep. Negrete McLeod; H.R. 1824, Rep. Meng);
- Taking steps to help ensure the VA has the needed information from other agencies to accurately process claims in a timely way (H.R. 1759, Rep. Ruiz);
- Encouraging the VA to expand the use of automation in processing veterans claims (H.R. 1805, Rep. Kuster); and
- Speeding up claims by allowing veterans’ medical examinations to be done by physicians outside the VA system and encouraging veterans to file fully developed claims (H.R. 1521, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney).
“Those who served deserve the best service possible at the VA. It’s that simple,” Garamendi added. “No delay. No excuses. Let’s get this done and done right.”