California Congressional Delegation Asks VA for Plan to Reduce Claims Backlog
Washington - A bipartisan coalition of 51 California representatives today gave the VA 30 days to identify what immediate steps will be taken to reduce the backlog of claims at three regional VA offices (Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego) in the state. In a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, the 51 members of Congress called the backlog a “crisis,” adding that “ forcing our veterans to endure long waits cannot be justified under any circumstance.”
Congresswoman Speier (CA-12) stated, “ It is unconscionable that our veterans must wait two and three years for benefits connected to their service in our defense. The VA must recognize that the California claims backlog is in a crisis mode and that it must marshal all its resources to eliminate this unjustified waiting.”
Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-22) stated, “It is unacceptable that our veterans have to wade through red tape and delays for the benefits and medical care they need. Our veterans need to be provided the efficient and effective care that they have earned, and I am committed to ensuring that regional Veterans Affairs offices across California are held accountable, and have a viable plan of action to improve the current situation.”
Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-33) stated, "When Members of Congress come together from both sides of the aisle on an issue, it speaks to the magnitude of the problem we are facing. It is of critical importance that we find a solution to the backlog these offices face. Veterans across the state are depending on our help and they deserve it."
Congressman John Campbell (CA-48) stated, “American veterans have earned the very best and most effective care this grateful nation can provide in the timeliest manner possible. These brave men and women should not come home to face unacceptable bureaucratic delays that prevent them from receiving the benefits they deserve. The VA has a responsibility to California veterans that has clearly gone unfulfilled. We expect quick and decisive action by the VA to remedy this crisis and ensure that no veteran has to wait for care.”
The bipartisan letter underscores that Oakland and Los Angeles have the highest percentage of claims over 125 days-old in the nation and that it will takes these offices six to seven years to erase the backlog at the current rate of case closure. The members want to know what resources will be dedicated to eliminate the backlog within the next 12 months, not six or seven years. Currently the three California offices have 86,829 pending claims with 71,408 surpassing the VA goal of closing cases within 125 days.