WASHINGTON — The American Legion has submitted to Congress three recommendations for reducing a Department of Veterans Affairs disability claims backlog.
They are as follows:
•Fix a broken work-credit system for VA employees, which gives the same credit for work, whether it is correct or incorrect.
•Collect common errors in claims processing, and use the information to create a training plan for employees.
•Hire more veterans to process claims, to increase military understanding among claims interpreters.
Currently, 900,000 Veterans Benefits Administration claims are pending; more than 70 percent are in backlog, or pending more than 125 days.
In 2010, 509,000 claims were pending, with 39 percent in backlog.
Legion executive director Peter Gaytan last month said the Legion and VA are working to fix the claims process. The problem, he said, is VA regional offices’ inconsistent performance in adjudicating claims.
James Koutz, the Legion’s national commander, challenged the idea of prioritizing claims applications by war era.
“Not only does prioritization based on war era violate federal law, it (also) imposes value judgments on the wartime service of veterans,” he said. “Do we really want to make that kind of call? Is this something that would help to simplify the claims process?
“We need to honor the service of all veterans by giving them all fair and timely access to the benefits they are due under the law.”