The Veterans Affairs Department has reached the “tipping point” in clearing up its massive backlog of disability claims, a top VA official told a hearing of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
Thomas Murphy, director of the VA Compensation and Pension Service, said the department has made “significant progress” on the backlog and has cut the number of pending claims by 74,000 since March.
VA reported on Monday it had 851,229 pending claims, with 565,327 or 66.4 percent waiting 125 days or more for resolution. Murphy told the hearing the shift from a paper-based system to the automated Veterans Benefits Management System has helped speed up claims processing.
He said VA is on track to meet Secretary Eric Shinseki’s goal of processing all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy by the end of 2015. “I honestly believe we’re going to hit that number,” Murphy said.
Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-VT, said that while the he views the shrinking claims backlog as encouraging, “the current backlog is unacceptable and this committee will do everything possible to make sure the VA achieves its goal. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely.”