White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday that President Obama receives weekly updates on the Veterans Affairs Department’s disability claims backlog and it is an “issue is of enormous concern to the President.”
VA has a backlog of 895,838 claims, 70 percent of which (629,585) have been in limbo for more than 125 days. According to Carney, “it is absolutely the President’s position that we need to aggressively address this problem, and he has made clear to [VA ] Secretary [Eric] Shinseki that he wants this addressed.”
But, Carney said, echoing a blog post by VA benefits chief Allison Hickey the same day, the backlog reflects an increase in the veteran population due to the end of the war in Iraq and the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan.
New claims by Vietnam veterans exposed to the Agent Organ herbicide as well as claims by Gulf War veterans also contributed to the backlog, Carney said.
“I think it’s important to step back and look at the issue of the backlog” in light of all the above factors, he said.
Small comfort to veterans stuck in claims backlog hell.