The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department plans to rent 2,000 new employees beginning this month to take care of an anticipated enhance in backlogged claims which have tripled for the reason that early days of the coronavirus pandemic final yr, VA officers introduced Wednesday.
VA officers hope the brand new hires will assist them gradual the backlog which they anticipated to develop from about 204,000 overdue claims on the finish of September to some 260,000 by the tip of October, in keeping with a VA assertion. In addition to including claims processors, the VA intends to mandate time beyond regulation work for its present processors to chop into its backlog, which it intends to pay for with emergency pandemic funding.
The backlog has grown from about 64,000 overdue claims earlier than the coronavirus swept throughout the United States final yr, as pandemic-mitigation efforts compelled the VA to halt exams to guage disabilities referred to as compensation and pension examinations and slowed the Federal Records Centers' capacity to supply paperwork. The VA considers backlogged claims for advantages to be people who take longer than 125 days to approve or deny.
"VA is committed to ensuring timely access to benefits and services for all Veterans. This includes making sure Veterans who may have experienced adverse health effects from military related exposures can get access to the benefits they need," VA Secretary Denis McDonough mentioned in a press release. "The hiring of new employees will help us resolve these claims more quickly."
The VA mentioned the backlog has additionally been pushed by latest courtroom and Capitol Hill choices granting new advantages to some Vietnam veterans who consider they had been uncovered to Agent Orange throughout the struggle in that nation.
So-called "Blue Water" Navy veterans, who served on ships inside 12 miles of Vietnam's shores, had been granted a evaluate of their claims final yr. And, VA recognized 70,000 claims it should evaluate for brand spanking new advantages granted by Congress citing a hyperlink between Agent Orange with Parkinsonism, bladder most cancers and hypothyroidism.
Despite the anticipated enhance in claims this month, the VA mentioned it has decreased its backlog by about 14,000 claims for the reason that finish of August.
With the deliberate new hires and time beyond regulation authorizations, the VA expects to chop its backlogged claims to about 100,000 by April 2024, it mentioned Wednesday.
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