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Required overtime might cut into veterans' disability backlog

We have written extensively on this blog about the sad state of affairs when it comes to the backlog of veterans' service-connected disability claims. Much attention has been paid to the fact that many veterans have had to wait unprecedented lengths of time for a decision on their requests for benefits.

Now, finally, there may be some hope that things will get better instead of worse. This week, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it will require thousands of claims processors around the country to work 20 hours of overtime every month through the end of this fiscal year.

While the decision could have had a bigger effect had it been issued sooner, it is still positive news for the tens of thousands of veterans in Georgia and around the country who are waiting for their claims to be processed.

As many as 900,000 claims were waiting to be acted upon earlier this year. Since that time, the number has fallen to less than 850,000. However, most veterans would agree that this figure is still much too high.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is not subject to cutbacks as a result of the recent sequestration, and officials say the budget for the overtime will come out of its existing appropriation and doesn't require special action from Congress.

If that is the case, it boggles the mind that officials couldn't have made this decision sooner and taken care of the backlog as quickly as possible. They owe that much to the veterans who are waiting for help.

Source: The Washington Post, "VA announces overtime 'surge' to battle disability claims backlog," Steve Vogel, May 15, 2013

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