U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson’s legislative language that holds the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable for ending the backlog of claims at the Veterans Benefits Administration was passed by the House and Senate and will be signed into law.
The language was included with H.R. 3547, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 omnibus appropriations bill.
“This law will help hold the VA accountable for making sure our veterans and their families receive the benefits they have earned,” said Thompson, D-St. Helena. “No one who has served our nation in the Armed Forces should be forced to wait nearly a year for care and benefits because their local VA is backlogged.
"With this law in place, we will be able to make sure the VA continues to do everything possible to get this problem fixed,” he said.
In a meeting last week with VA Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey, Thompson spoke about this legislation and the need to substantially reduce the backlog at the Oakland Regional VA.
Currently, new laims by veterans can take almost 300 days to process, delaying access to care and benefits. Many California veterans in the 5th Congressional District are serviced by the Oakland Regional Office which has one of the longest claims backlog in the country.
Thompson has called on President Obama to personally intervene and address this issue. He has also visited the Oakland Regional Office with senior officials from the VA, held regular meetings on the status of efforts to reduce the claims backlog, and helped pass legislation to speed up the transfer of electronic service records from the Department of Defense to the VA to help speed up the claims processing process.
The language included in H.R. 3547 will require a monthly report from each regional office and the national VA office detailing the current backlog of claims. Additional reporting will be required from offices with backlogs averaging more than 200 days.