VA Explains Benefits Backlog
October 23, 2009
As of October 15, some 30,000 veterans were waiting for their claims for benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill to be processed. A House subcommittee hearing shed light on the problem and the actions the Department of Veterans Affairs is taking to cope with the backlog.
Keith Wilson, director of the Office of Education Service at the VA, testified at the October 15 hearing held by the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity about the challenges faced by the VA in providing veterans with certificates of eligibility and processing claims for payments under the new Chapter 33 benefit program. Wilson's testimony was replete with interesting numbers:
- 44,500 individuals have received a payment under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, 30,000 are waiting for processing
- 4 separate, noncommunicating IT systems are used in processing each claim
- 90 minutes are needed on average to process each claim
- 720 new employees have been hired, many on a temporary basis until a planned automated claims processing system is launched next year, to help process claims
- 3 additional days of mandatory overtime per two-week pay period has been required of all claims examiners
- $120 million in emergency advance payments were made in early October to 41,000 veterans with pending claims
- 210,000 individuals have been provided a certificate of eligibility under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Not all of these will immediately enroll in school—they have 15 years to use the benefits.
- 66,000 servicemembers have applied to the Department of Defense to transfer entitlements to spouses or dependents, 52,000 have been approved, but only 22,000 applications to actually use the benefits this year have been received by VA
- 70,000 estimated net increase in students enrolled in postsecondary education using VA benefits for 2009-10
The process currently being used by VA is an interim solution while a new rules-based processing solution is being developed in conjunction with the Navy.
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