Deadline passes for VA claims open more than two years

By Daniel Moore, News21

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs still has compensation and pension claims that are more than two years old, according to data from some regional offices, meaning that the agency missed the self-imposed deadline to clear all two-year-old claims by June 18.

Allison Hickey, the VA Undersecretary for Benefits, sent a letter in April to all 57 regional offices, instructing all claims workers and “as many (others) as needed” to focus on finishing all such claims within 60 days. She also asked all claims pending for more than a year to be cleared within six months.

As of June 19 the VA did not have numbers, but spokeswoman Meagan Lutz said the agency would have a progress report by the end of the week.

Jason Dominguez, assistant director at the Ohio Department of Veteran Services, said the Cleveland regional office, which handles all Ohio claims, started with 3,114 and has 238 left to process.

“Those mainly need medical evidence,” Dominguez said, adding that Cleveland also has been working on 1,560 additional claims sent from other offices with higher backlogs.

Of those claims that were “brokered” as part of Hickey’s deadline, 150 remain to be processed.

A claims processor at the Columbia, S.C., regional office reported her office had cleared the two-year-old claims.

“Once you got the go-ahead to clear something … I don’t know how you couldn’t get them cleared,” she said.