Thursday, August 21, 2008

VA 400,000 claim backlog causes search for "tech savvy workers"

Peake: VA needs young, tech-savvy workers

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Aug 21, 2008 12:59:38 EDT

Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake is happy to see younger workers being hired to handle veterans’ benefits claims because he said they tend to have more computer skills than longtime Veterans Affairs Department employees.

“Getting rid of some of those older-age guys in the work force is not that bad. It gives you the opportunity to move forward,” Peake said Thursday in a breakfast meeting hosted by the Defense Writers Group to talk about veterans’ issues.

Peake said the key to reducing the backlog of disability and benefits claims from veterans and their families will be technology — especially making active-duty medical records electronically available to quickly determine if a veteran’s injury or illness is connected to military service.

VA expects to receive almost 900,000 benefits claims this year, and has a backlog of about 400,000 claims. In mid-July, VA officials reported that they were beginning to make a dent in the backlog because they were hiring new claims workers and using better training and a more efficient claims management process.

Still, it is taking an average of 185 days to process claims, two months longer than VA’s goal.
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