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Veterans and disability benefits: president addresses claims backlog

We've been closely following the issue of excessive backlogs in the processing of veterans' disability claims. The Veterans Administration (VA) and the Social Security Administration have been trying to coordinate their efforts better and bring the backlog down so that disabled veterans can get the benefits they need.

In our most recent update, in our August 2 post, we reported that the VA has been making some headway this summer, with more than 10,000 claims processors working overtime. More recently, President Obama himself addressed the issue directly.

In this post, we'll review what the president said about the backlog of disability claims for veterans.

Addressing a group of disabled veterans last month, President Obama said that the VA had "turned the tide" on the massive backlog. He said the backlog had been reduced by nearly 20 percent in less than six months.

Separately, Obama administration officials told the media that the number of disability claims that have been pending for more than 125 days is down to about 500,000. It was more than 600,000 at the end of March.

Much of the recent attention concerning the claims backlog has been on the VA's efforts. But it should not be forgotten that the Social Security Administration (SSA) also plays a key role in serving disabled veterans.

Indeed, nearly one in every five adults who receive Social Security is a military veteran. And many of these veterans are disabled. That is why it is so important that the VA and the SSA coordinate their efforts.

Where possible, that coordination should include the use of an expedited process that enables injured or ill veterans to get their Social Security disability benefits without undue delay.

Source: The Washington Post, "Obama says VA has reduced backlog of disability claims," Josh Hicks, August 12, 2013

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