Speaking at the VA hospital in Newington today, the leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs committed to reduce the backlog of veterans waiting for benefits.

Secretary Eric Shinseki says the backlog grew, after decisions to expand benefits for agent orange, post traumatic stress disorder and Gulf War illnesses increased workload.

“At the time we did that in 2010, we said the inventory is going to grow, the backlog is going to deepen, but we willl get through this, and in order to get through this we must establish an automation capability,” Shinseki said.

The department is putting in place a system to allow officials to process benefit applications electronically.

It currently takes more than 9-months for many applications for veterans benefits to be reviewed.

The agency plans to give high priority to veterans who have been waiting more than a year for the department to determine if they are eligible for benefits.

In some cases, officials will now be able to issue provisional decisions to veterans who have been waiting the longest.


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