VA withholding bonuses over claims backlog

The VA and Secretary Eric Shinseki have come under heavy criticism from Congress and advocacy groups over the size of the claims backlog. Of nearly 900,000 outstanding claims, roughly 500,000 have been sitting longer than the department’s goal of 125 days.

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Shinseki has vowed to eliminate the backlog by 2015.

Lawmakers have urged President Obama to personally get involved in ensuring that the problem is addressed. On Monday, 67 senators — including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — wrote to Obama asking him to take “direction action."

“In the last four years, the number of claims pending for over a year has grown by over 2000 percent, despite a 40 percent increase in the VA’s budget,” the senators wrote. “As a reminder, during this same time period, Congress has given VA everything it has asked for in terms of more funding and more employees; however, this has not eliminated the backlog of claims.”

A group of more than 100 House members wrote the president last week also asking him to help erase the claims backlog.