VA trims disability claims backlog

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs has eliminated more than 200,000 cases from the backlog of disability claims, a 34 percent decrease since its peak of 611,000 in March, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said Thursday.

But he said the department plans to temporarily cease the use of mandatory overtime, an initiative credited as an important part of the reduction.

Shinseki said the agency was easing back on overtime, which began in May, to avoid exhausting the workforce.

“You can only run full throttle for so long,” he said during a news media roundtable at VA headquarters in Washington.

Shinseki also credited the launch of the VA’s new digital claim system as a key reason for the decline.

“We have been standing astride a river of paper for decades,” he said.

Progress on the backlog slowed during the partial government shutdown, when the VA was forced to stop mandatory overtime.

“We took a 17-day pause and watched a flat line,” Shinseki said.

The overtime was reinstated when the shutdown ended, but only until Nov. 23, when it will temporarily cease again until late January.

Shinseki said the agency will monitor what effect halting the overtime again for two months has on continued progress.

The VA would continue overtime use “with a fine hand on the tiller,” he said. “We’re sensitive to the concerns of a workforce that we’re already asking a lot of.”

More in Local News

Child porn found in forest treehouse and Mill Creek home

Daniel Wood, 56, has been charged with two counts of possession of child pornography.

The rules: You can’t put just anything on your vanity plate

The state keeps a “banned list” of character combinations that will automatically be denied.

Man arrested after robbery reported at Lynnwood Walgreens

He matched the description of a suspect in an earlier robbery reported about three miles away.

Driver killed in crash identified as Monroe man

Anthony Ray Vannelli Jr. died of blunt force injuries. He was 37.

Edmonds man gets nearly 14 years for murder of roommate

Derrick Crawford, 22, admitted that he shot and intended to kill 27-year-old Joshua Werner.

Motorcyclist seriously hurt in Everett hit-and-run

Police are searching for the driver and a gray Dodge Stratus with extensive front-end damage.

As expected, 92 to be laid off by Stanwood’s Twin City Foods

The frozen-vegetables processor announced last year it was moving all operations to Pasco.

Demolition begins on buildings acquired for courthouse remodel

The start date for major construction has been pushed back, but is still projected to wrap up in 2021.

At Pacific Wellness and Lactation, Braylon Machado, 1, waits a moment for his mom and caregiver BreAnne Marcucci to check his weight on a pediatric scale. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
New moms get a little help from friends

Two childhood neighbors start a free support group for breastfeeding mothers.

Most Read