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Senator Kirk Questions Veterans Benefit Administration Secretary on Long Veteran Wait Times in Chicago

Current Wait Time at Chicago Regional Office is an Average of 172 Days

WASHINGTON –-(ENEWSPF)–March 20, 2015.  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, questioned Veterans Affairs Under Secretary Allison Hickey yesterday about the veterans claims backlog and the current efforts to digitalize and streamline veterans records in Illinois and nationwide. Under Secretary Hickey oversees the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), which works to improve the quality of processing and current wait times that veterans wait for their benefits to process.

Senator Kirk also questioned the Secretary specifically on the recent “60 Minutes” report on deceased veterans who have been receiving benefits.

“We owe it to veterans to process their benefits claims as quickly as possible, but veterans at the Chicago Regional Office have to wait an average of 172 days before a decision is made,” Senator Kirk said. “Last year’s average time was 353 days, so improvements have been made, but there is still more work to be done. The Johnson-Kirk 10 point plan has helped to improve claim processing times across the country, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the subcommittee to continue this effort.”

The 10 point plan, which Senator Kirk authored with former Senator Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), aids Veterans Affairs Regional Offices across the country in reducing their backlog of veterans waiting on benefit claims. The Chicago VA’s wait time of 172 days is an improvement from last year’s wait time of 353 days, but more work needs to be done. As Chairman of the Subcommittee, Senator Kirk has also advocated for digitalizing records for veterans, which would eliminate paper medical records, allow veterans to visit any VA facility without bringing their records, and would streamline the claims adjudication process.

Senator Kirk plans to visit the Chicago Regional Office to better understand the current processing system.

Video from the hearing can be viewed here.

Source: kirk.senate.gov

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