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VA Secretary Promises To Clear Disability Backlog By 2015

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs was in Portland Friday to highlight the agency’s efforts to reduce a large backlog in processing the disability claims of soldiers.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said the agency has had a backlog for decades, including soldiers dating back to the Vietnam War.

He says many of those disability claims were made on paper, but the agency is moving to an electronic system to speed things up.

He says the backlog peaked at more than 600,000 claims in March and has since dropped by about 20 percent. And he promised the backlog would be cleared by 2015.

Shinseki told reporters, “When we say ending the backlog we mean no claim over 125 days and doing all of our work at a high accuracy level, 98 percent.”

While the backlog is shrinking overall, the Center for Investigative Reporting finds that it’s increasing slightly in Portland.

The director of the Portland VA office, Chris Marshall, said problems with the new electronic system are to blame, but he’s confident the district will be able to meet Shinseki’s promise.