Costa Supports Ending Backlog at VA

Oct 28, 2013
Press Release

Washington, DC—Rep. Jim Costa supported legislation that will put the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) backon track in delivering former service members the benefits they have earned. The last 6 months have shown great progress with the backlog at VA being reduced by 30 percent, but there still are more than 400,000 overdue cases awaiting review at the Department and Costa’s office works with many of these veterans daily. The House overwhelmingly approved bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to address the backlog at VA with a vote of 404-1.

“When our veterans return from active duty, their service ends, but our commitment to them never does,” said Costa. “For too long, many of them have seen the benefits they earned swept up in bureaucratic delays while their medical conditions may continue to progress. Tonight, I stood with my colleagues to remove the red tape that can stand between them and their benefits and to move us closer to meeting our end of that sacred promise.”

Costa was an original co-sponsor of a measure to expedite payment to veterans and remove barriers that prevent delivery of benefits. The commonsense bill would have allowed veterans filing multiple claims to receive compensation as VA adjudicates individual claims rather than waiting until all of their claims have been processed to receive any compensation. The legislation Costa sponsored was included in broader legislation that cleared the House with overwhelming bipartisan support this evening. The Senate must act on the legislation before the President can sign it into law.

In February, Costa met with Undersecretary for Benefits Brig. General Allison Hickey to discuss the backlog at the Oakland Regional Office. This is where the majority of claims for Valley Veterans are processed and more than 55 percent of cases there are currently backlogged. In that meeting, Hickey reported that additional employees and new technology was being employed to address the backlog. Since then, the percentage of cases pending by more than 125 days has dropped significantly.