Spanberger Presses VA to Clear Extensive Claims Backlog, Deliver for Virginia Veterans

As of October 10, 2023, More Than 300,000 VA Claims Have Been Backlogged for More Than 125 Days

Congresswoman: “The Sacrifices Made by Our Veterans Demand Nothing Less Than Our Unwavering Commitment to Their Well-Being”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today pressed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to immediately address claims processing delays — particularly amid an influx of cases related to the bipartisan Honoring Our PACT Act, which Spanberger voted to pass and the president signed into law last summer — and make sure Virginia Veterans receive the benefits they have earned.

As of October 10, 2023, more than 300,000 VA claims are backlogged, meaning they have been pending for over 125 days. That number is expected to continue to increase, with the VA projecting the number to peak at 400,000 in 2024 — largely due to the influx of claims related to the Honoring Our PACT Act. The bipartisan legislation expanded healthcare benefits for Veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during their military service and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras.

In a letter sent to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, Spanberger urged the VA to take action to address these serious delays and clear the growing claims backlog. Additionally, the Congresswoman requested information regarding the specific challenges that led to these unacceptable delays, a plan outlining how the VA will rectify this issue, and recommendations as to how Congress can support the VA in connecting Veterans with the benefits they have earned. Spanberger frequently hears from Virginia Veterans whose VA claims are severely backlogged — delaying these heroes from receiving care.

“I am writing to express my profound concern about the recent delays in providing essential care to veterans in Virginia. Last year, Congress passed, and President Biden signed into law the bipartisan Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. This landmark legislation is a crucial step in expanding Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances,” wrote Spanberger. “Unfortunately, I have heard from veterans across my district who have experienced significant delays in VA claims processing, increasing their difficulty in accessing the vital care they earned through their service.”

Spanberger continued, “Accordingly, I urge the VA to take immediate and comprehensive action to address these delays and ensure that veterans in Virginia and across the nation receive the care and benefits guaranteed to them under the bipartisan Honoring our PACT Act. The sacrifices made by our veterans demand nothing less than our unwavering commitment to their well-being.”

Click here to read their letter, and the full text is below.                                                                    

Dear Secretary McDonough,

I am writing to express my profound concern about the recent delays in providing essential care to veterans in Virginia. Last year, Congress passed, and President Biden signed into law the bipartisan Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. This landmark legislation is a crucial step in expanding Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. Unfortunately, I have heard from veterans across my district who have experienced significant delays in VA claims processing, increasing their difficulty in accessing the vital care they earned through their service.

As of October 10, 2023, there is a backlog of 306,747 VA claims that have been pending for over 125 days. That number is expected to continue to increase, with the VA projecting the number to peak at 400,000 in 2024 — largely due to the influx of PACT Act claims. These increasingly large numbers are deeply concerning and highlight the urgent need for decisive action to address this growing backlog and provide veterans with access to their potentially lifesaving care as quickly as possible.

I understand that several factors have contributed to the current backlog, including the impact of COVID-19 on claims processing, technological challenges, ongoing challenges to modernizing the VA systems, and an increased volume of claims because of the Honoring our PACT Act. Despite these challenges, our veterans should not bear the brunt of bureaucratic obstacles, and we must uphold our duty to provide them with the highest level of care and support.

Accordingly, I urge the VA to take immediate and comprehensive action to address these delays and ensure that veterans in Virginia and across the nation receive the care and benefits guaranteed to them under the bipartisan Honoring our PACT Act. The sacrifices made by our veterans demand nothing less than our unwavering commitment to their well-being.

I kindly request information outlining the specific challenges and bottlenecks that have led to these delays, including support the VA may need from Congress to promptly rectify them. Our veterans deserve a streamlined and efficient process that respects their service to our nation.

I appreciate your attention to this critical matter and look forward to receiving updates on the steps the VA will take to ensure that our veterans are not left waiting for the benefits and care they have earned through their dedicated service to our nation.

Thank you for your dedication to serving our veterans and for your commitment to upholding the principles of the bipartisan Honoring our PACT Act.

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