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Hagan: Backlog At Winston-Salem VA Shrinking

The weight of paper files at the VA's Winston-Salem office threatened to collapse the floor.
Office of the Inspector General/Department of Veterans Affairs

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan says the Veterans Affairs office in Winston-Salem is cutting down on its backlog of claims. 

The Democrat from North Carolina says the office has processed all claims that have been waiting for two years or more.  Hagan says the average claim now takes 200 days, compared to more than 300 days a year ago.  The Winston-Salem VA processes nearly all claims filed in North Carolina. 

Hagan says extra employees are helping cut down the backlog, but the federal government still needs to fix a computer issue that forces the Department of Defense to send paper files to Veterans Affairs.

"We've got to figure out how we can get the paperwork from the DOD to the VA electronically in a much quicker fashion, and then continue to play catch up with overtime of employees and extra workers," Hagan said.

Hagan says more man power has also cut the number of veterans waiting for a year or more by about half.  But she says the Winston-Salem office still has about 11,000 appeals to process.  Hagan says some of those cases have taken four years or more to get a decision.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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