Press Releases

Sen. Carper Joins Bipartisan Letter Urging President Obama to Take Action on VA Backlog

Senators highlight concerns about increasing backlog of disability claims despite modernization efforts

May 02 2013

WASHINGTON – This week, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) joined 66 senators in a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging him to take direct action to end the Veterans’ Administration (VA) disability claims backlog that currently leaves more than 600,000 veterans without assistance. The letter highlights serious concerns with the amount of time the VA is currently taking to issue decisions for pending claims, which has kept veterans waiting more than 327 days on average – and more than 1,000 days in the worst cases – before receiving notification of a decision regarding their disability claim.

“We have a solemn responsibility to care for our troops when they complete their service to our nation – from helping them find job opportunities to ensuring they receive the medical care they deserve,” said Sen. Carper, a 23-year Navy veteran. “The current backlog of disability claims at the VA is simply unacceptable, and eliminating it is a critical piece of serving our men and women in uniform as well as they’ve served our country. I urge the President to take action on this issue right away so that veterans in Delaware and across the country can begin to get the treatment and support they need to live long, productive and happy lives.”

A copy of the letter follows:

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to request that you take direct action and involvement in ending the current Veterans’ Administration (VA) disability claims backlog.

After a decade of war, and despite the VA’s efforts to modernize, more than 600,000 veterans are still stuck in the VA’s disability claims backlog. While the average wait time for first time disability claims currently ranges between 316 and 327 days, veterans in certain parts of the country are waiting even longer – 681 days in Reno, 642 in New York, 625 in Pittsburgh, 619 in Los Angeles, 612 in Indianapolis, 586 in Houston, and 510 in Philadelphia. In the worst cases, veterans have waited and continue to wait 800 days, 900 days, and even more than 1000 days for a disability claims decision from the VA.

In the last four years, the number of claims pending for over a year has grown by over 2000%, despite a 40% increase in the VA’s budget. As a reminder, during this same time period, Congress has given VA everything it has asked for in terms of more funding and more employees; however, this has not eliminated the backlog of claims. Solving this problem is critical for veterans of all generations. We need direct and public involvement from you to establish a clear plan to end the backlog once and for all.

This country must be grateful for the safe homecoming of every single man and woman who has served in harm’s way. Our joy at their return must be reflected in our commitment to helping all who have served. We respectfully ask you and your administration to find a solution that ensures that no veterans are stuck in the VA backlog.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

Mark Warner

United States Senator

Sheldon Whitehouse

United States Senator

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator

Jay Rockefeller

United States Senator

Angus King

United States Senator

Claire McCaskill

United States Senator

Elizabeth Warren

United States Senator

John Cornyn

United States Senator

Joe Donnelly

United States Senator

Ben Cardin

United States Senator

Jeff Flake, Rand Paul

United States Senator

Chris Murphy

United States Senator

James Risch

United States Senator

Mazie Hirono

United States Senator

John McCain

United States Senator

Ted Cruz

United States Senator

Lindsey Graham

United States Senator

Thad Cochran

United States Senator

Pat Toomey

United States Senator

Ron Wyden

United States Senator

Roy Blunt

United States Senator

Joe Manchin

United States Senator

Tammy Baldwin

United States Senator

Harry Reid

United States Senator

Saxby Chambliss

United States Senator

Tim Kaine

United States Senator

Michael Enzi

United States Senator

Mike Crapo

United States Senator

Jerry Moran

United States Senator

Roger Wicker

United States Senator

Jeff Sessions

United States Senator

Mark Pryor

United States Senator

Mitch McConnell

United States Senator

John Thune

United States Senator

Mark Begich

United States Senator

Kay Hagan

United States Senator

Johnny Isakson

United States Senator

Susan Collins

United States Senator

John Boozman

United States Senator

Heidi Heitkamp

United States Senator

Jeff Merkley

United States Senator

Maria Cantwell

United States Senator

Tom Harkin

United States Senator

Brian Schatz

United States Senator

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator

Bill Nelson

United States Senator

Marco Rubio

United States Senator

Dick Durbin

United States Senator

Chuck Grassley

United States Senator

Lisa Murkowski

United States Senator

Orrin Hatch

United States Senator

Jon Tester

United States Senator

Pat Roberts

United States Senator

Richard Blumenthal

United States Senator

Frank Lautenberg

United States Senator

Rob Portman

United States Senator

Debbie Stabenow

United States Senator

Kelly Ayotte

United States Senator

Tom Carper

United States Senator

Tim Scott

United States Senator

David Vitter

United States Senator

Dean Heller

United States Senator

Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senator

Bob Casey

United States Senator

Mark Kirk

United States Senator

Robert Menendez

United States Senator