By Rick Maze - Air Force Times Staff writer
Key senators said Friday they are pleased that the Veterans Affairs Department is hiring more than 4,000 more claims processors, but they are worried this won’t result in most veterans getting their disability benefits any faster.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki acknowledged that immediate progress might be elusive. It will take up to two years to fully train the new workers, even as the number of claims being filed continues to climb, he said in testimony before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
In 2009, VA received more than 1 million disability claims, and expects a 13 percent increase this year and an 11 percent increase in 2011, he said. That does not include an additional one-time flood of claims expected in 2011 stemming from an expansion of Agent Orange-related claims from Vietnam veterans, he said.
That alone could result in 228,000 claims, he said.see Agent Orange Zone blog posts