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VA lifts overtime requirement for claims workers

By Kevin Freking

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:48 a.m. HST, Nov 08, 2013



WASHINGTON >> The Department of Veterans Affairs will temporarily suspend a program that requires more than 10,000 disability claims processors to work at least 20 hours of overtime per month with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki saying today he had to be careful not to burn out his workforce.

Shinseki, speaking with reporters before Veterans Day, emphasized the latest VA count showing that the number of disability claims pending for longer than 125 days has dropped nearly 34 percent since late March to about 401,000.

The backlog, while a longstanding problem, had intensified under Shinseki's watch as more soldiers returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, and as the VA made it easier for Vietnam Veterans to get disability compensation stemming from exposure to Agent Orange. More and more lawmakers were voicing concern about the administration's handling of the problem and some are calling for an independent commission to examine how best to solve the problem and keep it from happening again.

Shinseki said mandatory overtime would be renewed in late January.

"I've got to be careful here. I learned a long time ago you can ask even the best units to go full-throttle only for so long," Shinseki said. "You just can't keep that running forever."

Shinseki has set a goal of eliminating the backlog entirely in 2015. He said he's confident the VA will meet that goal.

"I've just got to be smart to get the workforce to continue to sustain the kind of performance they've had in the last 230 days," he said.






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sailfish1 wrote:
If they need 200,000 hours of overtime a month, they would be better off hiring more people. First off, you won't burn out the workers and secondly, if they are paying time-and -a-half for overtime work, they can save money by reducing that to straight time. Heck, he says they been doing this overtime for 230 days and they're going to start again in January - that's too much already.
on November 7,2013 | 09:09PM
localguy wrote:
sailfish1 - Uhhhh, thanks to our dysfunctional congress and senate failing to approve a budget, as they have for years, VA does not have the funds to hire new people. Congressional bureaucrats are always meddling in the VA when they can't do their own job. Congress and senate should admit they are incompetent, we already know they are, and give the VA the money it needs to do the job. The ongoing sequester is not going to help, cutting money each year.
on November 8,2013 | 06:54AM
stingray65 wrote:
Another excuses?
on November 7,2013 | 10:20PM
pcman wrote:
This is a shame on Obama and Shinseki. Despite veterans affairs being raised to cabinet level, veterans affairs have never been worse. That's because Shinseki is a political hack of Obama who disdains military personnel and matters, including veterans affairs. Obama and Michelle try to show a good face of military and veterans affairs but their actions reflect otherwise. This is the first time in history that non-government agencies have had to pick up the slack in government support of military and veterans affairs. What a disgrace of these politicians!
on November 8,2013 | 06:17AM
localguy wrote:
pcman - You do understand Shinseki grew up in the islands, is a decorated former military officer who served as the Army Chief of Staff. He was seriously wounded in combat, still carries the results of his injuries. He knows more about leadership then you could ever comprehend. You do understand the VA is still under the thumb of our dysfunctional congress and senate, unable to do real work when budgets are cut. And restricted by so many congressional actions progress takes years. Clearly you never made the cut to serve in the armed forces so now you think you can take cheap shots. What a loser you are. Next time do your research before posting so you will not look so bad. http://www.va.gov/opa/bios/bio_shinseki.asp
on November 8,2013 | 08:07AM
localguy wrote:
This is pure political shibai, "lawmakers were voicing concern about the administration's handling of the problem:" Hello acutely dysfunctional congress and senate, you were the ones who shut down the government again so work could not continue. Want to find the source of the problem? Just look in the mirror. From the USPS to the medical compounding disaster, our bureaucratic congress and senate have proven over and over they are not up to the task. More concerned about photo ops and taking care of #1 versus the voters. They actually have said taking care of "The steerage class people" is wasting their valuable time. They just don't get it.
on November 8,2013 | 06:50AM
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