FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Susan Sullam, 410-962-4436
CARDIN TOURS BALTIMORE REGIONAL VA OFFICE;
RECEIVES UPDATE ON PROCESSING DISABILITY CLAIMS
In January, Baltimore VA office was ranked the
slowest processing center in nation
BALTIMORE -- U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) today received a tour and briefing by Veterans Affairs (VA) officials on the progress that has been made since January in reducing the disability claims backlog in the Baltimore Regional VA office.
In January, Senators Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski demanded that the VA institute an immediate action plan to address the more than 20,000 pending claims. The average wait for claims to be processed in Baltimore had been almost one year. The VA has stated that its goal is to ensure that disability claims are fully processed within 125 days by 2015.
In the briefing today by VA officials on the backlog of cases, Senator Cardin was told that in February there had been a backlog of 17,000 cases that were more than 125 days old and that by June the backlog had been reduced to 11,000 cases. In May, the Baltimore Regional VA Office processed more than 3,200 cases.
“I am pleased that progress has made in reducing the backlog and that there is a pathway to improvement, but I am not happy that there is any backlog at all,” said Senator Cardin. “I will continue to monitor the situation to make sure that we are devoting the resources that are necessary to ensure prompt processing of disability claims and that there is adequate staffing in place to ensure the timely decisions on claims.”
“Over the past several months, the Baltimore Regional Office and its partners have renewed efforts to provide faster and more accurate decisions to Maryland’s Veterans. In pursuit of Veterans Benefits Administration’s Transformation Plan, the Baltimore VA has enhanced claims processing through implementation of the new organizational model and deployment of paperless claims processing in the Veterans Benefits Management System. This has resulted in significant reductions in the backlog of pending claims in the Baltimore VA. VA appreciates the continued support, partnership and leadership of the entire Maryland congressional delegation and we look forward to continuing our work together serving Maryland’s Veterans,” said Michael Scheibel, Director of VA Baltimore Regional Office.
The Baltimore Regional Office serves 484,013 veterans living in the State of Maryland, 2 percent of the national veteran population. The Regional Office's jurisdiction includes all counties in the State of Maryland. The Baltimore Regional Office has an assigned staffing of 218. They provide services at the VA Medical Center in Baltimore and Transition Assistance throughout the State.
Nationally, more than 900,000 veterans wait an average of nine months for their disability claim to be process. Over the last two years, there has been an increase in the wait for an initial decision from 166 days to 262 days for veterans across the United States.