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Will the VA Reach Its 2015 Goal?

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Dallas SSDI attorneysIn 2013, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported that it had a staggering 600,000 veteran benefits claims backlogged, waiting to be seen and reviewed. The shocking number, attributed to a surge in new claims from Vietnam veterans' Agent Orange claims, grabbed headlines and spurned the agency into setting a lofty goal in 2015: to work through its entire backlog of claims and make sure that the veterans who have applied get the assistance they need.

A new report from the Houston Chronicle details the renewed efforts by the VA to improve its efficiency and eliminate waiting times for veteran applicants. They have reported:

  • They currently has approximately 235,700 back logged claims
  • The VA has processed more than a million claims a year for four years
  • The Houston VA office (serving all of Texas), has reduced its total number of standing claims by 64% since 2013

Still politicians and experts are skeptical that the VA will be able to hit its 2015 goal. As Jim Richman, Director of Claims Representation & Counseling for the Texas Veterans Commission told the Houston Chronicle, achieving the proposed efficiency under the current processing system is "science fiction."

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Dallas SSDI attorneysVA Secretary Bob McDonald is under fire as the scandals continue. CBS reports that widows of veterans have not been assisted with burial expenses, nor have they been extended the long tradition of receiving the American flag in honor of their veteran's service.

CBS investigation revealed that the problems with the Veteran's Administration continue to be widespread. Of particular emphasis was the Oakland facility where over 13,000 claims were simply ignored and many of the veteran's with claims had died. Two years after the problems were first reported a follow up found that none of the records regarding these claims could be found. This is part of continuing conduct where the VA destroys records to cover up inefficiencies.

At his appointment, McDonald announced an ambitious reorganization plan for the VA. He planed firings and other discipline, but also better ways to serve the department's customers, the veterans.

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Dallas SSDI attorneysIn the latest development in Congress' debate over the future of the Social Security disability program (SSD), the White House has offered a new fiscal plan that would prevent the program from running out of funds in 2016. In the White House's proposed budget, $330 billion dollars would be added to the SSD fund starting in 2016, money that would last until 2033 and result in zero cuts in benefits for those currently covered.

In the past, the SSD fund was replenished periodically by funds from the Social Security retirement program, but recently, Republicans in the House of Representatives have moved to end this practice. Representatives have alleged that not only is this process detrimental to the retirement program, but that the SSD program is riddled with fraudulent claims. Under the Republicans' new restrictions, if the SSD fund was not replenished in 2016, 11 million Americans' SSD insurance benefits would be cut by 20%.

As reported by Politico late last month, details of the White House's new plan are as follows:

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Dallas SSDI attorneysLast month, the new, Republican-led session of the House of Representatives shocked everyone by taking aim Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). The new bill, which has passed, stops all replenishing funds reallocated from the Social Security retirement fund. The bill instantly stirred controversy and has mobilized Democratic lawmakers who are decrying the new policy.

The reasoning for the new changes were cited as suspicion of fraud by many SSD beneficiaries, but political analysts are positing that Republicans have greater designs for Social Security disability program.

As it stands, numerous reasons have been given for the bill by Republicans. They claim:

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Dallas SSDI attorneysLast month, the new session of the House of Representatives passed a bill that will affect the way that the Social Security disability program will be funded. Under the new changes, the fund will no longer be replenished by tax funds from the Social Security retirement fund. The transfer of tax money between these two funds has kept both programs functioning for years.

According to a recent article from Media Matters For America , Texas' own Representative Sam Johnson and Senator Rand Paul are leading the charge on these changes and continue to perpetuate a deep-seated mistrust of SSD beneficiaries among Republicans. The congressmen cite fraud prevention as the inspiration for the bill and insist that countless citizens who are benefiting from disability insurance are not actually suffering from truly debilitating conditions.

However, as a recent report from the Los Angeles Times points out , applying for and receiving SSD benefits is, in fact, a highly regulated and rigorous process.

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