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Kay Hagan among those urging President Obama to reduce VA backlog

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Kay Hagan (Credit: Hagan.senate.gov)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan joined 66 of her colleagues Monday in urging President Barack Obama to take action to end the backlog of veterans’ disability claims, according to a prepared statement from her office.

Hagan, D-N.C., had already sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shineski, calling the backlog of veterans’ disability claims “deplorable” and asking him to send senior VA officials to the agency’s regional office in Winston-Salem to deal with the problem.

The number of claims pending for more than a year has grown 2,000 percent, and that’s despite the VA getting a 40 percent increase in its budget, according to the letter sent to President Obama Monday.

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr did not sign the letter but he has been just as involved in the issue, said Rachel Hicks, a spokeswoman for his office.

Burr sent a letter to Shineski on April 24 asking for more information regarding a recent announcement that Shineski made that VA claims raters would make provisional decisions on the oldest claims to cut down on the backlog.

Burr is a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and questioned Shineski last month about the backlog during a VA committee hearing.

Hagan said in her March 28 letter that more than 7,000 veterans had been waiting for at least a year for the city’s office to rule on their claims.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported that the wait time in Winston-Salem is the second longest in the department’s southeastern region.