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Amodei offers successful amendment to shift funds to VA Regional Offices with largest backlogs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            Contact:        Brian Baluta, 202-225-6155

June 4, 2013                                                    

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Congressman Mark Amodei (NV-2) today offered a successful amendment to the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill for FY 2014, which would shift $44 million for mandatory overtime to the VA Regional Offices (VAROs) with the worst disability claims backlogs -- greater than 365 days. Of the 15 VAROs on the list, Reno’s backlog, with an average claims process of 504 days, is behind only that of Los Angeles (576 days). The amendment passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 248 to 172.

The Reno VARO serves nearly 234,000 veterans living in Nevada and four California counties. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 606,007 total backlogged claims across the nation.

“While I appreciate the Appropriations Committee’s provisions in the bill to help address the claims backlog, I believe more can be done to directly help veterans where the problem is greatest,” said Amodei. “Instead of spreading mandatory overtime across the entire VARO system, that funding should be focused like a laser on the 13 states where our veterans are waiting for more than a year to get the benefits they earned and deserve. What’s been done by the Department of Veterans Affairs is not working. It’s time to try something new. Anything less is unacceptable.”

In an attempt to expedite disability claims decisions, on May 15, 2013, the VA announced a new initiative to mandate overtime. This surge will be implemented for the remainder of the fiscal year and cost approximately $44 million. It is expected to reduce the overall backlog by 50,000 claims. However, instead of allocating these funds to the Regional Offices with the largest backlogs, the VA decided to mandate overtime nationwide and burden those offices where performance goals are already being met.

When questioned in a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing as to why the VA is not allocating resources based on the backlog, VA Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey, stated “We have a resource allocation model, that frankly, doesn’t make any sense.”

The amendment will not alter VARO budgets for normal operating expenses and salaries. It only applies to those funds associated with the VA’s mandatory overtime initiative.

Top 15 VA Regional Office backlogs, according to statistics provided by the VA:

1) Los Angeles, CA (576 days)    

2) Reno, NV (504 days)                 

3) Oakland, CA (501 days)

4) New York, NY (497 days)                         

5) Chicago, IL (489 days)                               

6) Baltimore, MD (483 days)

7) Phoenix, AZ (482 days)                            

8) Pittsburgh, PA (454 days)       

9) Waco, TX (445 days)

10) Indianapolis, IN (443 days)   

11) Houston, TX (419 days)         

12) Boston, MA (402 days)

13) Roanoke, VA (398 days)                        

14) Cleveland, OH (393 days)     

15) Jackson, MS (366 days)

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  • Office Locations

    Office Name Location Image Map URL
    Reno Office 5310 Kietzke Lane, Suite 103
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    repName Congressman Mark Amodei  
    helpWithFedAgencyAddress 332 Cannon House Office Building
    Washington, DC 20515
     
    district 2nd District of Nevada  
    academyUSCitizenDate July 1, 2016  
    academyAgeDate July 1, 2016  
    academyApplicationDueDate October 20, 2016  
    repStateABBR NV  
    repDistrict 2  
    repState Nevada  
    repDistrictText 2nd  
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