The White House is proposing a 13.6 percent increase in funding for veterans benefits administration, an effort to reduce the Department of Veterans Affair’s massive backlog of disability claims.
The proposed $2.5 billion for the Veterans Benefits Administration is part of an overall 4 percent increase the White House is seeking for the VA, an amount that is likely higher than most federal departments and agencies will see when the proposed 2014 budget is released next week.
“In a budget that’s taking pretty significant hits, we thought it very important to highlight … these investments,” Denis McDonough said during a briefing for reporters with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
The number of pending claims filed by veterans seeking compensation stood at 885,000 as of this week, including 70 percent which have been pending for more than 125 days.
The funding includes $155 million for the implementation of a new paperless claim system, one of a several reforms that the VA says will enable it to reduce the backlog.
“The president has made clear to us this is a national priority,” McDonough said
“Nobody is going to be more impatient about this than the guy we’re reporting to on a regular basis … the president,” he added.
The budget also proposes to make permanent several tax credits signed into law in 2011 that provide incentives for businesses that hire unemployed veterans.
This post has been updated.