The Washington Post

VA warns disability claims progress ‘at risk’

The Department of Veterans Affairs warned Tuesday night that the government shutdown will reverse its progress on lowering the backlog of disability claims.

Department of Veterans Affairs (Charles Dharapak/AP) – Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters.

The department said it can no longer pay overtime to claims processors, an initiative begun in May that department officials credit as a major reason for a 30 percent drop in the inventory of disability claims over the last six months.

“Due to the government shutdown, this clear progress for veterans and their families is at risk without immediate action by Congress to make fiscal year 2014 funding available,” the VA said in its statement.

“Overtime ends today,” Tommy Sowers, the VA’s assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, wrote in a tweet Tuesday. “After decreasing backlog by 30% we project it will start increasing”

The VA released its statement Tuesday evening in response to a request from The Washington Post for more details about the impact of the shutdown on overtime for claims processors.

When the VA announced the overtime in May, it was only slated to last until Sept. 30. However, beginning in late July, VA undersecretary for benefits Allison Hickey told several veteran service organizations that the initiative would be extended into November.

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The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
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Quoted
We'll have half a million voters in South Carolina. I can shake a lot of hands, but I can't shake that many.
Sen. Marco Rubio, speaking to a group of reporters about his strategy to regain support after a poor performance in the last debate
Fact Checker
Sanders’s claim that Clinton objected to meeting with ‘our enemies’
Sanders said that Clinton was critical of Obama in 2008 for suggesting meeting with Iran. In fact, Clinton and Obama differed over whether to set preconditions, not about meeting with enemies. Once in office, Obama followed the course suggested by Clinton, abandoning an earlier position as unrealistic.
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The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

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