The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Veterans Affairs would get money to slash claims backlog

The 2015 White House budget would provide $65.3 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The enacted 2014 federal budget gave $63.4 billion to the federal agency, which provides benefits to veterans and their families.

The VA has accumulated a massive backlog of claims waiting to be processed, which it managed to trim from 600,000 to 400,000 – a still startling number – from March to November 2013. Obama announced that “slashing that backlog” was a White House priority in his 2014 State of the Union address, and his proposed 2015 budget includes a $138.7 million investment in the Veterans Claims Intake Program in an effort to reform and speed up the process.

The White House’s budget proposes a $1.6 billion investment in helping homeless and at-risk veterans, including $500 million for homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing, $321 million for a supportive housing program for veterans and $75 million for 10,000 new housing vouchers through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The largest part of the VA’s budget is directed toward veteran medical care: $56 billion, a 2.7 percent increase from 2014’s appropriations. That includes $589 million for medical and prosthetic research and $7 billion for expanding mental health services.