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Nov-14-2013 12:53printcomments

VA to Suspend Mandatory Overtime for Claims Processors

During the government shutdown in October, the processors could not take overtime, and progress slowed significantly. In fiscal 2013 -- which ended prior to the shutdown -- VA processed 100,000 fewer claims than it expected.

Secretary Eric Shinseki
Secretary Eric Shinseki

(WASHINGTON, DC) - The Veterans Affairs Department will implement a temporary reprieve from requiring employees to work overtime to reduce the backlog of disability claims, saying it does not want to ask too much of its workforce.

During a meeting with reporters, Secretary Eric Shinseki announced a plan to generally cut back on the amount of overtime employees must take moving forward, saying he can only ask his claims processing units to “go full throttle for so long,” according to the Associated Press. The overtime policy has played a critical role in reducing the claims backlog, with the number of veterans waiting more than 125 days for a response dropping by more than a third since March, to 401,000.

“I’ve got to be careful here,” Shinseki said. “You just can’t keep that running forever.”

VA will lift the requirement -- which mandates claims processors take at least 20 hours of overtime every month -- for two months, beginning Nov. 23. The department will monitor the effect of the overtime freeze to determine its impact on the progress in processing claims. The employees can still take voluntary overtime, a department spokeswoman told Government Executive.

During the government shutdown in October, the processors could not take overtime, and progress slowed significantly. In fiscal 2013 -- which ended prior to the shutdown -- VA processed 100,000 fewer claims than it expected. In that year, however, it processed more claims than it took in for the first time in five years.

Shinseki said despite the temptation to use overtime, he was worried about diminishing returns.

"I've just got to be smart to get the workforce to continue to sustain the kind of performance they've had in the last 230 days," he said.

Congressional funding will also dictate the use of overtime, the spokeswoman said. The Veterans Benefits Administration, which conducts claims processing, received an 8.5 percent budget increase in fiscal 2013 and was exempt from sequestration cuts.

Source: Government Executive

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AMERICAN November 15, 2013 11:14 am (Pacific time)

Shame on Shinseki and all the VA claims adjusters. They are only worried about themselves! Each hour of overtime is paid as DOUBLE the regular hourly wage. Employees making $100.00 per hour have been getting $200.00 an hour for the overtime. The VA claims adjusters are getting filthy rich, while 401,000 initial claims and 450,000 appealed claims remain in backlog. VETERANS are SUFFERING WHILE SHINSEKI and his PALS PLAY GAMES! They all will answer for what they have done!


Veteran November 15, 2013 7:34 am (Pacific time)

No real surprise here. My last disability claims went to a rating board in Manila, and not to a medical facility here in the U.S. They didn't even get it right, even after a quality assurance officer looked it over, they still had the WRONG information and denied my claim, so I have to wait in the long line of claims that are being appealed which could mean another 2 years of waiting because of their screw-up. Now with the sad state of affairs in the Philippines because of the tragic typhoon, who knows how long it will really take.

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