You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Legion: Pay interest on delayed vets' claims

Oct. 3, 2012 - 01:27PM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 3, 2012 - 01:27PM  |  
  • Filed Under

Disabled veterans waiting longer than 125 days for their initial disability claims to be processed should receive interest on top of their retroactive benefits, says the new commander of the American Legion, the nation's largest veterans' group.

Today, payments on approved claims are backdated to the day they are filed, but interest is not paid.

James Koutz, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War who leads the 2.4-million member Legion, said payments with interest would be a small recognition by the government that veterans had been forced to wait too long for pay they deserved.

His suggestion came Wednesday during a hearing before a joint meeting of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs committees to hear from the Legion's top officials. Similar hearings featuring other military and veterans' groups are held throughout the year.

The issue of delayed claims is not new, but Koutz said it seems to be one without a solution. The Veterans Affairs Department has been hiring more people to process claims and changing how claims are handled in an effort to shorten processing times and start payments faster, yet the backlog of claims continues to grow.

VA efforts to date are "not enough," Koutz said. "We are going the wrong direction."

More than 800,000 claims are now pending before VA, almost two-thirds of them older than 125 days, which is VA's processing goal.

In a written statement provided to the two committees, the Legion says it has discovered huge differences among VA regional offices in the processing of claims. ‘While some regional offices may have an average rate of 76 days per claim, others take 336 days, a troubling inconsistency," the statement says.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., House Veterans' Affairs Committee chairman, said he is open to new ideas about how to speed claims, but he did not endorse the idea of paying claims with interest.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee chairwoman, did not attend the hearing.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

CrossFit vs. unit PT
Troops will do the training plans in a $2.5 million study

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook