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Opening Statement of Hon. Doug Lamborn, Ranking Republican Member, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for holding this hearing to discuss VA’s disability claims processing system and its ongoing efforts to improve timeliness and accuracy.

The struggle to overcome the backlog of disability claims has weighed upon the Department for several years now.

Despite multiple hearings on this issue, as well as significant increases in VA’s budget, workforce, and information technology resources, signs of progress are subtle at best.

We’ve addressed this situation from multiple angles:

  • Funding for VA programs have increased steadily since 1995
  • There’s been a seventy-five percent increase in the number of full time claims workers in the last five years
  • We’ve made a strong push toward modernizing the VA claims system so that it is electronic rather than paper-based
  • And we’ve emphasized and reemphasized the need for training and accountability

Yet, VA seems to be overwhelmed, and it is well past time for frank assessment of what is going on.

VA needs to be very candid and forthcoming about what it sees as the problem, otherwise we cannot help fix it.

I understand that along with aforementioned increase in funding, VA is receiving a record numbers of claims, along with an increased number of complex issues on each claim.

While these factors obviously pose a challenge, I do not see them as insurmountable.

I believe that VA has the resources and authority necessary to adjudicate claims quickly and accurately, and I expect it to do so.

If this is a misperception, I must know why.

Every one of these claims represents an American veteran; their patience and mine is growing very thin on this issue.

If we do not fix this problem now, and merely pass it on to a future generation, we will all be very much ashamed, and deservedly so. 

I’m certain everyone here shares my frustration, so lets put the cards on the table and figure out what we can do.

I want to thank the witnesses for their service and their testimony, and I look forward to our discussion today. 

Mr. Chairman, I yield back.