FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 07/27/2012
STRAUS WORKS WITH LEADERSHIP TO REDUCE BENEFITS BACKLOG FOR VETERANS
AUSTIN -- On behalf of the Members of the Texas House, Speaker Joe Straus worked with other state leaders this week to enable the Texas Veterans Commission to reduce a federal backlog of disability claims.
Straus, Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst approved a plan for the Veterans Commission to hire additional staff to provide disability benefits to veterans more quickly. Some of the new hires will help regional VA offices process claims, while others will provide claims counseling at state Veterans Commission offices around Texas.
"The Members of the Texas House believe that veterans should not have to wait one extra minute to receive the benefits they earned," Speaker Straus said. "These veterans served bravely and honorably, and our actions will help the federal Department of Veterans Affairs provide them benefits in a more timely manner."
The additional staff will cost about $1.5 million, which will come from existing Veterans Commission appropriations and from Emergency and Deficiency Grants from the Trusteed Programs within the Governor's Office.
According to the Texas Veterans Commission, the backlog of veterans claims in Texas has more than doubled since 2010. In January 2010, the total pending caseload in Texas was 50,934 claims and 15,644 appeals. By July 2012, the pending caseload had grown to 107,279 claims and 28,183 appeals.
"My House colleagues and I are deeply concerned about this backlog," Speaker Straus said. "We must do everything we can to honor and thank those who bravely stepped forward to serve."
JASON EMBRY OR ERIN DALY