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State

U.S. Sen. Kirk presses VA to reduce claims backlog

HINES – U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has a plan he says will help the Veterans Affairs Department reduce its backlog of disability claims.

The Illinois Republican visited the VA Hospital in Hines on Wednesday and later met with his Veterans Advisory Board.

Kirk says the VA’s Chicago Regional Office is the fourth most backlogged processing center in the nation. More than 82 percent of its 20,000 claims have been pending for more than 125 days.

For years, veterans have complained it takes too long for their claims to be resolved. VA officials say they’re taking steps to reduce the backlog.

Kirk and U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, have developed a plan that includes upgrading VA computers and paying overtime for claims processors.

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