Update on the Baltimore VA

May 3, 2013
Dear Friend,

Our Nation’s veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to defend America.  Although we can never fully repay the debt we owe our veterans, we must always fulfill our commitments to them. Unfortunately, due to the backlog of benefit claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), we are falling short of the standard of service our veterans deserve.

In particular, the VA Baltimore Regional Office suffers from severe delays and extreme backlogs that have kept veterans in Maryland from receiving critical benefits they earned through their military service. I’ve heard from Maryland veterans whose claims have unfairly remained in limbo for over a year and I am committed to fixing these problems so our veterans receive the treatment they deserve.

I recently met with the VA Secretary, Retired General Eric Shinseki, to discuss the VA’s new strategy to improve service at the Baltimore office and I am guardedly optimistic that we’re beginning to turn a corner. The VA has provided additional staff in Baltimore; revamped claims processor training programs and instituted a comprehensive, mandatory training for both management and processing staff; invested heavily in technology and digital records; and, most recently, renewed their focus on older claims so that veterans who have waited longest can finally have resolution.

The VA also announced that an expedited claims process will impact over 10,000 claims at the Baltimore Regional Office. Claims that are more than two years old will receive a provisional response within 60 days, and claims that are more than a year old will receive a response within six months. You can find more detailed information about these policy changes on this fact sheet by the VA.

As these changes are implemented, I will continue to work with the Baltimore Regional Office to ensure that our veterans receive the level of service they deserve.  My staff is also committed to providing assistance to veterans who need help with the claims process. If you or a veteran you know needs more information on how to access the benefits that are available, please contact my District Office in Towson at (410) 832-8890.

Sincerely,
Congressman John P. Sarbanes
Maryland's Third Congressional Districtt