The Veterans Affairs Department will temporarily close its regional offices and furlough 7,000 workers responsible for claims processing as the government shutdown continues, Military Times reported Monday.
Rick Maze writes the VA will cease operations for the Veterans Benefits Administration, GI Bill call center, walk-ins and phone calls that beneficiaries use for inquiring about the status reports of their claims.
The VA’s shutdown contingency plan permits furlough of less than 15,000 out of the agency’s 332,000 total employees, except for medical care workers, according to the report.
The agency recently furloughed 2,754 information technology employees, which Maze reports will impact software development technologies such as the Veterans Benefits Management System designed to help remove the backlogs by 2015.
“VA’s ability to make significant progress reducing the disability claims backlog is hampered without the increased productivity gained from overtime for claims processors,” said Victoria Dillon, Veterans Affairs Department spokeswoman.
VA officials also fear the ongoing shutdown could delay the processing of benefits payments scheduled for Nov. 1, Military Times reports.