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Highlights

The Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, asked GAO to testify on the current state of VA's disability claims process and factors that may impede VA's ability to improve performance. For years, the claims process has been the subject of concern and attention within VA and by the Congress and veterans service organizations. Many of their concerns have focused on long waits for decisions, large claims backlogs, and the accuracy of decisions. Our work and recent media reports of significant discrepancies in average disability payments from state to state have also highlighted concerns over the consistency of decision-making within VA. In January 2003, GAO designated federal disability programs, including VA's compensation and pension programs, as a high-risk area because of continuing challenges to improving the timeliness and consistency of its disability decisions, and the need to modernize programs.

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