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VeteransCare-Bonuses 1stLd-Writethru 05-04

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VA officials’ bonuses hit

The chairman of a House panel wants to stop hefty bonus payments to senior Veterans Affairs officials until they reduce a severe backlog of veterans waiting for disability benefits.

Rep. John Hall, D-N.Y., said Friday he was introducing legislation to place a hold on this year’s bonuses after the Associated Press reported that senior VA officials involved in a budget foul-up which jeopardized veterans’ health care received performance bonuses ranging up to $33,000.

Under the measure, 2007 bonuses could not be released until the VA pares down its backlog to under 100,000 cases — a feat the VA has said could take many months, if not years. Currently, the backlog of claims ranges from between 400,000 to more than 600,000, with delays averaging 177 days.

"It is shocking and scandalous even by the VA’s own low standards that top officials at the VA would get performance bonuses when there’s a backlog of over 600,000 cases," said Hall, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs subcommittee on disability assistance.

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