Veterans Affairs Says Government Shutdown Halted Progress In Cutting Claims Backlog

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The head of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, Secretary Eric Shinseki, talks to reporters Wednesday, June 12, 2013 in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) | AP

WASHINGTON -- WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs says the government shutdown has halted the progress it was making in reducing a backlog of disability and pensions claims.

The department said Monday that the backlog stood at about 418,500 at the end of September. It has increased by slightly more than 200 since the shutdown, largely because the VA stopped requiring disability claims processors to work overtime.

The backlog had been dropping by more than 2,000 claims a day in the week leading up to the shutdown.

Most of the VA is exempt from furloughs. But 7,000 VA workers will be furloughed on Tuesday and access to all regional offices will be suspended. Another 2,750 technology workers were furloughed Monday. Some help to maintain the disability claims computer system.

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