VA to Suspend Mandatory Overtime for Claims Processors

"I've just got to be smart to get the workforce to continue to sustain the kind of performance they've had in the last 230 days," Eric Shinseki said. "I've just got to be smart to get the workforce to continue to sustain the kind of performance they've had in the last 230 days," Eric Shinseki said. Defense Department file photo

The Veterans Affairs Department will implement a temporary reprieve from requiring employees to work overtime to reduce the backlog of disability claims, saying it does not want to ask too much of its workforce.

During a meeting with reporters, Secretary Eric Shinseki announced a plan to generally cut back on the amount of overtime employees must take moving forward, saying he can only ask his claims processing units to “go full throttle for so long,” according to the Associated Press. The overtime policy has played a critical role in reducing the claims backlog, with the number of veterans waiting more than 125 days for a response dropping by more than a third since March, to 401,000.

“I’ve got to be careful here,” Shinseki said. “You just can’t keep that running forever.”

VA will lift the requirement -- which mandates claims processors take at least 20 hours of overtime every month -- for two months, beginning Nov. 23. The department will monitor the effect of the overtime freeze to determine its impact on the progress in processing claims. The employees can still take voluntary overtime, a department spokeswoman told Government Executive.

During the government shutdown in October, the processors could not take overtime, and progress slowed significantly. In fiscal 2013 -- which ended prior to the shutdown -- VA processed 100,000 fewer claims than it expected. In that year, however, it processed more claims than it took in for the first time in five years.

Shinseki said despite the temptation to use overtime, he was worried about diminishing returns.

"I've just got to be smart to get the workforce to continue to sustain the kind of performance they've had in the last 230 days," he said.

Congressional funding will also dictate the use of overtime, the spokeswoman said. The Veterans Benefits Administration, which conducts claims processing, received an 8.5 percent budget increase in fiscal 2013 and was exempt from sequestration cuts. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.