WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs says it has made “tremendous progress” in reducing a disability claims backlog that reached above 600,000 early last year.

VA Undersecretary Allison Hickey tells Congress that the benefits backlog has been whittled down to about 275,000. That’s a 55 percent decrease from the peak.

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Hickey’s claim is being met with disbelief by some.

Republican congressman Jeff Miller of Florida says he thinks the VA is “hiding” numbers. Miller chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

The VA’s assistant inspector general says she also doesn’t trust the agency’s statistics.

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Assistant Inspector General Linda Halliday says in a report Monday that the VA has paid more than $85 million to veterans who lacked medical evidence that they deserve the benefits.

 

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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