Legislators urge outside investigation of Pittsburgh VA office

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, said the Pittsburgh regional office is the fifth-worst of the 56 regional offices in the Veterans Benefits Administration. More than 27 percent of the 4,850 claims pending at the office are at least six months old. Given the office's poor performance, the news that some of the delays were deliberate has outraged the congressional delegation, he said.

They want the GAO to tell them how to improve the office "so that this situation can't and won't happen again," he said.

Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, said Congress has tried unsuccessfully several times to eliminate a national backlog in veterans' benefit claims. Hearing that some of the backlog in the Pittsburgh office has been deliberate just adds to lawmakers' frustration, he said.

"It is simply unacceptable that veterans who put their lives on the line to protect their country are being forced to wait for months to receive the benefits they have earned," Altmire said.

Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Swissvale, and Sens. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and Arlen Specter, D-Philadelphia, also signed onto the investigation request.

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