SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Veterans from across Northern California gathered in San Francisco on Monday, as a Bay Area congresswoman convened a special hearing on delays in getting decisions on their benefit claims.

Hundreds packed the War Memorial Building to meet with claim representatives as well as to complain to leaders of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Peninsula Congresswoman Jackie Speier said the Oakland VA Office, which handles claims from Kern County to the Oregon border, has around 34,000 unsettled benefit applications.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

“We are in a room full of heroes that deserve to have each of their claims handled in a timely and expeditious fashion,” Speier said.

Many veterans who attended the meeting said they have been waiting months and sometimes even years for decisions.

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Western Area VA Director Willie Clark said he is working as best as he can to handle the backlog.

“I’m going to take ownership of it. I’m in leadership,” Clark said. “We have to fix it.”

Clark said his department’s goal is to have no claims pending for more than 125 days with a 98 percent accuracy rating by 2015.

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