The lengthy disability claims backlog is one of the biggest issues facing the veteran population. However, in a recent speech at the Disabled American Veterans' conference, President Barack Obama assured those in attendance that his administration is making considerable progress. Specifically, he says the backlog has been reduced by about one-fifth since reaching a high water mark of 600,000 earlier this year, The Associated Press reported.

One of the biggest reasons for the increased size of the backlog is the fact that Obama made it easier for Vietnam vets exposed to agent orange to apply for benefits. He also expanded coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions that weren't covered before. Since then, there have been a number of steps put in place to bring the number down, including requiring VA employees to put in overtime hours, but Obama says more work needs to be done.

"Today I can report that we are not where we need to be, but we are making progress," Obama told Orlando, Fla., crowd. "So after years when the backlog kept growing, finally the backlog is shrinking."

Obama seemed confident that the wide-ranging efforts, including new technology, training and processing rules can help bring the backlog back down to zero by 2015, Stars and Stripes notes.