Veterans Affairs official responsible for benefits resigns

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs official responsible for ensuring that more than 12 million veterans get their benefits has resigned.

Allison Hickey has served as undersecretary for benefits at the VA since June 2011. She has been in charge as a disability claims backlog ballooned and then dropped by nearly 90 percent over the past two-and-a-half years.

VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald says he regretfully accepted the resignation and is crediting Hickey for modernizing the disability claims process.

But Hickey was also coming under fire from veterans groups and lawmakers after a critical inspector general's report found that two other executives within the Veterans Benefits Administration received a total of about $400,000 in relocation expenses and retained their annual salaries despite a significant decrease in job responsibilities.