In 12 Months, VA’s Disability Claims Backlog Falls 44 Percent
In recent years, deserving U.S. veterans have had to endure lengthy waits for their disability benefits. Each case needs to be examined at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and a massive backlog of applications made the process tortuously slow. Some new applicants near major cities waited well over a year when the backlog was at its worst.
Thankfully, the VA has implemented several new policies to bring the system up to date, including mandated overtime for claims processors and a transition to computerized records. And the efforts appear to be paying off.
The VA recently announced that the backlog of pending claims, which peaked at about 611,000 in March 2013, has fallen by 44 percent. Now, 344,000 claims remain. The current average wait time is 119 days shorter than it was a year ago, the agency says, and the accuracy of decisions has risen as well.
The VA continues to prioritize “fully developed claims.” These are applications in which the veteran submits all relevant records at once and certifies that he or she has no other evidence to submit. Claims from homeless veterans, those facing extreme financial hardship, the terminally ill, former prisoners of war and Medal of Honor recipients will also receive priority.
In 2010, the VA established a goal of processing all disability claims within 125 days.
As veterans’ attorneys, we have seen worthy disabled veterans wait far too long for their compensation, and we are pleased to see progress being made.