VA backlogs and wait times are a consistent cause for American Veterans complaints. Vets in need of care cite long waits at the VA. Currently there are more than 70,000 veteran disability claims that are backlogged in Veterans Affairs processing centers, seven months after department officials missed their public goal of getting the number down to zero.
VA Acting Under Secretary for Benefits Thomas Murphy said that figure includes a substantial number of claims left open longer than four months intentionally to ensure veterans are receiving all of the payouts they deserve. But he acknowledged his agency needs to drive that number down further.
“This is still a continuous improvement process for us,” he said. “We are not satisfied with the number now, and we won’t be satisfied until we are much closer to zero.”
It’s no wonder then that this is on the list of American Veterans complaints. Roughly one in five benefits claims submitted to the Veterans Benefits Administration ends up taking longer than four months to process, the department’s long-held promise for processing the cases. That does not include appeals cases, which follow a different process and often take years to resolve.
That ratio and the total number of backlogged cases have remained steady since last fall, when department officials announced they would not reach the goal of zeroing out the backlog by the end of 2015.
The goal of eliminating the backlog was announced by President Obama and VA leaders in 2009, part of an ambitious push for service improvements. As recently 2013, the backlog total was over 600,000 cases, causing an outcry from veterans and lawmakers frustrated with waits in some instances topping a year.
New electronic records systems and mandatory overtime for claims processors drew down the backlog by almost 90 percent over two years, but pulling it down even further has proven difficult for officials despite their added efforts.
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