Tuesday, April 30, 2013

VA Claim Backlog

Jim Fausone
Veteran Advocate

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, explained this past week that he is committed to ending the backlog of claims by 2015. His plan to do that?  Replace paper records with electronic records.

Right now, VA considers about 600,000 claims, or 70 percent, to be “backlogged”. These are the number of claims that have been pending for more than 125 days.

The VA has put in a new computer system in place in about 20 regional offices around the country. The goal is to have the system in all of the regional offices by the end of 2013. Part of the computer system allows all of the veterans’ records to be in electronic form. This will enable workers from anywhere in the nation to view the files and will eliminate the time that it takes to ship the file between regional offices or the Board of Veterans Appeals.

Congressional committees have held two hearings on the VA disability claims backlog in the past two weeks. Millions of veterans are tired of hearing the same excuses from VA regarding the increased workload and the increased complexity of claims. We here at Legal Help for Veterans can attest to the backlog firsthand. An average time period for an appeal, between the time we file a notice of disagreement and the time the VA issues a Statement of the Case is about two years.

The fact that the country has been embroiled in a war for 10 years now has only added to the backlog. Unfortunately, these changes should have been made to VA’s antiquated system YEARS ago—way before the problem got this out of hand.

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