November 18, 2010 - This isn't going to be news to anyone, but the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has an enormous backlog of disability compensation claims awaiting processing. For years the VA has worked to eliminate the backlog while new claims pour in by the thousands. The VA, however, has a 2015 deadline of when they are to have their backlog cleared.
As of October 18, 2010 Vietnam veterans were able to file for expanded Agent Orange-related disability compensation. Since then, the VA has received 170,000 claims. Pending disability claims are up 54% this year. Yet, according to the VA, everything is going as planned.
At the beginning of the year there were about 480,000 pending claims in front of the VA. That number has grown to approximately 740,000. Of these, approximately 230,000 of those disability claims have been in the queue for over 125 days, and this number is up from approximately 180,000 in the beginning of the year. The VA processes somewhere around 1,000 claims a day, but this pace must increase to meet their goal.
Standardizing claims forms customized by disability is one of the way the VA is attacking the backlog. It is hoped these forms will result in quicker and more accurate claims processing and seem to be working. It is not the only solution though. It will take multiple approaches to handling different aspects of the claims process for the VA to get on top of the backlog.
The ultimate solution will involve improving technology, the overall disability claims process, and changing the entire VA culture. Veterans must be made to feel as if they are being advocated for during the process, not worked against.
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