For many years, veterans have struggled with the backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which leaves applicants waiting for months before they receive a response to their claims. However, a recent investigation into the VA revealed that the problem is much worse than most people realize. In fact, according to a report released by the VA inspector general, tens of thousands of cases were omitted or ignored by VA department officials when estimating the number of claims that took more than 125 days to resolve. In response to the results of the investigation, VA officials were directed to review and adjust their reporting process and to implement new training and standards by the end of the year.
Unfortunately, the VA is so backlogged that these changes could take years before they bear fruit, making it especially important for veterans who are seeking benefits to consult with an experienced veterans benefits attorney who is familiar with the claims process and can ensure that their cases are reviewed as quickly as possible.
Results of the VA Inspector General’s Investigation
The VA claims backlog made headlines during the Obama administration, as more and more people became frustrated with the VA’s slow response time when it came to approving or denying disability claims. Resulting investigations revealed that in 2013, the number of ratings cases that took more than four months to complete exceeded 611,000. VA officials responded by hiring additional staff, implementing new processing systems, and using electronic medical records, which led to a decrease in the backlog to around 70,000 by September of 2015. The backlog has remained at between 70,000 and 100,000 for most of the last three years.
Unfortunately, the recently published results of a new investigation revealed that this number only covers around 79% of relevant cases, as more than 20% remain misclassified, are mistakenly excluded, or are acknowledged as overdue only after their files are processed. For instance, during a review of the cases from the first half of 2016, investigators discovered that around 63,600 overdue cases were left out of the records for unclear reasons and that more than 10,000 were simply incorrectly recorded by employees. The report also found that although the average number of days that it takes for a basic disability claim to be resolved is less than 90, more complex cases continue to take as many as 200 days to make it through the initial review process.
In response to the new allegations, VA officials have pledged to review and supplement their reporting procedures, to institute new training and standards by the end of the year, and to make major changes to its backlog rules and oversight requirements.
Call Us for a Free Consultation Today
To speak with an experienced veterans benefits attorney who can help you resolve your own claim for veterans benefits, please contact The Comerford Law Office, LLC at 312-863-8572. Initial consultations are offered free of charge, so please do not hesitate to call or contact us online today.