Records Management

VA reports inroads on claims backlog

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The Veterans Affairs Department has cut the number of disability compensation claims pending for more than two years by 65,000, the department reports. The reduction in the claims backlog comes in part due to improved IT programs.

The reduction represents a 97 percent decrease in the VA's longest-unresolved claims, headway officials attribute to an initiative launched in April to expedite such claims through provisional decisions. The department also mandated overtime for claims processors at its 56 regional benefits offices in May.

Overall, the VA in the past two months reduced its overall number of claims by more than 5 percent, according to VA documents, from roughly 887,000 as of April 15 to just under 841,000 as of June 15. Currently, 66 percent of those claims are at least 125 days old, a figure down from nearly 70 percent two months ago.

The VA did not offer exact figures for the number of its longest-pending claims, those older than a year or two years.

The decreases put the VA a step closer toward VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's goal of processing all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy by the end of 2015.

"I honestly believe we're going to hit that number," Thomas Murphy, the department's director of compensation services, recently told the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. Murphy said the VA is "at a tipping point" in the backlog reduction efforts, according to a release from committee chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

To support the goal, Sanders introduced the Claims Processing Improvement Act of 2013, a bill outlining reform efforts and transparency improvements designed to strengthen and streamline VA claims operations and processes.

"VA must do a better job of showing not only Congress, but also veterans and their survivors how VA plans to accomplish the ambitious goal of eliminating the claims backlog by 2015," Sanders said. "That is why this bill would require VA to publicly report, on a quarterly basis, information on both VA's quarterly goals and actual production. This would allow Congress and the public to see both the successes and failures of VA's transformation efforts, measure VA's progress, and allow for quicker adjustments when necessary."

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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Reader comments

Tue, Aug 20, 2013

Hondo, Thank you for your service. I too am a combat veteran and I feel the same way. However, the new world is a world of victims and pan-handlers and you and I need to face those truths. As the definition of being a victim and needing a handout has been diluted, it has infected the rest of the body, and VA is subject to this same affect. So there are many of us who volunteer in VAs every day and we really enjoy working with our fellow brothers in arms, especially those injured in combat, but we are seeing an alarming number of people just looking for a handout because they heard somebody else got one. And in these trying economic times, people are getting all they can before the republic dries up. Sad isn’t it?

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 Hondo

Im a Veteran and come from a family of Veterans. I have and will continue to have the utmost respect for anyone who chooses to go into harms way to protect and insure our way of life. However, I have one question, how can anyone accept $$ for a condition that is truly not disabling, yet has the high potential of jeopardizing the benefit to a fellow Veteran who is truly disabled? It is not an endless pot of money. At the current rate, the system will be bankrupted and then what?? Nobody wants to approach this issue honestly. The endless river of senseless claims has created this backlog. It is that 25+ issue claim after 4 years of service, wondering if your 3 months in Landstuhl counts as a deployment, that has caused a delay. It is the political pressure to make it easier to grant a benefit. It is the cowards who want to continue to throw money at our Nations best (our Veterans) rather than providing treatment, rehabilitation, and support. It's easier to blame the system rather than taking a good look at what is allowed compensation. Is it really a disability?

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