Records Management

VA touts progress on claims backlog; critics say it's not enough

Eric Shinseki

26,000 petition signers would like to see VA Secretary Eric Shinseki lose his job over the department's claims backlog. (File photo)

Officials at the Veterans Affairs Department say the number of backlogged compensation claims has shrunk by 20 percent since its March peak, but critics are maintaining a full-court press on the White House to further reduce the VA's claims inventory.

VA documents show the number of pending claims totaled 773,000 as of Aug. 19, including 490,000 that have been pending for more than 125 days. In July the Veterans Benefits Administration completed nearly 105,000 claims, the third month in a row the total exceeded 100,000.

"VA is aggressively implementing its plan to eliminate the backlog – a set of actions targeted at reorganizing and retraining its people, streamlining its processes, and deploying technology designed to achieve VA's goal of processing all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy in 2015," reads a Veterans Benefits Administration fact sheet.

Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) welcomed the news.

"I am pleased to see the VA making significant progress in reducing what everyone continues to recognize as an unacceptable backlog. No veteran should have to wait years to receive the benefits they have earned," Sanders said in a statement. "We must remain aggressive and we intend to closely monitor the situation to ensure that the progress continues, but I am glad we are now making progress toward the goal of ending the backlog by the end of 2015."

The VA's announcement marks ongoing improvement in meeting the 2015 deadline.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama also reiterated support for reducing the VA's claims backlog.

"Today, I can report that we are not where we need to be, but we're making progress," Obama said Aug. 10 at the Disabled Veterans Convention in Orlando, Fla. "And we're not going to let up until we eliminate the backlog once and for all. And we'll keep moving ahead with paperless systems so the backlog doesn't come back, and so your claims are processed right – the first time, on time."

Critics insist that the progress is not coming fast enough. On Aug. 20, members of Concerned Veterans for America gathered near the White House to hand-deliver a petition with 26,000 veterans' signatures demanding an end to the backlog, as well as an end to Secretary Eric Shinseki's tenure.

"There are still 500,000 veterans waiting in the disability claims backlog, and this is unacceptable," the organization said in a statement. "CVA is keeping the heat on and will ensure the voices of veterans are heard."

About the Author

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

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Government Cyber Insider tracks the technologies, policies, threats and emerging solutions that shape the cybersecurity landscape.


Reader comments

Sun, Oct 6, 2013

Funny, any progress the VA claims to have made in processing claims will have been erased by the shutdown they say. Sure! Wow they make a lot of excuses and hide behind the least little event that happens in their daily life!

Sun, Aug 25, 2013

Claim finally completed after 21 months. Must say it was settled fairly but took much too long for a cut and dry claim.

Sun, Aug 25, 2013

This is a NATIONAL DISGRACE! The world is watching. The United States of America treats their veterans extremely bed. Denying earned compensation to substandard medical care, it is horrific! Many veterans have died due to dirty, disease ridden VA medical facilities, and lack of proper care and treatment. If the mortality rate was this high in a public hospital, they would be shut down. Animals in veterinary hospitals get better care and treatment than our injured and sick veterans. As the United States is poised to get involved in yet another conflict (Syria), we need to pause and remember that we are asking our men and women in the armed forces to give up their lives for OUR FREEDOM. While we go about our daily lives, our soldiers, sailors, and marines are in harm's way. IF they come back alive, they suffer from illness any injuries so severe that they must receive lifetime care. Without these brave heroes, none of us would have the freedoms we so cherish. We could be living like the people in Syria, Iran, Iraq or elsewhere. We live in the greatest FREE country in the world. IT IS TIME WE ALL TAKE A STAND AGAINST THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION and their mistreatment of OUR GREATEST CITIZENS, OUR VETERANS!

Thu, Aug 22, 2013

My job in the military was to process claims...both personnel and foreign. I had a backlog of several months when I as assigned to a certain took less than a month to reduce that backlog to 2 days. I just retired from service and applied for a job doing the same thing for VA...and was determined in eligible...very frustrating. It's not rocket's just management. Not managing the workforce, providing motivation, adding to the confusion, and not being able to foresee an increase I'm claims after a 10 year period of conflict ending in a drawdown and RIF is a total failure.

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 bob NJ

The vets waiting for DRO reviews and appeals are the ones who are/have waited the longest. Now that the VA is doing "provisional denials" the appeals will only get worse. I'm 25 months into waiting for a DRO review with no end in sight. It truley is a disgrace.

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