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Addressing the Backlog of Veterans Disability Claims

Monday, August 19th, 2013

The backlog of disability claims waiting to be resolved by the VA reached 611,000 in March, an all-time high. President Obama spoke at the Disabled American Veterans’ convention in Florida on Saturday and acknowledged that the problem was far from being resolved, but progress had been made.

Brad Knickerbocker, writing for the Christian Science Monitor, tracks the trend of disability claims filed by veterans. In 2009, there were 11,000 veterans who had to wait more than a year for their benefits to be approved. As of December 2012, the number of veterans waiting more than a year ballooned to 245,000.

Public outcry at the inefficiencies of the VA pushed the agency to transition to a computerized system and require benefit claims processors to work overtime. These aggressive steps enabled the record-high number of claims to be slowly being reduced, according to Knickerbocker.

Recent reports show that the number of veteran claims considered “backlogged” has decreased by 20% since March, though the average wait time is still nearly nine months. Claims are considered “backlogged” if they have been in the VA’s system for 125 days or longer. President Obama characterized the backlog as disappointing. “I’m going to be honest with you. It has not moved as fast as I wanted. We’re not going to let up until we eliminate the backlog once and for all,” he said.

The VA’s mission parallels the promise to support veterans President Lincoln made during his famous Second Inaugural Address. The mission statement reads:

“To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.

AEI