During the COVID-19 pandemic, the backlog of disabled veterans waiting on decisions about their cases has ballooned from 76,000 compensation and pension claims (over 125 days) in March 2020 to 212,000 in March 2021 and the caseload is expected to peak this summer at around 240,000 claims.
But the VA promises it will pare down the backlog. The $1.9 trillion coronavirus economic relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act, allocated $17 billion in support of the VA’s nationwide response to the pandemic with $262 million earmarked for reducing the backlog of VA disability cases.
Thomas Murphy, the Acting Under Secretary of Benefits for the VA, speaking to Phoenix TV station KPHO, said there two main factors that contributed to the growing backlog; delays in accessing records and delays with veterans getting required medical exams. “Now, we have mass vaccination,” Murphy says. “We have social distancing. We have clinics where we schedule appointments so that we’re not overlapping veterans. Now is the time, if you’ve got a claim pending, to contact the people that called you to say they wanted to do an examination and say, ‘I’m ready to come in to get my exam done.’”