More than 70,000 veterans’ disability claims are backlogged at VA processing centers despite a pledge to reduce the backlog to zero by January of this year. About one in five VA disability cases is taking longer than the four months processing time*, promised by the VA. VA Acting Under Secretary for Benefits Thomas Murphy “This is still a continuous improvement process for us,” he said. “We are not satisfied with the number now, and we won’t be satisfied until we are much closer to zero.”
To be fair, there has been considerable reduction of backlogged cases since 2009 when President Obama and other advocates for veterans pushed for improvement. At that time the backlog was enormous and as recently as three years ago the backlog number topped 610,000 according to The Military Times. Newly created electronic recordkeeping and mandatory overtime for those VA employees processing claims has whittled down the backlog, but as the Times reports “pulling it down even further has proven difficult”. The requirement for mandatory overtime ended last December, but some voluntary overtime is being used to try to address the backlog problem.
Part of the problem is that the system is being overwhelmed. The Times says “The number of veterans receiving some form of disability compensation from VA rose from 2.3 million in 2001 to around 4.2 million last year.”
*This does not apply to the appeals process which can years to resolve.