New VA Backlog Numbers for February 23 - March 1, 2014: VA Reports Backlog Down ~ 11,500
Each week, IAVA's Research Director, Jacqueline Maffucci, PhD, reports on and analyzes the VA disability benefits backlog.
Monday, March 3 | 16:00
For the second week in a row, the VA reported a significant drop in backlogged claims and total pending claims. Both have dropped over 11,000, bringing the new total to 377,207 backlogged compensation and pension (C&P) claims and 652,022 total pending C&P claims. After four months of stalled progress, it appears that the VA is returning to high production levels. The reason for the fluctuations in progress is still not really known. We can speculate, but that’s probably not a useful exercise for us. Hopefully, the VA is taking a hard look at this so that they can learn from it and implement some process improvements.
For now, we’ll focus on the trends and hope that the VA will continue on track to a zero backlog by FY 2015 with a 98% accuracy rating. As far as numbers goes, IAVA calculates that this means a minimum decrease of 5,145 backlogged claims per week for the remaining 82 weeks until the end of FY 2015. As for accuracy, the current 3-month claims accuracy rating stands at 90.2%, down from 91.0% in September 2013.
In February IAVA released a report providing recommendations on the way forward to ensure that the VA not only ends the backlog, but also puts into place steps to ensure that it will never happen again. A fair bit of this report emphasizes the need for both quality as well as quantity and focuses on the current way that the VA measures quality. This includes a call for clarity on how the accuracy number is calculated.
Moving forward, we hope that the VA really focuses in on this issue, as it is not just about the number, but giving due attention to each claim the first time around so as to not add to the already 270,000+ claims that are pending in the appeals system. The VA appears to be back on track progressing towards a zero backlog, but there is still much to do. There remain over 375,000 veterans waiting over 125 days for a decision on their claim and over 270,000 waiting on appeals.
To hear more about the veterans who have waited or continue to wait in the backlog, visit http://www.thewaitwecarry.org.