The VA Reports a Decrease in the Backlog
Each week, IAVA's Research Director, Jacqueline Maffucci, PhD, reports on and analyzes the VA disability benefits backlog.
Tuesday, September 16 | 15:00
On Monday, the VA reported that the number of backlogged VA disability claims decreased by more than 3,800* claims. In all, there are more than 524,000 veterans waiting for decision on their disability compensation claims from the VA. More than 249,000 veterans (or 47.5 percent of the total) continue to wait over 125 days for a claim decision.
Last week, the House Veterans Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (O&I) held a hearing on potential issues at the Board of Veterans Appeals. This hearing was an important first step to address the increasing number of pending appeals at the VA and shed some light on the delay in processing the over 280,000 appeals currently waiting.
While the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) has processed more cases this year compared to 2013, the hearing pointed out some real problems with how appeals are managed. Cases are often worked out of order, dockets lack organization, and judges with long lists of pending cases have provided little explanation for slow progress. Most importantly, a key leadership role is vacant. The nominee for Chairman of the BVA has been waiting over a year for confirmation. Without permanent leadership in place, addressing these challenges is nearly impossible.
It is good to see Congress addressing this issue and our hope is that the VA, Congress and the community at large will engage to build solutions to address this growing pile of appeals before it becomes the next backlog. Last week’s hearing held several suggestions for BVA, including a Fully Developed Appeals process, inclusion of BVA data in the Monday Morning Workload Report, and teleconferencing capabilities for BVA judges, which may expedite the appeals process and decrease costs.
Because the number of appeals now outnumbers backlogged claims, we need strong leadership to embrace change, speed progress, and get our veterans the care and benefits they deserve.
For more on IAVA’s recommendations to further reform the VA disability compensation system, or to learn more about this benefit, please read our 2014 Red Tape Report.
To hear more about the veterans who have waited or continue to wait in the backlog, visit http://www.thewaitwecarry.org.
* Note: IAVA continues to track and report backlogged claims to include claims not counted in the VA’s Rating Bundle. IAVA does this because we believe that claims from all veterans and their families should be included in the goal to end the VA Backlog by 2015. For more on this, please see IAVA’s blog post from July 22, 2103, “Is the VA Moving the Goalpost?”