VA Backlog Goes Down, Amid IAVA's Member Survey Release
Each week, IAVA's Research Director, Jacqueline Maffucci, PhD, reports on and analyzes the VA disability benefits backlog.
Monday, July 28 | 17:00
The VA reported today a decrease in the backlog. More than 264,000 veterans are currently waiting over 125 days for a decision on their disability claim. This is vastly improved from a where the numbers were a year ago.
On Thursday, July 24th, we released the findings from our 2014 Member Survey. In it, our members told us about the challenges and the successes they faced. Last year our members told us the VA backlog was a major issue. Even with the progress of the last year, that message hasn’t changed. IAVA members named the VA backlog as the third most important issue, with suicide and mental health named as the top issue.
They tell us about the real effects of having to wait for a decision on their VA disability compensation claims; two out three who filed a claim were financially impacted while waiting to for a decision on their claim. Seventy percent waited over 120 days for that decision. Nearly 30 percent waited over a year.
And while many reported that they have filed a claim, 40 percent that have a service-connected disability told us they haven’t yet filed. Of those, the majority plan to, but said one of the main reasons they haven’t is they’re not sure where to start. This is where service organizations such as Disabled American Veterans (DAV) fill the gap. Nearly 60 percent of our members who filed a claim used outside assistance to help them navigate this complex process.
And yet, nearly a third of members who have an injury but haven’t filed told us they don’t plan to. The main reason: they just don’t want to deal with the VA.
Collectively, these data paint a picture of many of the individual stories we hear from IAVA’s members as we travel the country and stories shared on The Wait We Carry. Some of these are success stories and yet others highlight the challenges faced when trying to obtain the benefit they earned through their service to the nation. More importantly, they highlight the need for more focused outreach to help veterans navigate the VA system. They also illustrate the need to repair a damaged relationship between the VA and the veterans it serves.
With the pending confirmation of VA Secretary nominee Bob McDonald and the current acting Secretary, Sloan Gibson, a new VA leadership has the opportunity to repair these damaged relationships.
IAVA looks forward to working with the administration to do exactly that.
To learn more about the veterans who have waited or continue to wait in the backlog, visit thewaitwecarry.org. You can also find IAVA's Red Tape Report with recommendations on further reforms needed to address the backlog.