On Monday, the VA reported that the disability compensation claims backlog has increased by about 1,400 claims. This is the first time in three months that the backlog has not decreased from week to week. There are currently about 142,000 veterans in the backlog, meaning they have been waiting more than 125 days for a claim decision. The total number of pending claims decreased by about 700 since last week, leaving more than 406,000 veterans waiting for pending VA claims overall.
To eliminate the VA backlog by the end of FY 2015, the VA must reduce the number of backlogged claims by about 3,400 per week. Since March of 2013, the backlog has been reduced by more than 77%, with about 4,200 claims processed weekly. The number of appeals continues to grow, however, with more than 305,000 veterans now waiting on appeals decisions.
While VA has made significant progress in reducing the disability claims backlog, there is still more work to be done. More than eliminating the backlog, we will need systematic change to create an efficient, effective disability claims process that works for all veterans. This is even more important for veterans who have submitted appeals, as many wait longer for appeals than initial claim decisions. VA leadership will need a renewed focus to improve the claims process so that no veteran is waiting endlessly for the benefits they have earned.
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 The Wait We Carry.
* 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?”