This week, the VA reported that the backlog continues to decrease (down by about 1000 claims), although the number of total claims is slightly increased this week (up 2100 claims). There are now just over 237,000 veterans in the VA backlog, waiting over 125 days for a disability compensation claim decision. Overall, a little less than 516,000 total veterans have claims pending at the VA.
The backlog has been reduced by about 62% since last year, and there are now 50 weeks left until the end of FY 2015, the deadline to end the backlog. To meet this deadline, the VA will have to reduce the backlog by more than 4,700 claims per week, which can only be done with strong leadership and continued dedication to our nation’s veterans.
On Sunday, October 5th the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. This memorial is the first to honor the more than 4 million disabled veterans in America. It recognizes the sacrifices of our military service members, veterans, and their families, both overseas and when they return home.
At the dedication of this memorial, President Obama stated that we must “move heaven and earth to make sure they (disabled veterans) get every single benefit, every single bit of care that they have earned, that they deserve.”
On this historic occasion, we must build the momentum needed to ensure the VA backlog ends and does not return. We look forward to seeing the fruits of this renewed commitment to our veterans by President Obama and Secretary McDonald. We hope that this new commitment lends itself to real, systematic change in the VA claims system, so that no veteran or military family find themselves frustrated while waiting for the 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?”
Each week, IAVA’s Research Director, Jacqueline Maffucci, PhD, reports on and analyzes the VA disability benefits backlog.