For the past two years, the VA has repeatedly bragged about how they have been working to decrease the enormous veterans disability claims backlog, publicly stating their goal to have the backlog completely cleared by the end of 2015. The VA has failed to meet this goal, with approximately 70,000 cases still pending during the first month of 2016.
While the agency remained quiet about this failure, the House Veterans Affairs Committee called a hearing in mid-January to question the agency’s officials about what went wrong. The speculation now is that the VA’s data isn’t even accurate, and it is suspected that shifting resources to process disability claims may have harmed veterans elsewhere in the VA system. Furthermore, the VA has publicly acknowledged that it will likely never be able to eliminate backlogged claims that have been pending for more than 125 days.
According to the deputy undersecretary at the Veterans Benefits Administration, rushing to meet an arbitrary deadline can compromise accurate processing. While we agree with this statement, the VA should never have mislead veterans and taxpayers into believing that completely clearing the backlog was a possibility.
Are Backlog Figures Telling the True Story?
According to the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, a total of 433,000 appeals of claims decisions were pending on January 1st ,2016, a substantial increase over the 250,000 appeals that were pending in April 2013. These cases, however, were not included in the backlog data, leading many to believe that the VA may be purposefully misleading the public about the progress it is making. Veterans whose cases have been “cleared” from the backlog are not necessarily receiving their benefits; many of them are now stuck in the appeals process, another lengthy wait. Giving veterans answers is only half of the issue – the outcome of actually receiving those benefits is another. Meanwhile, countless injured and disabled veterans are still waiting for the benefits they desperately need and deserve.
For assistance with your veterans disability benefits rating, please contact an attorney at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers, a veteran-owned firm. Consultations are available free of charge when you call (888) 612-7001.