The Department of Veterans Affairs has reduced the backlog of disability compensation claims from 611,000 to 400,835, or 34%, since its peak in March.
“Veterans shouldn’t have to wait for the benefits they’ve earned,” Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), stated in a press release. “This has never been acceptable, but we are executing our plans and moving in the right direction to meet our 2015 goal of eliminating the backlog.”
Since the VA launched the initiative to eliminate the oldest claims first, claims processors at the 56 regional offices of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) have focused on claims that had been pending more than 1 year. As of Nov. 4, VBA has completed 93% of these older claims, resulting in more than 476,000 disability decisions for veterans since the initiative began on April 19.
Additionally, the 3-month average for decision accuracy when evaluating a complete claim file is 90%, up 5% since 2011.
In the coming months, the VBA will continue its effort to further reduce the backlog, focusing on those claims that have been pending the longest. The agency will also continue to prioritize disability claims for homeless veterans, those experiencing extreme financial hardship, the terminally ill, former prisoners of war, Medal of Honor recipients, and veterans filing fully developed claims (FDC).
Regardless of the status of their compensation claims, veterans who have served in combat since Nov. 11, 1998, are eligible for 5 years of free medical care from the VA for most conditions.
For more information about FDC claims, visit www.benefits.va.gov/fdc/. For more information about disability and other veterans benefits on the joint Department of Defense/VA web portal eBenefits, visit www.ebenefits.va.gov.