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VA Claims Backlog Hits Record 1.1 Million: Bergmann & Moore Testify at April 18 Congressional Hearing

Bergmann & Moore's Paul Sullivan will testify before Congress Wednesday about VA's ever-growing claims backlog.

Sunday’s The New York Times reports VA’s claim backlog soared higher in the past two years.   The growing problem has caught the attention of major news outlets and Congress.

At VA’s Oakland, California Regional Office, the most daunting issue facing Veterans applying for VA disability benefits remains the glacial pace for processing claims, according to investigative journalist Aaron Glantz.

How bad is it?  In Oakland, which handles Veterans’ claims for Northern California, Veterans wait an average of ten months for an initial VA decision.

According to VA, more than 1.1 million Veterans’ claims are mired in VA’s overwhelmed paper-driven bureaucracy.  Nationwide, two out of three Veterans wait more than four months for an initial VA claim decision.

At some regional offices, notably the offices in Seattle and Oakland, more than 80 percent of disability claims are languishing for longer than 125 days.  VA delays represent huge challenges for our Veterans who urgently need VA disability compensation and VA healthcare.

In response to the growing need to address this serious problem, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee scheduled a hearing on VA’s claim backlog for Wednesday, April 18.

Paul Sullivan, managing director of public affairs and Veterans outreach at Bergmann & Moore, will offer constructive proposals aimed at improving VA’s beleaguered claims process.  Sullivan will represent the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates (NOVA).

Other subject matter experts from the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and The American Legion are set to speak.

While VA has taken steps, such as updating the agency’s computer system and hiring more staff, to address the continually growing backlog, Veterans still wait an average 7 months just to receive an initial decision on a claim.   VA’s high claim error rate also plagues VA, resulting in a flood of appeals by Veterans who feel wrongly denied.

During testimony before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee earlier this year, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki explained that VA has seen a 48 percent increase in claims filed since 2008. He expects the claim volume to increase by another 4 percent in 2013 to 1.25 million claims.

VA has an admirable goal of almost completely reducing the number of claims pending for longer than 125 days by 2015.  However, with one million service members expected to leave the military in the next five years, VA remains hard pressed to achieve the goal.

0 Response

  1. nick

    My claim has been at the Oakland office for over 500 days. It was said to be in decision phase in Nov 11.

  2. Nick, I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been waiting for so long for your claim. Unfortunately, the Oakland Regional Office is one of the worst in the nation for the amount of claims waiting to be decided. Feel free to contact us at 877-838-0844 if you have any questions.

  3. jd lewis

    i have had a claim at roakin va regional office sence dec 2010 and it is still in the gathering information fase every time i call i get the run a round

    1. Mr. Lewis,

      I am sorry that you have been waiting so long for a decision on your claim. Please feel free to contact us at 877-838-2889 if you have any questions about the claims process.

  4. John

    My claim for IU has been in the Seattle Office since Oct 2010. They caled me in fr my C & P exam Feb 2012! I went to the RO last month and wanted to get an update as it was still in the gathering of information stage….15 months! I asked about my C & P exams and they said they were waiting to be “downoaded” at their office. Luckily I had already went to the VAMC and got copies and gave the VA rep a copy. He took it directy upstairs where my records were while I waited and said staffing and lack of knowledge on systems is holding up alot of claims.

    My claim made it to the decision stage about 30 days ago…..its funny as I was approved for SSI 4 months after I replied. Maybe the VA should compare some of the systems?

  5. J. Eden

    My claim initially started at the Boston VARO for ptsd increase and hearing loss on 13sept10. Last April I moved to Seattle for school and something different. So we’re talking 20months total.. Just ridiculous if you ask me. Shame on me for having my file transferred to another swamped RO. Dammit

  6. My claim is at the Oakland Office too. It has been at the gathering information stage since October 2011 and I supplied all of the medical record documentation myself. These people do not care about us. What if the military didn’t care about them? How would they feel if they had to walk around in gas masks all day long and fight for food? All of these broken promises by lawmakers is just BS! They will say anything to get elected. I am so sick of this. I spent my entire young adult life serving my country and I can’t get them to serve me a cup of coffee let alone review my claim in a timely manner! Uggh, I am disgusted with the VA!

  7. Pingback : Our Wounded and Disabled Wait Too Long

  8. 470 + days for me on initial claim out of Atlanta. I have a great ammount of evidence by VA Staff Psychiatrist, Vet Center LCSW, In patient at VAMC, Exit examinations from 1993 where I am listed as suffering from all symptoms of PTSD …….and they have One (1) bad C&P examination from QTC where the Psychologist erroneously claimed Alcohol Abuse as Axis I after she threatened to throw me out of her office and end the exam.

    Now they want to send me to another C&P exam. Fine. I was basically told on the phone by the woman at the Atlanta VARO that they don’t apply the 50/50 rule. Hell I have 65/35 and they still don’t go in favor of the veteran apparently.

    What good are laws if no one will follow those laws and when they fail to follow those laws they are not held accountable? This is a system way out of control where people do as they wish without consequence. Such a sad situation.

    I am no longer proud of our nation and I am not alone.

  9. David Davis

    My claim initially filed Jan 1966 VA at the time would not allow me to see my service medical records. 1971 spent 3 weeks in Buffalo VA hospital same scenario informed that those were government documents and I could not have a copy or see them. In 2005 reopened my claim BVA found new records folder it took over 43 years for me to obtain them. Now it has been going on second remand at BVA for almost 7 years. Last episode the Appeals Management Center sat on remand for 11 months and then forwarded it to Philadelphia RO it now sits there with no action. Good luck my fellow veterans and Americans the war is at home with our own representatives now.

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