VA Disability Claims Backlog Down by 60% Since March 2013

November 4, 2014 in News

The Department of Veterans Affairs has reduced the number of backlogged disability claims by 60% since March 2013, according to VA officials, FCW reports (Mazmanian, FCW, 10/30).

Background

The Obama administration aims to eliminate a backlog of VA disability claims by 2015 (iHealthBeat, 7/15). Claims are considered backlogged if they are more than 125 days old (FCW, 10/30).

According to former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, the backlog stems from:

  • Large amounts of paper-based claims and health records that need to be converted to electronic format;
  • A need to sync VA’s records with the Department of Defense’s records; and
  • A growing number of veterans who are qualifying for disability coverage (iHealthBeat, 7/15).

Latest Figures

The number of backlogged claims fell from 611,000 in March 2013 to 244,000 in October.

Allison Hickey, VA undersecretary for benefits, attributed the drop in part to the Veterans Benefits Management System. The digitized system allows VA claims processors to access necessary records and documentation electronically.  

Hickey added that VBMS, in conjunction with the restructuring of VA’s training program, “has been instrumental” in reducing the backlog.

However, some observers argued that VBMS is getting too much credit and noted that mandatory overtime, new production standards and other factors contributed to the backlog reduction (FCW, 10/30). 

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