Mistakes Plague Disability Claims Backlog

Mistakes in processing VA disability claims are not only correctable administrative issues (as we described in our previous post) they contribute to the growing backlog of pending disability claims. Even more tragic, a large number of these claims are appeals stemming from legitimate claims that were mistakenly denied. This logjam is a travesty, for it represents the ultimate betrayal of those we ask to give their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy.

The statistics illustrating the inefficiency is staggering. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), 33 percent of the 819,000 pending claims are for appeals. Also, veterans must wait an average of 260 days for an initial decision. Those who appeal their denials wait an average of 3 ½ years before receiving benefits. During these waits, many veterans cannot earn an income or support themselves and are at risk of losing their homes.

The VA claims that it makes mistakes in processing VA disability claims 14 percent of the time, but the CIR believes that the error rate could be twice the VA’s claim. The rate was especially high with claims involving PTSD and Agent Orange. The CIR also reported that the VA’s assistant inspector general told a House committee that regional offices commonly failed to follow policies for traumatic brain injury claims.

The VA defends the work its regional offices perform and explain that “samples of specific types of claims, and its results do not represent the university of disability claims at a Regional Office.”

While there may be some truth to that assertion, it underscores the importance of having an experienced attorney to shepherd your claim through the process.

Source: CIR Online, Accuracy isn’t priority as VA battles disability backlog, November 8, 2012.