In 2013, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported that it had a staggering 600,000 veteran benefits claims backlogged, waiting to be seen and reviewed. The shocking number, attributed to a surge in new claims from Vietnam veterans' Agent Orange claims, grabbed headlines and spurned the agency into setting a lofty goal in 2015: to work through its entire backlog of claims and make sure that the veterans who have applied get the assistance they need.
A new report from the Houston Chronicle details the renewed efforts by the VA to improve its efficiency and eliminate waiting times for veteran applicants. They have reported:
- They currently has approximately 235,700 back logged claims
- The VA has processed more than a million claims a year for four years
- The Houston VA office (serving all of Texas), has reduced its total number of standing claims by 64% since 2013
Still politicians and experts are skeptical that the VA will be able to hit its 2015 goal. As Jim Richman, Director of Claims Representation & Counseling for the Texas Veterans Commission told the Houston Chronicle, achieving the proposed efficiency under the current processing system is "science fiction."
Lingering Veterans' Benefits Issues in Texas
Despite the improvement the Houston VA office has seen since 2013, there are serious concerns about its work and in the national system overall. As it stands, roughly 55% of Houston's claims are 125 days or older, which is 8% higher than the national average. To help regional offices like Houston that receive a higher volume of claims, the VA plans to establish a national queue that will allow other VA offices to work on both incoming and backlogged claims from wherever they might originate.
All of these concerns about the VA benefits claims system is just more reason why seeking legal counsel to file a claim is recommended. With the VA working tirelessly to process as many claims as possible, there has been worry over evaluation accuracy. As the Chronicle reports, the new efforts to speed along the review process has also resulted in a spike in appeals.
If you are a veteran who needs benefits or to appeal a VA decision on a benefits claim, then we urge you to contact us at Coats & Todd today. An experienced Dallas veterans' disability lawyer is ready to walk you through the application or appeals process and ensure that you stand the very best chance at getting the relief you need.