The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is supposed to help the men and women who were adversely affected while serving in the military, but the Department has repeatedly failed to provide useful service to our vets. Although the Department is making progress, improvement has been extremely slow and too many vets still await approval of their disability claims and medical assistance.
Excerpt of an article by Eric Painin | The Fiscal Times
The Department of Veterans Affairs announcement it slashed the backlog of veterans’ claims for disability coverage provided a rare bit of good news for an agency that has been rocked by scandal and controversy for years. The VA said the backlog has fallen 84 percent from a peak of 611,000 claims in March 2013.
Saddled by inefficiency, incompetence and outdated technology, it wasn’t that long ago the VA staffers were stuffing thousands of applications for benefits in cardboard boxes or leaving them unopened in bins. Claims processors were swamped with 5,000 tons of paper every year, and some of them reportedly shredded or hid benefits claims to create the illusion of efficiency. Hundreds of thousands of veterans with serious health problems dating back to the Vietnam and Gulf Wars were waiting over 125 days for decisions from the department on their disability claims.
It was a nightmare for many suffering from the effects of Agent Orange and other serious war-related illnesses and injuries. Unfortunately it proved to be a forerunner to last year’s shocking revelations that 40 or more veterans died while waiting months for appointments to see a doctor or get tests at a VA health center in Phoenix.
Allison Hickey, the undersecretary for benefits at the VA, told reporters the remaining backlog of 98,535 claims that are older than 125 days is at the lowest point since disability requests had improved from about 83 percent in 2011 to 91 percent today.
Hickey said that much of the progress was achieved by requiring employees in the benefits division to work overtime nights and weekends, improved training of staff to increase efficiency, and making a dramatic switch to computers and paperless claims processing to save substantial time. According to the VA, veterans increasingly are filing their claims electronically. Veterans and their families can file applications online, upload supporting documents and then periodically check on the status of their claims.
Thanks to Eric Painin for writing the article; The Fiscal Times for committing its resources to the article; Allison Hickley for providing comments and data used in the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text in this post.