By Brett Vigodsky
November 12th, 2012 9:00am
Although the Obama administration has increased its efforts to process medical claims by U.S. veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports that the agency’s backlog of claims continues to grow, despite the Veterans Benefits Administration completing over one million claims each year for the last two years. The flow of VA claims has increased 48% over the last three years.
As of mid-June 2012, the VA had 870,000 pending cases, and 66% had been pending more than 125 days. At the same time last year, the VA had more than 836,000 pending claims with 59% pending more than 125 days.
During President Obama’s campaign, he underscored his efforts on behalf of veterans. He noted his efforts to help veterans and military spouses get jobs in the private sector, to improve the post-9/11 GI Bill for veterans’ educations, and to direct funds from the stimulus to help the VA pay for 2,300 claims processors to alleviate the backlog. He continues to express a strong desire to make sure veterans receive the benefits they have earned.
More and more Republicans point to the backlog of claims as evidence that President Obama has failed in his attempts to fix this ongoing problem. However, this is not necessarily the case. The backlog of claims is a decade old problem. The delays are due in part to a generation of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with more complicated claims. Claims also tend to increase in a poor economy.
In addition, veterans individually are now claiming a greater number of disabilities. Last year, the number of medical conditions for every Iraq and Afghanistan veteran averaged 8.5. In contrast, World War ll era veterans averaged one to two medical conditions and Vietnam veterans averaged three to four.
Hopefully, with President Obama’s re-election, he can continue his efforts to resolve this problem.
Attorney Brett Vigodsky has been with the Levin Papantonio law firm for 12 years and he specializes in workers’ compensation claims as well as Social Security Disability.