VA processing claims slowly

| November 30, 2012 | 31 Comments

McClatchy reports that which you probably thought was impossible – that claims processing at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has slowed to a crawl. Despite promises by Beret King, Eric Shinseki, the backlog of claims has grown, while processing claims has, in fact, slowed;

The disability-processing time is closely watched by Congress and veterans’ advocates as a measure of VA efficiency. In fiscal 2012, the average days to complete a VA disability compensation or pension claim rose to 262 days, up from 188 days in fiscal 2011, according to a recently completely VA performance report.

The 262-day average is the highest that measure has been in at least the past 20 years for which numbers were available.

The VA’s long-term goal is to get the processing time to an average of 90 days.

But, keep your fingers crossed, the VA recognizes that there is a problem;

“We recognize that from the standpoint of the veterans, they are waiting too long, and that’s unacceptable,” said Diana Rubens, who helps oversee the VA’s regional offices. “We’ve got to transform how we do things. We know that fixing decades-old problems is not going to be easy.”

Horseshit. The problem isn’t decades-old. When I retired, it took about three months for my claim to run it’s course – and that was in the days before computers and their networks. Whatever happened to the system, happened recently.

I’ve never heard any of the criminals who don’t deserve VA treatment complain about the time it took to process their phony claims, only the folks who deserve VA attention. So, I guess their out-reach to phonies program is working just fine.

Category: Veterans' Affairs Department

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  1. JP says:

    Gee, wonder how long it would take me to get some foodstamps, welfare, or an obamaphone?

    I’ll bet nowhere near as long.

  2. OWB says:

    Well, my best suggestion is that you find out where in your community they are handing such things out and start hanging around there. They also have folks from the VA trolling these areas signing folks up for VA benefits. It only takes a couple of weeks for benefits to start when one of the “counselors” direct signs you that way. And it really doesn’t seem to matter whether you actually qualify.

  3. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    This cannot be. Must be a mistake. You see, a White House paper from more than two years ago says these things:

    “In July 2010, the VA published a historic change to its rules, streamlining the process and paperwork needed by combat veterans to pursue a claim for disability pay for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” [...]

    “Breaking the Back of the Backlog for Disability Claims: The VA expanded its workforce by over 2,600 people to handle applications for disability pay. The VA is also using technology and new approaches to help veterans get their benefits by accepting online applications for initial disability benefits, initiating an innovation competition, launching pilot initiatives, and investing over $128 million in a paperless Veterans Benefits Management System.”

    So, get with the program! The emperor’s new clothes are beautiful!

  4. Country Boy says:

    I just got notified by VA to expect their decision on the claim I filed two weeks between Sept 2013 and Apr 2014! I filed thru the VFW Service Rep here at Bragg for Herniated discs and degenrative disc disorder (which was already sevice connected but rated 0%). I even provided them the MRI and X-Rays from Womack Army Med Center w/ Doctors findings. Pretty open and shut case the research is already done and they could confirm it easily and quickly thru Womack.

  5. Chip@NASA says:

    @4 Country Boy,
    I had a similar issue. 3 LODs in my file and 170 pages of documentation. They rated me 10%. I got pissy and asked for a reevaluation. I had 2 appointments at the VA in Baltimore and eventually was rated 30%.
    Best thing you can do is contact the local DAV office and ask for them to represent you against the VA. They are PROS at doing this, it’s what they live for and they represented me for free. As soon as I got my first check (and about 18 months back pay for the 20% difference) I made an immediate contribution to the DAV AND paid up as a life member.

  6. Jabatam says:

    262 days?! Nice wish. I was pushing 600 days when I finally got my decision (filed 1/5/2011 and didn’t get a decision until about 3 weeks ago)

  7. Chip@NASA says:

    @6 Jab,
    Took me a year and a half….Um 500+ days?

  8. CUNextTuesday says:

    I’m going on 900 days right now. Nothing complicated either. In Washington State, they are so backlogged that they are subbing out all the VA claims to Georgia. I’m sure that is adding to the delay.

    I’ve been waiting almost 3 years now and cannot get any information out of them on status. Just that it is in process. The VONAPP website is CRAP and just leads you back to the useless 1-800 number.

    Going to visit the DAV office and we’ll see how that goes…..

  9. JBS says:

    I got my disability rating completed in about 90 days back in 2006 when I retired. But when my kids were about to turn 18 I filed for dependent status change/update because they would remain in school. This was in 2009 and the VA says they are still working on it. I had the American Legion rep’n me and that didn’t go well so I went to the DAV. Still waiting. Meanwhile, the VA dropped my kids off until the paperwork goes through.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I retired April 2012 after 37 years in the Navy. My VA claim went in in December 2011. Estimated time to disposition is May 2013 – Jan 2014.

    That 262-day average is bullshit. VA claim centers will push through recent top-of-the-stack claims to keep the averages “low.”

    And WTF is up with the VA Rep who says “We recognize that from the standpoint of the veterans, they are waiting too long…” Is she saying that from the VA’s standpoint they’re NOT waiting too long? Cuz that’s sure the attitude they project with their anonymous and unhelpful web page, their endless phone menus that always send you to a mailbox that is either full or inactive, and their abject refusal to give you specifics on the status of your claim.

    The VA told me for 5 months that they were waiting on additional information from DoD on my claim, but they couldn’t tell me what that information was so I could run it down.

    I’m just a broke, old mustang with a bad back, bad hearing and RA…if I’m at the back of the line so they can process the combat wounded, that’s fine.

    But that ain’t the case.

  11. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    “I’m just a broke, old mustang with a bad back, bad hearing and RA…if I’m at the back of the line so they can process the combat wounded, that’s fine.” Get a screen name and stick around.

  12. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    Same here. Retired last Decemeber 2011 with year 32 + years with a laundry list of service connected and documents defects. My claim(s) were processed in January 2012. I have only heard from very polite computer generated letters. I am committed to waiting my turn, with the hopes that those whe are in need of more attention recieve it!

    And for all you scoring at home, the incident with the “goat” was NOT my fault, I was just doing what I was TOLD TO DO, and it WAS service connected!

  13. Flagwaver says:

    #13 MCPO, I don’t think I want to know…

    I’m in the same boat. I’m just waiting for them to read the letter from my counselor about my high percentile PTSD and Depression… In the mean time, I have been reading about phony after phony getting busted after having filed. Heck, some of them aren’t even trying anymore.

    Case in point, my VA rep was telling me about a guy claiming to have been a Major in the SEALs who was in the Battle of Falujah. First, SEALs don’t have Majors. Second, it was my National Guard unit (not me, it was after I was blown up) that went in to help pull the SEALs and Marines out…

    Said his claim was processed in only about six months…

  14. Common Sense says:

    Not to make you guys any more depressed about poor VA service, but we have a box of letters from one of my husband’s ancestors where he’s asking for an increase in disability. The letters go on for years for his injuries he sustained in – the Civil War.

  15. Just an Old Dog says:

    600 days and counting. I was already 20% when I retired in 2000. My paperwork went in in May 2011 and Pension Exam was done July of 2011. I’ve sent 3 letters of hardship in so far, the last being this past Wednesday.

  16. Joe Williams says:

    A little saying from we Nammers about the VA. Deny Denty until You Die. Joe

  17. rb325th says:

    No kidding… The Shitsucker initiated a program earlier this year where they actually hired a bunch of personnel to be trained in processing claims, and a new method of having them specialize in the different variety of claims that come through (PTSD, MST, etc..) It failed… I know one kid that got hired and we were glad to lose him from our Dept on the other side of the VA. Unfortunately he is now part of the ever growing stagnation on the BVA end of things and why I have no hope my claims will ever see the light of day. I am afraid to even file for the increasing nerve issues I have been having, why bother if they will never even act on it. Almost 2 years with what they are supposed to be taking care of already.

  18. wb251 says:

    5 or 600 days is short i started my claim in 2006 and have been fighting ever since just got a letter saying i should have a decision in 2013-2014

  19. Anonymous says:

    I’m #10. Not sure why I blew through the name block, but probably because I am so pissed at the VA and the MHS.

    I worked in Navy Medicine my entire career. Now I can’t even be seen at an MTF (I live in suburban DC) and the so-called “network” of Tricare Prime providers shrinks every day. Think your VA is bad? Try even getting IN at the Washington, DC VA.

    The whole system is collapsing on itself. My wife passed away in September after a long illness. Tricare has hosed up the claims for her hospitalization to the point I spend most of my day trying to unscrew their mistakes and non-payments.

    Sorry for the rant, but some days the frustration mixes up with the grief and anger and my composure suffers.

  20. Open Channel D says:

    Appears I screwed up the Name block again.
    One more try.

  21. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Open Channel D: I go to Walter Reed. You need some disease that no one can identify – they call me to make appointments. I guess I appeal to their curiosity.

  22. Gravel says:

    19 months through the VA Regional office in Roanoke, Virginia. Finally completed in April of 2007. 100% Service Connected Quadriplegic, with an R.1 SMC.

    The medical treatment I received since has been pretty good … my Neurologist/Neurosurgeon and Physical Therapy Doctor have been above fantastic, can’t say much about the rest of the process though. Takes six months to get a new wheelchair and is a huge hassle.

    Make appointment to see primary care doctor … wait 30-90 days for appointment.

    Primary care doctor makes appointment for Physical Therapy Doctor … wait 90-100 days.

    Physical Therapy Doctor makes appointment for seating clinic with Physical Therapist … wait 30 days.

    Physical Therapist sends me back to Physical Therapy Doctor … 30 more days.

    Physical Therapy Doctor makes appointment with Prosthetics … wait 30-60 days.

    Well you get the picture.

  23. Ex-PH2 says:

    You know, the DBD cartoon in the side panel has recently been running about Obamacare. It will be worse than the VA with that for civilians. They have NO idea what they got themselves into.

    I guess things have changed a whole lot since 1974, because I think it took a short time, maybe a month, to get a decision.

    ON the other hand, my sister-in-law’s father had shrapnel and a hole in his back from his WWII service in the Pacific — I don’t have the details — but the VA refused to re-evaluate him until 1997, when he finally got 100% — 52 years later. And yes, the VA did give him back pay.

  24. OWB says:

    Do we need to blanket our congresscritters with letters about this? Was thinking something along the lines of – “Wondering why the suicide rate is so high among vets, especially the youngest ones? Could it be that they are left to languish without medical treatment for months, perhaps years, by the VA? Some of these vets are in pain, needing protheses, and every other form of treatment. We owe them nothing but the best. They are not even getting care which is marginally adequate.”

  25. Gravel says:

    @25 .. OWB,

    I will say that my care has been good-great … when I get it.

    The problem (for me) is with the scheduling and availability of getting in to see doctors. That coupled with a complete lack of handicapped parking at the VA hospital in Orlando makes it near impossible to receive that care. Sometimes I drive around for 2-3 hours trying to find a spot for my vehicle (that is equipped with a wheelchair lift.)

    Sometimes I get so frustrated with trying to find a parking spot that I just say screw it and go home.

    I desperately need a new powered wheelchair but I hate having to jump through the 6-7 month of hoops to get one. I have absolutely no idea why someone with a pre-diagnosed condition (such as me) can’t just make an appointment with prosthetics straight up and bypass the unneeded crap. For instance, when I finally get an appointment with my primary care doctor and can find a parking spot, they’re more interested in taking blood, urine, stool samples and diagnosing stuff (like high cholesterol … or whatever) that I didn’t go in for. All I need is the damned wheelchair, not to be poked, prodded, and pee in a cup.

    All gripes aside though … the actual care I get, when I get it, is above par in my opinion.

  26. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    @ 20 If you are a Pecker Checker … that is good. Between the young buffs in here and the old farts we could use a Navy Corpes Man (Presidentially Speaking)on staff. There are several blog name possibiities: SeenEverything; BendOver, Turn&Cough, ThisWon’tHurt >>>

  27. Gravel says:

    @27 … MCPO,

    “… SeenEverything; BendOver, Turn&Cough, ThisWon’tHurt …”

    Did you mean to imply he works/worked for the TSA?

  28. Open Channel D says:

    MCPO,
    I am/was a Corpsman, enlisted in 1975, then got a commission as an MSC in the late 80’s. Military medicine is all I know (not that that appears to be helping much).

    Open Channel D sends…

  29. George says:

    Don’t forget that FY2013 actually decreased VA disability compensation. Guess they had to come up with more money for trips to Vegas.

  30. Tara Claims says:

    I am so sorry to all the veterans who suffer because of this – it’s unacceptable that the gov would treat you this way :(

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