A drastic reduction in the disability claims backlog was a top priority for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki when he took over the department three years ago.
“Our intent is to have no claim over 125 days,” Shinseki told American Forces Press Service. “And every claims decision that we put out the door [will be] at a 98-percent quality mark.”
The VA has been testing the new Veterans Benefit Management System in Providence, R.I., and Salt Lake City. Shinseki told Congress last month he believes this technology is helping VA “approach the tipping point in ending the backlog in disability claims.”
The VA is expected to initiate the system nationwide beginning this fall at 16 regional offices in September, with all 56 VA regional offices receiving it by the end of fiscal 2013, Shinseki said.
It’s been an uphill climb because during 2009 the VA produced 900,000 claims decisions, but also received 1 million new claims according to the American Forces Press Service. The next year, VA increased its claims decisions to 1 million, but received 1.2 million new claims.
“Last year, we produced another 1 million claims decisions and got 1.3 million claims in,” Shinseki said. “So the backlog isn’t static. The backlog is a bigger number than we would like, but it is not the same number as three years ago.”
Once the automated system is in place, Shinseki said, he believes the 125-day, 98-percent accuracy goals he set are achievable. “There is a lot on the line here,” he said. Yet, he’s confident because of the success the VA has had with automating the Post-9/11 GI Bill claims.
You can read the full American Forces Press Service article HERE.