Making it easier for veterans to apply for benefits and disability for traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and agent orange exposure served to swell the backlog of VA benefits claims in 2012.
The VA has processed about 1 million claims a year, but more than 1 million new ones keep coming in reported Quil Lawrence of NPR.
Hundreds of thousands of veterans who suffered injuries while serving in the military must wait many months for care and compensation. Slightly more than 863,000 people had pending compensation claims with the VA in December, according to a Dec. 17 report.
A Backlog Worsens
At the start of 2012, the department promised to cut into that big backlog of claims. But over the course of the year, that backlog has gotten worse, not better.
One frustrated spouse Lindsay Dove, laid out her husband’s case on YouTube showing his claims paperwork filed in February 2011 and they were still waiting in September 2012:
“You’re quick to send them to war,” said Dove who worries about veterans that don’t have a spouse fighting for their benefits. “I’m done playing nice.”
An update on YouTube states their claims case was finally finished November 27, 2012 almost two years after being filed and rated a priority.
Decades in the Making
Converting records into electronic files is expected to help ease the backlog of claims that has been “decades in the making.”
The VA told NPR’s Lawrence that the backlogs will continue through 2013 but they expect progress in 2014 and the backlog to be eliminated by 2015.
The fixes mostly involve changing from a paper system to an electronic one. VA officials say to watch for improvements in 2014, and for the backlog to be eliminated in 2015.
You can listen to the full story HERE.