VA backlog falls below 100,000 for disability benefits

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Seal of the US Veterans Affairs Office

VA Tackles Backlog

The number of veterans with “backlogged” claims for veterans disability benefits has fallen 84 percent in just over 2 years.

In March 2013, more than 600,000 claims were considered backlogged, meaning that claimants had been waiting more than 125 days for a determination. A new initiative, aimed at eliminating the backlog by 2015, led to a sharp reduction, by more than 60 percent, over the next year and a half.

As of August 24, that figure is now less than 99,000.

“We’ve done something today that we’ve never done before,” Allison Hickey, the VA’s undersecretary for benefits, said in a media call, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Factors contributing to the drop include the roll out of the Veterans Benefits Management System, a new digitized system that significantly reduced paperwork.

Claims adjusters have also been subjected to mandatory overtime rules, though Undersecretary Hickey said the policy is unsustainable and will expire in September, the Stars and Stripes reported.

Overall, there are 362,000 individuals currently awaiting benefits, down from nearly 800,000 in March 2013.

The National Council on Disability released an extensive report on the VA’s efforts to reduce the backlog in November 2013.