By Debbie Gregory.
Some of our disabled veterans have been waiting for a year or longer to receive disability compensation. The Department of Veterans Affairs is pressing claims raters to step up decision-making, starting with the oldest claims in their inventory. These provisional decisions will allow Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more expeditiously. Eligible Veterans will have one full year of benefits after the provisional rating, before the VA renders any final decision.
The Department of Veterans Administration has a backlog of 65,000 claims that go back as far as two years. The oldest pending claims are being handled first. The Department of Veterans Affairs is requiring the use of overtime for claims processors at its 56 regional offices, part of a “surge” aimed at eliminating the disability claims backlog.
In recent months, the VA has adopted a series of measures in response to sharp criticism over the number of claims pending from veterans seeking disability compensation. The number of pending claims this year has been reduced by more than two-thirds, many of which have been pending for over 125 days.
The VA continues to prioritize disability claims for homeless veterans, those experiencing extreme financial hardship, the terminally ill, former prisoners of war, Medal of Honor recipients, and veterans filing fully developed claims, which officials said is the quickest way for veterans to receive a decision on their compensation claim.
Claims for wounded warriors separating from the military for medical reasons will continue to be handled separately, and on a priority basis with the Defense Department through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System. Wounded warriors separating through IDES currently receive VA compensation benefits in an average of 61 days following their separation from service.
There are a number of programs in place that assist Veterans in making the most of their benefits, helping them successfully transition to life after injury. It is important to access the Veteran’s individual needs, and ensure that the Veteran and his family have the information and access to government benefits, as well as the community resources necessary for successful transition to life after injury.