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The VA disability claim backlog has grown by 30,000 cases since last fall. After staying around 70,000 cases a year, the backlog reached over 100,000 at the beginning of March. The VA says this is because in the last few months it has seen an unexpected number of new cases. Officials at the VA insist the increase is only a temporary problem though, and they expect to have it under control soon.
For the fourth year in a row, the VA is requiring overtime for claims processors, and it has received an exemption from the federal hiring freeze to allow it to increase staff. A study from the Government Accountability Office says that without new staff, the appeals backlog will most likely continue to grow. That would mean even longer wait times for veterans who are already waiting an average of 5 years.
Deputy Under Secretary for the Veterans Benefits Administration, Willie Clark, said the VA is “providing more work than ever before,” but the number of new claims continues to grow. In the 2016 fiscal year the VA processed a record-high 1.3 million claims, and that number is expected to increase again for 2017.
So far, lawmakers have failed to pass legislation that would overhaul the VA’s appeals process, but a group of senators hope to change this with a newly introduced bill.
The first step towards adjusting to life after a wartime injury is to contact a skilled veterans disability attorney.