Benefits Backlog Shrinks, Wait Time Lessens for California Veterans
Veterans in California and other states are waiting a shorter amount of time for disability benefits as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs makes progress in reducing a backlog of such claims, the Center for Investigative Reporting reports.
A CIR report released in March found that the number of veterans waiting one year or longer for disability benefits had increased by more than 2,000% since President Obama took office.
Following the release of the report, 67 U.S. senators and more than 160 House lawmakers called on the Obama administration to reduce the backlog (Glantz, Center for Investigative Reporting, 11/11).
Shorter Wait Times
On Thursday, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said the agency has reduced its backlog of outstanding disability claims to 401,000, a 34% reduction from 611,000 claims last spring. Shinseki said he is confident that the agency can reach a goal of eliminating the backlog by the end of 2015 (California Healthline, 11/8).
In addition, the average time veterans must wait for their benefits has decreased by nearly four months.
David Culmer, service director for the American Legion in Los Angeles, said VA has been "knocking out cases left and right." Culmer added that the average wait time for veterans at his post has decreased from 421 days in March to 198 days last month.
More Work Ahead
However, as of Sunday, 401,000 claims had been pending across the U.S. for at least four months, which VA recently identified as its maximum allowable delay.
In addition, VA fell 100,000 claims short of its claims processing goal for the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, according to CIR (Center for Investigative Reporting, 11/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.