VA Launches Initiative to Address Claims Backlog

The Department of Veterans Affairs, which is struggling with a huge backlog of disability claims, announced a new initiative to expedite claims for veterans who have been waiting one year or more.

VA claims processors have begun making provisional decisions on claims that are one year old or older. These provisional decisions will be based on evidence provided for the claim to date and will allow veterans who appear to be eligible for benefits to begin receiving them before a final decision is made. Claimants will still have the opportunity to submit additional evidence up to one year after the provisional rating is made.

If at the time a final decision is made, it is found that an increase in benefits is warranted, then the increase will be retroactive to the date the claim was filed.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said that the department is committed to eliminating the backlog by 2015, and the provisional rating system is the right thing to do now so that veterans who have been waiting for a year or more do not have to wait longer.