JACKSON, Miss. (WTVA) -- The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that as a result of the initiative launched in April to expedite disability compensation claims decisions for Veterans who have a waited a year or longer.
More than 65,000 claims nationwide, or 97 percent of all claims over two years old in the inventory, have been eliminated from the backlog.
The initiative was centrally managed at the national level and involved all VA regional offices working claims on behalf of Veterans across the country, not just those in their geographic area or state.
The Jackson VA Regional Office will now join in VA efforts to complete the disability claims of Veterans who have been waiting more than one year for a decision, while completing the final batch of oldest claims in progress.
“Over the past two months, VA has been dedicated to providing earned benefits to the Veterans who have waited the longest. I’m proud of our employees, who have been working long hours on this effort,” said Thomas O. Sanders, the Jackson Regional Office Acting Director. “We’re now focusing on eliminating the claims that are more than one year old. We’ve made great progress, but know much works remains to be done to eliminate the backlog in 2015.”
The Jackson VA Regional Office completed 932 claims for Veterans in Mississippi who had been waiting more than two years for a decision.
Some two-year-old claims are outstanding due to unique circumstances, such as the unavailability of a claimant for a needed medical exam, military service, vacation, or travel overseas.
This effort is a key part of VA’s overall transformation plan to end the disability claims backlog by the end of 2015 and process claims within 125 days at 98% accuracy.
In May, VA announced that it was mandating overtime for claims processors in its 56 regional benefits offices to increase production of compensations claims decisions, which will continue through the end of FY 2013.
Today, VA has the lowest number of claims in its inventory since August 2011 and has reduced the number of claims in the VA backlog – claims pending over 125 days – by 10 percent since the initiative began.
Under this initiative, VA claims raters may make final or provisional decisions on the oldest claims in the inventory, which will allow Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly, if eligible.
Veterans can learn more about disability benefits on the joint Department of Defense/VA web portal eBenefits at www.ebenefits.va.gov