When honorably discharged veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars file claims with the VA today, their documents will line up behind roughly 185,000 claims. It is not unusual to expect a delay of up to nine months, well over the 125-day processing goal.
The VA vows to radically reduce this glut by 2015, but aTribune-Review investigation showed that these backlogs affect all three layers of the claim process: regional offices, the appellate courts at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and the Court of Veterans’ Appeals.
The Army Times, however, recently reported that the VA plans to award “provisional” ratings to claims that have been lingering unaddressed for over a year. About 250,000 claims qualify for consideration under this new initiative, but many will likely not contain enough information to allow for a “provisional “ rating. In this instance, veterans will have a one-year window to submit additional evidence or request that the VA obtain the additional documents.
The VA also states that the most vulnerable of veterans will continue to be fast-tracked. This includes the wounded, ill, homesless and/or injured veterans, along with those facing financial hardship.
Let’s hope that these provisional ratings will help get the backlog down to zero.
Carl Prine,“ ‘Tsunami’ of Appeals Drowning VA Board, Won’t Get Better Soon,” 1 June 2013, TribLive, online at http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/4116735-74/appeals-board-veterans#axzz2VABQ7RkP.; and Rick Maze, “VA’s Fast-tracking of Backlog Claims Draws Concern,” 6 May 2013, Army Times.