The VA has announced that its claims backlog has been reduced from 611,073 to 400,435 now. These numbers are highly manipulated by VA, other data sources show that number of claims backlogged is much higher. For example, the Center for Investigatgive Reporting is reporting that there are 651,000 veterans waiting for decisions as of November 2, 2013. The CIR numbers are based upon internal documents of the VA and shows a much higher backlog than VA is reporting, by almost 200,000 claims.
Is VA deciding claims faster now in November 2013 than in March 2013? Probably not. VA has assigned appeals staff and other non-adjudicative staff to help shrink the backlog of claims. But that staff can't work forever on backlogged cases, and will have to get back to their regular jobs and the VA's ability to keep shrinking the backlog will be reduced. My interaction with appeals staff, the Decision Review Officers (DROs) over the last few months confirms that they spent a lot of time working the claims backlog, rather than their primary job of deciding appeals and supervising junior decision makers.
Is a scandal waiting to burst due to the false reporting of numbers?
Eventually, VA is going to be called to the carpet on their data manipulation. However, its not going to have much impact on the agency. As long as the agency can make a reasonable claim, even one made on manipulated data, that the backlog is not as bad as before, Congress and the President will be satisfied. VA has a history of manipulating data before, the Board of Veterans' Appeals claims that it has a 91% accuracy rate. However, the data shows that of decisions appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, 58% of the cases filed result in a full or partial overturning of the Board decision. VA's numbers simply can't be trusted.
Claims backlog Deadline to Become an Appeals Backlog
As I have commented before, the focus on the original claims backlog means that there is now a growing appeals backlog, with veterans having to wait over 1000 days for a decision by the Board of Veterans' Appeals after a notice of disagreement (NOD) is filed.
The Claims and Appeals Backlog Means Cases Should be Prepared Properly to Win; Otherwise there is a Long Delay
This growing appeals backlog shows why it is critical that veterans obtain competent council and attempt to win their case the first time, either before the NOD is filed, or immediately thereafter at the intermediate step before the Decision Review Officer. If it is necessary to file a NOD in a claim, the Claims should be developed by a lawyer to win the claim at the next earliest opportunity, before the Decision Review Officer. While there is a wait of 6-16 months for a DRO hearing, it is an opportunity to win the case without having to wait the full 1000 days for the case to come up to the Board.
Download my book or contact me about your case. Avoid the VA delay by developing your case.