I've been waiting, so what's taking the VA so long?

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VA backlog
If you turn on the TV, read a newspaper, and especially scroll through your Facebook Timeline, you know that there is a VA backlog. We know it is an issue, and that it is going to be an issue for a while, but why is the VA taking so long?
The good news is that the VA, and the government as a whole, acknowledges that there is a problem. The VA is taking it seriously enough to address the backlog in the media, and via their website and social media accounts. While there is a lot of information out there already about what’s going on, most of it is opinion. We want to give our Veterans a little insight to what to expect with such a large backlog.
First of all, the VA states it hasn’t always been this bad. That is a very true statement. As a law firm that has handled VA claims, we have seen this get progressively worse over the years. Sure claims have never been processed overnight, but what used to take 7-9 months now takes more than 18 months to process. The media and the VA state the number one reason for this time shift is the amount of claims being processed. This is an accurate statement, but it is not the only reason. Other things occurred over the past few years that contributed to the backlog. For one, the Nehmer laws contributed to the backlog in recent years. Without getting into the convoluted facts about the Nehmer case, it dealt with claims pertaining to Agent Orange exposure. A lot of cases that were once denied had to be reevaluated, and this took a lot of time.
The VA states that all of these new claims that are being filed by younger Veterans have more issues than in the past. According to the Associated Press, these new Veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are currently receiving compensation for fewer than four, on average, and those from World War II and Korea, just two.
Another factor that contributes to the backlog is the fact that the VA is not paperless. For example, typical law firms, receive a claim, then scan it into a computer system, and any of the employees who work on VA claims can access your file. Within moments we can look at your claim file, we can see you most recent decisions, and even all of your medical evidence. This is organized into neat categories, and makes our process smooth. On the other hand, the VA is not paperless. They have physical files still (see the image above). This is something that the VA is working on changing, but it will not happen overnight.
Another issue we see that will hold up a VA Claim is double dipping. Another way to put it is submitting the same piece of evidence multiple times. For instance, instead of submitting multiple statements about an issue, submit one well thought out statement. Only submit multiple statements if you have had a substantial change. Also, submitting medical records multiple times can have the same affect.
There is no question that this is a major issue for any Veteran. The backlog will likely be around for a while. Though we can’t speed up your case, there is still a lot we can do for your claim.
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