In late April, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it plans to make significant inroads to the backlog of medical claims that are one year or older within the next six months. That means there are at least 250,000 outstanding claims that need attention within the next 182 days. (The 250,000 claims that have been awaiting decisions for one year or longer are part of the VA’s overall backlog, which includes all claims pending for at least 125 days. That backlog is now at 570,000 claims.)
“Considering that the current wait for VA benefits is running 316-327 days, the current VA pronouncement sounds something like a hollow boast,” said Gerald Johnson, Executive Director of the U.S. Veterans Hospice Committee. “But we are confident that great strides will happen either way. It is critical for the most vulnerable vets, the homeless and terminally ill populations, to receive medical benefits as quickly as humanly possible to ease their pain and suffering.”
The announced plan calls for regional offices of the VA to issue so-called provisional rulings on all claims that are one year or older, provided a minimum level of evidence has been submitted to support those claims. If the claims are given provisional approval, veterans will start receiving benefits immediately according to the plan. Benefits are based on ratings that rate the severity of the disability in each patient. If a veteran wishes to challenge the rating issued, he or she has a period of one year to file an appeal.