According to a U.S. Senator looking into the problem of the backlog in veterans' benefits claims processing, things have gotten "exponentially worse." Pennsylvania veterans face one of this country's worst backlog situations when they apply for benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Another U.S. Senator who has been involved in trying to fix the backlog situation has stated that government so far "has not really been solving the problem." Veterans attempting to secure benefits in The Keystone State should consider seeking the assistance of a veterans' benefits lawyer as a means of shortening wait times such as the 474-day processing time that was recently measured for claims filed through the Pittsburgh VA Regional office.
The wait time recently measured for the Philadelphia area is slightly better at 365 days. Both wait times were measured by the Veterans Benefits Administration Office of Performance Analysis and Integrity and released in a report issued last spring. Although the figures show somewhat of an improvement over the previously measured 625-day Pittsburgh and 510-day Philadelphia wait times, neither of these numbers can be considered acceptable for a disabled or needy veteran who can't afford to wait a year or more to obtain his or her benefits.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, a claim is considered as backlogged when it's been pending for 125 days or longer. Many causes have been offered for the backlog, including a high return rate of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, severe wounds requiring long-term medical attention, and a far-behind-the-times paper-based filing and processing system. In the words of one of the senators looking into the problem: "We've been given a lot of excuses."
Even though some progress has been made, the recently measured Philadelphia and Pittsburgh wait times are a far cry from the "normal" number of 125 days for a backlogged claim. The two senators looking into the backlog problem are hoping to issue a report this fall that will outline ways that the system can be improved and the wait times significantly reduced. Until the situation improves, however, the best option for Pennsylvania veterans to avoid the current 365-day and longer wait times is to team up with a skilled and experienced veterans' benefits lawyer who knows how to circumvent the processing pitfalls and backlogs.
Source: Tribune Democrat, "Veterans backlog targeted," Dave Sutor, July 12, 2013