Veteranclaims’s Blog

September 11, 2010

Houston-RO Claim Backlog Increases by 25%

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — veteranclaims @ 7:53 pm

Full Article at: Money, staff fail to stop VA backlog growth, Houston has highest appeals rate in the U.S. as benefits claims set records
By LINDSAY WISE
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Sept. 11, 2010, 10:05AM
photo
Michael Paulsen Chronicle

Vietnam veteran James Davis, 59, of Willis has been trying since 2003 to get an increase in his VA disability benefits, but all he gets is a letter every six months saying he is being evaluated.
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Despite an influx of funds and staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the backlog of claims for benefits continues to grow at a record pace in Houston and nationwide.

VA received 1 million claims in 2009 for the first time in the department’s 80-year history. In Houston, the situation has worsened since the Houston Chronicle first reported on the local impact of the backlog more than a year ago.

The number of veterans waiting for the Houston VA Regional Office to process their disability compensation claims jumped from about 19,000 this time last year to nearly 24,000, an increase of 25 percent.

Almost half of those claims have been pending for more than four months, compared to 37 percent nationwide.

“Clearly Houston is suffering under significant strain, and their office needs attention from Washington so our veterans can get accurate and fast claims decisions,” said Paul Sullivan, executive director of the nonprofit Veterans for Common Sense.

“So many veterans in Houston have been waiting too long,” Sullivan said.

He’s particularly troubled that Houston has 12,060 claims in appeal, the highest number in the country for the second year in a row.

“The high number of veterans’ claims awaiting an appeal decision ā€” which often takes four to five years ā€” indicates the Houston office may still have serious and significant quality and accuracy problems,” he said.

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