Garsya/Shutterstock.com

Chart: The Benefits Claims That Are Flying Under the Radar at VA

Disability claims aren't the only ones clogging up the system.

The long-standing slog within the Veterans Affairs Department to cut down its mountain of disability claims has been well documented.

Or has it?

The VA loves to talk about how it's on track to reach its goal next year of completing all disability compensation and pension claims within 125 days—keeping them off the dreaded "backlogged" list. Frequently overlooked? The other two-thirds of VA claims—or more than 1 million requests—aren't subject to the department's 125-days, 98-percent accuracy goal. 

"The VA does a good job in convincing lawmakers and the public and the media that the only claims that everybody should be focused on should be disability claims," said Gerald Manar, national veterans service deputy director at the Veterans of Foreign Wars and a former 30-year VA employee. "... It's disingenuous of VA leaders to claim that they've made progress, but there's still all this other work out there."

What are these other claims clogging up the VA's system?

They run the gamut from aiming to change the amount of disability pay a veteran receives to appealing previous decisions by the department. They also include responses to congressional inquiries. So while the number of pending VA disability claims has shrunk in recent years, the number of overall claims has mushroomed to roughly 1.64 million. That's compared with 941,666 in late 2009.

Here is a breakdown of the main claims the VA is wrestling with under the radar.

Award Adjustments For those of you who don't spend your free time digging around the VA's website or aren't fluent in VA-speak, an award adjustment is, well, exactly what it sounds like. Veterans or their family members can try to change the amount awarded to them or their family members for a variety of reasons. The VA can also request a change.

For example, a veteran could want to reinstate a child's dependent status, so the child can receive payments from the VA. Or the department could try to decrease pension pay for veterans whose income exceeds a certain threshold.

The VA needs to tackle 471,418 of these award adjustments, which are divided between compensation and pension payments. And although these outstanding claims aren't included in the VA's drive to cut the backlog, nearly 70 percent of them have been pending for 125 days or more.

Appeals These make up the second largest group of the VA's other claims. There are 279,055 pending appeals, which is more than the VA's infamous number of backlogged disability claims. Veterans' advocates are split on what is behind a recent increase in appeals. Some believe that in the race to clear the claims that are officially "backlogged," more veterans are forced to appeal VA decisions that were rushed or inaccurate. Others say that as the number of claims that are processed increases, it makes sense to see a correlating increase in appeals.

Either way, the appeals process can leave a veteran in claims limbo for an additional two and a half years.

The Others Think of it as the kitchen drawer where you stick the odds and ends—random takeout menus, those holiday cookie cutters that you never used, a broken can opener you should probably just throw away. Except when it comes to these other claims, the VA has a lot of them—327,602 to be exact, a majority of which are tied to compensation.

These claims can include Freedom of Information Act requests, cost-of-living adjustments, and even correspondence with lawmakers. They also include internal quality reviews—an in-house attempt to catch serious mistakes.

A minority of these claims—slightly more than 30,000—are tied to pensions, which follows a larger trend in which pension claims make up a relatively small amount of the VA's total claims workload.

And while acknowledging that the VA has made progress on its disability compensation and pension claims, Manar said, "The problem is that they've done it to the exclusion of much of the rest of the workload, and, as a consequence, there are even more glaring problems."

(Image via Garsya/Shutterstock.com)

NEXT STORY: The Three Things You Can Control

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.