Legislative Director Tim Tetz testifies before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Photo by Craig Roberts

Legion: 'Treat the root' of VA claims backlog

Testifying before a March 2 congressional hearing on the Department of Veterans Affairs fiscal 2012 budget proposal, The American Legion called upon VA to “treat the root” of the disability claims backlog problem.

At the hearing, American Legion Legislative Director Tim Tetz told members of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs that VA’s disability claims system “is broken because VA places undue stress on the number of claims processed, and minimal stress on accuracy.”

Referring to VA’s new Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), Tetz said, “IT tools that are only used to implement the old system will just allow VA to make the same old mistakes faster.

“This budget gives VA quite a bit of money to implement IT programs and initiatives – but does it fix it all the way?” Tetz asked. “VA must build a system that tracks individual error and holds stations accountable for not only the volume of work done, but also the accuracy of the work.”

Repeating concerns expressed at a House hearing last week, Tetz urged Congress to “at least meet the previous levels of funding.” While The American Legion has recommended $2 billion for major and minor VA construction projects, the fiscal 2012 budget calls for about $1.2 billion.

Despite The American Legion’s concerns about the claims backlog and the construction budget, Tetz said the organization “remains cautiously optimistic that the fiscal 2012 budget proposal will meet the needs of our nation’s veterans. We appreciate the efforts VA has made towards addressing the symptoms and issues that currently face our nation’s veterans.”


  1. Consider yourselves lucky if you even see a real doctor. I submitted a claim accompanied by an extensive package containing information and a detailed exam by a recognized specialist, and the VA ignored all of it in favor of a terribly flawed exam by a GP. When I appealed her inaccurate diagnosis as well as the fact that all of the information I painstaking assembled was ignored, VA's response was to again ignore the correct diagnosis and send me to a second C&P exam a year later, this time by a PA. His diagnosis was farther off than the first (surprise, surprise) and I am now waiting for my VARO to unfreeze appeals because-and you're just going to love this-many of the claims raters who were kicked upstairs to work appeals on the types of cases they screwed up in the first place have now been removed from appeals and sent back down to work the growing backlog with the same skill and accuracy that generated their appeals workload in the first place. Something is very wrong here...
  2. Why would anyone VA or the private sector think that all the injuries Vets/servicemembers face are going to get better with age! That's crazy I don't care how long it takes as long as they get it right because I know that there's alot of fraud by people that have never served a day on active duty or any duty for that matter!! There's no such thing as a backlog and if there is stop sticking your nose in every conflict that happens around the globe and just take care of our own first.
  3. Under the present plan to improve the system to an all IT process is great for the present and new claims, but, all of those that are in the system either have to be handled the same old way or someone must input all ot the data into the electroninc format before they can be part of the new system. As of 2/28/2011 their are more than 785000 + claims in process. Some 51000 + added since 11/01/2010 with an increase of 64% in over 125 days. The backlog continues to grow and will for some time or until they get all of the claims into the electronic format and will cost a lot of man hours and dollars. If all of the claims were approved and averaged 60% that cost would be approximately 11 billion dollars. This would catch the back log up and allow the process than to be maintained and kept at reasonable levels without continued delays and additional appeals, which stands at over 225000 + now.
  4. Perhaps the VA can bring onboard private sector raters for claims in some of the VARO's...it may take some time, but due to the large increase in claims and Nehmer additions; every angle of solving the problem would be a great help to veterans nationwide.
  5. VA primary care staff may not be truly qualified to render an opinion. For that matter, a C&P examiner may be an RN or other person that does not have the medical certifications to render a professional opinion that would be recognized in a court of law. The current PTSD regs only allow a VA examiner to, for VA purposes, determine a diagnosis of PTSD. This is in direct conflict witha large body of law and practice. The VA claims system will not be fixed with "patches". It must be totally changed to eliminate the causes of redundant efforts and delay.
  6. We constantly hear about the back log when it comes to veterans’ C&P claims and that the VA is doing everything it can to speed up the process. So, if that’s truly the case why does it appear as if the VA is operating two separate medical systems? For instance, if you have been seen, diagnosed and treated by a VA primary care doctor. Why is it necessary to be evaluated by a C&P doctor? It appears that the opinion of the C&P doctor holds more weight and claim approvals are based on the evaluation and recommendation of the C&P doctor. If that’s the case why do we even need primary care doctor? After all, most of us that are applying for benefits have either been diagnosed by a military doctor, VA primary care doctor, or a family doctor. Cut out the middle man, unnecessary C&P exams, and streamline the process. It would be beneficial to the Veteran, and the VA to stop this practice of double work, especially, when the veteran has been diagnosed by a VA primary care provider.
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