Clarence Hill

Quality over quantity key to overcoming VA backlog

American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill says the huge backlog of veterans claims faced by the Department of Veterans Affairs can be best addressed by emphasizing a “quality over quantity” approach.

“Doing it right the first time will naturally speed up the processing of claims,” Clarence E. Hill said. “It’s only logical.”

Hill was responding to a Sept. 23 VA Office of Inspector General report stating that an audit of a VA regional office revealed that, a year ago, 11,000 veterans had claims pending more than 365 days with many delays due to reprocessing of originally mishandled cases.

Hill pointed to the existing work credits program practiced by VA as being problematic. “Right now, a case worker is given credit for running a claim through quickly or, in the VA’s vernacular, in a timely manner,” he said. “This can result in inaccurate or incomplete reviews of claims, thus making them likely to be returned for further review at a later date,” Hill said. “That’s a waste of time and resources that could be avoided by a careful and thorough review at the outset. Unfortunately, the VAOIG is recommending perpetuation of what it calls a ‘Linking VSC (Veterans Service Center) Staff Production Credits to Timeliness Goals’ practice. Instead, The American Legion favors the much-practiced ‘Workload Management Plan’ (WLM) approach, which emphasizes critical thinking and analysis rather than sheer speed to promote productivity.

“That said, we applaud the energetic and conscientious efforts the VA is making to address the claims backlog problem. The American Legion stands ready to help.”Hill made similar remarks recently when he testified before a joint session of the U.S. House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees.