Central Texas veterans wait longest for claims
Monday, August 06, 2012
AUSTIN, TX -- It takes about 393 days for a veteran in Central Texas to process a disability claim, an average of five months longer than those who live elsewhere, according to the latest data from the Department of Veteran Affairs.
The department is under fire nationally for being slow to process claims, especially as veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars seek help. Nationally, the VA processed 1 million claims last year, a record number, but far behind the 1.3 million requests received. The agency is overhauling an outdated, paper-reliant process and going to a streamlined, digital system designed to reduce the processing time for claims from 254 days to 125 days and reduce the error rate to 2 percent by 2015.
But the situation in Central Texas -- home to one of the largest veteran populations in the nation -- is especially dire, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Not only was the Waco office slow to process claims, nearly one in five they completed contained errors, forcing veterans into appeals that can take years to resolve.
Strike force team has made a dent in delayed VA claims, but the wait still long in Texas
In July, state officials announced the creation of a $1.5 million “State Strike Force Team” to help veterans file claims with the VA and speed up processing times that are among the longest in the country.
The Texas Veterans Commission has hired more than 30 claims processors, located at VA clinics, Texas Veterans Commission offices and VA regional claims processing offices in Houston and Waco, to develop and expedite claims. So far, the team has developed more than 2,500 cases and helped veterans submit more than 800 fully developed claims, which theoretically should be processed more quickly by VA workers. Since the teams were activated, pending claims in Texas have fallen by about 4 percent to just under 86,000, according to VA data.
Texas spent $1.5 million for a 4% reduction with 30 more processors. The problem here is that it is still a new endeavor, pointing out once again how all states are not the same on VA claims, but doesn't seem to mention it takes 2 years to properly train processors.