Listen to the chatter in a VA medical center waiting room or scroll our Facebook page, and you’ll get a sense of one of the biggest issues affecting Veterans: the disability claims backlog. The problem did not begin overnight, and as a result, the solutions won’t arrive that quickly either. But VA took another step to square away the backlog once and for all.

In partnership with the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans, VA will ramp up its Fully Developed Claims output in an effort to cut down on the backlog. From

“We have been working with VA since last December on its fully developed claims process,” [American Legion National Commander] Koutz said. “Teams of our experts have already gone to VA regional offices in Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and other cities to help identify best practices for FDCs, and to further train our own service officers.”

FDCs—claims with all the necessary evidence that can be processed in half the time of normal claims, with better accuracy—are a key part of the solution. A great deal of time spent on a claim is simply waiting for evidence to be submitted and collected. FDCs strip away that antiquated method in order to reach claims decisions much faster.

The Legion and DAV have keyed on a vital aspect of their relationship with VA. Their members are a sounding board for issues affecting Veterans, and their policy experts can channel their experiences into strong, common sense solutions that VA can implement. The two-way communication also helps us to amplify our initiatives to VSO members—which has always been a challenge. So if you know someone about to file a claim, have them look into FDCs along with a Legion or DAV representative, often found right in a VA medical center.

This partnership is just one of the ways VA is tackling the issue. In recent weeks, mandatory overtime has gone into effect for 10,000 claims raters in the agency through the fiscal year, along with a decision to assign provisional ratings to claims older than a year to get Veterans their benefits more quickly.

Photo courtesy of American Legion.

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Published on May. 21, 2013

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  1. Shannon June 7, 2013 at 11:51 am

    As a veteran we should not have to deal with VA employees hanging up on us and saying that all we want is money. In the real world I could sue my doctor for malpractice but my Civilian Doctor that was assigned to Gorgas US Army Hospital in Panama can not be sued. I can not sue the Army or the government and now I have a disability that will never go away. That doctor hurt me and my disability will only get worse as I get older. Right now I am at 60% and I can hold a job, but when my disability gets worse WHO will take care of me? Right now the VA system is broken. I just want my claim processed in a timely manor. Plus do they even read our comments on Facebook or even this blog? Who knows but we deserve more.

  2. Chuck Hartman (USAF retired) June 7, 2013 at 5:02 am

    I first file a claim for PTSD in 1998. I was diagnosed with having PTSD at 50 to 60%. Now at that time my records went missing. When I left my duty station U was giving orders to clear base and go home to wait further instruction. There they said I would receive a telegram stating my next PCS. On January 2, 1966 I got s telegram telling me to fly to Hampton AFB in California for M16 training. It also satiated I was being sent to the Philippines TDY pending PCS. Om January 10 I arrive at Da Nang AB South Vietnam. I was turn down for a PTSD rating because the outfit I was in was not in Vietnam. This is even with my DD Form 214 stating that I had a January 10, 1966 arrival date at Da Nang. Another training record also shows me with being assign to two different units in the Philippines at the same time. So according to the RO I was in four different places at one time. Grand Forks AFB, Grand Forks ND, Clark AFB Philippines with different groups and in Vietnam at Da Nang AB Vietnam. My records were lost so this jerk even with all the evidence he had came to the conclusion that I was still assign to my formal unit in North Dakota. SO I was turn down for PTSD. Since that time I have fought the VA with the same results. They said they needed evidence but it doesn’t matter how much evidence you give it is never enough. After my attempt suicide I was giving another PTSD and was told I had PTSD. Finally with evidence from the Air Force that stated I had boots on the ground at Da Nang should be proof enough. Deny again so I am appeal status. I have multiple medical issues. It doesn’t matter how much evidence you give them it all depends if they had a good day. Now at 70 on my way downhill I will have to wait another year. I agree with one of the guys that maybe 10 million vets marching on Washington might turn some heads. Someone start the group and I will gladly help. I am sick of all this bulls**h. The VA acts as if we are the enemy. You are guilty until you prove yourself innocent. A molester has a better chance then a vet does. Am I piss of you dam right. I am on my way downhill and when and if I do get my compensation I will be too old and too feeble to enjoy the short life I will have. Put your life on the line and this is the reward you get.

  3. Robert June 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    These have been all great stories now you can read mine I have been waiting since 2006 for my claim that is under appeal when i called the state i filled in they told me it can take up to 100 years if they wanted to also Have also filed claim in 2005, 2010,and 2011 and still have not heard anything except we lost your file again and they said this 3 times

  4. Stewart Clark June 6, 2013 at 12:12 am

    I feel everyones pain. The VA is not your friend PERIOD. I have been retired for 11 years now and have been fighting with VA for 10 of them. I am now at 40%. I have had major back surgery and 2x Knee surgeries (on the same knee). I have been in the appeal process now for 2 years and am being told the VA center in New Orleans is 2 years behind. My last appointment for my back and nerve damage in my left leg caused by the ruptured disk was a train wreck. Dr put on my claim nerve damage was in my right leg. Well my left leg was on the Dr’s right as she was talking to me…go figure don t know left from right. The truth of the matter is the VA is full of SH** they dont care about the vets. As long as they get there money the hell with the rest of us. I am a member of the DAV and have been for years but the more time goes by the less faith I have in the organization….it sucks and I am trying to be patient but its getting harder everytime I speak to any of those morons….thats my vent and it my opinion and you know how those are.

  5. Al Rucker June 5, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    I submitted my claim for an increase in May 2010….In June 2012 I got denied. Reading what was required for the increase it was in my records, so I submitted a reconsideration in August 2012….In January I was sent for an exam and it was completed and sent to Winston Regional Office in January. I requested evidence has been in Winston since January 2012. I filed a temporary 100% because of surgery for this same issue. It was reviewed in January, but now cant be found in the system, so I had my VSO to resubmit….so I have little faith any change anytime soon…..

  6. Malik June 4, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    What a joke! I have been waiting for an appeal hearing (video) since 2007.

  7. GEORGE WALSH June 3, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    same old story just different people. i filled my first claim in 1986. i received a whole bunch of s**t as to why i didnot exsist but the sent me a copy of a honorable discharge.nothing ever become of my claim so i gave up i was told by a va rep to refile so i did in 2009. six months later i was told they had no claim. now i am pi**ed of i file again. 2012 i get turned down NO PROOF i cant help it if my records got burned up. i got hurt in the line of duty in the far east while i was getting shot at. all my medical records are with my va doctors. cant they read. va put my legs in braces,facial cancer from the original agent orang in 53 and i have had ptsd for 58 years when no one new what was wrong with me. best meds in the world alchol. this is a shame they treat us like we dont matter and we dont. good luck to all of you . iam in my appeal 18 months. i hope every one gets a good break and get what you deserve. god bless the veteren

  8. Ret SFC Diaz June 3, 2013 at 11:41 am

    It is demoralizing not only to read about other military brothers and sisters situations, but realizing that my own, is not so much different from theirs. I am currently waiting for my almost 100% compensation be finalized after been medical separated from the service. With ALL my savings deployed, 3 daughters under 15 years old, and a mortgage and a car payment in red that will permanently damage my wife and self credit, is not a pretty sight. For those who are reading these comments and are effected by this enormous VA backlog, please let know to the VA leadership to include the Honorable Ret Gen Shinseki, that we, the Veterans of this Great Nation, more than ever are in need of an urgent resolution of this situation. In times were the IRS spent over $50 Millions in a period of two years, related to funding of employees’ social gatherings, it is embarrassing, hurtful, disgraceful, and ludacris to belive that those economic resources can’t be use to pay personnel to process the current VA backlog.
    All this does bring memories of a good old Army song:
    “They say that in the Army the pay is mighty fine (WHO SAID THAT $#!@)
    They give you a hundred dollars and take back ninety-nine…

    Sometimes not even humor can make you laugh of your realities…
    Please help.

  9. shirley ledsinger June 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    has anyone heard of a veteran getting the sixty day experidated claim process? since i have been wating years and i mean years for the appeal process. my deseased husband claim was certified on april 17 2013. how long will it take to get to the bva? has anyone asked for information under the foia? i asked for information from the oakland va office for the dates jan 4,2008 through jan 9 2008. gave me back they very information charity had asked for on jan 4, 2008 to give him the earlier start date and chroncicity. the oakland office changed there mind on the eighth of january but he did get 100% disability. we filed an appeal for the earlier start date and chroncicity and i wanted the e mails, notes, telephone recording on that date that mention larry’s claim. go the middle finger, again.l but again has anyone had the expediated, 60 day claim process for cases older than two years.

  10. steven harrie June 2, 2013 at 9:58 am

    I got a call Saturday june 1 2013-about my two appeal which will be over 7oo days old this month-I was told because my appeals did not meet the 700 day mark my case which was ready for rating would be moved back to septmber.the statement I read below say a year.So by moving me under the 700 days it look like they have processed more cases” can you say cooked the books”.

    From VA’s Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey, on Friday:

    Effective today, every regional office will begin implementing an initiative to ensure that those who have been waiting a year or more for their compensation claim receive a decision quickly. VA raters will make provisional decisions on the oldest claims in inventory, which will allow Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly, if eligible.

  11. Pat May 31, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Keep waiting, the Senate nor Congress really care, unless your an Afganistan/Iraq Vet., then they go to the head of the line.

  12. Mr. Magot May 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    One of the biggest problems is the elected congressman and senator, they are the real blame. They actually require that the VA deny all claims the first time, the claims board sent me a letter saying so. The other problem is the VA employees themselves, they have never nor would never serve, even if the country was overrun… I have even been priv to a VA employee commenting that there was nothing wrong with us veterans, that we just wanted more money. Well for her statement to be true, the doctors at the VA, Loma Linda would all have to not know what they are doing & mis-diagnosed us. The other thing is the employees are angry because they did not get a pay raise but the veterans got a increase in their pay. what is actually needed is to start firing some senators and congressmans.

  13. Ray Guiden May 30, 2013 at 9:59 am

    600,000 claim backlog in 1993 with the warning things will get worse. 900,000 claim backlog in 2012 ……. guess what, it got worse ! THIS is all going to be cleared up in 2 years ?!? It took 20 years to get there …….. lofty goals, I’ll say ……….

  14. Keith Smith May 30, 2013 at 3:31 am

    Here is how the V.A. clears up a back log after a 2 year wait… DENIED! DENIED! DENIED! They want you to die before you get help. VSO are not much better. Leave Ya hangin.

  15. BaDonkaStonk May 29, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    C&P Claim in works since November 2011.

    Temporary 100% due to service connection surgery still pending after 9 months

    Claim sent back for ‘further review’. Further review in VA terms means the VA lost my entire 16 year claim file and has to somehow rebuild the entire claim file.

    80% disabled veteran with numerous new claims that may take percentage to 95 for a rating of 100% and then the VA looses all my claim files………

  16. Ms. Sutton May 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    I was told that claims over two years was supposed to be complete with rating before 19 June 2013 because the representatives were mandated to do so. Have anyone else heard this news. I have been waiting for over a year and a rep told me that she had everything she needed and that was 15 May 2013 and my claim was to be done fairly soon but, I don’t believe any of this because all my of supporting documents have been turned in over 8 months ago. What is the real deal?

  17. Ray Guiden May 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Well apparently my last comment hit a nerve as it was deleted completely ……. so much for hearing the truth !

  18. Ray Guiden May 29, 2013 at 11:02 am

    This backlog has been going on and GROWING for the past 20+ years. What makes the VA think that no matter who the “partner with” it is going to eliminate 800,000 claims ?

  19. Hooter May 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Never filed my claim…
    The backlog, the wait…
    Why bother….

  20. Randy-Vets Counselor May 28, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    The VA has a orm thata you can take to your private physician called a Disability Benefits Questionairre or DBQ. I have attached a link to the webpage. I cannot promise this will help but it may.

  21. Richard Brown May 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    I lost 90% of nt hearing in my left ear , and 55% of the hearing in my right ear im 2001 Now im still fighting the the Venom, Admistration for medical nefligence for 6 days before i was able to see a Dr. after i had an upper respitoral bacterial infection .And Yes i was a resident at White City Dom . Even the treating Dr. wrote in his notes PROBABLE BACTERIAL COMPONET . And to this day my claim hasnt been awarded yet . Oh thanks V.A. for treating like the Government of North korea TREATS THERE citizens . To All Vets who have claims Please Please call your state reps , congress , and senators . Thanks Richard Brow .

  22. Dr David May 26, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Interesting, must be why my claim is at 20 months, and still under review for 20 months.

  23. Shawn May 23, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    I still have a appeal claim that is in the process that was filed in Jan 2011 and when I called about it yesterday they told me that it was backlogged and they are currently working case from June of 2010 then hung up on me.

  24. floyd stowe May 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    That’s great for new claims what about those of us that have been waiting two years or more? they say the avrage claim take ten months to process what a joke there are some of us out here that need the help now not ten moths or years later adress that clear that up then you can say you made a change that means something.

  25. Frederick A. Butler May 23, 2013 at 8:32 am

    What the V.A. needs to work on is the appeal system. I have a case in there that’s over 9 years and if theres a new claim filed the appeal is placed on the back burner until the new claim is settled. Also need to clean up the Detroit Office where the employee don’t care and are rude to the Vet’s.

  26. robert middleton May 22, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    i agree with the decision to speed up the backlog within the Regional Offices, but I called the Board of Veterans Appeals to check the status of my claim, which has been with the Board waiting for a decision from the Judge for over two years. I was informed that the process is only within the Regional Office, it has no effect within the Board of Appeals. I was reduced in March of 2010, my appeal has been with the board since 2011. What can you do to speed that up? By the way reducing and denying VA benefits is not the answer as you should see. Especially in Pittsburgh, where they have a high rate of reductions,denials and complaints. I think allowing reductions to Veterans with PTSD is as smart as spitting in the wind. It does not make sense. What can be more traumatizing than loosing income or benefits you fight to earn and protect? How do you even justify that? what are you going to do about the Board of Appeals and their process for speeding up the backlog problem.. when am I going to get my DECISION?

  27. Susan Fillippeli May 22, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    You keep saying that you are working to reduce the backlog, but my 86 year-old father has been waiting for more than 9 months on a fiduciary appointment for his Aid & Attendance. When I call the Philidelphia office to find out what is going on they (1) deny the request has been filed. After I point out I can see the paperwork reciept on eBenefits they suddently find it, and then (2) they tell me how backlogged they are and they don’t know when they can get to it. It is pretty clear the paperwork for the fiducuary office is still sitting in Philidelphia and no one has bothered to even look at it.

    My father servied in WWII and Korea and never said “I’m too busy” when his country needed him. Everyone at the VA should be ashamed.

    • shirley ledsinger May 28, 2013 at 11:26 pm

      my husband’s aid and attendance was denied in 2008. he was told by the rating board that he had came home from the hospital on the 18th of september 2007 and went to bed voluntary. on the 18th, he was transferred from one hospital to another where he underwent spinal surgery in october from osteomylitis in his spine. had liver failure, kidney failure and was unable to heal in a timely manner. he was discharged in november 2007. he then spend a total of eleven months on total bedrest. no standing what so every. i had to leave my job to take care of him. he could not be left alone. the doctors filled out the paperwork for the va but again, he was told in 2008 that he went to bed voluntary. i want the veterans dream act where the presdient signs a proclamation that gives veterans who are awaiting bva or claims oldr than a year the beneftis.if there is a bit of proof for the case. if he can do it for all the illegals to stay in the country (that will cost a least a trillion dollars) he should do it for the veterans who have been caught up in this process for years. does anyone beside me see a connect between the irs asking for tons of paperwork and the va asking for the same amount of paperwork. just over and over again. the irs people are complaining about three years of waiting for approval. some of us have been wating decades.

  28. John Bullock May 22, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    They said their In partnership with the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans( DAV ).
    The VA will ramp up its “Fully Developed Claims” output in an effort “to cut down” on the backlog.
    They say The Thought of The FDCs—claims with all the necessary evidence can be processed in half the time a normal claims, with better accuracy is a key part of the solution.
    Simply submit all required records and documentation at the time they make their claim and ” certify that they have no further evidence “. The VA can then review and process the claim more quickly.
    The Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program is an optional new initiative that offers Veterans, Servicemembers and survivors faster decisions from VA on compensation, pension, and survivor benefit claims.

    A Fact: The VA is guaranteed to Deny or give the Lowest Rating Decisions Possible.

    The Con: As the Saying Goes ! ” A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing ” In the partnership with the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans( DAV ). The deception is to have the Disable Veterans to Sign away their Right that guaranteed no Challenge of theirDecisions.
    So basically it is the same as a “Normal Claim”, But with a guaranteed of no Challenge of their Decisions, with the help of The American Legion and Disabled American Veterans( DAV ).

    • Pat May 31, 2013 at 11:25 am

      Its an attack by the Democrates to keep us fm getting a fair shake

  29. jeff burum May 22, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Need to extend to qualified County and State VSOs too asap!

  30. Jose A. Davila-Richards May 22, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I suggest inorder to reduce the 600+000 claims backlog that MSA/PSA’s from the VAMC’s be provided Overtime due to many MSA/PSA’s are familiar with the system (submission of claims, recons, board of appeals.)
    Another benefit to the VA would be saving costs by less training time and financial long term compensation simply by paying overtime and no long term benefits with new employees. This additional compensation would benefit lower wage employees which have not received a payraise, within grade increase and or bonus for three years now.

    Lastly great idea of adding Veteran Service Officers from various Service Organizations(DAV) to the Adjudication team.

    • Jose A. Davila-Richards May 22, 2013 at 10:43 am

      Many personnel have been hired to augment the Adjudication teams within the RO’s and unfortunately upon their mandatory 1-2 yr training cycle transfer to a higher graded position due to being locked at the GS07 grade. Thus their training cycle was lost. Suggest having a Pay Band from GS07-10 for claims adjudicators inorder to keep them with bonuses provided to staff which exceed yearly adjudication goals. Implementation of a pay band and bonuses to the adjudicators which are under much stress will alleviate not only the turnover but reduce the backlog as well.

  31. richard pope May 22, 2013 at 10:14 am


    • Richard Brown May 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      To Richard Pope ,You must have been living under a rock for the last 50 years .

  32. William Galvan May 22, 2013 at 9:46 am

    The Rocky Mountain Veterans Village Foundation is teaming with VFW, American Legion, DAV and American GI Forum to assist veterans in learning and gaining their VA benefits and working with VSOs everywhere to do all possible to reduce the backlog.

  33. Malcolm Harry May 22, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I have a issue with this. VA reopen and close my claim the same day causing me to file NOD and loosing my Original claim date. Where was my VSO? All show and no go.

  34. shirley ledsinger May 22, 2013 at 2:06 am

    you can send in a fully developed claim with the evidence of blood tests, cat scans, biopsys, doctor notes and x rays. been there and done that. on jan 4, 2008 the dept of veterans affairs, ca office called larry to tell him he won the case for chroncicity and earlier start date based on the evidence. on jan 8, 2008 he was told the could have100% d isability from august 2007 if he dropped the claim for earlier start date and chroncicity. if he didn’t, he would have a three to five year fight. he took the deal and appealed for the earlier start date and chroncicity. if was certified appeal as of april 17, 2013. the dept of veterans affairs blackmailed a very sick vet into taking the disability because he didn’t know if he had the time. he didn’t. so you can send a fully developed case to the dept of veterans affairs but they do what they want. then to add insult, he appied for aid and attendance and was denied . told he went to bed voluntary. he had kidney failure, spinal surgery, liver failure and was on a year of total bedrest. that included shots of blood thinner daily, bedpans and bedbaths. sitting only at a 45 degree in a wheelchair where he had to wear a ridgeline cast that he had to be rolled into. so don’t believe them when they say a fully devoleped case will be taken care of immediately.. DOESN”T HAPPEN.

  35. Teresa May 21, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    I think we should have the veterans complete the examination required by the VA prior to them separating from active duty. Because this has been the longest part of getting claims processed, it takes about 2 months or more to get an appointment and by the time the claim is processed it is at the 2 year mark.

  36. maurice scott May 21, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Im taking another route, because my issues isnt as new as backlog but as old as the va destroying records, then claiming harm to. veterans.
    Its time for individual accountability in Columbia, sc. So its on to Rachel Meadows to expose those who harm us.

  37. Bill Prevatt May 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Now what I don’t get is why would VA once again create mandatory overtime for folks when it didn’t work the last time? Something truly has to give people. I have been waiting 14.5 years for mine. Found out that my claim was just sitting in the Winston-Salem Regional Office when it should have been in the Nashville RO. I also know for a fact that the staff who works on appeals don’t care because it has nothing to do with them. So making mandatory overtime something of importance, your wasting your time. You actually think that those that are going to be working will care even more? Guess again. If nothing else it will make them hate things even more. If this works, then I will eat my own words. I am sure that someone from the blog which will be someone that is qualified will try to justify this but let me say don’t waste your time. No Veteran should have to wait this long, let it be for a claim or an appeal.

    • james June 1, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      I agree and I wish Nashville would quit denying presumptive issues for agent orange and gulf War veterans

  38. Ron Davis May 21, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been waiting over two years for my claim to be reviewed. The administration division of the VA disputes the evidence given by the doctors at the VA hospital. I have sat in a VA office and watched VA employees play on-line games while people wait their turn to speak to someone. I really question how much the VA and the president cares about veterans.

  39. Todd Glisan May 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    I put in my Va Claim June 26, 2012 and still in Claims Received in Chicago IL. How soon will my Claims be finished?

    • Pat May 31, 2013 at 11:20 am

      I filed my 2nd claim, back in 2008, have gone to the BVA level, with it sent back to the Balt. RO, and I’m still at the bottom of the list. Mr. Harris nor either of my senators really care.

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