A report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has confirmed that disabled veterans continue to face unreasonable delays in receiving benefits. According to the report, the average time to process a veteran’s disability claim is 272 days, an increase of 40 percent since 2011.
Every day approximately 53 veterans die while waiting for their benefits. The VA has a backlog of about 900,000 claims. Eric Shinseki, the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs, has said that the claims system will be improved significantly by 2015.
Although the VA has acknowledged that the average wait time is 272 days, the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) found that the wait can be two months longer for veterans filing their first claim for benefits, especially in major cities. According to VA internal data obtained by CIR, the wait time for first-time claimants is between 316 and 327 days. First-time claimants in New York City wait 642 days. In Los Angeles the wait is 619 days and in Chicago it is 542 days.
The number of veterans who wait longer than one year for benefits has increased from 11,000 in 2009 to 245,000 by the end of 2012.
The VA says that its goal is to resolve nearly all claims within a four month period, by the year 2015. However, the department projects that the number of veterans waiting for benefits will continue to grow in 2013, reaching more than one million.
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