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VA Claim Backlog
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office in Los Angeles
and a majority of other Regional Offices throughout the United States have a
serious and unprecedented backlog of claims. As of April of this year, the
Los Angeles Regional Office had a backlog of 12,800+ claims pending and
3,100+ pending appeals. Nationally, the VA had 512,700+ claims pending and
90,800+ pending appeals.
The average new claim processing time appears to be 12 to 18 months
while appeals may take several years. This backlog is frustrating
and unacceptable to all concerned, especially to our veterans and their
The reasons for this backlog are numerous, complex, and in all fairness to
the VA, beyond their immediate control. The VA, however, is working hard to
correct the problem.
There are many claims related issues that the VA must resolve, such as
documentation, evidence, and procedures, which must follow federal law and
regulation, and must be determined before the VA can make a decision on your
claim. These requirements vary depending on the nature of the claim. Please
review the reverse side of this fact sheet for additional information.
Status Requests for Pending Claims
In order to reduce unnecessary demands on the VA staff processing your
claim, our Director, Bill Moseley, has instructed our staff not to check on
claims until at least six months has passed from the date the claim was
Frequent checking on the status of a claim prevents the VA from doing their
job. Our staff will continue to verify that your claim has been received by
the VA and is being processed.
If you still desire a status request before six months, you may call the VA
toll free at 1-800-827-1000, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
NOTE: If you call the VA, you will get a telephone counselor. The
information that they give you is what is currently available in their
computer system. Because of their backlog, this information may not reflect
recently submitted claims. Please be patient, but feel free to contact our
staff if you have any concerns or questions regarding the submission of your
The Purpose of a County Veterans Service Office
You have filed a claim for veteransí benefits through the San Bernardino
County Department of Veterans Affairs. We are not employees of the
Federal Government. We are a County Veterans Service Office (CVSO)
and are here as an advocate for veterans and their families to assist them
in obtaining VA benefits. We will help you with determining potential
eligibility to benefits, completion of necessary forms, obtaining supporting
evidence, and if necessary, help you prepare an appeal.
What Can Be Done to Lessen the Claims Backlog And
Present the Best Claim to the VA?
Incomplete or inaccurate claims and a lack of
supporting evidence are major contributing factors to the nationwide claims
backlog. It usually takes longer for the VA to process an incomplete claim
than a well-documented claim.
Failure to submit requested records and information as well as failure to
attend required VA medical exams also contributes to the backlog, and
contributes to delayed or even denied claims. Although the VA has a duty to
assist in developing claims, this duty is limited, and ultimately, the
burden of proof is on the applicant.
What is Involved in the Claims Process
Your completed claim is submitted to the VA Regional Office that will
process and adjudicate your claim. The VA then reviews your claim. They may
request additional supporting information to help them decide all issues.
The VA may schedule a medical examination (C&P exam) if they feel itís
appropriate. The VA will try to obtain any VA medical records or military
service medical records needed to decide your claim. The VA will try to
obtain any private medical records that you mention in your claim. The VA
will adjudicate your claim and make a decision based on the evidence
available to them.
Our Commitment to You
We will provide you with accurate and comprehensive counseling concerning
the benefits available to you. We will help you complete and submit all
necessary claim forms. We will attempt to obtain evidence to support your
claim. This evidence may include medical or lay evidence. We will assist
with any follow-up action that is needed or requested by the VA. We will
actively cooperate with the veteransí service organization of your choice to
ensure adequate representation of
your claim during the VA decision process. We will manage your claim during
and after VA adjudication of your claim. We will review the VAís decision to
ensure you receive all benefits to which you are entitled. We will help you
research and write most appeals.
What We Can Not or Will Not Do
We can not pay for any records or other evidence. If a doctor or agency asks
for payment, our department does not
maintain funds for this purpose. We do not have control over your claim once
it has been submitted to the VA. We will not attempt to persuade the VA to
hasten the processing of your claim out of turn. As an advocate, we
not ask the VA to process one veteranís claim over another. We can not
change eligibility requirements, which have been determined by Congress and
must be administered by the VA. We will not knowingly submit false or
inaccurate information to the VA or other agencies.
Please bear in mind that there may be instances where we will not be
successful in obtaining certain benefits. This normally occurs because of a
lack of crucial evidence or a clientís ineligibility based on statutory
What You Can Do to Help with the Claims Process
You must become a partner with us in this process. In order to achieve the
goals mentioned above, we need your full cooperation with our staff. We can
not hope for a favorable decision without your full support. If the VA or
our office contacts you, please bring in all VA letters, and requested
evidence so we can fully assist you. This will help us better manage
your claim. If you submit information directly to the VA or through another
service organization without our knowledge, it may reduce our ability to
serve you and effectively manage your case.