The Board of Veterans’ Appeals has struggled with backlogs in deciding disability claims for years. Recently, the Board has had additional challenges to attacking this backlog. Regional Office (RO) closures, limited access to medical records within the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and Veterans continuing to file new claims have all contributed to a buildup of claims.
Despite these challenges, the Board began to make a dent in this backlog last year. Digitizing claim files has increased claim processing speed. The VA also offered assistance to NARA by paying for additional employee overtime with COVID-19 relief funds.
Now, the VA must reconsider over 60,000 Blue Water Navy claims and three new Agent Orange presumptive conditions (bladder cancer, Parkinsonism, and hypothyroidism) mandated by Congress. While this is great news for Veterans, it will likely result in a short-term spike in cases.
In many cases, a compensation and pension (C&P) exam is ordered to help determine disability by either the RO or the Board. C&P exams used to be performed exclusively VA doctors. Currently, some C&P exams are done by contractors, typically civilian doctors that may or may not have proper training for VA cases. While this was intended to increase claim processing speed, some people have argued that it has led to a decrease in the quality of exams.
So is a backlog bad for Veterans? In most cases, yes. Veterans should not have to wait years for a decision on their claim. However, quality should not be sacrificed in exchange for processing speed. Every claim deserves proper work-up and consideration.
One way to ensure your case is properly considered is to hire an accredited VA disability attorney. If you have been denied by the VA and would like a free case evaluation, please contact Jodee Dietzenbach at 563-583-9101.