Proving VA claims creating process bottleneck

By Tom Philpott

In the last decade, the Department of Veterans Affairs has doubled the number of disability claim processors on staff, and yet the average time to process a claim has climbed during that period from four months to six.

From January 2007 through June 2008, as VA added 2,700 claim processors to its inventory of 8,000, the average time to process a claim still fell unimpressively, from 183 days to 181.

“Something’s going on here that isn’t right, that needs to be fixed. I don’t know what the hell it is,” said a frustrated Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., during a hearing last week of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

“In the 1990s you were at 120 days” to process a claim.