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October 21, 2021

VA Seeks to get Ahead of Surge in Backlogged Claims

On October 13, VA officials announced a plan to address the expected increase in backlogged claims. Backlogged claims for benefits are those that take longer than 125 days to approve or deny.  The plan has three steps: (1) hire and train 2,000 new employees to help with claims processing, (2) use funds provided by the American Rescue Plan for overtime pay, and (3) deploy resources requested in the FY 2022 budget to support presumptive processing of Agent Orange claims and for general Compensation and Pension claims processing.  As of October 11, more than 204,000 of 603,000 total claims were backlogged.  The VA anticipates this number to grow to around 260,000 by the end of October due to the new presumptive illnesses from Agent Orange, including Parkinsonism, bladder cancer, and hypothyroidism. VA Secretary Denis McDonough stated that the “VA is committed to ensuring timely access to benefits and services for all Veterans.  This includes making sure Veterans who may have experienced adverse health effects from military related exposures can get access to the benefits they need.” The hope is that this plan will be successful in reducing the backlog, eventually reducing the current backlog to 100,000 claims by April 2024.