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VA Backlog Growing Despite New Paperless Process

Why has the VA claim backlog grown from 76,000 cases in May 2016 to 101,000 cases this February despite a new paperless process that was supposed to speed claims decisions? At a recent hearing before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, Ronald S. Burke, Jr., the assistant deputy undersecretary for field operations, Veterans Benefits Administration, National Work Queue (NWQ), could not adequately explain the increase. But he seemed to blame the fact that NWQ was “a relatively new initiative.”

But Willie C. Clark, Sr., deputy undersecretary for field operations, VBA, tried to put a positive spin on the situation. According to, Clark testified that as a result of the system working more efficiently for veterans, “they submit more claims.”

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., chairman of the House Subcommittee, was not so easily satisfied. He appreciates the common-sense approach of a National Work Queue that “allows the VA to distribute its workload evenly across the nation to reduce waiting times for veterans who file claims for benefits.” But he wanted to know “whether NWQ is actually performing as it should.”

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., wondered if too many cooks might not be spoiling NWQ’s broth. Noting that NWQ allows up to six claims processors to be involved in a single claim, Rep. Esty said, “We need to reduce the number.”

Zachary Hearn, deputy director of claims in the National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division of the American Legion, observed that NWQ “has been credited with assisting in the reduction of the backlog that peaked at 611,073 claims in 2013.” But Mr. Hearn is concerned that the American Legion’s accredited representatives who assist veterans with claims at local offices are not kept fully informed when their cases are processed at another regional office, so they are unaware when a claim adjudicated elsewhere requires review.

At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, our accredited VA benefits attorneys know how important it is to work closely with veterans to resolve their claims. A system that works faster is only desirable if it produces the right result, and right results can only be achieved when the system works close to the veterans it serves. We hope the necessary adjustments can be made to NWQ to reduce the backlog and get our veterans the benefits they deserve.

Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban fights to help deserving veterans access the disability benefits they deserve.  If you have had your claim denied, call us from anywhere in the nation at 866-866-VETS or contact our office online.

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