The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is notorious for long delays in processing claims and handling requests across the different service departments for which it is responsible for handling benefits. There are several factors that contribute to this, as we shall see below.

Why Do Benefits Take So Long to Process?

Benefits processing - and a growing backlog of unprocessed cases - is generally attributed to the following.

Inefficient systems that have been in place since before 9/11 and mostly catered to peacetime veterans and veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and other military campaigns.

A sudden jump in the numbers of veterans, the issues they file claims and other communications for, and a lack of funding to ramp up administrative staff and tech systems to handle larger workloads.

A much wider range of evaluations, treatments, and assistance required by veterans across the board.

Many conditions such as PTSD and chemical burns that veterans suffer from during combat require very niche medical or clinical training that is not easily found amongst civilian populations, placing a considerable amount of strain on limited VA resources to treat these vets.

The sheer size of the United States and the geographic location of facilities limits how many vets each VA center can process claims for.

Looking at things from a macroeconomic perspective, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan overlapped with a global economic meltdown, the U.S. housing crash of 2008, and a slowing of the economy as a whole. The ripple effects of these events have spilled over to impact vets as well.

Enduring the Wait

A common yet unfortunate refrain heard in veterans’ circles when it comes to talking about VA disability decisions is “delay, deny, and die.” The fact of the matter is that the number of vets seeking benefits simply outnumbers the number of staff needed to manage cases and appeals. Conducting medical evaluations costs real money and real resources, and in the absence of either of these, processing times end up unnaturally prolonged.

Some argue that delays in the VA process help to perpetuate employment opportunities for the various staff involved in handling claims and that the suffering that veterans face while waiting is something that can be avoided. However, as outlined above, VA benefits delays are due to real factors. In fact, and the VA has initiated improvements, both in technology as well as in human resources, to address the issue of long wait times and a growing backlog of VA claims and appeals, and new data shows that VA benefits processing wait times have fallen considerably to just a little over three months per claim, so wait patiently and diligently follow up with your case until a final resolution is arrived at.

If you need legal help for veterans, seek professional guidance. There are many services available for people who need help with expediting claims and understanding the somewhat confusing landscape of VA benefits and appeals, but if you ask the right questions, you can find a true and dedicated office that will help with your claim.