Huge VA disability backlog frustrates local veterans

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SEATTLE — A new report shows disabled veterans are waiting a year or longer to have their medical claims processed, something that is causing veterans around Seattle plenty of grief.

The new report from the Center for Investigative Reporting shows the average wait for veterans nationwide is 273 days to get their benefits. In Seattle, it takes vets 323 days. And in New York City, it can take vets up to 600 days to see their promised benefits come in. Overall claims have jumped nearly 50 percent.

For disabled veterans like John Robert Morgan, a Vietnam Veteran living in Seattle, waiting about two-and-a-half years for his most recent claim to come through is unacceptable.

“Oh, it’s stressful,” Morgan said. “You think everything’s going to go smoothly. You have your health issues. That’s enough to worry about.”

Nearly 25,000 vets in the Seattle are waiting for their benefits in a backlog that, the report says, has tripled since 2010. Greg Kotanchick, the assistant supervisor of Seattle Disabled American veterans, waited four years for his own VA claim to go through following his service in the Persian Gulf.

veteransKotanchick said part of the problem is a newly launched electronic record system that’s taking time to get on track.

“They have to realign their resources and things that that which has caused a little bit of a slowdown, but at the end of the day it’s going to be a much better program,” Kotanchick said.

The VA hopes it will be able to get rid of the two-year backlog in about 90 days once all systems are running at full speed. Morgan said he’ll wait to see it before he becomes a believer.

“They’re just overwhelmed with the number of veterans they’re trying to treat,”” Morgan said.

For more information on disablity payouts and veterans affairs, head to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

From Brian Callanan 

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14 comments

  • Tony

    I have been fighting the VA for my claims since 1997 and they are ate up like a Capbell Soup Sandwich!! They need much more than a "overhaul" …. they need to fire some of those lazy people they have working for them and get some people in there that want to do a good job for us veterans. We gave our all for this country and this is the payback we get …..

  • Anonymous

    I have been waiting since 2007, after two screw up by their contracted medical facility, QTC Medical. It took real doctors from VA Puget Sound to finally see what I was having problems with, while QTC Medical twice said nothing was wrong, but then again they were using equipment held together by duct tape and scoth tape.

  • Larry R. Ghoston

    I;m having the same problems here in Jackson ,Ms VA. I have been filing claims since 2003 for service connected disability. All of my injuries occured during my military career, and clearly documented in my military service medical record. I've been told my injuries are not service connected. To make a long story short. I was basicly told, there's nothing the VA can do about my injuries.

  • GJMama

    This is pathetic. Wait til universal health care comes in. The Medical wait backlog will be horrendous. Who needs death panels when all they have to to is make you wait a year, or two in some cases to determine that you have a problem?

  • vagrant 45

    Vietnam veteran filed claim with seattle office of VA certified mail with medical proof for agent orange related presumtive medical issue. went to VA required medical exam QTC in tacoma. I have been waiting 499 days today for a answer on my claim. So when seattle claims the average wait is 323 days I have my doubts. I do understand they are doing the best they can, however it is still frustating.

  • Jeffrey Castaline

    I've been waiting for 4 years for my C&P, and in the new review they've sent me back to doctors to redo the same treatments with the same pharmaceuticals that we'd tried and discarded almost 15 years ago. I find it ironic this article appears now, 2 days after I sent the VA and my Congresswoman letters telling them that I give up. I'm too old, sick and tired to keep running to the VA at their beck and call like I ran around the jungles of Southeast Asia. I asked them to leave me be and let me die in peace.

  • russell smith

    Wata load! I filed April 2010 VA QTC sends me to a Dr twice that was no show then to another with no records and not a medical doctor then to audiologist that didnt exist 3 years now and an appeal. Backlog is JAFE Just Another Fing Excuse VA is here to screen you OUT not screen you IN. check my youtube channel "my army veteran story" russelljds on youtube.

  • Gretchen reinhardt

    Only two years; I should have been so lucky. All in all; it took 13 years for my claim to go all the way thru. I'm a female Nam era veteran.

  • Orion2855

    I have been waiting for a little over three and one half years here in Denver for an appeal, they tell me it will be another 12 – 15 month's for payment IF I am approved.
    Once approved it takes about 8 month's to see one of their doctors, then another 6 month's before any money is seen and they only back pay you from the time you are seen by the doctor.
    This means 1.5 years from the initial claim and 3.5 years from the time the appeal was filed is lost time that I won't be compensated plus 8 more month's waiting to see one of their doctors.
    That is 5 years and 8 month's of lost or dead time, my opinion is I should be compensated from at least the time I filed the appeal.

  • bennett754

    As a michigan vietnam veteran currently been waiting 340 days for va detroit decision on my claim. It has been one delay after another since my discharge 1n 1970. The government has turned there backs on us. All veterans deserve better. This is a disgrace our men and women going through this. Imagine our warehouses are filled with our records. They keep seeing backlog is improving. "where". we fight for our country, we die,we live with pain, we have no rights only waiting and waiting. Imagine vietnam veteran waits 35 years for records to be allowed to apply for benefits.we die before collecting. Is this justice???