The plan was for the Department of Veterans Affairs to be caught up on the backlog of veterans’ claims by 2015. By then — it was hoped — all claims would be wrapped up within 125 days.
To track how the VA is doing, the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting has put together a self-updating map showing, via circles of varying sizes, the number of veterans awaiting resolution of their claims. Click on a circle, and the corresponding information appears below the map.
The numbers for certain big-circle areas show that they’re still struggling to get claims completed.
In St. Petersburg, Fla., there are 46,366 veterans waiting. Of those, 30,321 are past the 125-day mark, with the average wait time being 270 days.
Baltimore has 19,662 veterans waiting, and 16,472 have waited more than 125 days, with the average claim time running at 343 days.
Granted, in some of the high-population areas it might be said that the VA is overwhelmed: too many claims and too few workers. But not all areas have high population density. Some of the communities are downright small.
White River Junction, Vt. — As expected, this rural area doesn’t have many veterans. Specifically, it has 969 veterans awaiting claims. Why, then, are 589 of those veterans waiting an average of 239 days on their claims? Appeals average 1,084 days.
Then there’s little Fargo, N.D. — Of 1,066 veterans with claims, 292 of them have waited more than 125 days, and with the average wait time being 146 days. Appeals average 1,248 days — that’s almost three and a half years!
To see the stats on your regional office area, go online to cironline.org and click on “Returning Home to Battle,” then click on the backlog map.
Write to Freddy Groves in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475, or send email to column firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2012 King Features Synd. Inc.