The VA Backlog Problems Persist

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The Federal Savings Bank, an institution specialized in veteran loans, updates readers on the recent efforts of the VA to eliminate the backlog of disability claims.

VA and FHA home loans at The Federal Savings Bank

The Federal Savings Bank

An average VA employee processed 73 claims in 2012. In 1997, an average VA employee processed 137 claims.

The Federal Savings Bank has been informing its current lien holders that while the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs works to chip away at its backlog of disability claims, it has asked some disabled veterans to utilize claim preparers in an effort to reduce the backlog and waiting times.

According to Newsday, while the practice might alleviate the backlog of claims, veteran advocates claim the VA's request is evidence of the increased complexity of filling out a disability claim, and the paperwork-heavy process might leave veterans dependent on a third-party preparer. However, by using an independent accredited claims preparer - a service that is often free of charge from local veteran service organizations - the VA said filing errors that cause 700,000 backlog claims and delays of up to a year would be mitigated.

"Most veterans by nature are independent, can-do people, so the idea of having to seek assistance filling out paperwork adds another layer of frustration," Tireak Tulloch, a Long Island spokesman for national advocacy organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told Newsday. "It's like the IRS telling you you have to go to H&R Block if you want to get your money back."

According to Allison Hickey, the VA undersecretary for benefits, the VA strongly encourages veterans to work with appropriate service organizations like the American Legion to file fully developed claims.

The Persistent Backlog Problem
With the 20 hours of mandatory overtime approved for each VA claims processor each month drying up in September, some are worried the VA won't be able to meet its goal of completely processing the backlog by 2015. It appears the latest request from the VA encouraging veterans with combat-related disabilities to utilize accredited preparers to file claims is part of an "anything goes" strategy in reducing its backlog.

USA Today reported that nearly 500,000 claims are more than four months old. Despite hiring thousands of people to help process these claims, an average VA employee processed 73 claims in 2012. In 1997, an average VA employee processed 137 claims. The disparity and apparent lack in performance is attributed by the VA to the increasing complexity of the claims being submitted.

Using a Preparer
As reported by Newsday, stories of claims preparers destroying claims or never filing them has caused a number of problems. For instance, Joe Mylonas, a former Army staff sergeant, took the VA's recommendation and acquired the assistance of the Sweetwater County Veterans Services office to fill out his claim. However, the office never filed his claim.

It took nearly two years for Mylonas to finally get benefits for his service-related disability claims, but the VA did not make them retroactive to when he first filed the claim. The VA's reasoning was that, because preparers are not technically employed by the VA, they are not responsible for their actions - a convenient loophole for mishandled claims. All in all, Mylonas lost an estimated $16,000 due to the delay.

Contact The Federal Savings Bank, a veteran-owned bank, to discuss financing options for purchasing a home and see if you qualify for the VA home loan guaranty.

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