The benefits backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs is worse than its officials have acknowledged, Military Times reported.
In a report released Monday, VA’s Office of Inspector General found tens of thousands of benefits cases omitted or ignored that “significantly understated the number of claims awaiting decisions for over 125 days.”
OIG investigators estimated the reported backlog only covers about 79 percent of relevant cases, with a host of others misclassified, mistakenly excluded and, in some cases, only acknowledged as overdue after the files had been processed, the military news outlet reported.
In its report, the OIG — citing a review of cases from the first six months of 2016 — said about 63,600 overdue cases that required ratings decisions were left out for unclear reasons and nearly 10,000 more were incorrectly recorded by staff.
In addition, the report found that while the average days pending for basic disability claims now sits at less than 90 days, more complex cases are taking more than 200 days to complete.
According to Military Times, VA officials said much of the claims backlog rules and oversight has remained unchanged since 2009, and officials are reviewing potential updates by the end of the year.
The backlog swelled to more than 611,000 in March 2013, and has hovered between 70,000 and 100,000 cases each week for most of the last three years, Military Times reported.
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