If the VA rules against a veteran, it gets worse: The average time to process an appeal is 657 days.
VA officials have all sorts of excuses for the delays — of course. When have you ever known government not to have an excuse for bureaucratic inefficiency?
According to the VA, one reason it takes longer to process disability claims by veterans is that the agency needs to determine whether the claims are related to service in the military. The VA quite properly doesn’t want to award disability payments to someone whose claim stems from an injury or illness in civilian life.
Compounding the problem is the fact that VA and Defense Department computers apparently are not compatible. Records from the Defense Department actually have to be delivered by hand to the VA, according to the agency.
VA officials say they are taking steps to reduce the waiting time involved in processing disability claims. We hope so — but we, like many veterans who have had to seek VA assistance, will believe it when we see it.
The VA needs to do better — a lot better in a variety of its activities, ranging from processing of claims to operations at its clinics and hospitals. Veterans who have served their country, sometimes sent into overseas combat zones with just a few weeks’ notice, have a right to expect that the VA will put more emphasis on serving them. And we, the Americans served by those veterans, should join in demanding improvements.