AMVETS: WASHINGTON IS WORST FOR VET CLAIMS
The worst city in which to file a veterans’ benefits claim is Washington, where 63 percent of claims take longer than six months to resolve, according to a major VSO.
AmVets, a 60-year-old group that helps veterans with about 24,000 claims a year, says a survey has shown veterans in Fargo, N.D.; Boise, Idaho; and Providence, R.I., have the fastest service, with only 6 percent to 7 percent of claims taking longer than six months to resolve.
Washington may be the worst, but other major cities also are slow. In Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Montgomery, Ala., AmVets says about 40 percent of the claims take longer than six months to process. One reason for the differences is that the number of people assigned to process claims in some VA regions does not match the claims caseloads in those areas. For example, VA workers in Hartford, Conn., handle 92 cases a year, while workers in Augusta, Maine, handle 57 cases a year, AmVets officials said.
The Bush administration has proposed hiring 450 additional claims processors to try to reduce the backlog, but AmVets officials have warned that more people will not solve the problem and, unless the caseloads are more evenly spread, will not eliminate delays for some people. AmVets is pushing the idea of allowing electronic claims filing and other efforts to use technology to help process claims.
[Source: Navy Times, 20 April 2007]