.

Local Veterans Face 1 Year, 7 Month Wait for VA Benefits

As our armed forces come home from the Middle East, the Oakland Veterans Affairs benefits office is being stretched.

Average wait time at the Oakland Regional VA Office, which serves Santa Clara County. Credit: Center for Investigative Reporting
Average wait time at the Oakland Regional VA Office, which serves Santa Clara County. Credit: Center for Investigative Reporting
Our veterans are now facing a new enemy at home—long wait times for their disability claims.

The waiting times started increasing in 2010 when U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq causing a dramatic uptick in first-time filers, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The national average now stands at about eleven months, which is dramatically higher than in 2009 when it was four months.

The Oakland Regional Office, which serves Santa Clara County as an intake center, has one of the longest wait times in the nation. The current average wait time is 529 days, compared with 142 days in three years ago.

Only Los Angeles, at 588 days, is longer.

The Oakland VA wait time was improving after a high water mark of 502 days last fall. It dropped 100 days, to 402, before it began spiking again in April.

The backlog has partly been blamed on the VA still using paper to process their claims. In 2011, the Department started implementing a computerized system in several of its regional offices. However, despite spending $537 million on the new program and employing 3,300 claims processors, 97 percent of veterans’ claims are still on paper.

In addition, even though Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki pledged back in March that the VA will end the enormous backlog by 2015, they quietly backed off that promise in an email statement on Wednesday.

While Memorial Day, which is celebrated this Monday, is officially a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, in practice it's often a day to recognize living veterans locally. 

The data above was obtained by The Center for Investigative Reporting from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and is updated weekly. See more here.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something