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Government report: Work still needed to improve VA claims backlog

The Government Accountability Office says a lack of modernization "could slow VA's efforts to improve service to veterans."

WASHINGTON — The Veterans Benefits Administration provided more than $112 billion in disability benefits to about 5.6 million veterans and their families in Fiscal Year 2021. 

But, the agency has faced longstanding challenges managing claims workloads.

As of June 21, the total number of backlogged files (claims that have been pending for more than four months) was at more than 187,000.

That's down from 264,000 last fall, so, there has been some improvement.

"I think it's pretty impressive the numbers have come down as far as they are," said Steven Borden, the director of the Center for Military and Veterans Education at TCC.

"Now, that does not make it easier for somebody who is waiting," he said.

In a new report, the Government Accountability Office says the Veterans Affairs Department didn't always follow leading practices for effective reforms, like establishing goals and implementation plans.

Additionally, the GAO says the VA doesn't have a method for tracking and prioritizing its efforts.

The GAO concludes: "VA has made some progress in addressing our concerns, but we continue to identify problems with modernizing the program, which could slow VA's efforts to improve service to veterans."

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