Local News

Vets play frustrating waiting game to get benefits

SPOKANE, Wash. - VA Benefits preview story

President Obama said Monday his administration will fight to make sure veterans just returning from war get the benefits they need. But, for many local vets, getting what they've earned has become a frustrating waiting game.

With the drawdown of our military forces and the end of 10 years at war, more veterans are filing benefit claims and the Veterans Benefit Administration is struggling to keep up.

Over the past four years the Department of Veterans Affairs completed 4.1 million claims but received 4.6 million new claims. Adding to that, a recent expansion of benefits which has added 940,000 more veterans to the compensation rolls.

Now the VA is focusing on completing oldest claims first to help fix this backlog.

"Some of the older claims were 18 months to two years but we are seeing claims actually coming back faster, depending on what's included. If there's missing paperwork then it's not going to work," Veteran Service Officer Gary Roach said.

The VA has a goal of completing all new claims in under 125 days by 2015; any claim pending longer than that is considered backlogged.

On Tuesday, KXLY4's Aaron Luna will look in-depth into what has caused the backlog of claims and what steps veterans can take to make sure future claims are processed as quickly as possible.