Thousands of disability claims in limbo at the VA
Veterans gather at a Purple Heart ceremony at Walter Reed Army Medical Center May 18, 2007 in Washington, DC.
The Veterans Affairs Administration is being pounded over scandalous delays for veterans seeking health care.
Now comes a new concern about tens of thousands of veterans' disability claims that are going nowhere; possibly the result of the agency shifting its claims process online.
About a year and a half ago, the VA launched a web portal for submitting disability claims. Since then, vets have initiated nearly 450,000 claims electronically. But about 300,000 claims have sat idle. Some have even expired.
Once applicants start a claim, they have a year to wrap it up.
"What we worry about is that some of these people, having started a claim, may be thinking they've submitted something to the VA, and the VA is just taking their time to take action on it, when in fact they haven't completed the application process," says Gerald Manar, Deputy Director of the National Veterans Service with the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Disability payments can range from about $100 a month to several thousand dollars a month.
Robert Reynolds directs the benefits assistance service with the VA. He says the agency made a big push to move the whole claims system online. Vets may be confused about the process.
"This is a huge transformational business change," Reynolds says.
Reynolds says the VA is meeting with veterans service organizations to figure out who opened disability claims online and needs help finishing them.