The Minnesota VA is currently overwhelmed by its disability claims backlog, as efforts to reduce the paperwork pileup nationwide have failed.
According to The Associated Press, the Minnesota VA was one of the most efficient regional offices, with an above-average record of processing veterans disability claims. As a result, the Department of Veterans Affairs allocated 1,000 new claims to the Minnesota office as a way to alleviate several other regional offices that fell behind.
County veterans services directors told The St. Cloud Times that it's now taking the office around nine months to process the claims, when it previously took just 90 days. The news source reported that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki directed regional offices to focus on the claims that have been pending for more than a year. For many Minnesota veterans, that means their claims might be put on the back burner.
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken is currently working on legislation that would help lessen the backlog and improve the service for the state's veterans.
"The fundamental issue is making sure Minnesota veterans are getting the benefits they're entitled to as quickly as possible," Franken told The St. Cloud Times.
According to the VA, disability claims are supposed to be answered within 125 days. The VA issued a plan earlier this year to eliminate its entire backlog by 2015.