The backlog of pending Veterans Benefits Administration claims, as of March 21, 2009, had reached 700,917. Of these, 403,197 were rating cases. Since the end of 2004, when 321,458 rating cases were pending, the backlog has grown significantly.
Between 2006 and 2007, the number of pending ratings cases increased by about 14,000. Over 25 percent of the cases were pending for longer than 180 days. At the end of fiscal 2008, the average number of days to complete a claim from the date of receipt was 179, down 3.5 from the previous year.
Inadequate staffing levels, lack of continuing education, and increased pressure to make quick decisions result in an overall decrease in the quality of work. These are among the most common complaints raised by regional office employees interviewed by American Legion staff during regional office quality checks. It is unrealistic to expect VA, at its current staffing levels, to continue to process an ever-increasing workload while maintaining quality and timeliness.
The current wartime situation provides an excellent opportunity for VA to actively seek out returning veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, especially those with service-connected disabilities, for employment opportunities within VBA.