According to the Center for Investigative Reporting (cironline.org; 3/11/13), the average wait time for VA claims to go through is 273 days, but veterans filing their first claim wait an average of between 316 and 327 days. Meanwhile, those who file in large cities, such as New York or Los Angeles, wait more than 600 days for their claim.
Furthermore, the number of veterans who wait more than a year for their benefits has dramatically increased, from 11,000 in 2009 to 245,000 in December 2012. While veterans await their claims, they may experience financial hardship, including difficulty paying their household and medical bills. The Center for Investigative Reporting notes that 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and some report a feeling of hopelessness over their financial situation as causing depression and stress.
For its part, Veterans Affairs has said its goal is to resolve all claims within four months by 2015. One issue leading to the backlog is an increase in the number of claims filed, a spokesperson for the VA said. According to CNN (3/13/13), in 2001, the VA completed nearly 500,000 claims. In the past three years, the VA has completed 1 million claims each year.
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One whistleblower alleged the medical center did not tell patients about problems with their x-rays and CT scans, including missed diagnoses of fatal diseases. Another alleged nurse practitioners were prescribing medication without proper licenses.
The VA responded by saying it had opened investigations into the complaints. The medical center has reportedly addressed some of the concerns.