Of the 56 VA disability claims offices in the Untied States, the claims processing center in Waco, Texas, boasts the longest wait of all and the eighth highest error rate in the country. Currently, the average wait for a disability benefits decision out of the Waco VA claims office is 393 days – about a year and a month. At the same time, the disability claims office makes an error in 17.5 percent of cases – about one in five claims.
Texas has more veterans than any other state in the country except for California. It has two VA disability claims processing centers – one in Waco, which serves central Texas – and one in Houston.
Texas veterans who are waiting up to three years for their disability claims to process find themselves without financial support and without the other benefits and options that come with a disability rating. Some suffer even more physical and mental health problems as they cope with the stress of not having support, employment, food, or shelter.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is working to eliminate the backlog and lower the national error rate by unveiling a new training program for claims processors and by moving to a paperless claims processing system. However, the veterans’ disability claim backlog has continued to grow in recent months. Texas has also put effort into ending the backlog – the state recently set aside $1.5 million to hire dozens of new claims processors and to aggressively fight the backlog in 2013.
The national average veterans’ disability claims processing time is 254 days – 139 days shorter than at the Waco disability claims processing center.