At a forum on Monday, California veterans criticized the Oakland office of the Department of Veterans Affairs for its major backlog in claims processing, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The office -- which serves an area from Kern County to the Oregon border -- has the second-largest case backlog of any VA regional office in the nation, after Seattle.
Details of Claims Issues
Veterans whose disability claims are processed at the Oakland VA office wait an average of 320 days to find out whether they are eligible to receive assistance, compared with an average of 241 days at the other 56 regional VA offices, according to the office of U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).
In addition, nearly 40% of all disability claims reviewed in an audit of the Oakland office were processed incorrectly.
When VA audited the Oakland office in January, the agency's goal was to have 92% accuracy in claims processing. However, the office had an 80% accuracy rating for compensation-related decisions, according to the report.
About 34,000 cases in the Oakland office still are pending.
Speier said that the backlog is so severe that new claims from veterans in Central and Northern California are being sent to VA offices in Nebraska and Oklahoma to be processed.
At the forum, VA Western Regional Director Willie Clark apologized for the delays, but defended his agency.
Clark said the agency's goal for 2015 is "no claim pending over 125 days with a 98% accuracy rate" (La Ganga, Los Angeles Times, 5/22).