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Vets wait to receive benefits while VA works to fix backlog issue

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Tens of thousands of Texas veterans are waiting to receive their benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA.

More then 68,000 disability claims are backlogged in Texas with the VA. According to the Texas Veterans Commission since January 2010 the total caseload in the state has more then doubled to 107,279 claims.

Why the backlog?

The executive director of the Texas Veterans Commission thinks a big reason is the VA operates in the world of snail mail.

"They really need to go to paperless claims. The process to file a claim and go thru the process is 50 years old and so that process needs to be paperless," said Thomas Palladino of Texas Veterans Commission.

He says the system isn't completely out of date. The VA is trying to modernize.

"One way they've updated is you can get forms online...but the V-A councilors still have to sign them, mail them, hand carry them, still mail them in and they hit the old fashioned way," said Palladino.

In an ideal situation a new vet might anticipate receiving benefits in maybe 3 months time. Now some vets might wait more then a year just to get an answer. Suffice to say, many returned vets aren't too pleased with the efficiency of the VA, something the Texas Veteran's Commission understands.

"They're under this cumbersome system at the mercy of the VA. It's a benefit they deserve. No one is trying to make sure they don't get it," said Palladino.

So the Texas Veterans Commission has hired an extra 34 people to work with the Houston and Waco VA Regional Centers to speed things up. They say more then 17,000 Texas vets and their families will receive their veteran's disability compensation and pension payments earlier than expected. But still, these efforts don't change the systemic issues at the VA.

"So the VA in the last five years has been promising to go paperless and this is the big issue at the VA level," said Palladino.

For its part the VA has said before different congressional committees that it plans to end all backlogs by 2015.

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