Report offers mixed results on tackling VA backlog in Nevada


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Report offers mixed results on tackling VA backlog in Nevada

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Feb 7, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A new progress report includes mixed results for Valley veterans who are frustrated waiting on their disability benefits.

Over the past year, many veterans have turned to Action News after waiting months or even years for an answer on their claims.

The Reno Regional Office handles claims for Nevada and has been under heavy scrutiny for its performance, especially from Rep. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas.

The average processing time for claims in Reno dropped 178 days for a new wait period of 165 days in fiscal year 2013, according to a letter from Department of Veterans Affairs Undersecretary Allison Hickey.

But the Reno office also sent nearly half of its 10,300 claims to other offices for processing last year, according to the Jan. 30, 2014, letter that Titus shared.

"It tells me something is wrong in the office," Titus said in an interview with Action News. "Whether it's management, it's training, whether it's commitment, we don't know but we want to fix it because our veterans deserve better service than that."

The news came as little surprise to Milan Parks, a U.S. Air Force veteran who now lives in North Las Vegas. Parks said he filed a disability claim in August, 2011, and waited more than two years for an answer.

"It makes me believe they don't have enough people to handle the workload that they have," Parks said.

The Reno Regional Office sent Action News a statement.

"We have more work to do but we’ve made strong progress," said management analyst Nathanian Miller, in part, in a statement. "The Reno Regional Office exceeded production targets for January 2014 and is confident this trend will continue throughout 2014."

The backlog is a nationwide problem, though Titus has called the performance at Reno among the worst in the nation. The latest numbers from February show more than 58-percent of claims nationwide are more than 125 days old. The VA has set a goal to clear the backlog by 2015.