(NewsNation) — About 32,000 veterans have had disability claims submitted through the Veterans Affairs website delayed because of a technical issue.
A spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs told NewsNation that some of these claims go back to 2018.
“Specifically, these claims were not automatically routed for processing once submitted, leading to a delay for these veterans,” Terrence Hayes, VA press secretary, said in an emailed statement to NewsNation.
Claims were delayed after a technical issue with the integration of two systems on the VA.gov website. Hayes said this affected about one-half of 1% of all claims submitted.
According to Hayes, the Department of Veterans Affairs implemented a solution in February “shortly after” the issue was discovered.
Military.com, which first reported on this story, said that affected veterans began receiving letters this month notifying them that their claims may not have been reviewed.
In the letters, according to Military.com, the Department of Veterans Affairs wrote that it was conducting a thorough review and that the veterans themselves did not need to take any action.
They were advised to pay attention to their mail for more information, Military.com reported.
Hayes said the VA has identified all the affected veterans, and their claims are being processed. Once veterans were identified, the Department of Veterans Affairs worked on a new way to take these delayed claims and transfer them to the correct system for processing.
“We are processing these claims with the utmost urgency, and we will ensure that the effective date for every one of these veterans is preserved,” Hayes said. That means if the claims are granted, the benefits a veteran received will be backdated to the original date they filed it, or sooner, if applicable by law.
“We deeply apologize to these veterans for the delay, and we will ensure they receive the benefits they’ve earned as quickly as possible,” Hayes said. “We will also continue to review our technology, processes and systems to prevent such technical issues from impacting veterans in the future.”
This includes creating new operational and technological measures to flag delayed claims as soon as they are not processed correctly, Hayes said.
More than 1.7 million disability compensation and pension claims were processed in 2022. The number of pending claims was 1,043,961 in early August, according to Military.com. Of these, 274,148 are older than 125 days.
Aging information technology infrastructure has long plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs, Military.com wrote. In its 2024 fiscal year budget request, the VA is proposing $6.4 billion for the Office of Information Technology to continue to upgrade this infrastructure and $1.9 billion to convert to a new electronic health records system, according to the outlet.