October 2021 veterans disability benefits statistics report

October 2021 Veterans Disability Benefits Statistics Report

Let’s analyze the October 2021 veterans disability benefits statistics report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This report shows each month’s total outstanding applications for VA disability, pension, and survivor’s benefits. See what changed during the past 30 days and how the latest numbers may impact disabled veterans below.

October 2021 Veterans Disability Benefits Statistics: Claims Inventory Status

The October 2021 veterans disability benefits statistics report lists any claims still waiting on the VA’s disability rating or approval. On October 2, the claims inventory held 616,195 pending claims. Once more, this month’s report shows the highest VA claim numbers in nearly a decade:

  • As of October 2, 2021: 616,195
  • As of September 4, 2021: 607,710
  • Difference: +8,485
  • Daily churn: +424 claims

It’s less of a jump than we noted last month, but it’s still a large increase in such a short timeframe. That’s especially true when you consider that these reports don’t include appealed claims, which the VA tracks separately. Of course, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) says this may be due to increasingly complex claims submitted by disabled vets. According to the VBA, the number of individual disabling conditions listed on claims has doubled within the last five years. And during the past decade, the VBA says it received 3x as many VA claims listing 8+ specific medical problems.  

Regardless of how many issues you list on your VA disability claim, you could wait 4+ months for approval. We checked, and 41.4% of claims with 8+ conditions moved into the claims backlog. However, 41.5% of claims with no more than 7 conditions also got backlogged. In general, veterans or dependents most likely to receive VA claim approvals in less than four months include:

  • Supplemental claims requesting a higher VA rating due to hospitalization or surgery (94.7% receive approval within 125 days)
  • Supplemental VA pension claims (93.5% approved in less than 125 days)
  • Initial pension claims (92.1% approved in less than 125 days)
  • Requests for higher VA ratings or additional claimed conditions (75% approved within 125 days, on average)
  • Initial survivor’s benefit claims from surviving spouses, children, or parents (70.1% approved within 125 days)

October 2021 Veterans Disability Benefits Statistics: Claims Backlog Status

Any benefit claims more than 125 days old automatically transfer into the VA’s backlog category. While the overall inventory rose, backlogged claims fell significantly compared to last month’s report:

  • As of October 2, 2021: 205,389
  • As of September 4, 2021: 217,425
  • Difference: -12,036
  • Daily churn: -602 claims cleared from the backlog

Back in August, the VBA published a blog addressing the claims backlog’s recent growth. According to that post, three things account for the ongoing rise in backlogged VA benefits claims:

  1. Blue Water Navy Act of 2019. This law expanded the VA’s service definition requirements for veterans with Agent Orange exposure-related health issues. As a result, many more vets and their families may qualify for monthly VA disability compensation. October’s report shows 95% of Agent Orange-related claims take more than 125 days to process, on average.
  2. William M. Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act. Enacted in FY2021, this law added three new Agent Orange exposure-related conditions to the VA presumptive disability list. Vietnam vets and their dependents may now claim VA disability benefits for bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s disease. The VBA says this will add another 70,000 backlogged claims on October 24, 2021.
  3. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on collecting medical evidence via in-person exams. According to the VBA, 18+ months of pandemic-related processing delays accounted for at least 180,000 backlogged claims in August.

Internal reports show the VA makes mistakes on claims submitted by 1 in 10 veterans every year. This means you could potentially receive less in monthly benefits than you rightfully earned through honorable military service. Get the maximum benefit amount you deserve the first time you apply with help from a VA-accredited lawyer. Not sure you can afford a lawyer? All VA-accredited attorneys in our network offer free, no-obligation claim reviews and provide legal advice over the phone. They also work on contingency and won’t accept you as a client unless they think you qualify for compensation. That means you pay $0 for legal assistance if you don’t win. And if you win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!

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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.