The benefits backlog at Veterans Affairs is worse than leaders there have acknowledged, according to a new investigation from the department’s top watchdog.

In a report released Monday, the VA inspector general found tens of thousands of benefits cases omitted or ignored by department officials that “significantly understated the number of claims awaiting decisions for over 125 days.”

Investigators estimated that the reported backlog only covers about 79 percent of relevant cases, with a host of others misclassified, mistakenly excluded and, in some cases, only acknowledged as overdue after the files had finally been processed.

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