Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) October 9, 2012 – While the official U.S. policy is to support disabled veterans with medical care, financial support and retraining, the support they receive is less than timely.
Veterans located in Northern California, for example, wait, on average, more than nine months for war-related disability claims filed with their regional VA office. Meanwhile, vets who live in Nebraska or North Dakota receive their benefits sooner than those who live in Atlanta, Chicago or New York. Geographic inequity has been found to be rampant in lower-populated areas, according to a report by The Bay Citizen and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
“Everyone agrees that we need to do a better job supporting our veterans when they return home,” says veterans disability lawyer James Fausone. “It’s no surprise that the entire system is painfully overloaded, but knowing that doesn’t help get disability support into the hands of our vets.”
On average, the Office of Veterans Affairs takes more than eight months to process a claim, and despite protestations of improved processes, a new $300 million computer system, and more than 3,000 claims processors hired in the past two years, the wait time is only increasing: The Bay Citizen reports it takes 50 percent longer to have a claim processed in 2012 than in 2011.
The new computer system has been placed in only four VA offices; claims are still on paper, in files, and must be handed from office to office and onto a claims representative’s desk to be processed. Meanwhile, veterans in both New York and North Texas are waiting, on average more than 12 months. An appeal filed on a denied claim, the report states, can take as long as three-and-one-half years for resolution.
While the VA has publicly pledged to process all backlogged claims by 2015, the number of vets waiting is only growing. As of the end of this July, there were more than 907,000 claims, with 832,000 individuals waiting on disability or survivor benefits, and thousands waiting on pension or GI Bill education benefits. The agency reports that new claims filed annually have increased by 48 percent, though the number of new claims representatives has increased by only 5 percent.
The Bay Citizen has posted an online interactive map to help vets find out the wait times in store for them, based on their location. The map information updates weekly and can be accessed at http://www.baycitizen.org/veterans/interactive/map-disabled-vets-stuck-backlog-limbo.
James G. Fausone is a Veterans disability attorney and Veterans attorney with Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC. To learn more or to contact a Veterans disability attorney or Veterans attorney call 1.800.693.4800 or visit http://www.legalhelpforveterans.com.
Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC
41700 West Six Mile Road, Suite 101
Northville, MI 48168
Toll Free Phone: 800.693.4800