The tremendous backlog of VA disability claims has come under scrutiny in recent years. Thousands of applicants are waiting months and even years before their cases are reviewed.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, the federal agency in charge of administering disability benefits pertaining to veterans and their families known as the VA, indicates that they have taken measures to help reduce the timeframe veterans applying for disability benefits have to wait. Mandated overtime and priority for claims over one year were both implemented. The efforts are seemingly working, however a new problem has risen. Veterans appealing their disability claims are now the ones experiencing an enormous wait time.
4 year wait
Present estimates suggest that roughly 256,061 veteran appeals are currently awaiting review.
One 47-year old served as an Army Special Forced solider for three tours in Iraq and has been stuck in the appeals process since 2008. During deployment, he sustained back injuries and now suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. His case was examined and he was granted benefits-but they were partial. Now, 5 years later, he is still waiting for review of his case.
According to the most up-to-date reports from the VA, the typical wait time to get a VA disability claim examined is roughly 4 years. From start to finish-a veteran can expect to wait on average 1598 days.
Wait times for both, however, are expected to double in the next several years if action isn’t taken to address the backlog problem.
Reasons behind the backlog
A huge reason behind the backlog is lack of resources. The United States’ involvement in the wars overseas has resulted in an enormous rise in disability claims from veterans injured while on duty. And the VA simply can’t keep up with the increase. And, according to VA workers, most of the resources are allocated to tackle disability claims instead of appeals.
However, according to VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, this will soon change, despite the current protocol to use a majority of the resources for new claims.
It remains to be seen just how long this will take.
Help is available
However, those applying or wish to apply for disability benefits shouldn’t be discouraged. Consulting with an attorney knowledgeable in this area of law is the first step. A lawyer who knows the process can help make sure the right procedures are followed and reduce delays as much as possible.