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VA faced with challenges for its disability program

Disability programs are difficult to administer, as we have discussed before. While some disabling conditions are more or less self evident, as with those conditions that Social Security includes within its Compassionate Allowances characterizations, many cases are fact-specific.

This means analysis of the disability is complex and time intensive. Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) has been dealing with long backlogs for years, and a story from NPR indicates that it is not alone with this problem.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability program is similar to SSDI and is faced with many of the same challenges. In December, the program, which provides disability benefits to veterans who have been wounded or suffered other service related injuries, currently is facing a backlog of 863,000 pending claims.

The NPR story mentions that the VA’s disability backlog is “mythic” in size, and like SSDI’s backlog, is decades old. The story mentions that, “Politicians speak of rooms waist-high in paperwork.”

And with supply and demand, the backlog continues to grow, rising from 188 days to 262 days over 2012. As more veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan with an incredibility wide range of injuries, the VA has had difficulty processing their applications in a timely fashion.

The VA has struggle with lack of funding, and has attempted to streamline the process, but it takes time and even though they processed a million claims last year, another million new claims arrived.

Because of the complexity of these claims, receiving assistance from an attorney can go a long ways towards preventing your claims from being rejected for reasons unrelated to the validity of your disability, like an incomplete application or missing medical records.

Source: NPR, “For Veterans, The Wait For Disability Claims Grows Longer,” Quil Lawrence, Dec. 27, 2012

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