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A flood of claims creates a disability backlog for VA

In the military, there are thousands of jobs, from combat infantry, to F-15 and A-10 pilots, to accountants and truck drivers. And servicemembers doing any of these jobs can suffer injuries that result in disabilities. Many of these disabilities may have nothing to do with combat, but nonetheless, are service-related disabilities.

But a story that is familiar to anyone following the difficulties the Social Security Administration (SSA) has faced in dealing with Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) cases. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is struggling to cope with the vast number of claims that it is receiving, both from recent veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and from veterans of older conflicts dating all the way back to Vietnam.

A news story details how one woman served in Desert Storm developed a chronic lung condition that has so damaged her lungs that she can barely climb stairs, and then only by resting as she climbs. She filed a claim with the VA for disability her condition, as she cannot work without special accommodation and now need oxygen.

She has been waiting for two years for a determination of her claim. Why would it take so long to process a claim? Her claim would have been one of a million that are filed in the average year with the VA. While demand has increased, the VA, like many federal agencies has been under constant attack by Congress to cut jobs and spending. And those cuts translate directly into an ever-increasing backlog.

These claims are all done with paper forms and are labor intensive to process. Another problem with delays is missing paperwork. When a claim has missing documents, it can substantially delay the time it takes to process your claim. A disability attorney can help you ensure you claim is complete and not missing information.

PennLive.com, "Home, injured and waiting: The backlog of veterans disabilities claims takes a toll," Ivey DeJesus, April 30, 2013

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