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Virginia Beach Estate Planning Lawyer / Blog / Veteran's Benefits / It’s Time To Get Veterans Off The ‘Hamster Wheel’

It’s Time To Get Veterans Off The ‘Hamster Wheel’

They say that justice delayed is justice denied.

The same holds true for the benefits the men and women who served in the military are owed by this country for the sacrifices they made. The unconscionable backlog for the Department of Veterans Affairs to deal with disability claims and compensation amounts to denying those supposed guaranteed benefits.

As a recent editorial in The New York Times President Barack Obama vowed in his Veterans Day address:

“No veteran should have to wait months or years for the benefits that you’ve earned, so we will continue to attack the claims backlog. We won’t let up. We will not let up.”

“He had better not let up, given that the Department of Veterans Affairs, in the long slog through its own paperwork, is in some ways marching backward,” the editorial stated. “Through July of this year, 66 percent of claims for disability compensation and pensions were still pending more than 125 days after being filed, missing the department’s own timeliness goals. That is up from 60 percent in 2011.

“There is a separate quagmire for veterans who appeal a rejected claim, the average time between the filing of an appeal and its resolution is nearly two and a half years. If a veteran fights a losing appeal in the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, that is another journey of months or years. The court might send a case back for more review, and more delay. Veterans’ advocates call that the ‘hamster wheel.’ ”

The Nov. 23 editorial followed fast on the heels of a Sept. 27 story in The Times that tied names and faces to the woeful statistics regarding how long men and women are forced to wait to even find out if their claims for benefits will be granted, let alone the lengthy delay in appealing any denials.

“For hundreds of thousands of veterans, the result has been long waits for decisions, mishandled documents, confusing communications and infuriating mistakes in their claims,” the story stated.

The New York Times is not alone in reporting on this problem, which is only growing worse.

“The average wait time for wounded veterans to see their disability-compensation claims completed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has now grown to 262 days, or nearly nine months, according to a federal website and three watchdog groups,

a Dec. 4 NBC News story stated.

“The only answers to this vexing situation seem to be more staffing, better training and technology,” Nov. 23 editorial stated. “More immediately, the veterans’ agency needs to be realistic in communicating about the delays, so veterans can get on with their lives while they wait.”

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