With an aging population of disabled veterans and many younger veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with service-connected ailments, the number of disability claims continues to grow almost as fast as they can be processed. Currently, the veterans’ claim backlog is approximately 850,000.
A new issue has been arising in the fight against the increasing disability claim backlog – some disabled veterans pass away before their disability benefits claims are resolved. Some veterans wait years for a decision on their claim, and sometimes they succumb to their disabling conditions or age before they are able to see a single cent of their benefits.
Vietnam veterans are currently the largest demographic of disabled veterans awaiting decisions on their benefit applications. About 38 percent of those stuck in the queue served in Vietnam, while the next largest group which makes up about 22 percent is of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans.
As new filings for disability benefits continue to pile up, there are thousands of veterans awaiting decisions on appeals. Veterans who file an appeal must do so at the first level of arbitration with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Waiting times at this level average 1,040 days – just under 3 years – before a decision on the appeal is rendered.
Many veterans who must undergo the appeals process for their veterans’ disability benefits had already waited through the initial review process, and are now faced with several more months of waiting for a decision on their appeal. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review investigated 160,000 appeals from 2009 to early 2013, finding that during that time nearly 3,000 veterans died before a decision was rendered on their appeal case.
The Law Offices of Veterans Help Group can help disabled veterans with first-time filings for disability benefits, as well as veterans appealing a disability rating or benefit decision. Handling the appeals process is not something disabled veterans or their families have to go through alone: contact us today – 1-855-855-8992.