Supreme Court Denies Veterans Ability To Sue Over Claims Backlog

Just about everyone, include the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) themselves, is fed up with the length of time it takes to process a disability claim. VA Sec. Eric Shinseki continually mentions the mounting backlog and how the VA must eliminate it within a certain time frame. Yet, veterans are still waiting inordinate amounts of time to have their claims processed or to go through an appeals hearing. Having had enough, two veterans groups attempted to sue the VA to make them pick up their pace.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied the veterans their ability to continue with their suit, however. The Vietnam Veterans of America and the Veterans of Modern Warfare sued the VA to force quicker disability claims processing not just for its members but for all veterans. The groups referred to the VA’s claims processing as a “Byzantine system of procedural hurdles.” Their frustration stems from initial claims sometimes taking over a year to process. Further, they claim the appeals process can take up to 5  years to complete.

Their suit focused solely on the length of the time it takes to process disability claims. Although the two groups stopped just shy of making a direct correlation between the two, they did bring up the amount of veterans losing their homes due to foreclosure, suffering mental and physical health issues, and enduring divorce because of delays in their brief to the high court.

Had the veterans groups had their way, the VA would be mandated to respond to initial claims within 90 days and resolve all appeals within 180 days. The Supreme Court’s position upholds the decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which held the veterans had no standing to file the lawsuit. In federal court a plaintiff cannot have standing by alleging injury to another party.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.