Last week the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki warned the House Veterans Affairs Committee that if the government shutdown continued through the month his department would lose critical functions, according to media reports.
Currently, VA benefits such as disability benefits will continue throughout October. However, if the staff furloughs and cut-off funds are not restored by the end of the month, November’s payments could be in jeopardy. The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) has already furloughed 7,800 employees and the five million disabled veterans it serves may not see a benefit check next month.
Veterans who are not yet receiving disability benefits and are waiting on a decision on a VA disability application or appeal have a different issue to consider. With the majority of the VBA staff furloughed, work on processing pending claims has dropped significantly. Progress on an estimated 250,000 claims has halted which is already reversing progress on the claims backlog. Last month was one of the first times the backlog increased since new policies for claims processing were implemented.
In September, the number of pending veterans disability claims grew by about 2,000, a significant setback considering the previous month had seen a decrease of 193,000. The previous months’ positive influence on the backlog had been thanks to the mandatory overtime and extra staff – resources now suspended because of the shutdown.
Even though the processing of claims has been delayed and suspended in some cases, if you have not yet filed for veterans’ disability benefits you are still encouraged to do so with the help of a professional veterans disability firm.
The Law Offices of Veterans Help Group is ready to help all veterans and their families learn about how to apply for the benefits to which they are entitled. Contact us – 1-855-855-8992.