The last 7 years have seen a striking increase in the amount of disability claims being filed. According to a recent analysis, this recent spike has almost doubled the amount of money the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spends on disability for wounded veterans.
Contrary to what may be popular belief, the increase did not come from veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The increase is attributed to veterans from wars fought years prior. Vietnam and Persian Gulf veterans account for the over 80% rise in spending. The spending reached the staggering level of $34.3 billion last year.
Over the next 30 years, the number of veterans currently fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan filing disability claims will skyrocket past the 200,000 veterans from those two wars currently being paid out.
The VA’s disability compensation system is outdated to the point of being almost obsolete. The inefficiency of the system has lead the VA to where they are: somewhere between a 500,000 – 1 million disability claim backlog. This backlog contains a serious risk to those veterans suffering from such ailments as:
- Brain injuries;
- Back problems;
- Cancers; and
- Mental disorders.
There is so much paperwork generated by the current claim process it is difficult to imagine parts of the claims are never lost. Almost half of the backlogged claims take more than 120 days to process and thousands of claims take more than 2 years.
The backlog is going to get worse before it gets better. Congress recently allocated hundreds of millions of dollars allowing the VA to hire new workers to bring the backlog under control, rather than just fixing the system. The system is too far gone to be fixed with a patch, however, and requires more aggressive treatment.
Even if the claims were all being addressed on time, the VA is not able to handle certain claims. Psychological disability claims for things like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) account for over 1/3 of the $24 billion spent last year paying veterans from the “global war on terror,” Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf. Because there are so many claims, and the VA cannot handle these types of claims proficiently, delays are just going to continue to grow.
While the VA has tried to make some improvements in their processing system, those changes will take time to implement. For the time being, the VA is processing the claims in a very inefficient manner which affects veterans. There is a long way to go but knowing improvement needs to me made is the first step in actually improving.
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.