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Amounts paid to disabled veterans doubled since 2000

It's no secret that war is expensive; reports on the astronomical costs of tanks, bombs and jets are fairly common in the media. But what is often not reported is the amounts owed to our country's disabled veterans. As our soldiers return from the Middle East, often after several tours of duty, many apply for disability benefits. The surge in disability applications has caused veteran disability costs to more than double in the past twelve years.

In 2000, the Department of Veterans Affairs paid out approximately $14.8 billion in benefits to disabled veterans. In 2011, that number topped $39.4 billion.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan play a major role in this upswing. Many soldiers fought for multiple tours of duty. This led them to work for many days wearing hot, heavy body armor. According to one VA authority, the weight of the armor had a "wear and tear" effect on soldiers, weakening joints and limbs. This led to a large number of claims upon the soldier's return.

In fact, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are applying for more benefits than the survivors of any other war. This is largely due to greater outreach and education efforts by the VA. In the past, soldiers were discharged relatively quickly, with little information given about the services offered by the VA. Today, servicemen and women are educated more thoroughly about the benefits they are entitled to. This has made it far more likely for veterans to apply for disability benefits after they are discharged.

Unfortunately, it's not always easy to receive the benefits one is entitled to. The applications process is often quite complicated, and an improperly completed application can easily result in months of additional waiting. For this reason, it's often advisable for disabled veterans to speak to an attorney for assistance with the process. An attorney can help with both the initial application and with any necessary appeals, ensuring that the matter is given the best possible chance for approval.

Source: USA Today, "Veteran disability costs more than doubled since 2000," Gregg Zaroya, Jan. 15, 2013

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