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Wait for decisions on veterans' benefits can be interminable

The men and women of Georgia who have served our nation and become injured in the course of their duty are often entitled to veterans' benefits. However, as many veterans know, it can take some real effort -- and, some say, a little bit of luck -- to cut through the red tape when decisions on claims for disability benefits are delayed. And many veterans can ill afford to spend time waiting when their expenses, and their health concerns, need to be addressed.

Part of the issue is that there are so many veterans trying to get their disability benefits; according to the Department of Veterans' Affairs, more than 800,000 claims are pending in the system. On average, the VA says, claims take an average of 273 days to be processed. However, many veterans have to wait much longer -- as much as twice as long in some cases -- in order to have their claims processed. And in many cases, at the end of all that time, the claims are denied.

One man in particular, a Coast Guard veteran who retired in 2009, was injured in an accident while on duty overseas in 1995 and suffers from chronic and severe back pain. After his retirement, it took the VA nearly a year to issue a rating on his disability -- and its rating, that he was 40 percent disabled, meant that he was not able to receive benefits for his disability. He has multiple appeals pending, the oldest of which was more than 700 days ago and is still pending.

Not all cases are so extreme, but many veterans could use some aid when they are applying for benefits or appealing a decision. An experienced veterans' benefits attorney can offer expertise and advice to people in this situation.

Source: MercuryNews.com, "Veterans' claims for benefits delayed by crushing VA backlog," Gary Peterson and Mark Emmons, April 16, 2013

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