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Disability appeal? Expect a 4- to 5-year wait

This blog has previously talked about the veterans' disability backlog which the Department of Veterans Affairs has been working hard to reduce, but that backlog is only one part of the wait that some veterans must endure before getting their benefits. If a Valdosta veteran was denied benefits or not given as much benefits as he or she believed he or she deserved for a service-connected disability, he or she will wait on average four to five years before all appeals are completed.

One of the reasons why the quarter-million appeals backlog is so long is because the VA has focused most of its efforts on reducing the initial application backlog. The VA secretary has admitted that the appeals backlog needs to be addressed and 100 new lawyers have been hired in recent months, but that is only after three years of taking employees off of appeals and directing them to work on the initial applications for benefits.

What makes this backlog even worse is that even after an appeal is completed and is favorable to the veteran, there is still the matter of waiting for benefits. While some people may argue that not receiving the proper veterans' disability benefits for years means a few extra months of waiting isn't a big deal, for the veterans who are living with serious medical and psychological conditions that they developed from service in the military the wait is unacceptable.

For one man living with post-traumatic stress disorder and back, hip and knee injuries following 22 years in the army and a five-year wait for his disability appeals to finish, he is now arguing with the VA about when those benefits should have started.

Source: The Washington Post, "Veterans face another backlog as a quarter-million appeal disability claims," Steve Vogel, Sept. 10, 2013

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