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Veterans wait months for disability claims to be processed

After returning home from service, many veterans suffer from injuries and illnesses which can be attributed to their time in the military. While veterans can apply for Social Security disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs, the process is painstakingly slow for many veterans.

According to a recent report, as of early this month, nearly 900,000 disability claims were pending at the VA. The report indicates that two-thirds of these claims had been pending for more than 125 days. So, over 500,000 veterans have waited more than four months to hear back about their disability claim.

In the meantime, these veterans may be struggling to pay for basic expenses if their injury makes it difficult or impossible for them to work. For example, one veteran explains that while she has been waiting for her claim to be processed she has borrowed money from family and friends and moved in with a fellow veteran to save money on rent. After serving their country, many veterans are unable to rely on the government they have assisted for timely help.

Reports indicate that the VA receives so many disability claims that they simply have difficulty keeping up with the incoming applications. The current system of processing claims appears to be inadequate for the current influx of claims. A faster, paperless system for processing cases is reportedly set to be used nationwide by the end of 2013.

So, there are some improvements being made to the processing system. However, it may take a while for these changes to apply to the entire VA processing system. For anyone applying for disability benefits, seeking guidance throughout the process may be worthwhile. In particular, receiving help from a legal professional may benefit those who are appealing denied claims.

Source: The Washington Post, "For VA, mountains of disability claims remain a problem as vets wait for help," Steve Vogel, Nov. 10, 2012

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