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VA decides to process oldest VA disability claims first

If you are disabled veteran there’s a good chance that you are waiting not only for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but you are also waiting for your VA disability claim to be processd. Last month the Department of Veterans Affairs announced under a new program they will move the oldest VA disability claims to the front of the line and process them first. This means claimants who have waited for more than a year for a disability decision may have their disability claims decided soon.

How big is the VA disability problem?

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 900,000 claims are pending in the system, some 250,000 are from veterans who have been waiting at least a year for a decision. As the claims have floundered, the criticism has grown. The VA projects it will take up to six months to complete the 250,000 claims being targeted.

Because these claims are for soldiers who have suffered an injury or illness or who have had a condition which has been aggravated during their active military service it’s easy to see why so many people are frustrated. Veterans go to war or serve their country fighting our enemies and come home and have to fight our own government to get much needed benefits.

According to the new policy, the oldest cases will be decided based on the veteran’s current medical files. If the veteran does not have enough medical information to make a disability determination the VA will send them to an expedited medical evaluation.

What happens if a VA disability claim is approved?

If a veteran is approved for disability benefits from the VA they will begin receiving payments immediately. If they are denied they can appeal their decision and submit more information.

Lawmakers are encouraged by the new plan to process the oldest claims immediately, but many argue the issues will continue under the current VA disability process. The biggest complaint is that most of the files and medical records are on paper and it takes a long time to gather the information.

The VA announced they are rolling out a new computer system designed to improve efficiency, but full implementation at all sites will not be completed until the end of the year.

VA disability this is not a new problem

Although the average time to process VA disability claims has steadily increased over the past four years- the average time to resolve a disability claim has gone from 161 in fiscal year 2009 to 286 currently- processing has always been a problem for government agencies.

The VA has always given priority to certain types of cases such as those for the terminally ill or the homeless. These cases will remain a priority. The older cases will be processes after these, pushing many other cases down the list and causing an even longer wait for their benefits.

Paul Rieckhoff, the chief executive officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has been encouraged by the recent VA announcement claiming, "It's great to see the VA finally taking more immediate and aggressive action to address this important issue for our veterans,"
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