It’s no secret that the Social Security Administration has a huge backlog of disability claims and appeals that it is working hard to eliminate. While working with an attorney can expedite this process in some cases — or at least help claimants avoid mistakes that unnecessarily lengthen the process — many people who can’t work because of a disability and who do have legal representation will still have to wait many months or even years before receiving disability benefits.
Unfortunately, long wait times for disability benefits aren’t limited to Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income claims. Veterans’ disability claims are taking much longer than they should as well.
As noted in a recent CNN article, the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (along with hundreds of thousands of new Agent Orange-related claims from Vietnam veterans and Gulf War Syndrome-related claims from veterans of the first Gulf War) have left the Veterans Administration with a backlog of more than 860,000 disability claims, more than a quarter of which have been pending for more than a year.
Although the VA says it is working hard to eliminate the backlog — the average wait for a claim to be resolved is currently about eight months, which is more than double the 125-day goal the agency set for itself. The agency attributes some of the problem to the severity and complexity of the mental injuries many vets are returning with, which have led many vets to file multiple claims and incomplete paperwork.
In real terms, the extended wait times for disability benefits have put many Oregon veterans and veterans’ families through a tremendous amount of additional stress and turmoil. This simply isn’t right and should be rectified as soon as possible.
Source: CNN Health, “Hundreds of thousands of war vets still waiting for health benefits,” Randi Kaye and Scott Bronstein, Oct. 4, 2012