VA Faces Flood of Claim Appeals.
Thanks to an unprecedented number of whistle blowers combined with intense news coverage, the world now knows how hundreds of thousands of Veterans are waiting for an initial or reopened disability claim decision from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The public is also learning more about the hundreds of thousands of Veterans waiting on VA to answer their disability claim appeal. Imagine being a Veteran with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), suffering from the adverse health effects of Agent Orange, or unemployable due to military service. The waiting game at VA for an appeal decision is often unbearable.
In part of the widening reporting, Kelley Vlahos at American Conservative magazine wrote a powerful essay, “Memorial Day Nightmare: As scandal sweeps the VA, real reform will come from institutional transformation, not more number games.” Vlahos interviewed Bergmann & Moore partner Glenn Bergmann for her story.
President Barack Obama and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki have repeatedly promised to end VA’s claim backlog, narrowly defined as only those initial and reopened disability claims pending for longer than four months. However, the President didn’t promise to end the backlog of disability claim appeals. When asked about how well VA is doing, Bergmann told Vlahos:
“The VA is in a hurry to make the president’s goal of reducing the backlog of initial claims,” Bergmann says. So [VA’s] error rate is high, as are rates of benefits being denied, and “the net result is the claims are moving from the new-claim pile to the appeal pile.”
As of Memorial Day 2014, VA’s efforts to eliminate the initial claim backlog have backfired: There is now a surge of Veterans with claim appeals who need and who earned a prompt decision from VA.
Managed by former VA attorneys, Bergmann & Moore is a national law firm that has helped thousands of Veterans and families obtain the VA disability benefits they earned. Call us if you are unemployed due to your military service or have lost a loved one due to a service-related disease or injury.