“Long Appeals Leave Older Vets Without Benefits for Years.”
This morning’s USA Today covered the serious national issue of the growing backlog of disability claim appeals at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Glenn Bergmann, a partner at Bergmann & Moore, and Ashton Habighurst, a supervising case manager, were both quoted in the major national story.
While it is widely reported that VA appears to be making some headway reducing the number of pending initial claims, there are still serious problems at the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), the agency within VA responsible for processing Veterans’ disability claims.
The rise in the number of pending appeals was caused by VA improperly shifting staff working on appeals to work on initial claims. USA Today reported:
“Progress in resolving initial benefits claims has come at the expense of settling older claims,” said Glenn Bergmann, a former VA attorney who now fights veterans’ appeals cases at Bergmann & Moore LLC…. “[VA] stole from Peter to pay Paul, and these veterans have been abandoned again,” Bergmann said. “They’re dying while they’re waiting.”
VA’s Chronic Problems Mean Veterans Fall Through Cracks.
VA confirmed to USA Today that 350,000 appeals now languish years at the beleaguered agency. VA still remains understaffed and poorly trained. As a result, VA makes mistakes that prompt Veterans to appeal. Reporter Kelly Kennedy wrote:
A 2013 report by the Congressional Research Service found it took an average of 1,094 days for the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to reach a decision after a veteran filed a claim. Ashton Habighurst, a supervising case manager at Bergmann & Moore, said “the law firm finds that many cases fall through the cracks of the VA’s huge bureaucracy.”
In December 2012, journalist Aaron Glantz at the Center for Investigative Reporting documented how 19,500 Veterans died waiting on a VA disability claim decision in the fiscal year ending 2012, according to VA record. That’s too many Veterans who have fallen through the cracks each year.
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.