New Legislation and Attention Focuses on Veterans Disability Claims and Appeals.
As we approach Veterans’ Day next Monday, November 11, we pause, thank, and honor our fellow Americans who served our country. At Bergmann & Moore, we also remind Americans about the continuing claim delay and error crisis at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
We speak with Veterans and family members every day. So we know the backlog of unfinished work at VA remains a severe problem because there are an astonishing 1.4 million total claims pending at VA, including new claims, reopened claims, dependency claims, and appealed claims.
Glenn Bergmann, a partner at Bergmann & Moore, points out, “There are more than a quarter of a million Veterans with appeals pending at VA who now wait an average of four years for VA to issue a decision. That’s unacceptable. We’re here to assist Veterans in dealing with VA’s complex disability claim appeal rules so Veterans receive the maximum benefit allowed.”
Of the ten percent of Veterans who appealed an initial VA disability claim, three out of four are either granted benefits by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals or have their claim returned to VA for additional work.
In late October, VA reported the agency’s backlog was only 400,000. However, Bergmann & Moore partner Joe Moore explains that VA is currently “playing a numbers game by working only on newly submitted claims while the number of older, appealed claims continues rising at 1,000 per week.” Moore adds, “The agency should be hiring and training staff, so that no veteran is left behind, especially our Veterans who can’t work due to their disabilities, including those with appeals involving Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”
Congress Takes Action
In what could be an important step for Veterans, the House passed a bill last week that, if also passed by the Senate and then signed by President Barack Obama, would hasten VA’s disability claims appeals process and mandate more visibility at the agency. That’s a step in the right direction.
Yet more needs to be done. This Veterans Day, let’s remember to put our Veterans and their families first. To Bergmann & Moore, that specifically means faster and more accurate VA disability claim decisions and appeals.