Veterans who are injured in combat or suffer subsequent illnesses related to their military duties often face a long and frustrating battle to receive the benefits to which they are entitled. For one such veteran, the fight is finally over. The 58-year-old retired Air Force veteran who received the Air Force commendation medal for her actions during Operation Babylift has received the veterans' benefits she has been fighting to receive for seven years.
The woman's claim for disability benefits was based on service-connected fibromyalgia, a chronic disease that causes pain and fatigue. At first, the VA denied her claim, so she appealed. Six years later, a hearing was scheduled, and a judge ruled in her favor and she was told a check would be forthcoming. Six months later, she was still waiting for her funds. In the meantime, she had been staying with a fellow vet to help make ends meet. It was not until a reporter from the Washington Post contacted the VA that her case was finally pushed through and she received her benefits.
The VA is overwhelmed with claims, partially due to an antiquated computer system, but also because of the sheer number of claims it receives. The Obama Administration made it easier for veterans to file claims, and also changed the guidelines for those who could qualify for disability benefits. This has caused the number of pending claims to skyrocket from 391,127 in 2009 to 896,409 in the beginning of November 2012. Of those pending claims, 66 percent have been pending for 125 days or more. This creates a stressful situation for veterans who cannot work, but still need to provide for themselves and their families.
The VA is working on revamping the process it uses to evaluate disability claims. The VA Secretary has vowed to get the backlog under control by 2015, stating that a new computerized system, coupled with better-trained staff will significantly speed up the process. However, veteran organizations are not as positive that the backlog will be cleared up that quickly, with one American Legion spokesmen stating that the backlog could take a decade to clear up.
Hope For You When You Need It
If you live in New York and are struggling to get the benefits you deserve, a consultation with an experienced Buffalo disability claims attorney can help your claim have the best possible chance of success. A skilled lawyer can also help you appeal a denial of benefits.