A recent article in Military Times discusses the ever growing “backlog” of appealed benefit cases through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. According to the article, some reports made to the VA show an average wait time for resolution of the appeal of more than 3.5 years! And in the last year, the number of cases awaiting appeal decisions has increased 10 percent. However, the VA is hoping to make changes to the appeals process and much more.
Veteran’s Disability Benefits Appeal Process
The Board of Veterans’ Appeal (BVA) reviews all benefit claims determined by the local VA offices. The VA has provided a pamphlet on how to appeal. The two most common reasons people appeal, according to the VA are:
- Benefits were denied for a disability you believe began during service; or
- You believe your disability is more severe than it was rated.
The pamphlet has a diagram illustrating the process, from the first step (filing a claim), through the denial, to you filing a Notice of Disagreement, a Statement of the Case, down to the last step (decision by the BVA). However, this process can often be frustrating, demanding, and confusing. It would be advisable to contact a Veteran’s Disability Benefits attorney, like McDivitt Law Firm, to help you navigate this process and reach the best result.
Colorado VA Hospitals and Clinics
Even if you are receiving your disability benefits, the wait is unfortunately still not over for many vets in the Colorado region. A recent Denver Post article discusses how VA patients in Colorado are waiting longer than 90% of patients at other VA centers in the United States. According to the article, 13.7 percent of veterans seeking medical assistance in VA clinics in eastern Colorado wait for a month or more from their preferred date to see a doctor. The clinics in Colorado Springs and Pueblo have the highest backlog given the large percentage of military who retire from nearby military bases. The clinics in western Colorado have a smaller percentage of people who must wait more than a month. While these waits are problematic, vets are appreciative of the medical staff at the clinics.
Suicide Prevention Act
However, even with the untimeliness with appeals and hospitals, the Senate recently passed a bill, with a vote of 99 to 0, to improve suicide prevention and mental health treatment programs with the VA. President Obama then signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act into law on February 12, 2015.
Tragically, according to a recent New York Times article, an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act also includes a provision extending the period of time that allows for late-stage returning troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to obtain VA healthcare benefits by another year, and those vets will not be required to prove a service-related disability for that treatment.
If you need assistance with Veteran’s Disability Benefits contact the Team at McDivitt Law Firm so that we may help you fight for those benefits. We can help you navigate the application and appeals processes. McDivitt Law Firm appreciates all current members and veterans of the armed forces for their sacrifices.