Thursday, June 6, 2013

Appeals Wait Longer

Jim Fausone
Veteran Disability Lawyer

We work with over a 1000 veterans and most of those veterans are waiting on appeals of VA decisions.  The initial decision backlog at VA is  getting a lot of national attention.  A hidden story has finally made the national news.  That story is how long it takes to have an appeal heard of a VA denial of service connection or low rating by the regional office in an initial decision. So after waiting a year for that initial decision, the veteran can expect a multi year wait on an appeal.    At the first level, the Board of Veterans' Appeals in Washington, it takes an average of 1,040 days, almost 3 years,  for the agency to render a ruling. That's 3½ times slower than the response for those awaiting word on their initial filings.  The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently published an article on its study  of  4 years of data.  It found:

"Sifting through more than 160,0000 appeals from 2009 through early 2013, the Trib discovered 2,936 cases in which veterans or their surviving spouses died before getting decisions on their disputed claims.
If that rate holds, more than 500 veterans will die this year while their appeals languish — about one vet every 18 hours."

Some may dismiss this as only 1.8% of the cases.  But if it was your mother, father, brother or sister waiting on a decision to improve their quality of life, you would not think this way.  This story proves what many suspected -  VA denies and delays until you die. Our veterans deserve better.

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