While Congress and other organizations try to find ways to improve the system, veterans waiting for delayed disability claims are taking a great deal of financial and emotional blows in the current economy.
Debt and foreclosure are only a few of the veterans’ problems. These problems are only amplified when a wounded veteran has to wait more than a year for compensation.
Why such a long wait?
Disability compensation is provided through Veteran Affairs. The benefits are tax-free, according to the VA website. http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/compensation/ Veterans have to fill out a VA Form 21-526, Veterans Application for Compensation or Pension. The amount a veteran receives is determined based on dependents and the severity of an injury. Veterans who are unable to work at all due to a 100% debilitating disability could be eligible for more than $2000 a month.
Unfortunately, the number of veterans filing disability claims has heightened over the past few years. The VA is inundated with claims; the number of incomplete or unprocessed claims is now over 350,000. Not to mention, the VA also has to handle educational benefit claims and appeals.
Iraq war veterans are not the only ones requesting care, but aging or older veterans from as far back as the Vietnam War are also requesting aid. The condition of the economy heightened layoffs, incidences of PTSD and injury, and finding a job as a disabled veteran is not easy. All these factors combined have contributed to the VA’s slow response.
Steps taken so far
Although the VA has shortened the waiting time for a claim, there are still major flaws. Some new legislation have been enacted and proposed in order to give veterans some financial relief while they wait. Lenders can no longer foreclose on military members without due notice, according to Congress. Lenders will have to wait nine months after service members return from duty before taking any action against them.
Another move taken is the reducing of paperwork in disability claims for veterans. How? A veteran usually has to prove how they received an injury during combat through documentation. Congress has allowed veterans to stop having to provide such documentation.
The enacted bills have eased veterans’ worries a little. More than $40 billion in benefits will be paid to veterans this year. However, there is still a great deal to be done, and our Nation’s finest are still calling for help.
Photo thanks to WoodleyWonderWorks under creative common license on Flickr.