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Veterans Continue to Wait Years for Claims Hearings

Veterans appealing a denial of VA benefits are currently waiting about five years for a determination, and if the present pace continues, vets 10 years from now could be waiting as long as 25 years for an answer. That’s the bottom line from a recent article by Luanne Rife of The Roanoke Times. Ms. Rife estimates that 470,000 veterans are currently “caught in the bureaucratic purgatory of the VA’s benefits appeals process,” including 73-year-old Thomas Hundley, a Vietnam-era vet who suspects Agent Orange exposure produced the tumor on his spine that has practically crippled him.

Mr. Hundley is not alone: 11 to 12 percent of veterans applying for disability payments have to appeal their cases after being denied benefits for service-related illnesses or being granted an insufficient award. The appeals process can be lengthy, as each processor who touches the file seems to find some deficiency that must be addressed. But, as Ms. Rife explains, the nonlinear appeals process “allows veterans to keep adding evidence to their files,” but “each addition sends the case back through a loop… [so that] simple cases with small errors that require just a higher level of review at the regional office are funneled into the same first-in, first-served pipeline.”

As a result, she notes that the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, only one part of a very complicated system, predicted in its 2015 fiscal year report that its caseload would increase by the end of this fiscal year to more than 300,000 appeals. Someone should be able to figure out a work-flow solution, and perhaps the VA finally has. The agency is suggesting the creation of three separate lanes: one for simple claims, a second for files in need of supplemental information, and a third to handle complex claims requiring review by the appeals board or federal court. Unfortunately, the VA does not have authority to heal itself: an overhaul of the VA review system requires congressional action. Unfortunately, as Congress continues to talk, veterans continue to wait.

Stay tuned for blogs relating to actual cases and the years of backlog in appeals.

Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban fights to reduce the waiting time for veterans appealing disability benefit denials.  If you have had your claim denied, call us from anywhere in the nation at 866-866-VETS or contact our office online.

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  • Thank to Mr. Spencer I was able to get my VA disability claim re-reviewed and given another chance to receive disability. By far he is one of the most professional lawyers I have ever dealt with. So Veterans if you are looking for help with your VA disability claim I would suggest that you hire Macari, Russotto, Spencer, & Balaban. Thanks again for everything.

    — Alfred Daye

  • As a disabled veteran trying to navigate the complexities of the Veterans Administrations regulations, I turned to the law firm of Marcari, Russotto, Spencer and Balaban. They helped me understand what I needed to do and prepared and presented to the VA an excellent presentation of my case. I recommend them for your legal needs.

    — Harry Johnson

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    — Luther Henderson

  • My husband & I highly recommend this law form to any veteran trying to navigate the endless red tape of the VA. We turned to Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban to handle my husband's appeal and could not have been happier. We enjoyed open and consistent communication regarding our case. Any questions we had were answered immediately.

    — Michele DeZayas

  • Amanda Medina-Morales was our point of contact and she kept us up to date on the progress of our case. It was a pleasure and relief knowing that someone truly competent and professional was handling this and fighting for us.

    — Michele DeZayas

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