A Call to Action - Financial and/or Medical Hardship and Expediting VA Disability Claims
Practice Area: Veterans Benefits
As many Veterans have encountered, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has recently experienced a dramatic increase in the number of backlogged disability compensation cases. Over the past four years, the number of disability cases filed with the VA has increased forty-eight percent, to 1.3 million in 2011.
Currently, there are over 900,000 VA disability claims pending. Indeed, the delay in the processing of disabilities claims was recently addressed in a landmark decision arising from the Oakland Regional Office (RO), Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) and United for Truth (VUFT) v. Shinseki, 678 F.3d 1013 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc).
Recently, the VA deployed a new processing model for Compensation Claims for sixteen Regional Offices, to include the Newark RO, to eliminate some of the backlogged cases. The new processing model places an emphasis on expediting claims where the supporting documentation is fully developed by the Veteran. The new processing model also emphasizes Veterans who have unique circumstances, such as financial hardship, homelessness, or serious injuries or disabilities.
The VA press release concerning the new processing model can be viewed at http://www1.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2354.
It remains to be seen how the new structure for expediting claims affects individual claim processing times; however. This system does highlight the need for Veterans to identify claims that may warrant priority processing.
The law firm of Fink Rosner Ershow-Levenberg LLC can assist Veterans in identifying particular hardships to the VA, through the filing of a VA Form 5655 (Financial Status Report) or medical statements detailing severe disabilities or progressive diseases. Additionally, Fink Rosner Ershow-Levenberg prides itself in quickly and proficiently developing a Veteran's disability claim to ensure a timely VA decision.