In 2010, 70-year-old Richard Sivage filed for veterans’ disability benefits in Central Texas. A Vietnam vet, the Georgetown man has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that has caused him to quit his job in the restaurant industry, has caused him to have trouble connecting with friends and family, and that sometimes sends him into uncontrollable rages. He needs support for his emotional health issues, but two years later he has not heard back from the VA about his disability claim.
Problems at the Waco disability claim processing center
Although Sivage’s 684-day wait for benefits is abnormally long, the average wait for VA disability at the Waco processing center in Texas is the worst in the country, with veterans in limbo for an average of 393 days after turning in their paperwork.
Why the backlog? There is a perfect storm of problems. Aging veterans, like Sivage, are applying for benefits for the first time. New veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are applying, too, in record numbers and with more complex cases than ever. At the same time, claims processors, who haven’t been uniformly trained, struggle with huge piles of non-electronic paperwork and make large number of errors that slow down cases.
Hopeful for possible solutions on the horizon
There is some good news for Sivage – and the one hundred thousand other veterans awaiting benefits in Texas. Both the federal and state governments are rushing to find solutions. The VA is implementing two big changes to combat the backlog: they are moving to an all-electronic system, and they are implementing a new claims processor training system. In Texas, a $1.5 million commitment has been made to hire a number of new processors to review the pile of pending cases.
Texas veterans’ disability lawyer
Can a Dallas disability benefits attorney speed up your case? Only in a way. At Morgan & Weisbrod, we will make sure that your claim is thorough, complete, and free of any common mistakes that slow down the approval process. If your claim was initially denied, we can make certain that the appeals process goes quickly and smoothly. Call 800-800-6353to speak with one of our lawyers and get started as soon as possible.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.