Sadly, many veterans give up when they apply for VA disability benefits and have their claim denied – they assume that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs was correct when assessing their service-related injuries and making a decision about disability benefits. What these veterans might not know is that the VA is far from perfect; in fact, the federal agency admits that their national error rate is 16 percent, and some regional error rates are as high as 33 percent. That means for every 100 veterans who apply for benefits, 16 get the wrong answer when they ask for benefits.
Why is the VA disability claim error rate so high?
If the VA knows about the error rate, why does it still exist? There are several factors that lead to mistakes throughout the veterans’ disability claim process:
- A flood of claims. The VA is facing almost 900,000 disability claims currently – and more than half are taking over 125 days to process. With more troops returning home from Iraq each day, the federal government believes these numbers will continue to grow.
- More complicated claims. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in large numbers of traumatic brain injuries as well as high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Both of these health issues are more difficult to diagnose and analyze than other injuries, making more claims less cut-and-dry than in the past.
- Local training. The VA believes that the high error rate on disability claims may well be tied to the elimination of national training for new employees – training that is key to VA claims processers understanding how to correctly read and rate applications for benefits.
What is the VA going to do to fix the disability claim error rate?
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki discusses the issue of the high disability claim error rate – as well as other VA disability issues – with the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in late April. He promised that he would have 100 percent of claims processed in under 125 days by 2015, and that the claims decisions would be 98 percent accurate by that time.
They will reach this goal, Shinseki said, by hiring more veterans, returning to a national training program, and going paperless. Even more system reforms are being discussed.
Texas VA disability claim lawyers
Do you believe that the Department of Veterans Affairs made a mistake by denying your disability claim or giving you the incorrect disability rating? Speak with a Houston veterans’ disability attorney at Morgan & Weisbrod today.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.