Last month, the Veterans for Common Sense brought a shocking statistic to light: National Guard and reserve members have a significantly more difficult time securing veterans’ disability benefits than the veterans who were active duty members. In fact, the denial rate for reservists who served in Iraq and Afghanistan was twice as high as other military members in 2008, and has increased to four times as high this year.
Despite the fact that National Guard and reserve members make the same sacrifices – and receive the same scars – they are not being treated fairly by Veterans’ Affairs when they return from duty. Although these military members make up 40 percent of our overall military forces, they make up 60 percent of those who are denied veterans’ disability benefits.
Officials try to solve the mystery of lower VA disability benefit approvals for reservists
The data, which was found via the Freedom of Information Act, is puzzling to federal officials and veterans advocates – all of whom agree that while the discrepancy in approval rates is extremely disturbing, it is hard to know why the difference exists or how they can stop it. Some offered possible reasons that it is harder for reservists to receive VA disability compensation:
- On average, Guard and reserve members serve less overall time in the military, which may make it more difficult to prove a service-connected disability.
- On average Guard and reserve members are older, which may mean that they enter the military with health issues or that they are more susceptible to injury.
- Those who process veterans’ disability claims may be knowingly or unknowingly biased against reservists.
- More Guard and reserve members could be filing veterans’ disability claims without the assistance of a knowledgeable representative or veterans’ service officer.
Houston VA disability attorneys
At Morgan & Weisbrod, we are committed to helping all veterans – including Guard and reserve members – receive the compensation they deserve after suffering an injury or developing a health issue during their service. To learn how one of our Texas veterans’ disability claim lawyers can help you, call us today at 800-800-6353and request a free, private consultation.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.