Data: Reservists Have More Trouble Securing Veterans’ Disability
According to new data released by the group Veterans for Common Sense, it is significantly harder for National Reservists and National Guard veterans to secure VA disability benefits for a combat-related injury or health condition.The new statistics, which were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, found that while reservists and guard members make up for 40 percent of post-9/11 veterans of the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, they make up 60 percent of all denied veterans disability claims. In fact, National Reserve and National Guard members are four times more likely to have their disability claims denied than a traditional soldier.Why is there such a large discrepancy? While we cannot know for sure, those who have studied the data point out that National Guardsmen and reservists tend to be four years older than other Iraq and Afghanistan veterans – and have served for shorter periods of time. These two issues may make it more difficult to prove that their health issues are tied to their service. Others believe that the difference in denial ratings is caused by miscommunication between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Still others believe that National Guard members and reservists are not filing for disability benefits with the help of someone who is familiar with the process.One thing is certain: the issue is getting worse, not better. In 2008, National Guard and reservists were denied twice as often as other veterans. In just four years, that number has doubled to four times as often.All in all, reservists make up 40 percent of all post-9/11 veterans who serviced in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.