Between 830,000 veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan and the VA establishment of a service-connection for several diseases related to Vietnam exposure to Agent Orange, the workload for VA claims processors has more than doubled in the last five years.
Unfortunately, many feel that the current claims processing system encourages VA workers to prioritize “easy,” or uncomplicated disability compensation claims—cases, for example, where the veteran only has one or two injuries or illnesses that are easy to prove and connect to service, thus eliminating the need for collecting additional documentation, communicating closely with the veteran, or tracking down military documentation and medical records from the VA’s outdated paper based system.
Workers are rewarded for completing more claims at a faster rate, while penalized for taking the time necessary to work a complicated case through. The more claims a worker completes, the more likely they are to be financially rewarded with bonuses. Workers, on the other hand, who don’t meet quotas can be demoted or even fired.
That means that claims for injuries related to military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury—health conditions that can be notoriously difficult to effectively prove and service connect—fall by the wayside.
As an anonymous claims processor told reporters, “We’re looking like we’re making progress… but in ways that aren’t sustainable. We’re not actually doing anything to fix problems that are actually causing the backlog… Nothing’s been fixed, and the same problems persists.”
Approximately 14,000 veterans have had appeals pending for more than two years.
If you are a Texas veteran dealing with a stalled VA disability claim, talk to a dedicated Dallas veterans’ disability attorney at Morgan & Weisbrod today. Call 877-898-1581to learn more.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.