Every so often, an article comes along that is important to dependents or veterans.  In the quest for their VA compensation and benefits, a veteran or dependent may find it relevant to review headlines in helping with their claim.  


More about the backlogs

Too many veterans are forced, by paperwork backlogs, to wait a long time for their disability benefits. Solutions are needed, but it appears they, too, will take longer than anyone wished.

Washington has not ignored the delays — which stem from a number of causes — but it must keep applying pressure to simplify the system and whittle down the backlog. Progress so far is unsatisfactory.  Read more about the current steps attempting to correct the backlog.


Claims taking longer and longer to process

The processing time of veterans’ disability claims at the Veterans Benefits Administration has lengthened 61 percent as the VBA struggles under the weight of increasing claims, says the Government Accountability Office. The GAO says internal and external issues at the Veterans Affairs Department may prevent it from meeting a 2015 goal of processing claims within 125 days.

In a report (.pdf) dated Dec. 21 but not published until Jan. 18, GAO says that the VA is seeing yearly increases in the number of disability claims and projects 1 million new veterans in the next 5 years, which may overwhelm advancements like moving claims to an electronic process.

Backlog Goal Hit Or Miss

The U.S. Veterans Affairs department says it has hit a “tipping point,” cutting its monstrous backlog of disability claims by 74,000 since late April, yet agency critics contend that growing throngs of ex-troops waiting for injury compensation in America’s biggest cities show the VA is “over-promising and under-delivering.”


Disabled Vets overpaid

The Department of Veterans Affairs overpaid 12,800 veterans $943 million from 1993 to 2009, according to projections by the VA’s Office of Inspector General. And if the error isn’t corrected, inspector general auditors said another $1.1 billion could be wasted by 2016.

 More on the Delay in VA Benefits

The VA had more than 770,000 disability compensation claims pending as of June 1, and the department has been in the spotlight for weeks amid its promises to expedite its sluggish decision-making process. The department said that by 2015, all claims should be decided in 125 days or fewer with an error rate of 2 percent, goals it’s far from realizing.  Read more here.


Vets endure long wait for benefits rulings

A veteran who was shot twice and struck by a hand grenade during Vietnam has his benefits reduced because he received surgery for a new knee.  Disability claims have increased by nearly 50% since 2008.  Read more here.

This information is particular relevant for spouses and dependents of veteran’s as in some cases the veteran passes before the case is adjudicated in which case there is NO COMPENSATION.  Which is why it is so important to start the claim process early.


DO NOT DELAY IN FILING A CLAIM OR APPEAL

In this interesting case, the veteran died before his $350,000.00 retroactive benefit could be disbursed to him. He had a VA appointed fiduciary but no dependents. The appeals court had to decide…where does the money go? Does it go to the fiduciary and then distributed to heirs or does the VA get to keep it?

The court decided that the law tells us that only dependents of the deceased vet are entitled to any retro pay. The plaintiff says the VA delayed the payment for so long that for VA to keep the money is wrong on the face of it.

The decision was favorable to the VA. Read the case to discover why.


VA Employees have had enough

Once in a while something monumental happens.  The Veterans Administration employees are tired of not being able to properly serve the veterans and their claims as they so well deserve.

They want to adjudicate your claims to allow for an expedited compensation timeline, but their hands are tied. The bureaucratic bungling that VA is so well known for has these front-line employees helpless.

Here is an additional NY Times headline regarding the VA workers and the backlog.


Disabled Veteran and Spousal Support

Divorce in general is never an easy thing to do nor should it be taken lightly, especially when a person dedicates their time to a veteran throughout their military career.  An Oregon disabled veteran is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether states are violating Federal Law by allowing for Veterans Disability Compensation to count in calculations towards spousal support.


Woman veteran with sexual trauma

Are you a woman veteran who has experienced military sexual trauma?

Women veterans have their own special concerns. Military Sexual Trauma (MST) isn’t strictly limited to women but there’s little doubt more women are assaulted or raped than are men. Women vets want their health care to be delivered securely and separately from their male veteran counterparts, just as they deserve.

I was just reading about that on vawatchdog dot org. Interestingly enough, even if you, as a female veteran don’t qualify for other VA benefits, you are still eligible for this benefit.


Education Benefits Backlog

As the compensation and benefits backlog is discussed, sometimes veterans and dependents over look their education benefits–until they are not received.

As veterans and dependents try to better prepare themselves for the future through education–thousands are facing lack of housing funds and tuition as promised by the VA.  Some are facing eviction and other’s are having to take out student loans to pay for food on the table.  Read the story here.

I, Melissa, am dealing with this exact same thing right now with the VA and my veteran’s education benefits.  Visit our Forum to comment or offer any advice on my story.


Strong Bonds Retreat

When your veteran is home from their time of service, there is a huge curve of adjustment–both for the dependents and veteran. This article about Strong Bonds after their return can help a dependent understand the adjustment period.

I, Melissa, have attended a Strong Bonds retreat after a 16 month deployment (OIF 06-08).  As a spouse of a veteran who had questionable mental health stability already from his very first war experience, I knew it was something could both benefit from.  It was a wonderful experience for my husband and self.


Coaching Veteran’s families

When you as a spouse, take on the enormous task of helping your veteran through his/her VA claim process and care for them after their time of service, no one coaches you with how to handle things. The VA has sought for an answer to such a problem.

The Department of Veterans Affairs recently completed a media campaign for its cell center “Coaching Into Care,” discussed in this article, a telephone service which provides assistance to family members and friends trying to encourage their veteran to seek health care for possible readjustment and mental health issues.

Do not hesitate if you have questions, these are part of your earned benefits as well for time in service.  The service is available toll-free at 1-(888)-823-7458, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, and online.

If a veteran is experiencing an acute crisis, callers should contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-(800)-273-8255 for immediate help.


Stress of War on Veterans Marriage

An alarming statistic was released on CBS morning news 30,000 marriages ended in divorce last year upon return from the war according to the Department of Defense: The highest level of divorce in the past 10-years. A growing number of military spouses are finding themselves on a new battlefield in their own homes. CBS News’ Michelle Miller reports on one couple who’ve fought to keep their marriage together and help other married veterans do the same.  Read more here.


VA Improves Online Access to Benefits Information

In an effort to match the new Veterans who are increasingly filing for their benefits and claims online, the VA is trying to step up to match the demand.
Nearly 1.7 million veterans and service members have registered for the Department of Veterans Affairs-Department of Defense web portal, eBenefits, which provides online information and access to a wide variety of military and veteran benefits resources.  Read more information here.


Veteran with Obstructive Sleep Apnea receive Entitlements

Often times, it is really the spouse who first notices sleep issues with their Veteran.  Tossing and turning, severe snoring, maybe they are tired during the day because they do not get a well-rested nights sleep.

In this recent docket  through the VA where a Veteran was awarded a service connection for sleep apnea is warranted after many years.


A & A benefits for Aging Veterans

Here’s a riddle: When is a government benefit that pays for caregivers, assisted living and a nursing home not a benefit? When hardly any people know they’re entitled to it.

That seems to be the story with a Department of Veterans Affairs benefit called the Aid and Attendance and Housebound Improved Pension benefit, known as A&A, which can cover the costs of caregivers in the home (including sons and daughters who are paid to be caregivers, though not spouses) or be used for assisted living or a nursing home.  Read more here.