More Claims, Longer Waits for Benefits
|The current generation of war veterans is applying for disability benefits at a historic rate, according to the Associated Press.
But this huge load of disability claims comes at a time when the wait period to have claims evaluated has stretched to more than one year, The Washington Post reported last week.
A review of records by the AP found that 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have applied for compensation for service-related injuries, more than twice the rate from recent wars.
Plus, the new veterans are reporting eight to nine ailments on average, also more than those claimed by veterans of Vietnam, Korea and World War II. The most recent claims report 11 to 14 ailments, the wire service reported Monday.
The report said 43 percent of the new claims are from the National Guard and the Reserve.
But according to the Post article, service members waited more than one year to have their disability claims evaluated in 2011, a significant increase from 2010 and the third year in a row that the wait period has lengthened.
That news came from the Government Accountability Office. An official with the GAO who testified before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs last week, said a program combining the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs evaluations has not had its intended effect of speeding up evaluations.
“Timeliness has steadily worsened,” said Daniel Bertoni.
Guard and Reserve members faced waits of 420 days, up from 370 days the year before.