Veterans’ Affairs: Benefitting from a Broken System [Infographic]
When it comes to taking care of servicemen and women when they return home from their deployments, the current system we have is severely lacking. Our veterans have a very difficult time getting the care they deserve once their service is completed.
If you were injured or disabled in the line of duty, you may be entitled to monetary benefits awarded by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Knowing how to take on this broken system can make all the difference.
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Putting the Problem in Perspective
The United States is currently home to roughly 22 million veterans, of which 1.6 million served in Iraq and Afghanistan. And of those 1.6 million, almost half (45%) are actively seeking disability claims payouts for injuries sustained in the line of duty.
If that sounds to you like a lot of folks waiting for compensation and treatment, you’d be right. Think of it this way: in the time it takes for most veterans to receive a disability rating, a member of the United States Army could complete one and a half full deployment cycles. In other words, the current wait time is around 24 months — a serious problem, especially when a veteran’s quality of life hangs in the balance.
And receiving a disability rating is, of course, the most important step in this process. It’s what the VA uses to calculate the compensation you’re eligible for. Factors that influence the rating process include:
- Severe physical disabilities, including loss of limbs
- A spouse, children, or any other dependent parties
- A spouse who is seriously disabled
Do You Have a Claim?
It’s an important time to be aware of your rights as a returning veteran, not to mention the current status of legislation related to the care of our country’s veterans.
Despite the fact that the field of 2016 presidential candidates includes very few veterans, or perhaps because of that fact, veterans are hoping now more than ever that the VA will get the legislative attention it deserves in the coming years. Although the VA claims backlog is now under 100,000 — the lowest in the department’s history — that’s still a lot of veterans stuck waiting for compensation and care. Still, it’s a big sign of progress — claims peaked back in March 2013 at 611,000 cases.
If you’re getting ready to file a claim, you owe it to yourself to be completely prepared. The better prepared you are, the more likely it is that your claim will be addressed in a timely manner. Here are the basics:
Gather Your Evidence
- Make sure you have a complete set of medical records, including applicable documents from hospitals and physicians.
- If you have any dependents, be sure to include any relevant documents such as birth or marriage certificates.
Review Your Submission
- Double-check your submission and all of your paperwork, paying special attention to important dates.
- If you forgot to fill out any sections of the application, it could lengthen the time it takes for your claim to be processed.
Work With an Attorney
- If your claims have been denied in the past, consider working with an attorney. Having a lawyer in your corner can improve your chances of a successful appeal by 18%.
- Most importantly, remember that veterans’ attorneys only get paid if your case is approved. If you need help, make sure you seek it — you have nothing to lose.
It’s no secret that the VA is an understaffed and underfunded part of the Federal government, but recent progress is giving new hope to thousands of returning veterans.
Hopefully, this has given you some peace of mind about your own claim. Remember that help is always available to those who seek it — you just need to know where to look.