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Veterans die while waiting for disability benefits, Part 1

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Long waits for VA disability benefits have generated many sad tales, including some reported in this blog. However, few stories are sadder than the tales of veterans who die while waiting for the benefits they needed and deserved. The growing inability of the Department of Veteran Affairs to pay benefits to veterans before they die has been documented in a study conducted by the Center for Investigative Reporting. The study shows that tens of thousands of vets are approved for pension or disability benefits long after they can no longer be helped by the award because they died waiting.

One measurement of this is that from October 2011 to September 2012, the VA paid $437 million in retroactive benefits to survivors of approximately 19,500 vets who died while waiting for a decision. These statistics include WWII vets who died without their pensions to Iraq War veterans who committed suicide after having their initial claims denied.

This number has recently grown significantly. In December of 2009, for example, there were 3,000 survivors waiting for benefits that would have gone to their loved ones. This year, the number is 13,000.

Some advocates say that this number does not reflect the real volume of survivors who are entitled to benefits because the survivors need to file paperwork to keep the claims open. Individuals who have lost family members are often unaware that they need to file additional forms to retain their eligibility. Moreover, even if they do know about it, they are often so overwhelmed by grief that they are unable to take the needed steps to keep the claim open.

If you are a disabled veteran who is waiting for a benefits decision, or a family member whose loved one died while waiting, we may be able to help. At The Rep for Vets, our accredited claims agents have helped countless vets and their families. Contact us to find out whether we can help you.

Read more about veterans who die while waiting for Department of Veteran Affairs disability benefits in our next post.

Source: Daily Beast, "Number of Veterans Who Die Waiting for Benefits Claims Skyrockets," Dec, 20, 2012.

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