Any California veterans benefits lawyer knows that processing of benefits claims can take months. Unfortunately, in too many cases, the delays are so long that the claim processing is completed only after the veteran’s death. According to a new report, cases in which the claim is processed only after the veteran’s death are becoming increasingly common.
The report has been published by the Center for Investigative Reporting, which claims that such delayed processing of claims is leading to thousands of veterans dying, before they are approved for the benefits and pensions that are due to them. According to the estimates, in the fiscal year ending September 2012, the Veterans Administration paid out $437 million in retroactive benefits to survivors of veterans who died while they waited for the claim to be approved. These unfortunate veterans, who didn’t live see their claim approved, include World War II vets and Iraqi war veterans. The causes of death ranged all the way from natural causes waiting for their veteran’s pension, to suicide because claims were denied.
In all, it is estimated that close to 19,500 veterans died while they were waiting for their claim to be approved. Those numbers are a dramatic spike from just 3 years ago, when survivors of less than 6,400 veterans received retroactive benefits. The number of survivors of veterans, including widows and children, waiting for benefits has increased from less than 3,000 back in December 2009, to a high of 13,000 in January 2013.
In fact, so heavy is the backlog of veteran’s benefits claims that many lawmakers and California veterans benefits lawyers are calling it a national embarrassment.