The VA Disability Claim Backlog and the right to hire a lawyer
After June 20th of this year, disabled vets who are seeking VA disability benefits will be able to hire an attorney before a denial is even received. How may this possibly benefit disabled vets and why would you even need representation before a claim gets denied?
Answer: having representation at an earlier point in any disability claim evaluation system (including social security and LTD) can potentially improve one's chances of winning disability benefits. And winning a case early on, and eliminating the need to travel through the disability appeals system, can save a tremendous amount of time and anxiety and financial down-hill-slide.
In the case of social security disability, to use an example, improving your chances of winning at the intial claim level can save up to two years time (because getting denied on an initial claim usually means getting denied on the first appeal and having to go to a disability hearing which can take an extraordinary amount of time to have scheduled) and can make the difference between filing for bankruptcy or not.
To use long term disability as a second example, you would be very wise to get representation from the very start. An LTD claim pits you against a for-profit commercial entity (insurance company--need I say more?) and not having representation early on can mean that your chance to win benefits has been eliminated before you even realize it (by the time, you get to an administrative hearing, the record may be closed, not allowing you to enter additional evidence and information---this is something an LTD company will not go out of its way to tell you).
The whole issue of attorneys potentially having greater involvement in the veterans disability system has sparked a fair amount of debate on both sides of the issue. However, what lead to this in the first place?
According to one source (Government Health IT), the VA recevied 800,000 claims last year that it added to an existing backlog of 378,000 claims.
Simply put, the VA disability system is struggling under the weight of backlogs, much in the same way that the SSD and SSI disability system is. And in both cases this simply amounts to a failure on the part of government to put the necessary resources in place to keep this from happening.
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