Getting VA disability claims approved is painful. Allsup fights for vets.

DISABILITY
The VA disability claims process can be stressful, but it does not have to be. Photo credit GAO.gov

Veterans encounter multiple obstacles when filing Department of Veterans Affairs disability appeals and claims. In fact, only around 34.2% of recently filed appeals were approved by the Board of Veterans Appeals.

That’s according Allsup, a veterans disability appeal service. Allsup VA claims Brett Buchanan said veterans face a variety of challenges when filing VA disability appeals and claims.

Podcast Episode
Eye on Veterans
Toxic Update: Who can help vets sick from burn pits now?
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

“The big one, is probably wait times,” he said. “Right now, the wait times aren’t as bad as they were five, six, seven years ago, but with that said in 2020 they did start creeping back up.”

Wait times are increasing due to claims that are being filed in response to the recent decision by VA to add three presumptive conditions – rhinitis, sinusitis, and asthma – to its list of diseases caused by exposure to burn pits.

“They added conditions for burn pits,” Buchanan said. “They also added some conditions to the Agent Orange list this last year.”

VA has even acknowledged the increase in wait times with a recent release saying wait times will get worse before getting better. It is also working to hire additional personnel to process the additional claims.

Buchanan said VA does try to work the oldest claims first, a decision he does not argue with.

“When they get overwhelmed with the volume of claims, that’s when things start getting bogged down,” he noted.

Buchanan said the VA has a challenging mission when it comes to compensation claims.

“There is no life like the military life in the sense that you are taking some relatively young people … they are often doing something physical and they are often doing types of jobs that you are not going to find a civilian equivalent,” he explained.

Buchanan’s advice to veterans is simple. File disability claims as soon as possible.

“As soon as they feel what they have today is related to service, they need to file,” he stressed. “The reason is because the further you get away from your time in the military the harder it’s going to be to show what you have today is related to your military service.”

Podcast Episode
Eye on Veterans
From combat ops to Hollywood props
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

VA will want to know who your current medical providers are. And veterans who have been out of the military for 10 or more years will have to show a progression of their medical condition.

“The whole timeline is important and I don’t think the VA communicates that well,” he said.

In 2019, VA introduced the Appeals Modernization Act which gives veterans a few different ways or lanes to challenge a claim denial.

“VA attempted to make the claims process simpler,” he said. “They are still taking 18 months to get done with the fastest option.”

Even with the additional ways to challenge denials, VA is still taking 18 months to process the challenges.

“We’re challenged as representatives to set the veterans’ expectations when they come to us,” Buchanan said. “We can’t necessarily speed it up in the sense of once it’s in the system making it go faster. We can make sure it doesn’t fall through the cracks. We can make sure we choose the right kind of claim, the right kind of appeal to be most efficient for you.”

Editor’s note: The article refers to the fastest appeal option for Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) claims has grown from 12 months to 18 months in 2021. However, there are faster appeals alternatives available at the Regional Office level, which veterans can pursue and require 2-12 months for resolution.  

Editor’s note: The article refers to the fastest appeal option for Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) claims has grown from 12 months to 18 months in 2021. However, there are faster appeals alternatives available at the Regional Office level, which veterans can pursue and require 2-12 months for resolution.  

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.