Be Careful Where You File: The VA May Lose Your Disability Claim

Veterans who file for disability are often frustrated by long wait times. But imagine how you would feel if you were waiting to hear back on the status of your claim only to find out that it had been lost, but then rediscovered—after twenty-five years.

California VA Loses Thousands of Disability Applications

For veterans in the Oakland office of Veterans Affairs, this nightmare became a reality. A federal government investigation recently discovered that the VA had misplaced roughly 14,000 disability claims, some of which were filled out in the 1990s.

Last year, the inspector general’s office sent representatives to the Oakland VA for an unannounced site visit after repeated complaints from veterans. When the representatives requested to see records that had been submitted years ago, they could not be found—but were then discovered in a filing cabinet. The large bank of applications is suspected to have been improperly filed, and had gone unprocessed since their arrival in the office.

While the number of lost applications is certainly shocking, the practice of misplacing claims is not uncommon. Many VA offices are overworked and understaffed, leading to filing mistakes and unnecessary delays. Problems in the system have been blamed for the backlog of claims waiting to be decided, the number of which varies in each regional office. For example, the Oakland VA is responsible for handling claims for the Northern California region, and has about 30,000 claims pending. Although there are over 300 staffers in the office, the current wait time for a claim decision is about 125 days.

If you cannot wait for the VA to process your claim, there could be a way to receive a faster decision. The VA disability attorneys at Cuddigan Law can deal with the VA on your behalf to help locate your claim and expedite the decision, and can help file an appeal if your application is denied. We can also help you apply for other types of benefits to get you the maximum amount of compensation for your condition.

For more information, order our free book, The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims, or call us today to find out how we can help you.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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