Veterans Join Together to Sue VA Over Delayed Disability Records

If you have been waiting several months for the VA to respond to a record request, you’re not alone. Thousands of veterans nationwide have had their disability claims delayed because the VA has not sent them the necessary paperwork—and some former service members have decided to fight back.

Veterans Sue VA Over Failure to Release Disability Records

On April 20, 2015, several Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps veterans filed a lawsuit against the VA, claiming that the agency has failed to respond to repeated requests for their military service records. The delay has caused financial hardship for many veterans, since the documents are necessary to apply for military disability benefits. If the lawsuit is successful, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia may order the VA to produce the records within 20 days.

Some veterans in the case have been waiting as long as two years for the VA to honor their requests, hindering their ability to access:

  • Service and medical data. Many different types of documents contained in a veteran’s file are necessary for disability applications, including discharge information, service medical records, personnel reports, explanations of past disability ratings, and letters from the VA on past benefit decisions.
  • Revised disability ratings. Many veterans who are granted benefits are assigned a disability rating that is much lower than they deserve. Veterans, including two named in the lawsuit, may change their ratings by petitioning the Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR), but the Board needs to examine VA records to assign a new disability rating.
  • Supplemental benefits. Five veterans named in the lawsuit need their VA records to apply for Combat-Related Special Compensation, which would allow them to receive tax-free monthly payments for costs of combat-related disabilities. These veterans have been waiting between 300 and 800 days for the VA to respond.

Do you think the VA should be forced to compensate these veterans for their unnecessary wait? Share this article with your friends and family on Facebook to weigh in on the conversation, or send us an email at [email protected] today to share your own experience.

 

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