It’s probably not surprising that many veterans do not understand the VA disability process. However, recent studies have shown that most veterans are not aware of the benefits they are entitled to as a former service member—including disability payments, medical care, college tuition, or pensions.
In an effort to help veterans get the benefits they need, the VA has designated Veterans Service Officers (VSO) at each of its offices. VSOs educate veterans on the types of benefits they can get, help disabled veterans complete and file applications for benefits, and bridge the gap between the system and the soldier.
Why Aren’t Veterans Getting the Help They Need From VSOs?
While many VSOs are hardworking, dedicated individuals, there are still not enough of them to compete with demand. The VA disability system is backlogged with thousands of claims, and there simply are not enough VSOs to go around. As if the wait list wasn’t bad enough, there are other factors causing veterans to be unfairly denied for benefits when working with VSOs, including:
- Geographic differences. The number of VSOs available varies by office location. Some counties may have a full-time staff, but far more commonly offices have one or two VSOs who work on a part-time basis. Even on the off chance a disabled veteran is able to meet with a VSO in person, experience levels may vary, causing misinformation and further delays.
- Forms and bureaucracy. The very least a VSO should do is to ensure that a veteran has filled out his forms correctly. Many veterans assume that the VA will automatically submit information needed for the claim, writing in “ask my doctor” or “check medical records” on necessary parts of the forms. Claims are often denied due to incomplete information, but also because the veteran may have used an outdated version of any of the needed forms.
- Slow progress. While there have recently been improvements to the VA system—such as electronic filing and online disability education—the progress is spotty at best. Many veterans need help now, and may not be able to wait the years it will take to see any real change.
When you work with a VSO, the burden of getting help is on you. You must make the calls, make the trek to the VA, then sit in a chair with your claim and wait to be seen. On the other hand, when you work with a VA disability attorney, you have someone working for you. The attorneys at Cuddigan Law can assist you with your VA disability claim at all levels of appeal, and do not charge you anything unless we win your case. Call us today to find out more about our services, or learn how to file your claim in our free book, The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims.