Posted on May 11, 2013

Nearly one-quarter of recent veterans suffer from some sort of service-related disability. Many of these disabilities are severe enough to keep the veteran from working. American veterans who have paid Social Security taxes are eligible for both Social Security disability benefits and VA disability compensation. However, many veterans are finding that receiving the benefits they have earned means a long wait.

The Veterans Administration currently has a backlog of more than 900,000 disability applications. More than 500,000 of these claims have been pending for 125 days or longer. In fact, many disabled veterans have waited more than a year for a decision on veteran’s benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs has recently come under significant criticism for the backlog and delays which have increased dramatically over the past three years.

On April 30, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs announced that it would be withholding bonuses from all executives of the Veterans Benefits Administration. The savings will be used to help reduce the application backlog.

Many federal departments routinely give bonuses to senior executives and other non-political employees. In Fiscal year 2011, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs paid its senior executives a total of $2.8 million in bonuses. It is hard to see such bonuses as fair when disabled veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country are struggling to make ends meet.

Veterans who become disabled while on active duty military service on or after October 1, 2001 are eligible for expedited processing of Social Security disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applications.

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