VA disability backlog affects 600K veterans - WRBL

VA disability backlog affects 600K veterans

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, along with 66 others, sent a letter to President Obama April 29, demanding help for our military veterans.

When vets come home injured or get a disease because they served our country they get disability compensation.

But around 600,000 vets are stuck in a backlog, while the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, tries to catch up on the claims.

It took a decade for Vietnam veteran Ken Suddeth to get his first disability claim approved by the VA.

Four months after filing his second one for prostate cancer, he has become one of about 20,000 Georgians and 7,000 Alabama vets who are part of the nationwide backlog.

"I sometimes get the impression that they try to discourage you.. Keep turning you down," Suddeth said.

For years, the VA claims process has been a concern. Right now, the average time for a decision is 273 days. In 2009 it was 125. More than 245,000 vets have been in limbo for more than a year.

Disabled American Veterans, DAV, Service Officer Jim Slayton said without the money, some vets live in poverty. "Disabilities that prevent them from working, prevent them from securing income and taking care of family," Slayton said. He attributed the backlog to a continuing war, sequestration, and vets submitting numerous claims.

The VA recently announced they will give veterans who have waited a year or longer some priority. A temporary claims decision will allow eligible vets to receive compensation until a final one is made.

The agency hopes to have the backlog cleared by 2015, but many are skeptical.

Veterans who need help making a claim can visit the DAV Chapter Seven Office located at 1000 Victory Drive or call them at 706 660-1444. The service is free.

Sydney Cameron

Sydney joined the WRBL news team in December 2011 after working as a freelance reporter in Washington, D.C. More>>

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