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Veterans Assistance Project

Observations & Issues

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claims processing system is struggling to meet the needs of veterans.  The current national backlog is 822,520 claims and growing. Approximately 12,700 claims are awaiting a decision at the New York Regional Office. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting and data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the New York Regional Office takes an average of 642 days to process an initial claim and 1,518 days to resolve an appeal.   Most  veterans apply for benefits without an attorney , and many claims are decided wrongly every year with the delay and stress taking a toll on the veterans and their families.

This problem will only multiply as more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans file for disability benefits.  Studies have found that the peak years for health care and disability compensation costs can occur as late as 30 to 40 years after a war’s end.  Returning Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans are filing new claims for disability benefits and utilizing VA medical services at historically high rates. The needs of this new generation of veterans are only expected to grow as time goes on.  The Veterans Assistance Project at the City Bar Justice Center will continue to mobilize law firms and inhouse legal departments to help meet the need.  If you are interested in helping to support these efforts, please contact ckilroy@nycbar.org to volunteer or visit this page to donate.