Increase In Veterans Disability Claims Causes Longer Waits

A recent Civil Beat story highlighted the difficulties Hawaii’s veterans have faced in applying for and receiving their rightful benefits for service-related disabilities. Unfortunately, we’re seeing this issue nationwide. The average wait time is now 277 days for an initial decision on claims submitted to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and subsequent waits of several hundred days for additional appeals.

Wait times are increasing for a variety of reasons. For instance, the number of veterans filing VA disability claims has increased recently, with the VA reporting that it processed more than 1 million claims each of the past three years. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of veterans receiving service-connected disability compensation increased by more than 510,000, from 2.84 million to 3.35 million. In Hawaii, about 15,840 veterans have a service-connected disability rating, with a majority — 11,555 — living in Honolulu County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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