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Despite some progress, backlog troubles veterans benefit approval

Every November, Americans reflect on and thank military personnel for their sacrifice and service on Veterans Day. As the national day of recognition approaches, it will be important to recognize the way veterans are recognized. If a veteran is physically injured or suffers mental illness as a result of their service, then they may be eligible for partial or full veterans disability benefits.

Although disability benefits are one way to recognize time spent in defense of the country, many veterans are facing extensive delays in the approval of their payments. The disability backlog has been noted as a problem for quite some time, and federal officials have promised to take care of this problem.

According to reports, the overall backlog -- defined as claims that haven taken 125 days or more to process -- has dropped 34 percent in size as compared to this spring. Although this is significant progress, there are still about 401,000 benefit claims that are overdue. Behind these numbers are thousands of veterans who simply want assistance to help deal with their service-related medical issues.

Locally, it appears as though backlog rates aren't as high as other parts of the country. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 46.2 percent of claims are backlogged for the Nashville, Tennessee, office. Although this number is still quite high, this is actually one of the 10 lowest rates nationwide. For comparison's sake, the rate of backlogged claims in Chicago is more than 64 percent and is the highest in the nation.

As the backlog issue demonstrates, applying for and receiving veterans disability benefits can be frustrating. Knowing this, it may be helpful to seek out all available options to best ensure that claims are submitted accurately.

Source: Miami Herald, "VA secretary touts recent progress to reduce veteran waiting times," Chris Adams, Nov. 7, 2013

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