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Disabled veterans frustrated by long wait for benefits

Service men and women are increasingly disabled during our modern wars, rather than suffering fatal injuries. Our armed services have better body armor and better medical care in the field so injuries which once would have been fatal, are no longer. The downside of the increase in injury survivability is that more veterans are coming home to California with either temporary or permanent disability.

Contrary to popular belief, many people have a patchwork of disability coverage rather than a one-size-fits-all plan. People can be covered under an employer’s plan, state workers’ compensation and a private disability insurance plan all at the same time. Veterans can also be covered by the Veteran’s Administration.

According to reliable sources, disabled veterans are suffering additionally by long wait times for their VA disability benefits. It was reported that the VA has a backlog of more than 800,000 disability claims. It takes about one year on average to process a claim.

California is one of only seven states that offer emergency funds for veterans so that they don’t go bankrupt while waiting for their disability benefits. The other states are Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan and Missouri. It is estimated that of those who are waiting, many of them are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. To date, about half a million veterans are already receiving disability checks for PTSD.

It may seem like packing a First-aid kit inside another emergency kit, but the long wait time for veterans with disabilities points out the benefit of having more than one form of disability protection. In this case, a veteran who gave so much to protect the rest of us could benefit from additional protection of his or her own.

Source: KOSU News, “For veterans, temporary relief from disability waits,” Nov. 9, 2012

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