The Veterans Affairs Department expects to receive an additional 200,000 VA disability claims over the more than one million claims they received in 2009. They are currently handling these cases manually, and though they have an employment force of over 11,000 examiners, they struggle to keep pace.

There are plans to develop a system to process these claims for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange in a smoother and more timely manner. In March, the VA posted a notice in the Federal Register that it intended to add an additional three classes of diseases to the current list of 12 diseases associated with the exposure to Agent Orange.

The current list of diseases are what the VA deems presumptive claims.  In other words, these are illnesses that don’t have to be proven were a result of military service. Just last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee added more than 13 billion to the fiscal 2010 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill to pay for the additional claimants expected as a result.

The VA department is looking for bidders to create a state of the art system that would include automation, claim forms that would be machine readable and would be web enabled. Such a system would certainly help clear up the backlog that’s due, in large part, to outdated, manual processing. Veteran’s advocacy groups are hopeful that the new system will facilitate claims and help all veterans claiming disability and pensions.

As it stands, the VA is still staring at a monster set of tasks.  This is part of the reason our veterans are having such a difficult time obtaining their VA benefits.  Using a lawyer can greatly increase your odds and save you from making mistakes that may jeopardize your claim. 

Please remember, the location of your veteran's disability lawyer DOES NOT matter.  Pick a law firm based on their ability, NOT their address.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller
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