Veterans in Indiana know the routine. File for Social Security Disability, get denied and then go through an appeals process that seems to drag on forever. On average, the time that it takes for those who have been injured as a result of their service to obtain benefits ranges from three to seven years.
That long wait time may now be a thing of the past thanks to a new law that was fully implemented by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in early 2019. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act has been on the books since Congress passed it in 2017, but the law went through a pilot phase where veterans had the possibility of opting into the program to help them get their Social Security Disability benefits faster. As of Feb. 19, 2020, however, all new veteran claims will go directly into the new system. Under this law, the VA will have 125 days to decide the legitimacy of a claim for possible SSI benefits.
Many Indiana veterans remain skeptical that the law will help them get their benefit fast. Estimates indicate that earlier this year, the VA had 402,000 pending appeal. Of that number, 265,000 were under review by the Veterans Benefits Administration with the remainder already elevated to the Veterans Board of Appeals.
Under the new system, new cases could still be denied, but at least they wouldn’t languish under the initial step of the process, thereby cutting down at least some of the time to win an Social Security Disability award.
Even with the implementation of the 2017 law, veterans must still take care when filing for Social Security Disability benefits. Having thorough documentation in the proper language regarding the event that caused the disability as well as how it prevents the victim from working can help make a claim more successful for the plaintiff.