Sunday, September 14, 2008

Backlog of veterans’ benefits appeals growing bigger

Backlog of veterans’ benefits appeals growing bigger
Sunday, September 14, 2008
By Jill Bryce (Contact)
Gazette Reporter

ALBANY — Chauncey Robinson only served six months in the Army, but he’s been fighting for 16 years to get his veteran’s disability benefits.

Robinson, of Albany, a Bible study teacher who ministers to veterans at Harvest Church, said he’s stuck in a bureaucratic maze and says his problems were exacerbated when the Department of Veterans Affairs lost all his medical and personnel records.

He said it’s an example of the gross mishandling of veterans claims by the VA, and despite his requests for help from New York’s senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton and Congressman Michael McNulty, D-Green Island, he is still waiting a decision on his appeal.

Case backlog

He’s not alone. It’s estimated there are 600,000 to 800,000 unresolved claims and appeals with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to veterans’ advocates.

“We have claims that have been pending for a decade, two decades and some that date back more than 50 years. We have appeals from World War II,” said David E. Autry, a spokesman for the Disabled American Veterans in Washington D.C., which represents veterans and advocates and helps them obtain their benefits.
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