Saturday, January 15, 2011

Social Security Disability Versus VA Compensation. Who is Slower?

Comparing Social Security disability to VA compensation, in terms of how long the claim takes and how these administrative agencies handle cases, is like comparing the computers in the 80s to the present day computers. Although the Social Security Administration is far from perfect and the Social Security disability claims still take too long to process, the Veterans Administration is way behind in the processing of VA compensation claims. The biggest reason for this discrepancy is probably mostly funding, but regardless the cause, I think we owe it to our veterans to at least bring the Veterans Administration closer to the Social Security Administration in how it is run and processes claims. In this post, I will give you some examples of how far behind the VA is from SSA. All Social Security disability claims are now computer files. In contrast, the VA is still using paper files. In Social Security disability claims at the hearing level lawyers can now access the file of their claimants over the Internet. This also means that a paper file no longer has to be shuffled around at Social Security to different people for them to work on the file. At the VA, each time a new person needs to do something with the veterans file they must get the paper file and then pass it to the next person or in many cases mail it. If a lawyer wants to see his clients VA file, he or she has to send in a request and wait for someone at the VA to copy the file and send it to the lawyer. I know from experience this can take from months to a year. I am also sure, there is better things the VA employee who has to copy the file, could be doing than having to copy hundreds or thousands of pages. Another example is that it is much easier, although still not always easy, to get a hold of somebody at SSA. Trying to get someone on the phone at the VA who knows something about your client's case can be an utter nightmare most of the time. These are just a couple examples of how the Social Security Administration is much more efficient at handling Social Security Disability claims than the VA is with handling VA Compensation. The purpose of me writing this is not to bash the VA because I know from experience there are some very good employees who are doing their best with what they have. I am writing this post hoping to bring some attention to the fact that our veterans deserve better than this and it can only be fixed if the members of Congress take notice of this fact and steps to correct it. I know the VA is presently trying to become more digitized and to make their files electronic, and hopefully they will succeed as quickly as possible. I am aware of the enormity of this task, as I deal with veterans files all the time and they are generally much larger than Social Security files. However, if the VA succeeds in getting rid of most of their paper I believe it will save money in the long run. I also believe more importantly, that it will reduce the time it takes for disabled veteran to receive a decision and will eliminate the all too frequent lost records that oftentimes prevents a veteran from being able to prove his claim.