Program cuts wait times on veterans’ disability claims

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SAN DIEGO – A new incentive program claims it can cut the long process of filing a military veteran’s disability claim by half.

Applying a military veteran’s disability claim can be a long and frustrating process that can sometimes take up to two years.

“Most service people, who have served our country, did it honorably. When we come to ask for a benefit that was promised to us, sometimes you have to climb through hoops to get it,” Navy veteran Guy Anastasia said.

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 7.09.52 PMAnastasia was medically discharged after serving several years and when he went to file for disability benefits, he, like thousands of other vets, got caught in the backlog.

“It took me 18 months,” said Anastasia.

Since then, Anastasia began working for the Disabled American Veterans service organization, helping other vets process their claims much faster using something called the Fully Developed Claim.

“There’s no gathering of evidence that has to be done by the VA,” he said.

In it, a veteran, with the help of a service organization like the DAV gathers all relevant medical records and documentation prior to filing with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Wait times have been known to be cut down to as little as two weeks in some cases.

Congress granted an incentive for first time claims in an attempt to get more veterans to use the program.

“If a veteran comes in and files a fully developed claim now before 2015, the VA will back the effective date up to one year, which means an extra year of pay,” said Anastasia.

Anastasia also wants men and women still serving to take note.

If they know they’re going to be medically discharged, they are also eligible to start an FDC, get it processed and the incentive by the time they leave the service.