COLUMBUS - 

State Representative Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) yesterday joined Speaker of the Ohio House William G. Batchelder (R-Medina) and other members of the House veterans caucus in demanding that veterans’ disability benefits be administered by Washington in a significantly more timely fashion, an issue that has continued to worsen over the past several years.


House Concurrent Resolution 21 urges President Barack Obama, the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the United States Congress to take immediate action to reduce the processing time for veterans’ disability benefit claims.


“I am a disabled Marine Corps veteran and served during the War on Terror,” said Rep. Retherford. “The individuals who are coming home from this current war are guys that I served with—guys like me that are having problems, whether they be physical or mental. And their waits are increasingly longer. When I first got home, my initial claim took three months. My follow-up claim about three years later took 11 months. My last claim took 15 months. So in a seven-year period, the claim time for someone who was already in the system increased from three months to 15 months.”


The United States Government Accountability Office reports that between fiscal years 2009 and 2012, the average length of time for the Department of Veterans Affairs to complete a disability claim increased from 161 days to 260 days, and that the number of backlogged claims—which have been awaiting a decision for more than 125 days—has more than tripled since September 2009. The office also reports that appeals processing at the department’s regional offices has slowed by 56 percent over the past several years.


“For the current administration and leaders in Washington to stand by and not do anything to rectify the situation is criminal and negligent,” said Rep. Retherford. “These men and women have fought for our rights to stand up here today and fought for your right to live free. Good men and women are losing hope. They’re coming home and not being able to be the productive citizens they want to be because they can’t get the help that they want.”


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits program provides monetary support to veterans whose military service has caused or aggravated a disabling medical condition. The number of veterans applying for disability benefits has increased in recent years because of the large number of new veterans and the expansion of eligibility for benefits for certain service-connected diseases.


The House Republicans hope that HCR 21 will stress the urgency of rectifying this issue, making the process more efficient, and giving veterans access to much-needed benefits.


To view the press conference in full, please follow the link: http://www.OhioChannel.org/MediaLibrary/Media.aspx?fileId=138958

 
 
 
  
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