Veterans wait nearly two years on disability claims: city officials

New York national guardsmen meet a state police recruiter at the Hiring Our Heroes job fair Wednesday. (Credit: Getty)
New York national guardsmen meet a state police recruiter at the Hiring Our Heroes job fair Wednesday. (Credit: Getty)

Their wait to get help for disabilities might be longer than their deployments.

Veterans in New York regularly wait nearly two years for their disability claims to be processed, city officials said yesterday.

The New York office of the Department of Veterans Affairs faces an alarming backlog of disability claims, City Council members said in a letter Tuesday.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Veterans Chair and Councilman Mathieu Eugene wrote to U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, detailing a “massive backlog” of claims at the New York Regional Office.

A veteran applying for service-related benefits waits an average of 642 days before that first claim is processed, officials said.

“If true, this puts the New York Regional Office in the dubious position of having the second-longest average processing time in the country,” Quinn and Eugene wrote.

They added that 642 days “is a lifetime for those who are suffering and is simply unacceptable.”

More than 12,000 veterans have waited more than a year to even hear the decision on their claims, they added.

Meanwhile, the office has fewer employees than it did two years ago.

Shinseki has promised that the Department will clear the backlog of disability claims by 2015.

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @reporteralison.



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