A World War II veteran who fought with the U.S. army and invaded Normandy on D-Day died while waiting for his benefits to go through.
Richard Scott, 86, never asked for anything from the country he served until the end of his life when he filed for benefits through the Veterans Administration to help pay for his medication, according to Fox 29 Philadelphia. Scott died in June, after a full year of waiting for his claim to be approved.
"It's almost like the government is waiting for him to die so they won't have to pay the benefits. And that's what happened," his daughter-in-law Rebecca Scott told Fox 29. "I'm at a loss for words as to how these men and women have been treated."
His son, Greg, is relieved that his father never heard back for fear that his claim would have been denied. "I think that would have really crushed him. I think he would have really felt abandoned. I mean, terribly abandoned," he told Fox 29.
Scott's story is similar to many others.
The New York Times detailed the strife of veterans waiting for benefits as claims pile up in a new report. Last year, more than 1.3 million claims were filed by veterans, a number double that of 2001. Although the Department of Veterans Affairs has added nearly 4,000 new workers since 2008, the agency has failed to keep pace and failed to complete even 80 percent of its inventory.
This issue is known simply as "the backlog," according to the NY Times.
[The backlog is] the crushing inventory of claims for disability, pension and educational benefits that has overwhelmed the Department of Veterans Affairs. For hundreds of thousands of veterans, the result has been long waits for decisions, mishandled documents, confusing communications and infuriating mistakes in their claims.
Veterans around the nation are waiting an average of 260 days for a decision on a war-related disability claim, according to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported by The Bay Citizen. That's three days longer than last week and 80 days longer than mid-2011.
The average wait time in the slowest offices in the country is over a year. These offices are located in Los Angeles, Chicago and Waco, Texas.
U.S. Rep Jon Runyan, R-N.J., chairman on the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs addressed Congress on the troubling matter last week.
"Frustrated veterans want to know why it takes so long to process their claim," he said. "Frustrated lawmakers want to know why the backlog keeps increasing. And frustrated VA employees want everyone to know that the folks on the front lines are doing the best they can to try to keep up with an increasing amount of claims."
He highlighted a recent Center for Investigative Reporting study, which revealed that veterans in less populated states have their benefits claims processed faster than those in more populous states. However, in most states, "more often than not, that veteran is waiting too long to receive their benefits decision."
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