Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 27, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced plans to fast-track the processing of pending benefits appeals claims for veterans living in counties impacted by the recent hurricanes across the southeastern region of the United States.
The VA Board of Veterans’ Appeals found that the aftermath of Hurricanes Michael and Florence warranted efforts to advance the appeals. VA officials said the accelerated processing would help veterans in need. However, they did not specify how many of the over 300,000 currently undecided claims will be prioritized.
“The VA’s decision to fast-track the processing of claims will be welcome by veterans and their families who have faced hardships due to the hurricanes,” said Florida veterans lawyer David W. Magann. “Timely benefits are extremely important for veterans, who rely on them to pay for the essentials of day to day living.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identified disaster areas in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Veterans who live in the affected regions will automatically qualify for the expedited appeals processing. No action will be required on their part as long as their residential addresses are correct.
The VA Board of Veterans’ Appeals said they are expecting to accelerate claims over six months. Officials will reassess the status of pending appeals once the designated period ends.
VA health and benefits services in parts of the four states were temporarily disrupted by the powerful storms in September and October. Some veterans with critical needs had to be evacuated to medical centers in different states. Officials said facilities in the affected regions have resumed normal operations since then.
In a statement, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie described speeding up “the decision process on pending appeals claims” for veterans impacted by the recent hurricanes as “the right thing to do.”