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Recent changes regarding filing for veterans' benefits

Certain veterans' groups are filing a lawsuit to reverse recent changes regarding the manner in which veterans file for benefits. The president of the Vietnam Veterans Association feels the government is simply placing obstacles in the way of disabled veterans to receive these benefits. Though this concerns only two changes, VA officials have provided little information about identifying the veterans affected by these changes.

One of the new changes involves filling out an "intent to file" form replacing an informal benefits claim process currently in place. In the past, veterans have been able to begin the claims process with a handwritten letter or note. Officials claim the new form standardizes how the claims process begins.

The concern among spokespersons for veterans is that many veterans are unfamiliar with VA resources available. This places additional burdens on veterans to learn how the system works when they need to file a claim. The process may also result in delays in veterans receiving the forms that they need.

A perhaps greater concern is that such forms may limit claims to injuries already identified within the paperwork rather than disabilities or injuries discovered while the casework in ongoing. For example, payments for disabilities not indentified within the initial application may be lost.

Veterans apparently filed this lawsuit with the intention of making certain veterans are not hurt due to implementation of the new rules. Groups such as the Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars already have publically criticized the changes made.

It's unclear whether such a lawsuit will prevent the new changes from going forward. However, this does demonstrate concerns among veterans about the complicated process for filing claims for benefits. Experienced attorneys in this area understand the process and can assist veterans in receiving the benefits they need and deserve.

Source: Military Times, "New VA benefits forms prompt anger, legal challenge," Leo Shane III, March 31, 2015

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