Do Disability Claims Processing Times at Regional Veterans Affairs Offices Impact Poverty Levels among Veterans
This paper assesses the effect of regional Veterans Affairs disability benefits determination wait time on poverty levels of veterans with an emphasis on those with disabilities. The average wait time and number of veterans awaiting a disability determination have grown substantially since 2008. Despite being the third largest disability program in the United States, with nearly 3.47 million beneficiaries in 2012, relatively little research has been conducted on the Veterans Affairs Disability program. Previous studies have looked at disability rates among veterans, however, no study found has examined how processing times at regional Veterans Affairs offices impact poverty levels among disabled veterans. The key dependent variable is the continuous percent of poverty level for veterans age 18-64 -- those below 100 percent live below the poverty level, and those above 100 percent live above the poverty level. The primary independent variables utilizes The Department of Veterans Affairs regional office disability determination wait time. This study uses 2009-2011 panel data from the American Community Survey as well as weekly Monday morning backlog reports from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Findings show a statistically significant association between VA disability determination wait times and veteran poverty levels. Higher disability determination wait times increases the likelihood of veterans of falling closer to or under the poverty line.
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