It’s still a disability program at the VA; there are two types of benefits. One is a non-service connection pension benefit. It’s kind of like supplemental security income through Social Security. It’s a needs-based program. Not only do you have to have low income, but you also have to be disabled; but your disabilities don’t have to come from your service. That’s why it’s called a non-service connected pension.
The main benefit that most people are applying at the VA for, though, is VA compensation benefits for a service connected disability. To be service connected, it has to be a disability that has resulted out of something that happened in the service or has developed as a result of your service. So, if you were in a car accident and you injured your back in the service and now your back is messed up and you’re having trouble, that’s service connected. We have to prove that you had something happened in the service, that you’re still having a problem now, and that there’s a link or a nexus between what happened in service and what’s wrong now.
The VA program is as back-logged as Social Security is, mainly due to the number of people who have applied. We have lots of veterans coming back from the Middle East that have filed claims so it’s a long, long, long, frustrating process. There’s lots of paperwork that has to be filled out, lots of documentation that has to be gathered, and that’s a lot of what I do—help track down all of that evidence.