Vets Groups Lose at Supreme CourtOctober 4, 2010 - 10:29 AM | by: Lee Ross
Two veterans groups lost in their effort to have the Supreme Court force bureaucrats in the Department of Veterans Affairs to move more swiftly in processing claims, as the Supreme Court announced Monday they will not hear a case challenging a supposed lack of brevity from the government.
The Vietnam Veterans of America and the Veterans of Modern Warfare allege that the VA takes far too long to process claims made by its members and for all veterans. They contend that officials can take more than a year to respond to an initial claim and upwards of five years for the appeals process to wind its way through a “Byzantine system of procedural hurdles.”
While the groups complain about the number of veterans who are denied claims or offered less assistance than what they’re seeking, their suit only challenged the duration of the claims process. “Veterans waiting for the VA to issue a decision have lost their homes to foreclosure, been forced to declare bankruptcy, suffered through divorce, and had to endure declining mental and physical health due at least in part to the VA’s delays,” lawyers for the groups wrote to the high court.
The groups wanted a ruling that would lead to a mandate forcing the VA to respond within 90 days time for all initial claims and 180 days to resolve appeals.
Lower courts ruled against the veterans taking issue with their use of average wait times as proof of harm. “[O]ne can not have standing in federal court by asserting an injury to someone else,” wrote Judge Laurence Silberman in a unanimous opinion of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Monday’s decision effectively upholds that ruling.