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Veterans Face Ruin Awaiting Benefits as Wounded Swamp VA

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The number of disability cases filed with the Veterans department jumped 48 percent over the past four years to 1.3 million in 2011. The agency expects demands from wounded veterans to rise as more leave the military, Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki told Congress in February. About 905,000 claims are pending at the department, 65 percent of them are taking longer than the agency's 125-day target for dealing with them, according to tallies released this week. Disputes can draw out that process: A federal court ruling in May 2011 said it takes an average of more than four years for veterans to receive a final decision. Many have died waiting.

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