Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County Announces $17 Million Increase in Compensation
|Compensation and pension for Lake County veterans increased by $17 million from 2010 to 2011, according to a recent review by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Lake County veterans received $69 million in veteran assistance in 2011, compared to $52 million in 2010, which places Lake County above the national and state average for veterans' compensation and pension benefits.|
The primary reason for the increase is due to more veterans processing claims through the Veterans Assistance Commission (VAC) of Lake County. The VAC provides free assistance to Lake County veterans and accredited veteran service officers (VSO) file claims and represent veterans before the U.S. Veterans Administration. The VAC attributes the increase in claims processing to veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, in addition to aging World War II and Vietnam WWII veterans, and their spouses seeking assistance.
VAC Superintendent Mike Peck said, "I am proud of the work of the VAC in keeping up with this demand and helping local veterans get the benefits they deserve. I also want to thank the dedicated volunteers that help us accomplish our mission of assisting veterans."
Illinois is ranked seventh in the country for veteran population with 762,509 veterans, but ranks 14 in compensation and pension at $1.2 billion. Lake County ranks fourth in the state for veteran population at 39,489, but third in compensation and pension at $69 million.
"While we are filling more claims, still only 12%, or about 4500 of Lake County veterans, have received the benefits that they are eligible for. I urge veterans to contact the VAC so our accredited veteran service officers can assist them in processing their claims," Peck added.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has also announced that it will begin a new process to speed claims processing, which currently takes between 12 to 15 months. A VSO will work with veterans so their claim is fully developed before being submitted, to avoid extra delays in receiving benefits. The denial rate for veterans who file their own appeals and submit their own claim is 36% compared to 18% when done by an accredited VSO.