November 12, 2009 / 11:00 PM / 10 years ago

Texas veterans face extraordinary claim delays

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Texas veterans must wait “extraordinary amounts of time” to get the federal benefits they earned, which costs them and the state economy $37 million a month, Republican Governor Rick Perry said on Thursday.

Saying his office will pay for a dozen new counselors at the Texas Veterans Commission to help clear the backlog of 39,000 disability or health claims, Perry in a statement said:

“The backlog of claims at the Veterans Administration is a national crisis and it is especially bad for Texas.”

Texas loses about $1.5 million in sales tax collections because of the delays in the veterans benefits, a Perry spokesman said by email.

Over the years, various U.S. states, such as Pennsylvania, have wooed retired veterans with special tax incentives, for example, because their solid pensions and health coverage make them desirable residents who are apt to require fewer state-funded social services.

However, the fallout from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars might partly reverse that equation: between one-fourth to one-fifth of the homeless people in the country are veterans, according to U.S. Democratic Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The Veterans Administration has estimated that “over the course of the year” a total of 336,627 veterans are homeless, the two senators said in a statement on Wednesday.

They urged Congress to approve $75 million for anew anti-homeless program for veterans and $200 million to help community and nonprofit groups build affordable housing for low-income veterans.

Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by tktk

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