Claims surge over 40 percent compared to previous year

Auburn, Calif. – Placer County’s Veterans Services Office helped file a record 5,208 veteran claims last fiscal year – a more than 40% increase from the previous year, which itself was already a record high, according to data presented to the Board of Supervisors today.

Those claims led to a record $11,592,954 in awards for local veterans in 2022, another record and nearly five times the dollar amount awarded just a few years prior. Recently, this March, the VSO surpassed its monthly record, with more than $1.6 million awarded. The dramatic increase is in part due to the enactment of the PACT Act, which has expanded Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances. Recent PACT Act updates are expected to further increase eligibility and demand.

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Placer County Veterans

Placer County has an estimated 25,000 veterans, and our county’s local Veterans Services Office assists them free of charge in filing claims and maximizing their VA benefits, from pensions to healthcare and education. Services are also available to veterans’ family members.

“We have a small but mighty team who work their tail off to help veterans navigate what can be a complex system…”

Richard “Steve” Johnson, Veterans Services Officer

“We have a small but mighty team who work their tail off to help veterans navigate what can be a complex system, and often, our clients get a higher benefits rating than they’ve been able to do on their own,” said Veterans Services Officer Richard “Steve” Johnson, an Air Force veteran. “The recent influx of claims has been an enormous boost to our veterans and in turn, also supported our local economy.”

A top performing county

Placer County’s VSO is also among the top-performing in the state on a per-capita basis when looking at subvention funding, recent data show. Subvention funding is money the county receives from CalVet based on its workload. Only six other counties outperformed Placer, with Placer’s six-person staff accomplishing double the workload, on a per capita basis, of another county nearly 10 times its size.

Placer was recently highlighted in a report by the California Association of County Veterans Service Officers, who shared the story of a widowed spouse of a veteran who received more than $31,000 in retroactive benefits after the VSO realized an address change meant she had not received updated information about her PACT Act eligibility following earlier denials by the VA.

This is just one story of hundreds – with average new awards secured by the county VSO close to $4,000.

The Veterans Services Office offers office hours in both Rocklin and Auburn, as well as by appointment in Carnelian Bay. Learn more at www.placer.ca.gov/Veterans or by calling 916-780-3290.

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