January 14, 2007

Compensation and the VA ... Is enough being done?

Compensation and the VA ... Is enough being done?
January 14, 2007
By Tony Bucaro

January, a month that all disabled veterans look forward to. Why you ask, because every January the government gives disabled veterans an increase in their disability payments.

This year the government passed a 3.3% raise to take effect starting on January 1, 2007. That’s a great start but the VA needs to step up and start taking better care of our veterans. What I mean by this is the time it takes to process claims for compensation.

For example, I put in a claim back in August 2006 for an existing disability which is both my knees. Now, this is not a new claim because I have been receiving compensation for my knee’s since 1998. But because my VA doctor said that I could no long work in nursing because of my condition, I submitted a claim to have my compensation increased. It has been almost 6 months now and they are still sitting on it. What is the reason for this? I have been told that the rating specialists have up to 60 days to hold a claim and then a decision has to be made on it. I have also been told that that’s a lie. So what is one to think? I can say this to you that my claim has been sitting with the rating specialist for well over 60 days now and as of today....nothing.

I was watching the evening news a couple of nights ago and they were interviewing a soldier who just came back from Iraq. He had spent many months in and out of hospitals and rehab centers because he lost one of his legs by an IED. He stated that from the time he was hit in Iraq to his last day in the hospital before going home everyone was just great with him. He didn’t have a bad word to say about the treatment he received by the Army or by the VA. What he did say was that he couldn’t believe that he has been waiting over 6 months to receive word on his claim for compensation from the VA. He stated that he needed that money to help support himself and his family because he is still in physical therapy (PT) and can’t work just yet.

What’s the deal with this? Why is it taking so long to review a claim and decide if a person will receive compensation or not? I understand that it takes time to review each claim but, that sounds like a personal problem and not one that I or any other veteran can help with. But yet, we are the ones suffering for it.

In my opinion the VA needs to step it up on processing claims.

What is your opinion on this? Tell me all about it ………


At 6:59 AM, Blogger Robert said...

The author complains about the wait whether from an original claim or from a new claim. I am sure everyone would like to have their claim processed in 30 to 90 days. Unfortunately, we are to blame for the delays. During the Clinton Administration, alot of the most experienced adjudicators took the early retirement or buyouts (when President Clinton was reducing the size of the government (something Ronald Regan never did) and under the Current President Bush, in the first couple of years of this war, many Regional Offices lost people but were not replaced. It takes three years to properly train an adjudicator. Only in the last one to two years has the VA been allowed to replace the individuals it lost in the preceding years and it has never replaced those individuals from the Clinton years. Coupled with the change in the law from the Veterans Claims Assistance Act (VCAA) of November 2000 were the VA is now duty bound to assist veterans in their claims. Previously, the VA could turn down the claim as not new and material, thus speeding up the claims process. Now, they have to work every claim whether it has merit or not as an original claim --- and this takes time.

The bottom line, we need to replace all the people the VA has lost, and then some and we need to give the VA some latitude. The laws have been changed in favor of the Veteran. You can now use evidence from your private doctor, before the mid 90's you couldn't do this. Be grateful you have a process that allows you to use every piece of conceivable evidence to support the claim. Previously, the VA would deny the claim w/o even reviewing the claim.

Yes, the process was faster, but more people were turned down. There is a trade-off in everything we do.

At 12:51 AM, Blogger ArmyVet said...

First I want to say thank you for visiting my blog and for your comment.

In my opinion it shouldn't take 60 days or more for a claim to sit in with the rating specialist for a decision. My claim was in the system for 5 months before it went to the rating specialist and he has been sitting on it for over 60 days now. That is just unacceptable!

I understand about what Clinton did to the military and to our government workers because that is one reason why I had to get out of the Army after 8 years of honorable service. But, for a claim to sit with a rating specialist for 60, 90, or more days is just unacceptable.

As for using evidence from your private doctor, this wouldn't be an issue if it didn't take you 3 months to get in to see a VA doctor to begin with. If I have to go see a civilian doctor and pay for the visit for my “service connected” disabilities, then there shouldn’t be any question as to letting me use his/her diagnosis as evidence for my claim. Again, having to wait 3 months to see a VA doctor is just unacceptable.

It all boils down to patient care and customer service. Both of which the VA needs help in.

At 12:03 PM, Anonymous A vetereran that served over 21 years and was medically discharged and cannot get an upgrade said...

I assume Robert is either not a veteran or since he has one of those good old goverment jobs which a lot of us were not able to get because we did not know the right people, kiss the right butt or not in the right location, his statement shows the kind of empathy that some workers at the VA has for veterans. Those are the one's that should leave and be replaced by veterans who care. Either way the VA system has flaws and someone needs to do something about it. Our President is now sending our sons and daughter's over to Iraq and to think that should they become disabled while there they will have to put up with the same crap I did after serving 21 years sucks. Mr. President did you forget that the same 21,000 people you are trying to send to Iraq now are the sons and daughter's of retired veterans or veterans who served in Vietnam and is now living on the streets, in shelters, or with family. You might want to ask why you are falling short on your recruiting goals.

At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Navy Vet. who lucked out and did not have any service connected injury. My problem started when my back let go and I needed surgery. I had surgery on 9/04. It was a complete and utter failure and I had a civilian orthopaedic who said so. I applied for an Usc 38,Art. 51, which states that if a Veterans hospital is to blame for your disability, you are intitled to 100% disability as if it was service connected. They,being the Va turned it down, so I appealed and have been waiting for about 5 months now. In the mean time the surgery had to be completely redone by a different doctor. This time the fusion took, but now I have problems in the hip area,and just had another surgery on 1/08 of this year. And still I wait to hear from the Va I belong to the DAV and they have been a great assistance. But even they can't get the Va to move. So yes I agree something needs to be done, especially now with the heavy influx of Iraq Vet. Jay.

At 5:24 PM, Blogger ArmyVet said...

February 1, 2007 and as of today my claim has been sitting in with the Rating Specialist for 5 months!

For those of you who don't know what a Rating Specialist is, that's the person who gets your claim and reviews the evidence and decides if you get an increase in benefits or not. From what I have been told .... and I have just about heard it all ... they can only hold your claim/file for 60 days. But, as you can see ... that's another lie.
I called to check on it today and was told that the Rating Specialist has it on his desk and that he will get to it. That he has other claims in front of mine. I asked the person on the phone if the Rating Specialist does any work because my file has been on his desk for 6 months ... they couldn't answer that one. I told the person on the phone that my file most likely has grown moss on it by now that's long it has been on his desk.

Of course they had no answer for me. Sadly this is what our veterans from the wars are coming home to. A VA system that moves like pond water....Slow and sloppy!!

At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the compensation rate (Percentage) for back surgery? Is it true VA does not consider the newer minimally invasive procedures such as disc replacement to be true surgery, therefore no compensation.

At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Steve Zabrocki said...

I am a Korean Combat Medic and filed in July of 2006 with all documentation. The local Phoenix Veterans Hospital examined me and listed me at 100% in November of 2006 per regional VA office request. I have not as yet been accepted or disproved but have filed for all records under the FOIA--Freedom Of Information Act and received a letter in just two days that records will be sent. It has been one year in Phoenix.AZ regional office and still no results.

At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a disabled veteran and found that the best help was my local representative in getting things moving when it comes to VA. after months of no movement on my case I called my local rep and the next day I had my rating and within 30 days i had the cash in hand and back pay. I recommend you contact your local representatives office and ask them to get involved.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger junito said...

My claim is been going and going for a year I call the va every weeks to check on the status of my claim they are so incompetnet tha one week they tell me something and the next week they told that they have no idea where the person who spoke to me the week before find out any imformation about my claim cause he dont see anything in the computer and I receved a letter from the DAV saying the my file came back from the rating board and the all is need to complete my claim is the official letter from the VA but I being waiting for a month just for that letter the hard part is already done but they always come up with excuses over and over they need to do something with the system and they need to do it now even if they have to fire everybody and hire new people I bet you is not that hard write a letter and send it out

At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought my claim was almost done because it was in the ratings office. It got there in July and is still there now at the end of November. Urgh.

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Scott said...

I really feel for all the veterans who are stuck in the VA process trying to get their rightful benefits. In 2001 I put in for a rate increase for my right leg service connected injury that was rated at 10%. My VA doctor told me to do so since after 33 years of favoring my right leg it has distroyed my back. I was told I could no longer work in my occupation as a hard rock miner in Montana. The VA doctors all did their part on writting the appropriate information in my files letting the VA know that I could no longer work due to my service connected injuries and that my back is considered as a secondary condition to the leg, from which I understand is a very standard thing that happens with seriously injury knees. After being denied I went to BVA who remanded the case back to the original juridiction. This is now going to the the 7 year of waiting for a decision on my request for rate increase. I contacted my Congressman to find out what is taking so long, espiecially since I have not been able to work for 7 years. They did some research and told me my file has not even moved from the place that it landed when it was remanded by BVA to rework. All it is doing is collecting dust.
This is so wrong and it was totally wrong in the first place to not grant the claim espiecially since all the doctors were VA doctors and all of them in agreement that my condition is service connected. It was the adjudicator who denied it and now when I call on the phone to see how the claim is progressing they always tell me that it is at the rating office on a raters desk and should be done soon. I have heard that same thing for years. Once the congressman told me what is really going on with my claim I called them back of which I was told that it could take many more years before my claim is looked at again. I have recently put in an affidavit requesting BVA to take the claim back out of the hands of the DRO and without further hearings to decide my claim. I have not heard from the VA as of yet and my file is still collecting dust at the Regional Office. It seems to be stuck in the Twighlight Zone for ever.
Scott Rose
Navy Veteran

At 2:34 PM, Blogger kevin said...

The ColA was 2.3% not 3.3%. Civilian federal employees got 3.5%.

At 4:57 PM, Anonymous lilUSMCvet said...

I served in the Marines for a little less than a year after taking a really bad fall during a training assignment. That was in 01/03...the Navy finally figured out that they had no idea what was wrong with my leg and sent me home. That was 07/03. The VA finally approved surgery to repair my leg...05/04. A full 16+ months and they give me 20%...I appealed with more information about nerve damage...they said, ok 50%.

Dont give up everyone...it took me from 2003 until 2007 to get 50%!!!

Semper Fi!!!

At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is your claim sitting for months without action? I sincerely wish our taxpayers could get a glipse of the claims process from the inside.

Most Rating Specialists are reqiuired to complete four Rating Decisions in an 8-hour day. That means, a rater has fewer than two hours to make a final decision on your claim (if your decision has seven issues or fewer).

Often times, your claim can get to be a year or two years old before a rater has ever seen it. This is because the VA wants raters to produce only final decisions, and not be involved in the "gathering evidence" process. If a rater fails to produce 4 decisions per day, s/he may be subject to disciplinary action.

In many offices, no credit is given for time spent to request a VA examination or to request a complex medical opinion. Basically, the rater has a gun to his or her head: Make a decision, or risk losing your job.

So, if your claim is complex (or simply looks or sounds complex), or you have several hundred pages of records to review, it may get put off to the side, in favor of the "quick" decisions.

This is because the VA offices are required to produce a certain number of decisions per month, much like producing widgets or car parts in an assembly line.

Unfortunately, the needs of our most disabled veterans are cast aside, because performance is soley based on widgets produced.

Most raters love their jobs, and are are extremely dedicated to helping the veterans. Most of us are veterans ourselves, or married to veterans, or children and/or grandchildren of veterans.

In this day and age, no one can say they do not have a veteran in his or her life.

Hang in there, and keep supporting candidates who will provide VA the additional resources it needs to improve its care of our nation's veterans, their orphans, and their surviving spouses.

At 5:52 AM, Blogger jtsskittyhawk said...

I am a Navy Vietnam Disabled Vet who has had both knees, service related,replaced. I have been working on this claim since 2003, with one thing or another - like them loosing my claim & as a result having to start the claim over from the begining. My biggest concern is my life as I know it ends Mar/08 when my temp 100% runs out while WAITING (a year to date) for my permanent 100%. I have been deemed by my VA primary DR. that I am unemployable. What I need is to be able to talk to someone in the know instead of the rude flunkies that work the front desk. Anyone have any suggestions? Will be greatly appreciated..Thanks

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lost an eye to the poor surgerys in the Nashville VA. I applied for compensation and was turned down the first time after waiting for one year. I have since reapplied and am still waiting after seven months. I'm 71 and it is difficult losing an eye at any age. Thanks to the VA saving money by training thier own medics, with plenty of genie pigs.

At 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog. I have an appeal now waiting to be rated. The appeal is over 2 years now and the original was filed in Sept 03. Damn that's alot of retro but I'm still waiting. Now I have the evidence the VA requested so let's see how it goes. More waiting I guess.

At 8:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enough isn't being done.. in my case(viet-nam Vet)I didn't want a HANDOUT i worked ALL my life..I didn't keep up with what a VET could do and couldn't do,I was not advised about ANY benifits.First of all i had heard so much about the VA and NEVER trusted them.After my main job closed down..then another..Medication is expensive..went through unemployment and the works..got strapped..i don't talk to just ANYBODY..one day i was in East Gate saw this (Chattanooga)Vetern's group..I went in..Only looking for a BIG RED 1 patch OR bumper sticker and lo and be hold the fellow asked me ARE YOU A VETERN? SURE!! Man/Miss lady he WENT OFF!! (we talked awhile before he said that now)I was advised about the meds. I went to the EASTGATE CENTER here in Chattanooga and got in the system.. i told about my PAST in country..and how things been going ALL thru the years..i should have went in YEARS AGO!! I know that i have problems..didn't know at first but when you look back through time..MAN O MAN the meds help but if something go down i can't help it i respond.I still use the stuff that i learned.can't help it.I said all this to only say that the VA want you to REMEMBER mo day year AND DAM NEAR THE TIME that everything happened..i have memory problems ..i can't really remember what i did LAST WEEK!I f you remind me it may be different..The VA pretty ask the same questions over and over..THEY ONLY KILL TIME ..THE MORE DAYS THEY KILL THE LESS DAYS YOU HAVE...(SAVING COMPENSATION!!)LAST THING..the VA is the most AWOL in Washington..these are FEDERAL workers not being on the job and still GET PAID!! They dont care !! I say RELIEVE THE "NONE WORKERS"OF THEIR DUTY'S AND PUT PEOPLE IN THAT IN GOING TO PROCESS THESE "CLAIMS" PROMPLY!! Too many LAYOUT and take a "SICK" day. THEY GET THEIR "BENIFITS"!!!!!!!!! PEACE!!LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND!!!CoB 2nd/18th Inf 1st Infantry Div.(THE"MIGHTY") BIG RED ONE

At 9:01 PM, Blogger kaye said...

I'm so glad that I'm not the only veteran that has been going through ordeals concerning my compensation from the va...i went to a representative here in virginia about three years ago trying to get help for the injury i received while in the military..well i was denied, so i decided to type a letter myself and send it back to the board, and that's when i got approved for 10% compensation...the doctor stated that my problem with my right knee will bother me for the rest of my life...so i filed a other claim, but i haven't heard from them for about 7 months, so that's when i got the congressman involved...at this moment i'm still waiting for my answer...we just have to place our situations in GODS HAND, he will open that door of blessings for us...


Post a Comment

<< Home