MMQB: The VA Disability Fix No One Is Talking About

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130923 MMQB VA Fix

Are you sick and tired of hearing how VA is fixing the backlog all the while seeing headlines that the system is still broken?

Are you tired of hearing how big VSO’s are “fighting for veterans” and yet have allowed VA to get away with unconscionable treatment of veterans after over 70 years?

I’m sick of it. And as an American, I believe it’s time we stop throwing out good money after bad. The system needs a full overhaul, and it starts with you.

Real comprehensive benefits education is the fix no one is talking about.

Hi and welcome to another issue of the Monday Morning Quarterback. This is where I let my hair down and tell it like it is.

This week I am going to talk a little about the VA and big VSO’s. I get into why the system is broken.

It’s all about the veterans who are getting screwed, and I am trying to collect the best tools on the market to help you get your square deal.

I am your host, Benjamin Krause. Thanks for tuning in.

 

The State of DisabledVeterans.org

Here is what is going on with us, before I jump into the main topic. The website is going to go through various improvements.

I am working on getting better tools to communicate with veterans than even those VA uses. My goal is to ensure all veterans have the same tools as the next when trying to get their benefits.

I just got back from an InfusionSoft conference. This tool helps me get you the best information in any way you need it.

I am also looking into Wistia for video hosting. It integrates with InfusionSoft and will help me better determine what veterans actually need, versus what I think you need.

Beyond this, I am looking for other writers to broaden the spectrum of issues we cover here. VA and VSO’s are just not getting the job done. The VA backlog is proof of this.

All too often, VA and big VSO’s use mediocre tools to help veterans without thinking about how best to educate veterans about benefits. I will get more into this later, but I like the Jesus model of teaching a veteran to fish, rather than giving them a fish.

These improvements will help you learn about benefits in a way that VA and VSO’s to not. I have offered these groups an opportunity to team up, but they are satisfied with the status quo when it comes to empowering veterans.

So, this is the direction the site is going in now that I’m done with law school. I am personally very excited about this direction, and I hope it also provides funding for me to advocate for you in DC as often as necessary.

Next week, I’m heading to San Diego for a veterans’ advocacy conference to learn more about current strategies VA is using that could be keeping veterans from their benefits.

 

Why VA and VSO’s do not Teach Veterans to Fish

It should come as no shock that veterans are grossly under-informed about their benefits. In my opinion, this is by design. I offered to build a system for VA that would replace the current dependency system with one of self-advocacy.

VA balked at the idea. VSO’s are also not interested, at least not yet.

My big complaint with VA is that the agency does not want to educate veterans about their benefits in a comprehensive manner.  VSO’s depend on disability claims processing for increasing their memberships, so self-advocacy does not fit their business model, either.

Only co-dependency fits for these two entities, but for different reasons. As stated, VSO’s depend on disability claims management to increase their member base.

 

Meet VA, the DoD’s Insurance Company

VA, on the other hand, has the job of being the DoD’s insurance company. This makes sense for an agency whose name was formerly The Bureau of War Risk Insurance. Currently, even VA health care is considered an insurance model where the HMO is also the hospital.

Like all insurance companies, VA’s real goal seems to be to keep the cost of war low by paying out only after a long battle.

Here is the most recent instance of VA health care being connected to insurance. According to the Tampa Tribune:

Military veterans who earned health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs won’t see changes to their policies come 2014.

The U.S. Census Bureau includes more than 252,000 veterans from Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties in its 2010 tally. And many are enrolled in and rely on the VA system’s health care system for medical services.

So it’s no surprise that The Tampa Tribune and TBO.com Healthcare Q&A has received a number of questions about how the Affordable Care Act will affect the insurance veterans earned for serving in the nation’s military.

Source: No need for veterans to enroll in Healthcare Marketplace

This means, at least at the core, that neither VA nor VSO’s have an incentive to educate veterans about how best to get their benefits. If veterans were better informed, VA would pay out more money. Likewise, big VSO’s would see a decline in membership if veterans did not rely on them to get entitlement to benefits.

 

Back to education and fishing

There are many components to education for it to be considered comprehensive. The educational process includes in person or virtual classes. It includes online or physical books. It requires video guides. It requires brail. It requires follow up and sequential contact for encouragement and guidance.

VA and many large VSO’s are complicit in failing veterans by only supplying hands on help without any functional instruction plan.

Rather than teaching veterans to fish, these entities want to merely give veterans fish. This approach only works if veterans get a fair shake every time, or at least the vast majority of instances. We know this is factually not true in the current state of Veterans Affairs.

Instead of fixing the problem, VA and VSO’s continue to plod along while pointing the finger everywhere other than at themselves.

Here is the big problem with their approach. VA and VSO’s use a large net with large holes to get veterans their benefits.

This approach works for straightforward situations. It does not work for complicated situation. When complicated issues arise, veterans fall through the cracks. When veterans fall through the cracks, billions of dollars in benefits go unallocated.

Currently, VA estimates that 1.3 million veterans are eligible for health care that do not use it. The current backlog is conservatively over 500,000 claims. That means billions of dollars that are supposed to go to veterans are not actually going to veterans.

My research indicates that the money goes to government contractors and into other investment tools outside of VA. It is the expressed will of the people that veterans are cared for to the fullest extent of the law.

VA is failing at giving the benefits. Big VSO’s are failing at helping veterans access the benefits. VA and VSO’s have been at this game for around 70 years. There has been plenty of time to fix the system, and plenty of money both inside VA and within VSO’s. Thus, I can only logically conclude that the system is broken on purpose.

 

Why VA is always broken

If the benefits go unallocated, two things happen. First, it tells the American taxpayer that the overall cost of war is much cheaper than it is.

Bush and Chaney told taxpayers that the cost of the war in Iraq would be $60 billion. We now know that just caring for the disabled veterans will cost over $700 billion. Apparently someone left off a few zeros in the budget office. The low cost of the war’s projection was a component of why we took on the second war in Iraq.

Here’s my point. America believed the war would be cheap. Caring for veterans is a part of the cost of war. The other option is to place the burden of care onto the families of the veterans who were permanently injured. This would increase crime and poverty. Plus, it fails to hold the people accountable for going to war. So, caring for veterans makes sense.

If the veteran was willing to write a check for an amount up to and including her life, then the American taxpayer needs to make good on the counter promise to care for those who bore the burden of war.

VA and VSO’s keep the cost of war low by using a huge fishing nets and failing to effectively educate veterans about their benefits. It is low because many veterans who should get benefits either don’t or they get a lower amount than they are actually entitled.

VA then fights for years to avoid paying the fair amount to the veteran in the form of health care and benefits. Once the payout occurs, if it does, VA pays at the dollar amount they would have paid in the past.

 

Hypothetical examples of VA’s “savings”

Here is a recent example.

Last year, DoD admitted to lowballing veterans who were medically discharged between 2001 to 2009. Odds are, VA did not correct these artificially low claims, called lowballed disability claims. And, over that time frame, we can conservatively assume that well over 30,000 veterans were medically discharged who were lowballed.

In light of the statistics I’ve seen, my best guess is that at least 200,000 veterans are receiving substantially less disability than they are entitled to. They possibly gave up after a denial or were fed up with the process. Many veterans trust that VA, and in the above case DoD, gave them a fair shake the first time and walk away.

Here are ways VA saves money by screwing with the disability system:

  • Payout fair amount only after long appeals process
  • Initially lowball veteran due to lack of documentation
  • Fail to properly inform veteran of evidence needed
  • Fail to educate veteran on how to document claim properly
  • Encourage veteran to use only free help from VSO
  • Encourage reliance of VSO to “prove” claim
  • Refuse oversight inquiries by Congress
  • Allow disability backlog to balloon
  • Use computers to adjudicate claims where adjudicator has no clue how the input becomes the output
  • Calculate payouts at old rates rather than current rates at time of payout

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that VA solved the backlog riddle today. Given that 500,000 claims are stuck, and that the average disability claim is around 40 percent, guess how big that VA check would be for current payout plus backpay?

It would be around $5.4 billion extra that VA would need allocated to its budget for just this year. The initial check would be $2.7 billion.

Do you think VA has that extra money lying around after spending billions on technology fixes that never seem to work?

 

Here is a hypo on another way veterans get lowballed

I want to give you a real example of how VA or DoD disability claims “problems” might result in savings. This is an adaptation from a real world situation.

Let’s say I won my claim after fighting for benefits for 10 years. I filed my claim in 2002. I won the benefits in 2012. Instead of paying at the amounts set for each disability in 2012 dollars, VA uses the old COLA amounts for each year.

So, if in 2012 they realize I should have been awarded a 50 percent rating in 2002, I get paid in only 2002 – 2012 dollars – not just 2012 dollars – for my back pay. The result is that VA creates an incentive to wrongfully lowball veterans.

Here is a hypo of that this difference means for a veteran with one child:

2002

 

2012

Increase

Month

Year

 

Month

Year

2002

675

8100

862

10344

2003

689

8268

862

10344

2004

707

8484

862

10344

2005

735

8820

862

10344

2006

759

9108

862

10344

2007

770

9240

862

10344

2008

792

9504

862

10344

2009

815

9780

862

10344

2010

845

10140

862

10344

2011

855

10260

862

10344

2012

862

10344

862

10344

Total

 

102048

  

113784

Difference per Veteran

 $11,736

Lowballed Veterans

 30,000

War Savings

 $352,080,000

*Note: the past yearly COLA rates are merely estimates from 2007-2012 for one veteran with a dependent child.

 

Why a new strategy is needed to help veterans

In light of the above examples, I believe America needs a new strategy to help veterans.

We owe it to veterans morally and contractually. Not taking care of veterans actually hurts recruitment. It is a national security issue. It is the right thing to do for our future.

The platform for DisabledVeterans.org is improving to ensure veterans receive the educational insights they need to advocate for themselves.

VSO’s have an incentive to not do this. VA has an incentive to not do this. Therefore, upstarts like this one and a few others must step into the huge gap between the reality of being a disabled veteran and the struggle to get what you were promised.

As I started off this MMQB, I hope you enjoyed reading this and came away with a new perspective on why the system is broken. Now, we need to fix it.

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28 Comments

  1. I know Scott Smith of Motivation to Move uses Infusion Soft and has discussed it in his podcasts. If you needed some help he would be a good one to reach out to. As a former VSO it is extremely frustrating to see the types of people that are being hired as VSOs. Thankfully there are quite a few great VSOs in Oregon and from attending the National conference there are still quite a few good ones. The VA is out of control and they need extreme help. Let us know what you need!!!!

    • Well my name is Jon Sommons. I have been fighting my claim for 2 years now and still haven’t got anything to show for it. I struggle to find let alone keep a job. The VA just seems to be to corrupt to do the right thing here. Where can i go for immediate help?

  2. The VA does not need help, more money or more people. The entire system is broken – from contracting, medical care, hiring practices to claims and appeals. It is systemically dysfunctional at the very core of every sector. My group has spent 5 years researching all of the areas and have developed actual cures for each sector, cures that will not require Billions of tax dollars or thousands of new employees. These are time tested (in the civilian world) methods of efficiency and accountability. Both of which that are completely absent from the current environment of the VA. Please read and sign our Petition to the President – to Overhaul the Veterans Administration. We are already working with the House Committee on Veterans Affairs as well as several legislators to bring about these changes – let them hear you voice. Taxpayers and veterans alike…you deserve that your money is spent wisely by the VA and deserve that the benefits are given where deserved.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/the-veterans-administration-overhaul-the-claims-processing-create-mandatory-claims-deadlines?utm_campaign=share_button_mobile&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

    • If he rants so much why don’t you take your a$$ back to the VA office job you have, your 15 minute break is over hoe.

      • Here in Northern California the bulk of the VSO and NSO are crap and when the veteran has other sources of medical help like military medical or even private they get all shook up because they know that their incompetence will be exposed. The VA Health Clinic and the Oakland VA Regional Office is just an abortion center and would rather see the veteran dead than give proper and compassionate medical attention. Your either one of those VA employee’s of the VA or your knee pads are getting worn out if your blind to the horrible care and non professional person that call them selves a doctor. I have been in that system for over 40 years and have documentation that shows their petty bull crap opinion’s. They do not read the veterans records and make statements like “he hurt his shoulder carrying something heavy!” That was what a so called medical professional wrote about me and my injury. Truth is and he knew this before writing his lame remark is that I injured my shoulder while carrying Pat Philips in a fireman’s carry in a firefight in Vietnam May 14th, 1967 as his platoon medic. There is not enough space on this site to “RANT” about all the incompetence, bigotry and prejudice that exist with in the VA Medical or Regional Office’s through out our nation. Those that have paid for this non functional treatment deserve more in medical care. If you fall off a curb or get your tongue caught in a candy machine or offer the VA person a free meal in your restaurant, your going to get excellent care, however; if you get shot or get blown up and hit by shrapnel the doctors just wipe their ass with your medical records and say, “next!” FTVA! and the NSO’S and VSO’s in the San Francisco Bay Area and after keeping in contact with many veterans across this nation who get treated in a nonprofessional way all over the United States at various VA Hospitals, VA Medical Clinics and Vet Center is apparent that they are fool’s that fume with incompetence. Do they think that everyone is not going to appeal their claim’s from this massive denial? The VA says in unspoken word’s that, “A dead Veteran’s grave marker and flag is cheaper than compensation or quality medical care” for get about the quality because that will never happen within the Veterans Administration or the so called qualified NSO’s or VSO’s. “They just draw their pay and eat donut’s all day!

    • Appeal, the VA is counting on either veterans in this back log problem to die or not continue with their claim. We have to fight the VA! A good NSO is hard to find and VSO’s are just trying to survive with very little knowledge of what exactly is needed for a positive out come. Educate yourself as much as possible and do not believe anything coming from the fork tongues of Allison Hickey or Shiniski because they are just pawns of the system and are both collecting that big pay check and eating donut’s at our expense.
      New motto in the VA Directors Office: “A GRAVE MARKER IS CHEAPER THAN PROPER MEDICAL CARE OR COMPENSATION!”

  3. The VA doesn’t need help, they need an international panel to observe how many international human rights violations have taken place by the VA through the Executive Office of Presidents management [Bush & Obama]. Indeed, with over a million veterans holding a shattered and terribly phony social contract of absolutely worthless benefits, this state of new social classing or appropriate
    federal failure is an absolute post war crime which in polymathic fashion paints Obama [lest not forget Bush] with such grieviousness … “HOPE” is actually the acronym for “Post War Crime”.

  4. A meeting of the minds should be coordinated to brain-storm on this topic to find a better way to address these issues. My name is Cameron E. Williams Sr. and I would be glad to help in anyway needed to resolve these problems. My direct phone number (214)756-0093. I’m living in Texas so thats central time zone. My email address: [email protected] for any comments.

  5. Outstanding . The more veterans know about whats going on the better oof the whole nation will be. Your right veterans need to educated, on how to fail a claim, health , ect.
    They(veterans ) need to get invoked, and engaged in the process.
    Im a Vietnam vet, I see a lot of things that are just not right in the system. We need to be smarter, an use wisdom. What can I do at the end… To get involved in this process.

    Praying and wishing you the best Ben.

  6. It should be noted some of the “big VSOs” provide training like Ben suggests as long as the veterans receiving the training promises to help others. That seems fair to me. I am a chapter service officer for the DAV, and DAV trains thousands of volunteer service officers like me every year.

    • Scott, yes this is great. This same system has been in place for decades, and for that reason I argue that this training is not enough. I argue that VSO’s and VA should create systems that empower the individual veteran on the individual level.

      My hunch is that part of the reason VSO’s struggle with this model is not for a lack of money or desire to help veterans. It seems like they fear that it would erode their membership base. I believe this because a huge source of VSO membership comes as a result of helping veterans on an individual level, in person. Without the individual help, it is possible that less veterans would sign up for memberships.

  7. This article brings up a lot of points I have been trying to beat into the VA since I was medically retired in 1993 by the Navy with a rating from them of 20% for Diabetes. Due to my persistence and not taking No for an answer, my VA Disability rating is currently at 80% for all of my injuries/maladies/disabilities incurred during my 22 years of military service.

    The presentation above quite accurately describes the lack of education from the VA and the VSOs concerning Veteran’s Benefits. The Veteran is left to his own wits and resources to find out what his benefits really are. I whole-heartedly support any effort to help educate the Veteran outside of the VA network as to their rights and benefits.

  8. Over all in my opinion the DOD & the DVA is systematically broken. I am a retired NSO and Sr. VSR who worked with the VA as a County employee for 13 years before I retired. I worked with the VFW and the PVA at San Diego and Los Angeles. The DVA doesn’t follow their 38 USC nor their Title 38. They follow their internal policies. All 58 DVA’s have their own way of doing business with their VSO’s. Wonder why your VSO’s are not professionally trained VA Accredited Representative. It’s because they are fighting the status quo. As of June 7, 2007 the VA had authorized Law Attorney’s to help veterans with their denial of benefits because again the VA and VSO’s don’t want to waste their time on disabilities that was either overlooked or never gotten the chance to be proven correctly. As I said before, After I had retired the U.S. Marine Corps in 1994 and had worked for a retired Sergeant Major, USMC and an attorney at law with over 40 years of DVA experience I know what I’m talking about. Since my retirement from the County I have never been the same person. I have been told more than once not to help veterans with their claims because that brought me to where I’m at today, [email protected]% due to my combat disabilities and all the BS I had to go through to help veterans get a better understanding on their entitlements & benefits. I’m still in that mind process of helping whomever that needs it. I refer you to my LinkedIn site if you need anymore information. Thanks for all you do. Everyone who had been a veterans advocate. JKK

    • JKK (CWO-3 Kau’pe)…. I’d like to have a conversation with you when you have a moment and ask your opinion on a few things. I am one of those veterans that was denied disability in 2005, despite the fact that DOD gave me a nice shiny Titanium plate in my neck and discharged me. (I didn’t want to go after 14 years of active duty, but wasn’t given a choice). I called numerous times and was told that nothing new was available on my case and they had scheduled my physical yet. Each time I called them, I was adamant about ensuring they had my correct address and phone number. (Which I only use my cell number and I’ve had this number since the first year Verizon went wireless) They of course sent my appointment paperwork and notices to a former address that I had moved from over a year earlier. Needless to say, I missed my date and was denied any benefits. When I called to ask what happened, they told me I would have to start the process all over again but not until I went through the appeal process and that could take up to 28 months. (MONTHS.. Yes over 900 days) If my appeal was accepted, then I could request a new examination, but because it would be over 12 months since the initial filing of my claim, I would need to start the claim process from the beginning again. I was then told that current claim and disability ratings where taking over 26 months (on top of other 900 days for a grand total of almost 2000 days) Flash forward to now…. I’ve sat back long enough and thought that I had done something wrong by not following through or beating down the door enough. I’m the one with the Spinal Fusion…. It’s time to start the painful process again. Any help or advice you can provide, would be much appreciated. Semper Fi!

  9. In my opinion the existence and need for VSO/NSOs is extremely strange and telling of the nature of the whole process. What other major customer service enterprise anywhere requires inputs from independent self-appointed advocates? Any other entity would regard the need for intervention like that to be a failure of customer service. The goal should be producing satisfaction direct from vet to VA but actually the VA has reversed that and is least responsive to the veteran and only partially responsive to VSOs and even Congress. I had to use both of these in my claim, which was about as straight-forward as you could get. It’s about as screwed up as it’s possible to get.

  10. How about the VA hiring American doctors who speak English clearly. I have no problem with those doctors from other countries, except for the fact that their accents make it very hard to understand what they are talking about.

    • Frank,…you’re spot on with your comment. The VA appears to have a policy of hiring foreign doctors who speak broken English which make translates into..so what, we got healthcare approach,didn’t we? Teachers and other professions are required to take annual educational and certification classes. Why not have a doctors level of English fluency, evaluated by his or her patients with reviews by. The reviews would be sent directly to third party aggregators, not the VA itself. The doctor would continue to participate in English classes until his patients can clearly understand what the doctor is relaying to them. This is a huge problem that needs fixing now.

  11. Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. The underlying principle of this is you will need to eat everyday, not just one day. Unless I have missed the mark, it is not cost effective to teach every single veteran the disability claims system. At most, a veteran will file one or two claims for disability in a lifetime. I looked at the training program one NSO went through with DAV and it is over a year long. Who is going to do that training and just for one person’s claim. That is not a good use of anybody’s resources.

    MY Comment – Here is how I would fix the VA system:

    1) Go paperless – but not the VA way. VA’s answer was to erect a
    “system” do do this. That is pointless, expensive and unnecessary.
    What you do is tell a veteran, “here’s the deal. You can submit your
    claim on paper and we will process and adjudicate it. OR, you can
    scan all of your records into this format Adobe PDF file that is OCR
    searchable, and we will also process it as well.” Method one will
    take six additional months to process your claim. Method 2 will not.

    2) When we do our taxes, we do not auto-magically get our refund held
    up awaiting some bureaucratic response from the IRS. Bottom line,
    they pay the refund and the check is cut within three weeks. If
    somebody thinks you were scamming the IRS, they still cut your check,
    but they take your taxes for that year and place it in the “we need to
    audit this guy file.” Likewise, as returns are filed, the IRS
    develops an internal controls system that screens returns based upon
    certain key parameters (type and quantity of deductions, questionable
    credits, evil one percenter status, etc.) and develop an algorithm
    for whose returns will get audited. based upon those criteria, a
    relatively small percentage actually get audited:

    http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-are-the-odds-being-audited.html

    So what does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Glad you
    asked. Comment 2 is set up for the fix in comment 3.

    3) We need to get the VA out of the direct claims processing business
    – strictly speaking. DVA needs to provide oversight on a process that
    is a little bit more holistic than what we currently have. The claims
    need to be processed by the NSOs (National Service Officers) that are
    certified by the DVA. In essence, this is already happening for all
    claims that have a power of attorney through an NSO. The gold
    standard for NSOs is the DAV (Disabled American Veterans). They are
    training for no less than 16 months to do their job. In all
    likelihood, they get more and better training than DVA employees.
    Most of the NSOs get poached by the DVA to work for the DVA. A saner
    solution would be to leverage the NSO training and have the NSOs file
    the claims. Skip seven of the nine steps and then get the processing
    time down to under 60 days. Stipulate that just like with your taxes,
    the DVA can audit all NSO completed claims for up to seven years and
    after that, the disability claim cannot be countermanded. This will
    free up a lot more time for C&P personnel. That time can be better
    spent providing better training for up and coming new claims
    personnel. What sort of training will they do? yes, you guessed it,
    review the work of the NSOs. If a particular NSO is found to have an
    excessive error rate, that NSO can be de-certified. If an entire NSO
    office is found to have an excessive error rate, that office can be
    de-certified. Again, the DVA employees can be placed in an oversight
    role of the end-to-end process, instead of just being a slow cog in
    the process. This will also free up DVA personnel to better define
    audit control systems. The bottom line is the current system treats
    the veteran as “unauthorized” for compensation. How about changing
    the paradigm to adjust to the reality that a veteran is starting from
    a position of trust?

    4) It is borderline criminal that the DVA is predominately populated
    with non-veterans. Every job should automatically default towards
    going to a veteran. No other government agency has such a narrow
    constituency for service. I cannot begin to count the amount of VA
    employees I have spoken to that were non-veterans. Totally
    coincidentally, these were always the least helpful DVA employees.
    That needs to change.

    5) I wouldn’t sack the current head of the VA – GEN Shinseki. What I
    would do is present these ideas and see what legal impediments exist
    to get them rolling and give him the required time to get the law
    changed. If he did not want to do this, then I would find a
    replacement.

  12. Reverse the burden of proof from the vet to the VA, assume eligible upon submission, and task VA to (dis) prove eligibility. If the records don’t exist, cant be found, are incomplete, contain errors, etc. then the vet remains eligible until proven otherwise by VA.

      • VETS VA DEATHCARE IS ONE BIG BIG FEDERAL RICO CRIME RACKET THE MAFIA IS MICKEY MOUSE TO VA RICO RACKETS RUN BY AFGE UNION CONTRACTS VETS YO ARE SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SCREWED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I’m sorry ladies, I respectfully disagree that the VA should have to prove the veteran is not eligible. That’s just not how it works in any other form of law. FIRST, I should tell you that I am 100% service connected disabled Veteran so I am pro-Veteran. HOWEVER, I have seen so many fraudulent claimants out there who actually brag about just knowing how to “work the system.” I find this disrespectful to me as a truly disabled veteran and to all veterans in general. SECOND, as a practicing attorney for 37 years and as is common knowledge, in all areas of the law, it is the duty of the “accuser” to prove its case for damages and/or guilt (e.g., a prosecutor must prove a defendant committed a crime before the criminal can be found guilty and go to jail, or a Plaintiff must prove a defendant caused a car accident and injuries before the defendant can be held liable for plaintiff’s injuries) – so to say that the VA should be held to the opposite standard of law and automatically be held “guilty” or “liable” for any and all claims submitted unless it can prove itself innocent is perposterous. I agree, the VA claims system needs a major overhaul and the VA medical system is broken beyond broken, but I don’t believe your proposed idea is the solution. Again, with respect. 😉

  13. Very nice ideas, very good. You are correct ( at least here in Fl., Bay Pines to be exact.)I have filed 3 claims over a 33 year period, when I finally did recieve my disability it still took 3 yrs. I would also say that if it had not been for the V.S.O. it would have taken alot longer, I would have wound up at the appeals board,I had such a complicated case that 33 yrs. ago the chief of ortho. here boarded me for surgery for a very esoteric surgery ( scapulothoracic arthrodesis )they denied me due to age, ie…”he is too young for this radical of a surgical proceedure ” 33 yrs. later, even though this back/neck/shoulder injury required bone grafts (they require a body in top shape to heal and for grafts to heal properly)I never recieved an honest to goodness c and p, therefore the law states it couldn’t be denied ( all filed claims for disability must have/give a c and p, U.S.C. Fed. Statutes regarding these issues require it for approval/denial ) The V.A. played one of the dirtiest/most cunning tricks I have ever seen. I was given 70 % based on M.H. issues, the V.A. is aware that again the law and requirements for ” total permanent disability ” state you MUST be at 70% to file for T.P.D., after all the medical information/medical nexus letters ( this is one thing neither a V.S.O. or a regional office “adjuster” will ever tell you you need, and if you can aquire two of them the V.A. need find in your favor ( once again the U.S.C. and the Fed. ST. regarding this specific issue are directly addressed )I had them, the V.A. at that point, VERY,VERY, quickly say within 60 days, found me 100 % T.P.D. and closed my case with a denial of my neck/back/shoulder injury, and then w/o ever having a c and p, fee basised me out for the 3 surgeries I would need, and closed the case with no future ability to claim the shoulder because they fix (?) it surgically, and yes technically you could have gone to the V.B.A. but as you had already been granted 100% it basically makes no sense to reopen a 100 % decision that could ( and would I betcha )have been lowered as YOU ( me )appealed on your own. Talk about a sneaky underhanded screwing ? I found out how shifty they were with what they had done when in early Nov. I was hit in my truck by a lady, her fault, that broke a screw in the triple diskectomy, and broke a wire tying the grafted plate in my shoulder in place, REFUSED on two grounds to help. The first is almost understandable not withstanding you are a disabled Veteran who needs medical help, they stated it was an auto accident and they should be required to do their jobs and care for my medical needs…..ok I almost buy that one. Here is the one letting the cat out of their bag…..They also refused to help because I never underwent a c and p ( who sets those appts. and who does the scheduling, me (?) no wait, the V.A. )and my shoulder was denied under my claim, they had paid fee basis for me to be “fixed” therefore they have no further liability. Who’s been involved in such cunning and deceit ? Anyone ? I would love to hear. Charlie

  14. @Michael Ainsworth. Agreed. Have you found a decent VSO or NSO yet in Northern Cal.? Stuck for years with hostile, incompetent or transient VSOs. It’s bizarre. I only need one good reference. Just one.

    • The problems with the VA run massively in width and depth. I have not been able to identify any improvements with the VA since its scandal was made public. I’ve written VA Secretary Robert McDonald and the president. I’ve not received a single response. It appears the White House is feeding the press false information to appease the public, but no real improvements have taken place. I retired from the army after 21 years active service. The VA recently took my disability benefits. I’m told now it may take years to have the VA reinstate them. Try to contact a VA directly. You receive a recording and told to call back when they are not busy.

      It is nearly to get anyone at the VA to assist veterans who need help. Most VA employees are civilians hiding behind desk jobs and refuse to address issues to help veterans. Hopefully, Secretary McDonald accepts the moral responsibility and leadership to identify and correct the wrongdoings within the VA.

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