Mental Kung Fu: VA Wordsmithery Rule of Thumb Tip #374
VA spins words like they do not have meaning and then combines those words into rules that defy the imagination. It makes it almost impossible to predict what to do. Enter tip #374.
When it comes to VA Voc Rehab, the game is no different. That is why I wrote the Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans. Sometimes we just need a little help to work through the madness of VA anti-logic.
When VA throws terms at you to deny you, make sure they are using the right words. And, be sure that the words they use mean what they say they mean.
You have to beware of the ever-present possibility that your counselor or health care provider may not know what they are talking about but meanwhile trying to make you believe they do in fact know what they are talking about.
Brilliant. It’s like watching Fox News trend beyond the point of no return just to score ratings.
Here is an example. Earlier this week I wrote about moving and whether or not the M28R guidance says it will pay for moving.
The trick here is that it does not use the words “moving” but instead refers to the action as a “transfer.” It does say VA will pay for the veteran to transfer from one location to another.
It also says VA will not pay for moving personal effects or for dependent transportation.
Taken literally, this would mean the veteran may only transfer naked and alone, since clothing could be considered a personal effect. Further, it could be taken to mean the veteran could not bring her computer, a wheel chair, crutches, or other effects the veteran needs to function, which could be considered “personal” in nature.
What a quandary.
Meanwhile, if you asked VA if they pay for you to move, they will likely say “no” without qualifying it by saying, “Well, we would pay to transfer you, whatever that means.”
Rule of Thumb Tip #374
Here is the tip. The tip is to read everything in VA rules in the same way and manner that a reasonable person would that is in your shoes. When it doubt, check the dictionary for the ordinary meaning of the word or term.
It is clearly illegal to go anywhere naked… unless you are in Portland, Oregon. It is clear that VA needs you to have certain personal effects to function in the new location.
Thus, it would be safe to conclude VA will pay only for what it would cost for you to move your physical body across the country in your vehicle. Or, rather, to transfer your being from one location to another. Depending on your vehicle’s size, you could potentially transfer quite a lot of personal effects to the new location with you.
On the other hand, we also know VA will not pay for your spouse to fly first class to come see you and it will not pay for movers to move your things for you.
This seems fair. We should always remember to be realistic and reasonable when we interpret how the rules apply to our situation — but bring a dictionary when in doubt.
While not always applicable, any rule of thumb will help you interpret what VA claims the rules are. In this situation, the rule of thumb is to interpret the regulations in a way that is reasonable and within the scope of the law.
When in doubt, ask your counselor or the VA employee you are interfacing with for an answer. Or, just check a dictionary.