VA Official: Vets Should Give Up Appeals Rights, ‘Instead’ Reopen Claim

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Columbia VA Official

The director of the Columbia VA Regional Office was quoted advising veterans to avoid the appeals process without mentioning the impact of not appealing a denial.

At a rotary club meeting, regional office director Leanne Weldon warned veterans against filing an appeal after a denial because the appeals process takes 5-8 years. Instead, she advised veterans wrongly denied to file a new claim or a claim to reopen because the veteran might get a favorable decision within 112 days.

“Also, file a new or reopen a claim, instead of an appeal. Appeals can take five to eight years, where a new claim takes an average of 112 days.”

Her advice was highly deceptive because it failed to mention the Decision Review Officer option for a local hearing to resolve the appeal, which saves the veteran’s effective date of filing the initial claim and does not take 5-8 years to resolve.

She also failed to mention how much VA stands to save by not paying veterans backpay when the opt for her quicker option – thousands of dollars per veteran. For Columbia VA, that could amount to tens of million of dollars wrongly withheld from veterans through South Carolina, which is home to 100,000 receiving $1.4 billion in disability claims.

Infamous Disability Compensation Process

The process Weldon discussed is the now infamous disability compensation VA benefits claims process. For almost a decade, VA has struggled processing initial claims creating a backlog. VA then sold taxpayers on numerous multi-billion dollar IT solutions to fix the backlog while also rushing claims decisions through that were decided incorrectly.

Now, initial VA claims are decided quickly, whether wrong or right, and incorrectly processed initial claims are then moved into the appeals process and resultant backlog there. At least, that is what is supposed to happen.

Instead, VA has convinced veterans directly, or through their veteran service officer, to shunt that process by refiling their claim or requesting to reopen the claim despite having time to file an appeal to protect their rights and make use of the quicker Decision Review Officer process.

Yesterday, Weldon failed to mention such strategy, surrendering one’s appeals rights, would result in many veterans forfeiting thousands of dollars in back pay they forego by refiling the same claim. She also failed to mention the evidentiary impact of not appealing an unfavorable denial since such a move could result in an adverse decision on certain evidence becoming final.

Fruits Of Bad VA Benefits Advice

Generally, the bad advice VA teaches VSOs to give veterans consists of:

  • Filing a request for reconsideration of claim – this robs the vet of their effective date
  • Filing a new claim for the same claim – this robs the vet of their effective date
  • Filing to reopen claim for same claim – this robs the vet of their effective date

As noted above, a wrongly decided claim can result in a disabled veteran going without hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month. Over the course of one year, any veteran could forgo thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in backpay.

While the scheme Weldon pushes might result in a veteran getting a favorable benefits decision sooner, it also results in VA paying less money to veterans who would otherwise receive the money after a favorable appellate decision.

Further, there is no guarantee the VA regional office in question will make a better decision the second time using the same facts it mistook as insufficient the first time. In those instances where VA gets it wrong a second time, that veteran, unless she filed a Notice of Disagreement on the required 21-0958 within 12 months, will have lost their right to an earlier effective date.

Either way, Weldon and directors like her save money.

This is in many ways like the Great Benefit scheme discussed in the landmark movie The Rainmaker with Matt Damon and Danny Devito. In testimony, Great Benefit admits it falsely denies insurance holders’ claims the first time around, as policy, to weed out frivilous claims. Then, if the claimant really merits the insurance settlement, they address it if the claimant persists. Does this sound like VA?

 

VA Dishes Misinformation To Veterans

For years, many attorneys have attempted to combat the misinformation being spread by veteran service organizations who reportedly were instructed by VA employees to advise veterans against their right to an appeal. We also wanted to take action against VA for giving legal advice without informing veterans of the consequence of such a decision.

We lacked evidence that VA was engaging in this practice of deceiving veterans vis a vis veteran organizations until this news report from Columbia.

According to The Morning News:

Leanne Weldon, regional director of benefits for the VA in Columbia, spoke Monday to the Florence Rotary Club on problems many veterans are facing and how they can get help faster. 

Weldon, an Iraq War veteran, said she understands how the claims process can become convoluted and frustrating. She said the best thing to do is call and get help.

“Come in and visit us or get a service officer to help you understand the process and where you are in that process,” she said. “Also, file a new or reopen a claim, instead of an appeal. Appeals can take five to eight years, where a new claim takes an average of 112 days.”

Weldon said veterans coming from tours in recent wars, such as the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan, are facing trauma and health issues at higher rates.

“Ultimately we want to treat these veterans, find the causes of what’s happened to them and prevent that from happening to other veterans,” she said. “We’re not an office full of bureaucrats; most of us are veterans also.”

Weldon urged veterans in need to call the VA at 1-800-827-1000, or the Florence County Veterans Affairs office at 843-665-3045.

Source: http://www.scnow.com/news/article_09ec7794-c342-11e7-ad6d-8784be7c93f1.html

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Boomlady
Boomlady

Oh, if I knew about this yesterday I would have gone…..shaking my head regarding this woman….I wonder how many VA’s she’s been fired from…..what’s even more concerning is that VAMC Dorn (Columbia, SC) is now a “2” star rated hospital….with the facility failing to diagnose cancer in multiple patients…including myself!

James Clement
James Clement

Let me make sure that I understand this properly:

It is now lunchtime on the ship, and I am the first man in the chow line. I have been waiting 15 minutes already for the chow line to open. Now the Head Food Burner (VA2 Leanne Weldon) steps out from the galley to inform me that the Surf and Turf (Steak and Lobster) is going to take another 15 minutes to be ready to serve.

She also informs me that in the interest of “maintaining proper military appearance with respect to leadership” – – – that I should probably give up my place in line, and go grab a couple Hot Dogs from the Speedline. Should I still want Surf and Turf, I can always “test my luck” later. BUT of course, I will lose my place as numero uno in the chow (VA Benefits) line.

Is that the gist of the article? If it is, my answer to Leanne Weldon would be the same as I would tell the Head Food Burner on those Surf and Turf days.

GFAD. Go Fuck A Duck.

This situation demonstrates very clearly another reason that it is high time for some real leadership at the VA. Leadership that speaks truth publicly about how bad things have really gotten. Leadership that develops solutions to take better care of ALL our nations warriors.

Leadership that recognizes that when they are doing a good job – – – it will be veterans singing their praises, rather than the VA needing a PR Agency to put out “Fluff Pieces” to mislead America and her citizen’s about what a stellar job they are doing.

They are not. In fact, they are doing a Pyss Poor job. The VA has a first-world budget which they use to provide veterans with less than third-world medical care.

Current VA leadership has their Brain Housing Group the size of mice and their Hearts no bigger. It is about FIFTEEN YEARS PAST TIME TO FIX THE GODDAMN BROKEN VA:

1. Recognize the problems inherent in the VA are SYSTEM-WIDE, not just limited to a few locations.

2. Fire all the Lazy No Good Workers. Fire EVERY single AFGE/SES Employee.
3. Sell off all the VA facilities. Alternatively, they may be converted into housing for homeless veterans.

4. Issue all veterans a card that allows them to choose their own doctors within their community that they can TRUST.

5. The United States Government will PAY those doctors promptly (Within 45 days) for the care they provide veterans.

6. ELIMINATE the “Federal Protection” Umbrella for incompetent QUACKS that the VA sends to other states to practice other than their own. Going to practice in Hawaii? You need to be LICENSED in Hawaii. Same applies to all other states.

7. Any claim a veteran submits to the VBA that requires more than 90 days to adjudicate, is automatically found to be in favor of the veteran. If a VBA claim filed by a veteran is found to be a false one designed to scam the system, the VA will have to prove in civil court that a false claim was intentionally submitted.

8. All veterans will be allowed to seek/retain the services of a Veterans Rights Attorney from their first initial contact with the VA.

9. No AFGE, nor any other Labor Union business will be allowed to take place in any Federal Workplace. Conducting Union Business during working hours will be STRICTLY PROHIBITED, and will be STRICTLY ENFORCED. Should any government employee be found violating this provision, it will result in IMMEDIATE LIFETIME DISMISSAL FROM ANY/ALL GOVERNMENTAL EMPLOYMENT.

10. Attorneys for appeal will be retained at the former employee’s PERSONAL expense. U. S. Taxpayer’s will not be subject to payment of legal bills for incompetent or dishonest personnel with regards to Governmental Employment.

You have my contact information Mr. President. Call me anytime. I have a lot of ideas to help this nation improve the services provided to my fellow veterans. The ones that were promised, but have yet to be delivered upon.

Veterans have been waiting for over fifty years for the fulfillment of those promises. I will not hesitate to speak up at all.

For my fellow veterans who have been ill-served by this DERAILED CLUSTERFUCK of a GOD AWFUL TRAIN WRECK CALLED THE VA over the years:

Our battles overseas were far less stressful than our war here at home. Never Cruel or cowardly. Never Give Up. Never Give In. We are on the Righteous path.

POTUS Reagan broke up PATCO in the ’80’s. Time for POTUS Trump to break up the AFGE. The vast majority of our current Congress Critters do NOT have Veterans Interests at heart. Perhaps their replacements will. VOTE OUT all these WORTHLESS BASTARDS.

Give their replacement’s one term to take care of Veterans who put aside their own personal lives to answer this nation’s call when she needed them. Many of those Veterans suffer the remainder of their lives for doing what most of their countrymen had not the courage to do.

If they cannot MUSTER THE STONES to do it properly – – – vote their worthless asses out as well. Party should NOT MATTER. What SHOULD MATTER is their VOTING RECORDS ON VETERANS ISSUES.

Rhetoric is cheap. Congressional Voting Records speak louder than words.

NO Combat Veteran should be surprised when the next McVeigh, Congressional Baseball Team, or Las Vegas Sniper Incident occurs. Bound to happen. Just a matter of time . . .

We have now reached the next accelerative phase of our country falling apart. Country before Party. Principles before Personalities. Always.

Want to REALLY fix the VA? The next SecVA needs to be a former Enlisted Man brought in from the general veteran population with a few serious axes to grind against the VA and the AFGE, with zero previous governmental civilian service.

Apparently, Former Flag Officers and SES appointed Civilians can’t cut the
mustard . . .

Maybe a SINCERELY MOTIVATED Gunnery Sergeant or Chief Petty Officer CAN.

Disgruntled Veteran
1973 – 1976 USMC
1978 – 1993 USN
Wounded Warrior
Honolulu, Hawaii

Curtis Brown
Curtis Brown

I met with Ms. Weldon, this is the behavior she encourages from her ratings specialists. The Columbia, SC VARO is the dirtiest, grimy, scumbucket SOBs who would rather defraud us of our benefits using whatever tools at their disposal to do so!

Laura Fino
Laura Fino

Oh Curtis, you are being a bit harsh. Now everyone admit it, when you first looked at that bitch’s face what was your first thought. Mine was, WOW, that’s one ugly chick! Life would have to be hard for Ms Weldon. She’s probably had to put a paper bag over her head to get any action. And, she has an expression to match.,Just one of those faces you want to slap!

Laura Fino
Laura Fino

Hey! Curtis!
I have a great idea how Ms Weldon could have some therapeutic benefit for Veterans. When I retraced my thought processes I realized I wasn’t even thinking about any VA related issues. My frustration, anger wasn’t there! My thought after what the ugly chick thought was, why IS she so ugly? Is it the symmetry of her face? Her expression? Then that thought went to. Ewwww, she looks sort of dirty, that stringy greasy hair, I bet she’s even, well….smelly. I really think this could be a therapeutic tool to help Vets. We could call it Ugly Face Distraction Therapy! We get pictures of her face, mount them on something like a ruler. Now we have something like a hand mirror. Then we get lots of pictures of other ugly VA employees that do nothing to help Veterans. We put them in all the waiting rooms at the VA instead of those boring magazines. By the time the Veteran waits to to see the shrink,well, it gave the Veteran a reprieve from the negative, intrusive thoughts. I’ll have to try it on my son. Wouldn’t it be great if Ms Weldon’s ugly face would have my son saying, “Hey, Mom! I didn’t have any suicidal ideation for five minutes!” Just think of the potential when I add more ugly,VA self serving skanks and now my son will have an HOUR of peace!

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

Hey Elf,

Did you catch the news that the Oakland Raiders offensive line allowed Derek Carr to get hurt because he did not join the anthem protests. The wife of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes made the claimed Tuesday morning.

Great Vid of her making the claim and more info on a pregame fight in the locker room just before the game concerning the Anthem protest. Also a link to the play where the frontline opened up to let five of the defensive lineman in to get him.

“Wife Of NFL Player Claims Raiders Let Derek Carr Get Hurt Over Anthem Protests” David Hookstead, Daily Caller, 111/07/17
“http://dailycaller.com/2017/11/07/wife-of-nfl-player-claims-raiders-let-derek-carr-get-hurt-over-anthem-protests/”

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

yet another reason not to watch a bunch of over paid prima donas get sweaty chasing a ball around.

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

From the Paradise Papers: Wesley Clark, a one-time Democratic presidential hopeful and a retired four-star US Army general who served as NATO’s supreme commander in Europe , was a director of an online gambling company with offshore subsidiaries, the files show.

No doubt he has his hand in on all the VSO’s gambling operations.

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

Link to papers from the Paradise Papers on Wesley Clark

“https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/stories/wesley-k-clark”

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

Yes sir re: If you played any gambling machines at any of the VFW, DAV, or AMVETS bars. You were helping old Wesley Clarks enjoy his retirement with a contribution through his offshore accounts.

Amaya Agrees to Acquire Rational Group, Owner of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, for $4.9 Billion
Jun 12, 2014, 21:24 ET from Amaya Gaming Group Inc.
“https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/amaya-agrees-to-acquire-rational-group-owner-of-pokerstars-and-full-tilt-poker-for-49-billion-262966881.html”

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

For a map of the countries, where country leaders, politicians, public officials, or their close family/associates are implicated in the Paradise Papers.

“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise_Papers#/media/File:Countries_implicated_in_the_Paradise_Papers.svg”

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

A current Administration Official that is also connected.

Wilbur Ross. The leaked documents revealed that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross holds stakes in businesses connected to sanctioned Russian oligarchs, which he did not disclose during his confirmation hearings.

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

The Paradise Papers revealed that Charles, Prince of Wales invested in a Bermuda based carbon credits trading company, via the Duchy of Cornwall.

“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise_Papers#/media/File:Charles,_Prince_of_Wales_at_COP21.jpg”

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

The Paradise Papers revealed that Queen Elizabeth II held investments in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda via the Duchy of Lancaster.

“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise_Papers#/media/File:Queen_Elizabeth_II_March_2015_cropped.jpg”

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

Of course one of our best Freinemies.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise_Papers#/media/File:Shaukat_Aziz_handout_pic_2013.jpg”

With Pakistan converting all the Afghanistan opium into heroin and handling the global sales. Including distribution centers within the United States.

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

Former secretary of commerce, U.S. (2013-2017) under Obama Billionaire Penny Pritzker outed in the Paradise Papers.

Penny Pritzker, a billionaire heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, served as U.S. commerce secretary during President Barack Obama‘s second term. A longtime friend and backer of Obama, Pritzker has been a major donor to Democratic candidates and causes. To comply with federal ethics requirements, Pritzker committed to sell her interest in more than 200 companies within 90 days of assuming her Cabinet position.

On Dec. 7, 2011, a tax accountant associated with the Pritzker family provided Appleby with a copy of Penny Pritzker’s passport to confirm her identity to enable transactions involving offshore entities that held portions of her family investments.

Two Bermuda-based firms – IAS Holdings and Triton Container International Ltd. – emerge in numerous Appleby files related to Pritzker family transactions.

Pritzker’s investments in the two firms were included in a federal ethics filing in which Pritzker pledged to sell investments to avoid conflicts of interest. Federal ethics law limits Cabinet members’ ability to “personally and substantially” participate in government matters that could affect their financial interests.

Documents show that on June 27, 2013 – two days after her confirmation – Pritzker transferred shares in IAS Holdings and Triton Container to Delaware-registered DRBIT Investors LLC, which Appleby documents identify as being “owned by trusts that are for the benefit of Penny Pritzker’s children.” A separate Appleby document lists DRBIT Investors’ mailing address as the same as Pritzker’s investment firm, PSP Capital. On the ethics form Pritzker filed the following year, IAS and Triton are simply listed as having been sold.

Penny Pritzker also showed up in Appleby’s records as shareholder of the Bermuda company THL Ltd. Pritzker’s ethics agreement states that her stake in THL, listed as worth between $500,000 and $1 million, was sold on the same date she transferred shares in IAS Holdings and Triton Container to DRBIT Investors.

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

Truly looking forward to their upcoming releases I am sure will include info on David Shulkin’s unethical accounts.

Force Lima
Force Lima

A vso in Conyers ga told my father in law the same thing.they told him to file a new claim instead of appeal. I explained what he would be giving up if he went that route. I’m not sure what he ended up doing but I remember being mad as hell at the vso that told him that. This all happened about 3 to 4 years ago

Arnold
Arnold

Good morning Veterans believe or not i am a Lean Mean Machine Marine always be a Marine time to Listen. ….Semper Fi 👍.

Edward Blassingame Sr
Edward Blassingame Sr

If VA wasn’t so adversarial with claims that meet all criteria regarding that particular claim. They wouldn’t have a back log or cost taxpayers all that money for restarting process or fighting the veteran tooth and nail on his or her claim. The worst thing VA ever did was to allow bonuses for depriving veterans of their benefits. It never been allowed to exist then and now.

VAISLYINF INC
VAISLYINF INC

VA DC HQ @ VA SECETARY DAVID SHITKIN NEED TO BE ARRESTED UNDER FEDERAL RICO CRIME RACKETS LAWS FACT THIS IS ALL ABOUT PREFORMANC BONOUS $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ DOJ DC ARREST THIS VA RICO CRIME RACKET ASAP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

R.W.R.
R.W.R.

I can’t speak to the pros and cons of appeal vs reapply because I was never denied. But I can attest to the professionalism and knowledge of the VSO who handled my claim. She was an employee of our county veterans office, and did an excellent job. No complaints.

Laura Fino
Laura Fino

Vets! I need help to help you. All these disgraceful ways you are being treated has to be addressed, exposed, and made public. I want to start forming a group to start protests. Kapernik started by himself for his bullcrap social issues, so that’s why I am going to do. The big difference is that because of the lifealtering sacrifices you have made you can’t mobilize yourselves. And who should. be the most protected out there, VETERANS. Like their whiney issues of equality merit constant attention. Boo boo! It is time for me to purse this. I am very, very serious. I spoke to my Vet son, Gregg. We are going to make fliers tonight. I am going to start with American Legions and distribute them. Think about anyone you know, family, friends, etc. that would be interested in getting involved so we can get some protests going. I have to find out the legal issues of a protest, even a one person with a placard. Anyone know whether I can distribute fliers by the VA? Or is that not possible since it’s federal property? Any advice or contacts who want to fight the fight would be greatly appreciated. I guess I should get a track phone for a contact number and to put on the fliers?

91Veteran
91Veteran

Laura, your best efforts would be put into trying to create a relationship with your local media and getting them to cover how bad your son is being treated.

There are also some veterans groups on Facebook if you are on Facebook.

As for protesting or handing our flyers, do a search on the Army vet arrested for hanging a flag on a VA fence and see how nasty the VA can be against a veteran.

“http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/24/army-vet-faces-trial-for-posting-flags-at-va-site-sessions-asked-to-intervene.html”

Steven
Steven

va claims=crooks

james gallegos
james gallegos

Appeal ! The VA may or will deny your claim over and over hoping you will let it lapse. Even when you let it lapse they still may deny your claim again hoping you will stop trying and let it lapse.

It took me over 40 years of denial after denial. The VA stating over and over you must furnish the proof that you were shot in the head while on active duty. They stated all of your official Military records were destroyed in the saint louis fire in May of 1973.

How was I going to find the guys who were with me. After I was shot I was shuffled around the company and forgot these guys names. I got frustrated and would stop trying and finely I found an attorney to help with my claim and guess what !

The VA lied about my official military records being destroyed and they actually were at the regional office all along. They did not tell me when the fire occurred which was in May of 1973 and I was discharged in Oct of 1973.

When I called the Regional office and spoke with one of their people and asked hey what about all my back pay from when I first applied ! The clerk thought I had just said the Funniest thing he ever heard and let out a big belly laugh !

After he regained his composer and stopped laughing, He stated YA you would have received all of you back pay BUT YOU let it lapse.

I had suffered a Traumatic Brain from being shot in the head, they took advantage of a veteran who was shot in the head and had a Traumatic Brain injury. I applied for a service connected disability for the Traumatic Brain injury and the VA denied that claim also and are still denying this claim stating you must provide the regional office with Evidence of the Traumatic Brain Injury.

Hell once I became service connected the VA completed many Brain Scans that shows an old Traumatic Brain Injury and confirmed by two VA Neurologist’s !

So the Regional did not request any medical records from the VA in Denver !

Can you imagine what I had to go through living with a Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD, In 1973 the VA told me in order to qualify for mental health treatment ” You must have an adjudicated claim from the Regional office.

Please follow this advise never I mean never quit applying for your disability, The VA wants you to stop. Now if the VA gives you say 10% ( you can not be satisfied with the 10% and keep going to the doctor and keep appealing their decision until you are rated at 100% or you Die.

How many Vietnam era veterans were told their official military records were destroyed in the Saint Louis fire or destroyed in some other way or lost.

How many veterans have or had committed Suicide just because of employees like this lady. Without being service connected they can deny you your deserved treatment.

This is a CRIME against Veterans and these people should be in Jail for doing what they are doing. I listen to the Senate committee on veterans affairs in Washington and at one hearing the VA Regional stated to God and everyone, Yes we deny many claims and 90% of those veterans will never reapply !

Yes they are deceiving you and thousands of other veterans. Secretary Shulkin could care less how many veterans are being harmed ! He talks a good talk, But who needs a good talk, we need REAL Action not I promise to do better.

kwon mack
kwon mack

Hello
I was just told today to get my private Ortho to rewrite his Nexus statement and resubmit it with new claim! I submitted initial claim back in Nov. 2016 and have been advised to do 2 reconsideration prior. VA examiner said the Nexus statement was more of personal discussion and not actual review of SMR or PMR. The VA or National Archive could only find 2 SMR which state LBP and SI joints. I went to sick-call 4 times within a year for this before injuring my knee. National Archive also sent me a letter stating all my X-rays & dictation were destroyed back in 2005 due to some HiPPA compliance. The examiner said they has evidence to back their decision but if there’s only an exit exam doc and a sick-call document, what other evidence is there? On top of that, after one year of getting out I continued to have the same LBP during college years and was diagnosed for same thing I was diagnosed while in service. Years after, same diagnosis from Orthopedics which shows a continued pattern of LBP diagnosis. So I’m not sure what to do, my appeal officer said to File NOD and within 2 years the DRO will review it. Any advice? and what can I do about lost or misplaced SMR? All my X-rays are a lost cause.
Thanks in advance