Veterans Affairs Secretary Admits VA Is ‘Adversarial’ For Veterans

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Veterans Affairs Secretary

In a landmark statement, Veterans Affairs secretary David Shulkin, MD, admitted the process of securing veterans benefits is “adversarial” for veterans.

To my knowledge, this is the first time any VA chief has admitted the agency treats veterans in an adversarial way during the benefits process, and that the adversarial treatment is costing taxpayers a lot of money in bureaucratic work done in error.

In a speech at the National Press Club on Monday, Shulkin told the crowd he wants a full review of all veterans benefits programs to reduce administrative costs.

“We have to make simpler benefits determinations,” VA secretary David Shulkin said at the National Press Club. “We’re spending too much on administrative costs, and we have to let veterans know what they can expect.”

“They shouldn’t have to constantly be refiling claims to get what they deserve,” Shulkin added, also confirming the benefits process is “adversarial.”

[email protected] [email protected] thanks for calling spade a spade, VA is 'ADVERSARIAL' Click to Tweet

Background On Adversarial VA System

Veterans, support organizations, and attorneys have long claimed VA treats veterans as adversaries when adjudicating veterans benefits. While VA enjoys public perception that it is pro-claimant, the agency has deprived veterans of a right to sue VA in district court over benefits problems.

Instead, veterans are deprived of discovery, cross-examining witnesses, and other legal strategies all other Americans enjoy in practically every other legal process. At the core of these deprivations is the false assertion VA is uniquely pro-claimant.

With Shulkin’s admission, maybe the tide may be changing, not only within VA but also outside the agency when addressing these problems.

All Is Not Rosy For Elderly Veterans Benefits

During his speech, Shulkin did give indication to suspicions that he may be going after benefits presently enjoyed by elderly veterans if those disabilities are tied to “age-related issues.”

RELATED: VA Secretly Working Deal To Cut Vets Benefits

“This is not about taking away benefits from veterans,” he said. “This is about making benefits work better for veterans and transforming the Department of Veterans Affairs to do better for years and for generations for future veterans.”

But Shulkin did remind the public of his concern over benefits for elderly veterans to instead emphasize “service-connection for disabilities, so we aren’t compensating veterans for age-related issues.”

RELATED: VSOs Throwing Elderly Veterans Under Bus

When Shulkin assumed control of the agency, he immediately gave indications to the veteran community of his intent to reduce elderly veterans benefits for those receiving Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits past the age of 65.

After blowback from veterans, the public, and elderly veterans, Shulkin promised he would not reduce these benefits, but his statements Monday show maintained focus in this area.

However, a renewed focus and reduction of elderly veterans benefits for those receiving TDIU would result in many elderly veterans going without.

One argument in support of eliminated TDIU benefits for elderly veterans is that these veterans are double dipping from Social Security and should not be allowed to also receive TDIU. Yet, many elderly veterans receiving TDIU were disabled at an young age and did not pay into Social Security meaning that benefit is not available.

Veterans Affairs Unusually Honest Week

This week has proven to be an usually frank week for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The same day Shulkin spoke, Columbia VA Regional Office director Leanne Weldon spoke before a rotary club near her facility. She warned veterans against protecting their appellate rights in favor of claims options that ultimately reduce overall payouts when they disagree with an agency decision or denial. Favorable claims require the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) arm of Veterans Affairs make monetary payouts to veterans.

Due to bureaucratic mistakes and bureaucratic backlogs, Weldon advocated for denied disabled veterans to surrender their rights in favor of quicker solutions that conveniently reduce benefits payouts over the long run.

For the past two years, veterans organizations have informed attorneys that the agency was instructing them to steer veterans into filing new claims or to request to reopen claims instead of protecting their appellate rights with an appeal. But these advocates lacked concrete proof the agency was engaged in the duplicitous and unethical strategy.

Weldon is the first high level VA official to openly admit the agency is encouraging veterans give up their rights in favor of other less costly solutions due to agency malfeasance and mistakes.

According to Shulkin, “adversarial” VA policies and protocol have created a bureaucratic burden to taxpayers he hopes to reduce. Meanwhile, those within the bureaucracy push solutions that further reduce longterm lump sum payouts.

Combined, both strategies discussed by Shulkin and Weldon this week stand to reduce VA’s overall budgetary footprint.

Source: https://www.militarytimes.com/veterans/2017/11/07/va-secretary-wants-full-review-of-veterans-benefits-programs/

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ANutterVet
ANutterVet

With Shulkin’s admittance, do you think that the current inside VA operational procedures are running properly and smoothly? With this disgraceful atmosphere of the VA being an adversary of Veterans, is disgusting. No mercy on my end, until I hear that the latest Veterans being treated at VA facilities are singing a new song. I can only imagine all of the clichés, and groups of buddy systems, that sure is a working environment for favoritism, bullying, and mobbing. Commenter, can you see this?

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

If what Shulkin admitted today on CBS’s Morning News, doesn’t change things for the better at the VA, or if none of our honored Elected pukes don’t stand-up, and hold the VA accountable, so that the illegal activities can cease in the VA, then we can surely hold our Elected Officials, Committee members, or overseers VA overseers.

Almost in every employment environment in this Country, there’s some sort of scam, scheme, bullshit, or whatever time consuming, wasteful behavior, or some sort of theft. This stuff is happening in many places of employment, Especially when their are more than 50 employees. And, you know exactly what I’m talking about. So tell us about it, OK?

If you eat rice, there’s a sweetened Sake (Japanese Beer), that is sweetened, and is put usually over white rice. Try it, you may like it, like I like it. – – – Nutter.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@Benjamin Krause – – – Hey Ben, I have a question that maybe many are wondering about; “since Shulkin admitted that the VA has been treating Veterans, are there any legal grounds for civil suit based on adversarial?

@Ben, please reply. This inquiring mind wants to know. Thanks. – – – Nutter.

james gallegos
james gallegos

I believe that if any other Head or Secretary of another Agency it would make Head lines and the FBI or our Justice Department would be Demanding an investigation into this type of behavior from the very people in trusted to care for all our veterans.

Believe the main News stations CNN, CBS or other Media if we can keep the saying in the News maybe the Justice Department can not ignore this injustice against people that have taken it upon themselves to defend this country and treat them as not even Human.

These types of people that would treat a veteran in this manner must be arrested and Federal charges against any VA employee that is involved from top to bottom.

Getting the Justice Department involved Many VA Employees will spill the Beans. That’s how to get the whole story. I am sorry that VA employees could let another person deny any veteran Treatment just because they want a Yearly Bonus or who knows maybe they will find many of them have turned Dark and really approved Many Veterans claims, but sent them denial letters !

And the monies syphoned off into their personnel bank account ?

Time for a Complete Federal Investigation into the VBA and all VA facilities and finely clean up the VA so Veterans can live in peace and enjoy life. They deserve it !

T
T

Hope people are able to watch RT news today, or presently while they are discussing burn pits and other exposures causing harm and death to vets. Really hard stuff to watch.

joeaveragevet
joeaveragevet

Vets are so suprised at the VA telling the truth for a change, that they dont believe Shulkin, even when he does speak the truth. Of course, Im “from Missouri” and will wait and see.
Since Vets have been lied to so many times, we view even potentially positive changes as the VA out to get us, and for very good reasons: In the past, when VA said they were making positive changes, to help Vets, we rightfully ran for cover.
If this is the start of Va telling us the truth, Im for it. Im so tired of the VA always telling us what they think we want to hear, only to actually do the opposite.

Dina Padilla
Dina Padilla

ON PBS, this last week, for the VA problems, showed that for all the vets needing care up until the mid 21st century would cost 1 TRILLION dollars.

T
T

This morning on RT news about burn pits, etc., there are over a hundred thousand ill and dying vets just since the Bush clan, military/bankers complex for wars. According to one vet in a class action law suit against the VA. (As I understood it.) That if they okayed and passed all the various disabled complaints, accrued health care costs, put them all in the system… by suffering and ignored veterans, that it would immediately bankrupt/bust VA financial systems. So that alone sums up their need for long wait times to give vets access to proper health care and hoping we all die before we get the proper care we need. Especially those in more recent conflicts.

What did it take for Agent Orange sufferers, forty or so years to be heard and accepted. And after so many had to suffer and die first, not a tear or apology from the government or the stinking VA or staff.

Don Karg
Don Karg

11/09/2017

Dear Benjamin Krause,

The Honorable Shulkin Secretary of Veterans Affairs letter Re: VA mistakes “an old story” dated 02/28/2017—9 months later—Wow!

After a description of a large part of the problem I stated:

David, these guys are not stupid, it is your ass, not mine.

President Trump stated today, “Our veterans have delivered for this Nation –- and now we must deliver for them.”

Thank you for your work and your future efforts.

Benjamin maybe it takes time for the words to sink in [Hold on its only two days away from Veterans Day—this could be just a Disney Moment].

Sincerely,

Don Karg