Breaking News: Disability Backlog Cure Found, VA To Implement Immediately

On my first trip to Washington, D.C., with fellow advocate Patrick Bellon, we pushed hard for the VA to grant temporary disability ratings for veterans who had been waiting over one year.

The above picture above was of me talking with Patrick at a hearing on that trip. VA’s Tom Murphy was testifying about why VA is unable to reign in the disability compensation program.

This week, I came to Washington D.C. to get answers. I met with Under Secretary Allison Hickey to discuss the possibility of implementing the temporary grant as a way to reduce the backlog immediately. Apparently the advice did not fall on deaf ears.

From left to right: Benjamin Krause, Congressman Mike Michaud, and Patrick Bellon.
From left to right: Benjamin Krause, Congressman Mike Michaud, and Patrick Bellon.

Today, VA announced it would accept that platform. While I know there may have been many veteran organization pushing for the same thing, I am proud that Patrick and I were a part of the solution.

Read their news release below:


VA to Expedite Claims Decisions for Veterans Who Have Waited a Year or More 

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today it is implementing an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for Veterans who have waited one year or longer. Effective today, VA claims raters will make provisional decisions on the oldest claims in inventory, which will allow Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly, if eligible. Veterans will be able to submit additional evidence for consideration a full year after the provisional rating, before the VA issues a final decision.

“Too many Veterans wait too long for a decision, and this has never been acceptable,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. “That is why we are implementing an aggressive plan to eliminate the backlog in 2015.  This initiative is the right thing to do now for Veterans who have waited the longest.”

Provisional decisions will be based on all evidence provided to date by the Veteran or obtained on their behalf by VA.  If a VA medical examination is needed to decide the claim, it will be ordered and expedited.

“Issuing provisional decisions not only provides Veterans with applicable benefits much more quickly, but also gives them an additional one-year safety net to submit further evidence should it become available. Our door will remain open and if a Veteran has additional evidence, their case will be fast tracked,” said Allison Hickey, Undersecretary for Benefits.

If any increase is determined to be warranted based on the additional evidence received, benefits will be retroactive to the date the claim was initially filed.  The initiative protects the Veteran’s right to appeal the decision. If no further evidence is received within that year, VBA will inform the Veteran that their rating is final and provide information on the standard appeals process, which can be found at

Throughout this initiative, VA will continue to prioritize claims for homeless

Veterans and those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former Prisoners of War, Medal of Honor recipients, and Veterans filing Fully Developed Claims.  More information about filing Fully Developed Claims is available at:

Claims for Wounded Warriors separating from the military for medical reasons will continue to be handled separately and on a priority basis with the Department of Defense through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES).  Wounded Warriors separating through IDES currently receive VA compensation benefits in an average of 61 days following their separation from service.

As a result of this initiative, metrics used to track benefits claims will experience significant fluctuations.  The focus on processing the oldest claims will cause the overall measure of the average length of time to complete a claim—currently 286 days— to skew, rising significantly in the near term because of the number of old claims that will be completed. Over time, as the backlog of oldest claims is cleared and more of the incoming claims are processed electronically through VA’s new paperless processing system, VA’s average time to complete claims will significantly improve.  In addition, the average days pending metric– or the average age of a claim in the inventory – will decrease, since the oldest claims will no longer be part of the inventory.

While compensation claims are pending, eligible Veterans are able to receive healthcare and other benefits from VA.  Veterans who have served in recent conflicts are eligible for 5 years of free healthcare from VA. Currently, over 55% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are using VA health care, a rate of utilization greater than previous generations of Veterans.

Veterans can learn more about disability benefits on the joint Department of Defense—VA web portal eBenefits at:

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  1. This is Jan.,2015, in march my claim is 7 yrs old and my appeal is now 4 yrs old. Same B.S. from V.A., we’re working on your appeal. We hope we can resolve this in a fair and timely manner. Thank you for your service.

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  3. The laws Congress pass are in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Google it and then use control F to search for what you want. Easier that way. Now if the folks at the VA knew how to do this….. “Nuff said.

  4. It won’t make any difference how fast they get them done if they are still WRONG!!! That’s the problem many don’t understand to include elected leaders and government employees. There are good workers there, but they most likely don’t have the proper training in medical conditions and just use a chart to determine disability ratings. Ridiculous. I don’t understand why they don’t ask some of the disabled veterans to help them review records to see if something was reasonable or not because that particular veteran served during that time, during that war, etc. Somethings are not reasonable and the veteran can help get a more accurate rating. Some can even teach some classes or offer some professional development and many would if they would just ask. Not like many of us that aren’t working have a whole lot to do anyway! I designed a computer database (how it works, the fields, what I wanted it to show, reports, etc,) and I am not a computer expert. The system I designed is still in use in the National Emergency Management Information System and what the VA needs is something like that which is simple and actually works. It is not that difficult to do. The programmer didn’t spend years on it and it actually got done. I proposed changes to a database we had in Afghanistan and they flew a guy over from the States to sit down and talk with me about it. He was a contractor and I am sure he made a lot of money on my suggestions, but… as long as we got the benefit in the Army was the way I looked at it. I worked for a government agency that had all these ridiculous databases that were so hard to use and I designed on for them to use as my boss had asked me to and they were so into the technical and bureaucratic requirements, they did nothing about it, yet still complained. It is not rocket science and if they bring up things like a “data dictionary” whatever that is, then you know it is not going to work properly. Something simple, low cost, and implemented quickly with minimal training and few additional resources required was not what they wanted because it would do a lot more than they asked and would have some “contractors” we had co-located put out of business because what I designed would eliminate the need for them to maintain one that was so hard to learn and didn’t give us what we actually needed. Go Figure. Someone needs to design something simple to use, gets the right data, does the appropriate reports, etc. and if we get the person who looks at our records who may not be a Veteran, may not have a disability, may not have been to a combat zone and maybe has a high school diploma, and give them intensive training or replace them (yes, it can be done) and put in some of the unemployed Veterans out of work that would jump at the chance for a job because they have the experience required and many have advanced degrees that could have easily worked on something simple like this. The VA won’t do it even though they need it and it will work, be a lower cost to use and easy to learn, because we are not VA Employees. Well, I think that is the problem. There are great government employees, but there are some that are real stumbling blocks for us and just do what they want instead of what is the right thing to do. Shameful, just shameful. I believe that their deny, deny, deny, and then deny again is actually “theft-by-taking” which depending on the amount, is a felony. Lots more simple things that need to be fixed. Good luck and things will eventually turn our way cause we have incredible numbers of Veterans and we will make them do it. Cheers!!!

  5. If the VA wants us the veteran to give them answers to their problems, then they should hire veterans for their information. why? They blew $200 million dollars! That money could have gone to disabled veterans and unemployed veterans.

  6. Can you file appeals/secondary claims online or do you we need the doctor recommendations and the NEXUS forms? I’m preparing to file everything I have left.

  7. First of all, VA shold already be working older claims first, so there is nothing amazing about the approach.

    Second, chances are, many of the claims that will be rated are missing records (now who, in any organization, should be even retained on the job for waiting two years for records? That is utter incompetence and lack of effort!), so those claims will be low-ballled and the veteran will have to await the second look (in a year or two!) for a final rating, that, in all liklihood, will be the same (remember the “no records” issue?)

    This whole rhetoric and abundent ckliches are SOS/Different day….it is no more than “kicking the can down the road!

  8. Waiting on reply to second appeal for Agent Orange exposure. Supposed to be a slam dunk but what they say and whay they (Dod and VA) are different. Large group of Nam Era vets received heavy exposure during training STATESIDE. Dod and VA claim it never happened despite volumes of proof, including reports of contaminated water supplies to this very day in the Anniston, AL area – – Wish they would acknowledge what they did take responsibility for the delayed onset medical conditions it has caused …

      1. Don’t Quit!!! that is what they want..
        im at bva level for exposure for Loring AFB,homestead,AFB,White Sands Missile Range..

    1. there has been one award for Ft.Mac.
      search for website has the info.
      also feel free to contacy me private if needed.

      1. I think I have the documentation on that claim/award. Included copy of it with my appeal. At this point I am about to throw in the towel …

  9. I filed my claim Oct. 2010 and obtained a lawyer in 2012 well within the one year time limit after the Indianapolis Regional Office denied my claim in 2011. After many dealings with the DVA and the VA in general I was referred to lawyers outside of the VA. I am now being legally represented. The lawyers are awaiting for “paperwork” in order to file a form 9 to the BVA. October 2013 this claim will have taken three (3) years to get to the BVA and this is not even hearing the claim.

    1. I filed an appeal aug 2010 the only information i can obtain is my appeal is at the dav in washington dc. I have been filing claims since 1997 always bein denied im at wits end on what to do Any info would be greatly appriciated,

  10. Thank you Ben Krausse and all those involve to make this happen for veteran. Please do something about the appeals waiting list.

  11. How about paying people the back pay they are owed along with paying the correct amount to begin with…my husband has been getting paid as a SINGLE disable vet at 70% when we’ve been married almost 9yrs now. The VA still hasn’t paid him the back pay he is owed and the pay he’s owed for being married with a dependent…instead the VA sends up monthly letters saying they are “working” on his compensation…but yet if it was the deputy directors pay or even the directors pay that would of been fixed the very same day. And as for the Wounded Warriors being priority .that’s a joke..he is a medically retired Wounded Warrior and is not a priority because if he was his pay would be right! Not sitting on day 373 without correct pay.

  12. It would be very nice if the Vietnam Vets were taken care of right away. Age and health is against them.If they have claims or appeals pull them up and complete them.If there are multiple illnesses solve them all instead of one at a time.

      1. I agree that WW2 and Vietnam era veterans should get priority processing. I’ve had several walk-ins and the VA hospital here for relevant issues. After meeting and conversing with some of the veterans from WW2 and Vietnam, I’ve always went back home and felt that my issues weren’t that serious. The visibly deteriorating physical conditions state that many of those veterans are in completely humbles me every time. And yet they are some of the friendliest and positive people I’ve encountered in my life. Please give them the first priority

      2. That was very very nice of you to say. Wish the world had more people like yourself.

  13. Ben,

    How could you forget to tell them about appeals? Appeals are some of the oldest claims and most have been victim of VA error’s. So people who have been waiting 1-3 years will get theirs but those waiting 3+ years are still left to rot.

    It’s all in the details, or was that group bargained out of the deal?

      1. They left out appeals because they hope you die or give up and Congress cannot help or do anything after all Congress only writes the USC laws. Crooks making laws and denying that they are responsible. Ha Ha

  14. Words like: unheard of, unprecidented & unbelievable can only describe this announcement. Good Work to all involved! A real victory for veterans happened today!

  15. Great news…unfortunately, my last claim was just returned in March and denied. I actually filed it in early January last year. I’m debating on retaining a lawyer and going that route just to complete this tiresome process. Many of my valid, documented claims have been denied so I move to the next one on the list in order to get them all in this “system”

  16. I hope for all the vet’s that are alive this helps…I wish something could be done to expedite us 65 and older viet vet’s as now my appeal for unemployability is almost a year old ….and we could have settled this in a half hour meeting….as a heart transplant from agent orange my case is simple….but my struggle continues as 36 pills a day and a million dollor wife keeps me alive….but now we have some hope ..a small light in the dark void…

  17. Does this new implementation include appeals that are over a year old also? I have 2 appeals pending: 1) PTSD upgrade/Unemployability and 2) Sleep Apnea (secondary to PTSD). They have been in the system since Feb 2011 and August 2011. Every time I call the VA’s help line, I pretty much get the same story – appeals average 460 days, depending upon the complexity of the case and the workload of the VA. WE’re getting close to 800 days on these appeals. Hopefully this new initiative by the VA not only includes claims, but appeals too.

      1. Rot they will just like our Congress wants it to be. Cause if they can’t change the USC to oversee the department and remove leadership if it is a burden to veterans or the government then appeals will be 1000000+ and growing in the future.

      2. Initial claims reply is ALL you need to get a lawyer on the case. NOTHING is going to happen otherwise. The VA is throwing tires at Vet’s feet harder than before the VA scandal. They are just doing George Bush Jr. press releases now to ‘look’ like they are doing something (anything but plotting against the Vet – what they ARE doing.) The VA is now 100% corrupt, and the few good ones are now threatened with job security.

        It is back to sickening again, and since Ben is part of the VA rebirth plan, it doesn’t look like anything meaningful will come from him now.

  18. Good ol’ Ben. If we stand behind Ben krause, we will get action instead of Bull Shit. Spread the word, veterans have found an effective leader in our battle to make the VA tell the truth.

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