VA Forecasts ‘Surge’ Of New Disability Claims, Ramps Up Hiring

Changes to VA presumptions for asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis from some toxic exposures will lead to a “surge of claims” in the near future.

On August 2, 2021, VA published a press release announcing the good news for those veterans who experienced respiratory injury in applicable theaters:

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The process concluded that particulate matter pollution is associated with chronic asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis for Veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations beginning Aug. 2, 1990 to the present, or Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Syria or Djibouti beginning Sept. 19, 2001 to the present. VA’s review also concluded that there was sufficient evidence to presume that these Veterans have been exposed to particulate matter. “I announced my intent to initiate rulemaking on May 27 to consider adding respiratory conditions to the list of chronic disabilities,” said Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. “Through this process I determined that the evidence provided was sufficient to establish presumptions of service connection for these three respiratory conditions. This is the right decision, and VA will continue to use a holistic approach in determining toxic exposure presumptives moving forward.” The Southwest Asia theater of operations refers to Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the airspace above these locations.

On September 20, 2021, VA announced its massive hiring spree in anticipation of a claims surge.

The hiring is underway for Veteran Service Representatives (VSRs) at 60 locations across the nation to process the new claims. The deadline to apply is September 27, 2021. The respiratory conditions now added the presumptive list will likely result in a massive flood of new claims from veterans previously denied and new claims from other affected veterans.

The positions are:

A VSR will be trained to perform the following tasks when working to adjudicate these and other claims:

  • Make determinations on eligibility for benefits
  • Request examinations to evaluate disabilities resulting from diseases or injuries
  • Review claims cases to assure all issues have been addressed
  • Conduct interviews with Veterans, representatives and advocates to explain the full range of VA benefits and related programs

What do you think of the hiring blitz ahead of the claims surge? If you were affected by a previous denial for these service-connections, what was your experience before?

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  1. I need help navigating the VA travel pay disaster area. VA Palo Alto, tells me I must get usernames & passwords for two separate systems. I did that It worked one time. This cycle has happened twice. I am flabergasted. Why must I go back to DVA over and over to get the DVA to make its own web pages function? I cannot deal with it. I tell them I need help. I get nothing but phone messages telling me to do the same thing that does not work.

  2. I fully agree, as a volunteer disabled veterans advocate, that more hires will generate more errors in the processing of VA claims.
    Since the BVA is working on appeals dated 2018, a lousy VARO decisionwill only compound that ,with further delays.
    Yes, you are also right too that we need more advocates for veterans.
    There is no doubt in my mind that Afghanistan veterans will be filing claims, more now than before – and one reason is that the Afghanistan War will Never be over for many of them.
    Vietnam still isnt over for thouands of incountry Vietnam veterans.
    And certainly not for their survivors like me.

  3. The real problem with the DVA rating officers, (so-called VA officials), is their inexperience in dealing with people who had actually borne the battle.

    Often, VA rating officials aren’t even Veterans. A VA rating official should have “been there, done what they had done.” If that should ever come about, much more care would be given to the Veteran claimant.

    Worse yet, the VA frequently hires useless contractors — who are often not Veterans themselves, to “rate” Veterans claims. Think “low bid” when dealing with a contractor.

    It is impossible for a “rating” to be properly issued to a Veteran by a “book-smart” snot-nosed kid recently out of college, who is attempting to adjudicate a claim from a Veteran who endured combat tour(s) 30 years before the “rating official” was even borne.

    All service-connected ratings for Veteran claimants should be addressed and adjudicated by Veterans — not some privileged kid who was adept at filling out a VA hiring form; but who could care less about a Veteran receiving a proper disability rating for a service-connected injury or illness.

    The answer: Stop all “ratings.” Just confirm a Veteran’s issues, and then dispense with proper and direct funding to the Veteran claimant. Eliminate the mindless “forms” and other “evidentiary hearings.” Discontinue the VA practice of assuming Veterans are liars, too. Or, best of all: Stop the endless wars, and we’ll then have fewer Veteran claimants.

    1. Larry, your statement summarized the overall situation up beautifully. Eliminate all the red tape, eliminate the hands to infinity that the paperwork has to travel through, and cut out the herd mentality.
      In other words, deregulate the system. I agree.

  4. Although the article talks about a hiring surge, I am concerned that more doesn’t mean correctly deciding claims just that the mistakes will be made more quickly. Veterans given presumptive determinations, new Nether letters, the newly discharged, and those who finally need the disability care that they never wanted to have to claim add up to a recipe for disaster. Veteran advocates are needed more than ever before.

    1. Yes, I agree.
      More most of the time does not mean quality. Same way with the mass production of products. I mean all products. The mentality of many today believe the quantity quota with less quality generates increased profits or in the VA’s case the increased number of veterans added to the system generates the VA more money coming into the VA. Remember, increasing the number of veterans into the system simultaneously increases the money flow from the Congress and the Senate into the hands of the VA upper echelon. The VA has not been about quality anything in years and years. Former President Bill Clinton is the president who signed into law quantity over quality. When the VA started outsourcing more and more is when the VA started it’s decline. Yes back in the day, the VA did actually use to invest in the veterans and even displayed a more humane approach to it’s healthcare delivery. Quality today is rarely delivered anywhere in this country. I am referring to the food industry, the vehicle industry, the home industry, the healthcare industry, and the list goes on and on. Here is an example: Pfizer a couple years ago had developed a osteoporosis drug that turned out to be helping many people; and, it also turned out to be helping people with Alzheimer’s. This surprised Pfizer. So they considered doing a study to really determine how effective the drug really was. Well, it turned out the study was going to be in the millions. So they decided the study was going to cost them more than the profits that they would receive. So what does Pfizer do? Pfizer changes the molecular structure of the osteoporosis drug which had been helping many people. Pfizer removed the patent. By removing molecules, this process changes the overall drug composition. Pfizer reversed engineered the drug that was of quality to different drug that had more side effects and that was less effective. So the end result is not only did the people who were taking the Osteoporosis drug become negatively impacted; but, the people who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s did as well. Pfizer is a greed mongering company; and, does not care about anyone’s health. Benjamin, the VA always projects onto others what they are doing. So when the veterans appeal or get denied, the situation is truly not about the veterans. The situation is points to the federal government. Veterans do not give up. Veterans are fighters to the end. Benjamin there is so much corruption that nothing gets done. And the federal government does not care which is sad. The VA as well as the whole federal government contributes to the negligence and whatever else is going on that is screwed up. I know because I have had to straighten it out, correct it, and clean up behind the discrepancies not only involving myself but involving others. If you look back at your old blogs, you will read me about me discussing these very issues.
      Benjamin, I have been hammered for the last 10 years before the Trump administration, during the Trump administration, and after the Trump administration.
      And, I am not saying the VA did not have issues before; but, the VA has acted insane. I ask what warranted their actions?
      The VA never listens to anything. They are so disconnected and exist within themselves.
      Yes I had to move because I could not pay 1900 dollars for rent. Plus, I needed to move more at an arms length to my family to occasionally assist if I have to. There are more people than resources. Being closer and going from this direction down affords more of a focal point. I will not continuously be uprooted. There is so much red tape that nothing gets done correctly. I know because I have had to constantly go behind. However, with what the VA is doing, it is up to them. Benjamin, in my opinion, the situation is about money. They do not care about human life period. This is obvious. They just do not get it. Larger quantity, bigger, and or a greater quantity does not set the stage for quality in regards to the claims. Quality Service rarely exists today. Federal government should be half-sized. Of course they will not like my statement. Benjamin, they can disagree because they are not ME. 👀 In my opinion, the VA does not need more paper pushers. The VA needs to hire quality physicians and medical professionals. The VA needs to streamline their formulary. The VA needs to shift away from being a pill monger. Ultimately, yes veterans need to be compensated for injuries; but, if the veterans cannot receive care that does not land them in the grave, what is the point of being registered under the VA system? Veterans even now are having to go from the outside in to get anything done in the VA. It seems this is the only way Veterans can attain any level of accountability when it comes to the care. Again, what is the point of building more and more buildings? Benjamin, this has zero to do with healthcare. In reality, the healthcare should be medical care. And you do not want to get me started on this topic. Because I have been around long enough just like many of you and I mean we can recognize the difference. Bottom line is instead of doing what they are supposed to do, they always skirt around. Only way to solve any issue is to solve the problem located at the source. The answer is train more veterans to become physicians to treat other veterans, The answer is get back to the basics such as reduce all this care that uses computers. Face to face always wins the day. I can go on and on. My perspective is the opposite of this administration. I come from a different mind set.

  5. DVA also systematically prevents us from getting legislated travel pay when they cannot deliver needed medical attention near where we live, by making the “application” for said travel pay so convoluted one needs a specialist to even navigate their rules and layers of obscure challenges – all obstacles. Yes, they have specialists who can help. Good luck getting one on the phone. The system is rigged to prevent veterans from participating in their stupid bureaucratic games.

  6. same here… the fight for my horrible disabilites took my whole life of them trying to ruin me… they cut all the vets into different categories… and try to make us fight each other,, the va is nothing but a bunch of damned liars and crooks ! They gaslight, lie, harrass, interigate… and deny deny deny until you die….they know they day will come when they wear you out and down to when you collapse and disappear… while they fight you with the depeest pockets… each one of the bastards acts like it is a personal war they must win at all costs!

    1. I think many are questioning why so many Post 9/11 did/are breaking records filing VA disability claims

      Avg deployment was 11 months. They had the lowest combat, wounded and killed since the Spanish American War which was just 3 months long

      So far Post 9/11 have filed more claims than WWII, Korean and Vietnam War Vets COMBINED which is pretty shocking

      Another real shock was half claimed to be disabled by PTSD

      So I don’t think it’s the VA at fault because no one could have been prepared based off the facts of these long Wars

      I’m still can’t understand it

  7. What I want to know is . . . how much money do/did they divide up amongst themselves on October 1st each year in bonuses from the monies left over after they REFUSED to spend it on disabled Veterans who deserve/d adequate and decent healthcare?

    The Military Man’s Request

    The military man said as he was boarding the plane, boat or personnel carrier for war to his family and townsmen and women, “I will put my life on the line for the good of the whole but, you must promise to take good care of me if I return. That is all I ask. I do not want you to kiss my hand, just treat me with respect and give me the dignity I deserve and have earned.”

    Disabled Veteran
    © 2017 It was listed in the Library of Congress immediately upon certification of Copyright as a significant entry

    I wrote this while under severe duress from the Veterans Administration’s refusal to provide me decent healthcare for my injuries suffered while active duty military. They have treated me very badly and were emotionally abusive towards me continuously to the present day. They have been ‘bitchy, rude and disrespectful’. They told me they thought I was faking my injuries even after I showed them proof. I have almost been killed several times from their ignorance, incompetence and outright stupidity. When will the madness stop? Shameful is what it really is. It has totally ruined a good quality of life for me.

    Nuf sed.

    1. same here… the fight for my horrible disabilites took my whole life of them trying to ruin me… they cut all the vets into different categories… and try to make us fight each other,, the va is nothing but a bunch of damned liars and crooks ! They gaslight, lie, harrass, interigate… and deny deny deny until you die….they know they day wil come when they wwear you out and down to when you collapse and disappear… while they fight you with the depeest pockets… eachy one of the bastards acts like it is apersonal war they must win at all costs!

      1. My fight for my healthcare and compensation took me over 23 years (1983 – 2005) after I found the VA had me “No boots on ground” in Vietnam.
        They screwed this up because I’m dual service – U.S. Army (1964-69) and U.S. Navy (1975-83)!
        Honorably Discharged from the Navy under medical conditions!
        Since then, the VA has screwed me multiple times. They also screwed over my wife.
        It’s about time for vets to use outside healthcare if they so chose.

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