Showing posts with label VA claim appeal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VA claim appeal. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

90 BVA judges decide cases, with an “inventory” of over 425,000 cases pending

When the VA misrepresents performance, veterans suffer

The Hill
Veterans suffer from this misrepresentation. The volume of veterans’ appeals is huge. The vast majority are related to disability compensation claims. Some 90 BVA judges decide cases, with an “inventory” of over 425,000 cases pending. A veteran must wait seven years for the BVA to decide his or her case. If the decision is incorrect, the veteran must hire a lawyer, appeal yet again, and spend years to get the error fixed. Veterans are caught in this “churn” of appeals, creating extreme cynicism among some veterans groups. In one veteran’s assessment, VA’s error-prone case handling consists of “delay, deny, hope they die.”

Administrative judges appear to be performing better than ever, in spite of huge increases in performance quotas. The Trump Justice Department implemented an annual “production quota” of 700 cases for immigration judges. The Social Security Administration requested its disability judges to increase their output by almost 20 percent over the past few years. And the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) increased its output by a whopping 62 percent in one year, deciding 52,661 cases in 2017 and 85,288 cases in 2018.

The Constitution demands that agencies decide cases accurately. And in spite of the production increase, the BVA reported an “accuracy rate” of 94 percent for 2018. According to this reported rate, only 6 percent of BVA decisions contain legal mistakes. If true, these statistics would mean that agencies deciding hundreds of thousands of cases each year — more than all federal courts combined — can provide high quality justice for immigrants, veterans and the disabled at unprecedented rates.

Has the BVA finally cracked the constitutional code of mass adjudication? Nothing could be further from the truth. Our research teams at Stanford and UCLA unearthed data on nearly 600,000 cases never before studied by outside researchers, as well as hundreds of pages of agency documents. Drawing on this information and in-depth interviews with agency officials, our research shows that the BVA is seriously misrepresenting its performance.
A typical case for veterans benefits involves thousands of pages of exhibits and numerous complicated legal issues. A veterans law judge must decide 25-30 of these cases each week. Commenting on the impact of rushed decision-making on the quality of his work, one veterans law judge confided that he found himself forced to sign decisions he never would have signed in earlier years: “I could have integrity here or I could stay employed.”
read more here

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Do Not Pay the Price of Service With Your Life

About a week ago I got into a conversation with a young veteran about suicide. There have been numerous reports of veterans calling the Suicide Hotline and not getting the help they needed when they needed it. I asked her why they do not just call 911 and ask for help.  She said they do not want to get stuck with the bill.

Stunning I know but it very well may play a part in veteran in crisis not wanting to add more burden on their shoulders.

While Enhanced Eligibility for VA Healthcare has extended free care for combat veterans up to 5 years, too many veteran do not use it.  

Who's Eligible?
Veterans, including activated Reservists and members of the National Guard, are eligible if they served on active duty in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, and have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.

  • Eligible combat Veterans will have free medical care and medications for any condition that may be related to their service in theater.
  • Immediate benefits of health care coverage.
  • No enrollment fee, monthly premiums or deductibles.
  • Low or no out-of-pocket costs.  During the five-year post discharge timeframe, there may be small medical care or prescription drug copayments for medical care for any condition not related to combat theater.   See our Copayment page for more information. (Copayment page)
  • Once enrolled, the Veteran will remain enrolled.
  • Enrollment with VA satisfies the health care law’s requirement to have health care coverage. 
  • Medical care rated among the best in the United States.
  • More than 1,700 places available to get health care.
  • VA health care can be used along with Medicare and any other health insurance coverage.

And this part is something else to pay attention to.

Veterans who qualify under this special eligibility are not subject to copays for conditions potentially related to their combat service. However, unless otherwise exempted, combat Veterans must either disclose their prior year gross household income OR decline to provide their financial information and agree to make applicable copays for care or services VA determines are clearly unrelated to their military service.
If you know a veteran in crisis and they cannot get help from the Crisis line, have them call 911 and ask for fire rescue. I have talked to firefighters and police officers about this.  If you call for police, what happens is a veteran in crisis can find themselves under more stress when they see a police officer yet when a firefighter shows up, there is less stress.

Most of the time police officers will go with the department just in case but are there just in case things get out of control.

Keep in mind that a lot of police officers and firefighters are also veterans. They get it! As for the bill, let the VA sort that out afterwards.  

If you are among the veteran with less than honorable discharges CALL 911 and save your life so you can fight to have the discharge changed.  There are about 140,000 of you that happened to adding to the veterans from previous wars having their discharges changed. Do not pay the cost of service with your life!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Veteran trapped in 800,000 paperwork backlog

Screaming doesn't help anymore. I wish I could say this horrible situation is new, but it isn't.

VA claims backlog ready to hit 1 million
The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Jun 18, 2009 10:56:07 EDT
WASHINGTON — This isn’t the same as getting a free duffel bag for being the millionth person to go through the turnstiles: The Department of Veterans Affairs appears poised to have hit the 1 million milestone on claims it still hasn’t processed.

This unwelcome marker approaches as the agency scrambles to hire and train new claims processors, which can take two years. VA officials are working with the Pentagon under orders from President Barack Obama to create by 2012 a system that will allow the two agencies to electronically exchange records, a process now done manually on paper.

Meanwhile, veterans, some of whom were severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, continue to endure financial hardship while their claims are processed. They wait more than four months on average for a claim to be processed, and appealing a claim takes a year and a half on average.

Adding to the backlog are factors ranging from the complexity of processing mental health-related claims of Iraq veterans, to a change that made it easier for Vietnam veterans exposed to the Agent Orange herbicide to qualify for disability payments. The VA says it’s receiving about 13 percent more claims today than it did a year ago.

Obama: New PTSD rules long overdue step
July 09, 2010
By the CNN Wire Staff

The Department of Veterans Affairs is making it easier for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder to get benefits, a development President Barack Obama calls a "long overdue step."

In his weekly address Saturday, Obama said Veterans Affairs will launch new rules for easing PTSD documentation requirements starting next week.

Current department rules require veterans to document events like firefights or bomb explosions that could have caused the disorder. Such documentation was often time-consuming and difficult, and sometimes was impossible.
When Agent Orange and PTSD claims were made easier to file, the staff already processing claims was overloaded. New hires were made but it takes two years of training for them to be ready to know what they are doing, so processing was slowed down.

On Friday at a DAV conference in Lake Mary Florida, I sat listening to VA employees talking about the flood of claims they have been facing. I wanted to scream when I heard that as older VA workers retire, they cannot hire new ones to replace them.

Why at a time when the government is trying to honor and return dignity to our disabled veterans?

GOP wants to impose hiring freeze on non-security federal workforce

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 24, 2010
House Republicans want to stop hiring federal employees not working on defense, homeland security or veterans concerns, a proposal long anticipated by federal worker unions and supportive Democrats.

GOP lawmakers pledged Thursday to "impose a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees and ensure the public sector no longer grows at the expense of the private sector." The proposal is part of the 21-page "Pledge to America," a set of proposals to cut government spending, reform Congress and repeal President Obama's health-care reform legislation.

Although Republican lawmakers have targeted the federal workforce this year in separate proposals, the "Pledge" nationalizes the idea of curtailing the federal workforce and makes it likely that some Republican congressional candidates will talk up the idea as Election Day nears.

While cutting payrolls may have sounded good at the time coupled with talking about taking care of our veterans, this doomed every effort made to get there. No one can honestly say that denying a suffering Vietnam Veteran compensation from Agent Orange exposure is a good way to save money any more than they can say denying claims for PTSD is the right thing to do. Honoring the veterans in this country should never be a budget matter open to debate blowing with the party in control. When Tea Party Republicans shout about government spending, do they think about the troops or veterans?

Most of the bills meant to do the right thing for veterans were done between 2008 and 2010 with Republicans voting along with Democrats to pass them but then they turned around and decided that while they voted for them, they would not fund them or increase staff to take care of claims flooding in to an already overloaded system.

When my husband came home from Vietnam in 1971, PTSD was hitching a ride. He finally went to the VA in 1993 and filed a claim. It took six years of hell waiting for the government to do the right thing over a paperwork error. I can tell you that those years were nearly impossible to get through with bills to pay and trying to keep a roof over our heads. My Mom helped as much as she could but there are many families out there unable or unwilling to help. Does anyone care what happens to the veteran and his/her family while they are waiting for their claim to be approved?

The fact remains they were there when they were called on. They didn't say to the nation we had to wait for them so why does the nation say to them they have to wait for us to do the right thing after they were injured for our sake?
Veteran trapped, like many, in paperwork backlog
By Tony Leys, The Des Moines Register

GREENFIELD, Iowa — Joel Klobnak still looks like a proud Marine — from his buzz-cut hair down to the red-white-and-blue prosthetic that replaced the leg he lost in Iraq in 2006.

But he feels forgotten.

The Department of Veterans Affairs slashed his disability pay two years ago over what he says was a misunderstanding. The former Marine is trying to support a family of four on $1,557 a month while he waits to hear whether the government will reinstate full disability pay for his gruesome injury and the mental anguish that accompanied it.

His appeal is trapped in a paperwork backlog that is delaying payments to injured veterans across the country.

Government doctors determined that he couldn't work because of the pain in his leg and the post-traumatic stress disorder that troubled his mind. The determination entitled him to full disability payments, which amounted to $3,103 a month. But in April 2009, he received a letter telling him his payments were being halved because he missed an appointment with a VA doctor.

A national expert said Klobnak's frustrations are the norm. Richard Cohen, executive director of the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, said the VA has a backlog of 800,000 initial disability claims and 200,000 appeals.
read more here
Veteran trapped in paperwork backlog

Unless congress manages to actually take care of our veterans today, this is about to get a whole lot worse with more and more coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan wounded for our sake and suffering for the sake of politicians flexing their misdirected values.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Supreme Court eases benefit deadline for vets

Supreme Court eases benefit deadline for vets
By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that a deadline for military veterans who appeal the federal government's denial of benefits need not be rigidly enforced.

The justices sided with a mentally ill Korean War vet whose appeal was blocked because he missed a 120-day deadline for judicial review by 15 days. The high court reversed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that said Veterans Court judges could not make exceptions to the deadline, even when a veteran's illness contributed to his delayed appeal.
read more here
Supreme Court eases benefit deadline for vets

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

House Subcommittee Reviews Appellate Process for Veterans

House Subcommittee Reviews Appellate Process for Veterans
Written by Imperial Valley News
Monday, 18 May 2009
Washington, DC - The House Veterans’ Affairs Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee, led by Chairman John Hall (D-NY), conducted a hearing to continue its oversight of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), the Appeals Management Center (AMC), and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).

The hearing focused on the efficiency and effectiveness of the agencies tasked with handling appeals filed by veterans pertaining to claims for benefits initiated at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“The process a veteran goes through when filing an appeal is a never ending story that this Subcommittee has heard many times before,” said Chairman Hall. “A new claim is more like a short story. Upon submission, it can be developed and rated in about six months. However, if a veteran disagrees with the VA decision and files an appeal, then it becomes an epic tale that can go on for years or even decades. Our goal today is to learn more about the causes of delays in order to improve the administrative and judicial appeals processes to more efficiently serve veterans.”

At the hearing, Members heard the frustrations that veterans and survivors encounter waiting months and years on an appeal decision. Veterans who are denied or have benefits delayed as a result often face socioeconomic hardships, lack access to medical care, and miss opportunities to take advantage of other benefits that would come with service connection, such as vocational rehabilitation, life insurance or housing allowances. Veterans also find traveling to Washington, DC or even a Regional Office (RO) for a personal hearing with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) to be cost prohibitive and travel boards often are difficult to schedule.

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