Some Tips for Filing a VA Disability Claim



Filing a first claim for disability compensation can be a stressful experience. The stress can originate from one or more of the following factors:

Physical or mental discomfort
Financial need
That transitional feeling when you are no longer in the military but not really a civilian
Concern about the outcome
Lack of knowledge of the process
Unrealistic expectations
Erroneous assumptions
Things you have heard from other Veterans and the media and, just
Dealing with a bureaucracy

During this discussion I’d like to use my experience as both a Veteran and a senior VA official to demystify the process and empower you with information you need and what you can expect.

Recommendations

Dealing with large organizations can be frustrating. Some things that appear clear and certain to you may not be to others. Additionally, legal requirements can sometimes be confusing and time consuming. To have the best experience possible I recommend the following:

1. If you are still on active duty and thinking about getting out and filing a claim, go through the Benefit Delivery At Discharge or BDD program at your installation. To qualify you must have between 60 and 180 days left on active duty. We will take your claim and get you examined before you go home. Normally, decisions are available about two months after you separate or retire.

2. If you are still on active duty but have less than 60 days to go, you can still file a “Quick Start” claim. Quick Start claims are processed at dedicated facilities so decisions are quicker for most Veterans.

3. If you are out of service for less than a year, think you might have a claim, but are unsure if you want to “go through the hassle” apply. The evidence is fresher and cleaner, there are unlikely to be what we refer to as “inter-current injuries” (i.e. you back hurts a little but when you get out you get a job as a long hall truck driver or a construction working and don’t file a claim for years. In such cases even if there is some documentation of “something in service” without evidence of treatment for the condition within the first year, service connection is less certain).

4. If you’re concerned that it might not be appropriate to take money for a condition because “I’m fine, was just doing my duty and I have a job”–there are a lot of people who feel that way–consider this. I think you should file your claim. If granted you can always decline to receive the money. If, at a later date, your condition worsens or you age and it interferes with our work, or you decide you want compensation after all you can always contact us. That way we will examine you and determine your current level of disability. We won’t be trying to determine whether you warrant service connection in the first place.

5. If you have been out of the service longer but still think you have a condition related to your service apply! There is no filing time limit. It just might be a little more complex and take a little longer because of the need to develop more records.

6. Our goal is to complete all claims within 125 days or four months by 2015 with 95 percent accuracy. Right now more than 30 percent of our claims have been pending longer than that. Some claims, such as those involving participation in nuclear tests, covert operations, military sexual trauma or other similar circumstances where records may be difficult to locate can and frequently do take longer, sometimes much longer.

7. To meet the challenge of a rapidly growing claims volume, VA has been provided with significant numbers of new staff in the last couple of years. Their jobs are complex and it takes a while to become fully qualified so if you think we made a mistake, ask you may be right. As I said earlier, one of our goals is to get our quality level to 95 percent by 2015. Currently our quality level is 84 percent. While a significant portion our quality problems reflect process errors rather than errors in the final decision with respect to the granting or denying of benefits, rates paid and effective dates of payment, we do make mistakes.

How You Can Help Yourself and VA

The claims process doesn’t need to be a hassle. Here is what you can do to help yourself and VA:

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate

2. Appoint a representative. While there are attorneys who will represent you for a fee, it is rarely necessary to pay to have your claim processed efficiently and successfully. National Service Organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America, as well as State Departments of Veterans Affairs or Veterans Commissions and County Veteran Service Officers can give excellent assistance and its free. Call your local regional office to see what organizations are available at that office.

3. Consider what you want to claim. Many Servicemembers and veterans have been told they should go through their service medical records and claim everything they have ever had or been treated for. While you can do that, it is likely to significantly increase your frustration level, result in unnecessary examinations, and slow the process without getting added benefits. You should not claim acute disabilities or illnesses you had in service unless they left a residual. For example, if you got the flu in service and got over it, the claim will be denied. On the other hand if you broke your leg and recovered from it you should claim that because the fracture, if found on x-ray, can be service connected. While it might only warrant a zero percent evaluation now, if you develop arthritis at the site later, you are covered. Don’t claim things like personality disorders, baldness, the fact that you wear glasses, or similar kinds of things because they are considered “constitutional or developmental abnormalities” that you would have gotten whether or not you were in service. The law doesn’t permit payment for these. Don’t claim lab results like hematuria (blood in the urine) or high cholesterol. We don’t pay for those either. On the other hand, you should claim pseudofolliculitis barbae (a skin condition that affects some black people).

4. If private providers have treated you, get the records and send them to us. While the application you fill out does offer the opportunity to sign a release and we will request the records for you, we cannot compel providers to send us records nor can we pay for them. It is my experience that many times–maybe even most–when VA sends a release a private provider, the provider ignores the request. If the provider does respond, many times they will ask that we pay them in advance for the records. In either case, we will have to write to you and tell you that if you want the records considered you will have to get them and send them. In the worse case this can add two to three months to the process.

5. Show up for your examinations.

6. The first thing you will get from VA once you file your claim is a lengthy letter commonly referred to as a “VCAA letter.” This is a letter required by the law that tells you what we will do, what you will be expected to do, and in very general terms tell you how we will decide. The letter may also include specific requests from your local regional office for information. Read it carefully for specific requests for information from us. Finally, the letter offers the option of completing an attachment telling us you have no more information. If that is the case, complete the form and return it immediately. If you don’t and you have no more information, we will wait for 30 days before proceeding for no good reason. Even if, during the course of working the claim you do get additional information you can always submit it when you get it.

7. When you get your decision, read it carefully. It will have attached to it the text of the actual rating decision explaining why we decided what we did. If you think our decision didn’t consider something, didn’t cover a topic, or is wrong, call your representative right away. If we have made a mistake, we would rather just fix it now than get involved in a lengthy appeal that isn’t terribly satisfying for you or VA.

Final Note: VA exists to serve those who served and their survivors. I have worked for VA for over 36 years and the overwhelming majority of people who work for VA are committed to the mission. If we are not clear or you think we have made a mistake, let us know so we can both fix it, and provide a learning opportunity for our staff to serve other Veterans better.

After serving in Vietnam as an Infantry Platoon Leader with the 101st Airborne Division, Thomas Pamperin began his career with VA in 1974. Having risen through the ranks, he is currently VA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Disability Assistance and is responsible for oversight of Compensation Service, Pension Service, Benefits Assistance Service, Fiduciary Service, and Insurance Service in the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Author

Tom Pamperin

Comments

  1. Wayne Bufford    

    Also check you DD214, the person who filled mine out did not take the time to turn the page of my records to say I served over seas in Vietman!! Had to fight to get that cleared up. finally got my Metals after filing and asking for them, they were approved but never issued to me during my service. I got them 2 yrs after requesting them. If you are hurt or have PTSD, if they say no the first time, Keep your records and doctors records and Keep filing appeals.
    Check with your state to see if they have a state funded commission who has vets to help vets free of charge to get the appeals filed correctly and on time. If it goes to a hearing they will go with you and they will fight for you. we did not have any luck with the group at the VA Hospital who was suppose to help me get my compensation for serving or for my disability now.
    God Bless Brother and Sister, Welcome Home!!!Keep fighting!!

    1. Berta Simmons    

      Excellent article! Thank you very much Mr Pamperin!

      Keeping the claim simple (as you indicated)is a big help too.Focus on the primary potential SC disabilities and then add what are possible secondaries to each primary.
      But be reasonable.Claims that involve 15 or 20 issues make my eyes glaze over, as a veteran’s advocate, so I imagine a rater would feel the same way too.

      I totally agree with Jim too,in every thing he said here.
      I always tell vets that the best service rep they will ever have is the person they see in their bathroom mirror every morning.They must be proactive with their claim whether they have a vet rep or not.

      Vet reps handle hundreds of claims(and maybe even thousands that are still in appellate processes) but veterans or survivors usually have only one main claim that could have some additional issues.

      This article is a MUST read for all of us!!!!I am printing this out as well as passing it on.

      Thank you again!!!!!

      1. Dylan Finsand    

        Being your own best rep isnt always true. I have a TBI with dementia. Some have serious cognitive problems and are not thier best rep. Ive had VSO and good people at VA tell Dylan dont ever do anything on your own with your claims again! Just something to keep in mind. Thanks for reading

    2. Thomas J Dittmar    

      Sir, I filed a gulf war illness claim with the Seattle RO in the 90’s but the gulf war illness claim was deferred in the 90’s with no further contact by VA. I refiled the claim march of 2010. Approximately 2 months ago I received a notice that I would be contacted by VA medical for an exam but never heard another word. Can someone explain to me what is happening with my refile? I don’t want this claim to be lost like the one in the 90’s

      1. SCOTT PRATER    

        It would be best to contact the local regional office and make sure they actually received the claim and supporting documents. Call 1-800-827-1000 and it will send your call from the switch to you local office. I select 1 when finally given the option and 0 for general assistance. It can take different lenths of time but they can make a decision on you claim, or usually they sent a request to a company called QTC who will send you to an unbias doctor to see you and possible run tests to support your claim. If it has been sent to QTC you will be told so and can get the headquarters number and ask for info from them if they have scheduled you and appt. or what the status is. The VA reps also may need to ask you questions and input them in the system or transfer your call to someone able to record needed info related to your claim so it can move forward. Hope this helps.

        Scott

      2. Dylan Finsand    

        Or VA is looking at it and are gonna tell you that its not service connected because they have a habit of not having all your records. But most likely it waiting in line with every one elses cause it does take time.

      3. Bekki    

        My husband has filed a claim twice and once the person that in the claim review office told him that since he is a Vietnam Vet he is on the back burner and the service men and women that are coming home now have priority….. Lets think about this a minute if is wasn’t for those who have served in Vietnam we wouldn’t have the service men and women fighting now…. That is how back words our Government really is. We are still waiting, and the last time we put in a claim was years ago.

        1. Miguel Cucue    

          Bekki,
          I am one of those soldiers that just returned from our current war. I honestly agree with you and that is WRONG! Veterans from older wars should have priority. The government’s system is all messed up!! My best goes out to you, your husband and your family. Keep fighting because I am still battling to get my claim going.

        2. Carmen Tellez    

          Mr Michael Cucue:
          You’re absolutely correct every veterans needs to be recognized/compensated for their service to our country. My late husband served in Korea (front lines) for 3 years, Frank came home 12/54, we met 12/71 & married 6/71 after our son was born, he was born with Cerebral Palsy & Autism, not easy but thru love & lots of patience he’s very functional but still needs supervision. Frank was diagnosed with PTSD 3/93 but it took VA till 11/2004 to admit it was due to war. He passed away on 4/16/2010 because of PTSD.We were sure that our son & myself would be compensated nicely instead we have been denied all benefits except commisary, what’s wrong with this goverment.
          My apologies for wordy letter, I’m angry & hurt, we were married 38 years, please advise if possible.
          My heartfelt thanks,
          Carmen Tellez
          An angry & hurt veterans widow.

        3. Romy A.    

          It is very frustrating for a Viet Nam veteran like me as well because we did not get separation briefing at all to explain our benefits. Now, it seems like all help are concentrated to other war era veterans. Presumed illnesses are hardly applied to the Viet Nam vets unless one served close or in mainland for the Agent Orange issue. I think VA should be more open minded and really look at the illnesses claimed if the job can be related to that. Outside doctors(PPOs) only keep their patient’s record for the most 5 years. So, a vet like me is out luck for securing those records as proof for the claim.

        4. Halrow    

          Hello, Im also a vietnam combat veteran……You say your husband
          is a Viet Vet and his claim is taking a long time.The truth is ,that his
          VA medical Record and DD214 needs to be intact and in the hands
          of the VA or the organization representing your Veteran Husband.
          Having said that ,i can tell you that claims ,that have real and lawful
          entitlements to a veteran by way of his service connected health
          issues ,should be readily provided to the entitled veteran as
          earned compensation.The matter of taking a long time ,may be
          a hard ship issue to some older and more serious ill vets ,however
          it should be noted by you Bekki ,that a legal veterans compensation
          award is paid retroactive to the date the VA acknowledges the
          innitial reciept of your husbands claim…In other words for every
          month that passes on a pending claim the veteran gets paid when
          the claim is finaly awarded.Having said that ,it should be noted that
          any retro active award payment,ofcorse depends on the amount,
          determined by the service connected disability anywhere from
          10% to 100% . I wish you and your husband all the best wishes
          and hope this takes some pressure off you and any entitled vets
          that suffer from poor sleep and probable PTSD and stress
          related health issues. Im getting stressed my self right now,and
          must keep watching my blood pressure….After 6 long life threatening
          surgerie..and a low lvf of 40 i need to take life a bit more casualy
          these days. I like helping others though, so i hope this message
          helps.

    3. John    

      The best thing you could ever possibly do is get your DD214, your doctors/hospitals names, addresses, phone nrs. and contact your closest Disabled American Veteran organization for a service officer and have them represent you. Doing it alone by yourself, no matter how much documentation you have, can be totally fruitless.

    4. Laura    

      My uncle was in vietnam. He was blown up, exposed to agent orange and still has metal in his body. He never filed and cannot take off work because the money he does bring in doesn’t cover his bills as it is. What can I do to help him

      1. Melissa    

        He can contact a service organization by phone and they can send him out the paperwork and help him get started. If I assist a veteran in this situation, I try to give them as much info as I can over the phone, mail them the forms, have them fill them out and send back to me for review. If there are areas that need to be addressed, my assistant or I call the veteran and get those areas clarified. The vet will eventually have to have to take off to attend any exams the VA schedules, but those would be the only time he would have to miss work. My service organization is Military Order of the Purple Heart. We have National Service Officers in most states. You can check out our website at http://www.PurpleHeart.org and find the nearest representative to you, if you are interested in our assistance.

    5. joseph roe    

      i was told several years ago that i suffered from ptsd. soon after i was seeing another dr and they would not diagnose. they say i have depression. ive been suffering for 15 years and 1 out of many drs said i had a service related illness. after that they refuse to diagnose me.

      1. Aledia Jones White    

        Get to your local va clinic. Explain it all to your primary care physician. They will then set up an appointment with the va mental health clinic. They are very good and well experienced at recognizing ptsd. I wish you well.

    6. Judith    

      Excellent article.
      I was wondering on worst case scenario what the maximum it would generally take for the decision phase. Mine has been in decision phase for months now (which I am not suprised since I have multiple medical problems). I was just wondering if I could be looking at another year (it has been 1 year) or even longer.

      Not being critical whatsoever I realize the size of my medical record alone would cause a prolonged time getting a rating.

      1. Shanna    

        When I filed my original claim just short of a year out of the Air Force it took them from August until March to complete my claim. Then I needed to appeal and that took a little longer than a year to approve my appeal. It does take far too long for the claims process. I wish it could be sped up as many veterans need their money now!

    7. Nancy Moore    

      How do you go about getting a DD214 corrected? They typed wrong social security number.

    8. Frank    

      VSO’s, lawyers and congressmen do nothing but complicate the process at best. All they do is submit forms for you and most submit what we call shotgun clams (clam everything and see what happens).

      Take it from someone on the inside, the VA is extremely liberal on it’s decisions. The rule is “grant if you can”. If it can be granted by law, it gets granted. A perfect example of how liberal the VA is, most of you are familiar with the new agent orange presumptive of ischemic heart disease. What you may not know is that male veterans who served in vietnam are only .06 times more likely to develop ischemic heart disease than a male that did not service in country. The data also shows that women veterans who served in country were LESS likely to develop ischemic heart disease. Additionally, most americans develop a form of IHD in their life simply due to our unhealthy lifestyles. Now with that being said, if you were in country and have IHD you are going to be compensated. There are so many examples I could go on all day.

      VA is there for you and a large percentage of VA employees that work your claims are veterans themselves.

      Tips:
      READ the instructions on the forms before you complete them.
      READ any letters that are sent to you regarding your claim.
      File legit claims. Most of your prior service employees get a good laugh out of PTSD claims due to basic training. You would not believe how many of those are out there.

      1. David Davis    

        What does the VA do when a veteran claims his military medical records were falsified for years. Then mysteriously another folder is found that if that information were provided years ago the veteran could have acquired his inservice x-rays and fought a spoliation claim. Now after 43 years they find all the missing service medical records. Most of which by the way have been falsified.E45y

    9. D ball    

      It really does help contacting the right person. We wrote a letter to Obamas office, I forgot about it. Then 4 months later I received a letter from the Seattle va office in regards to that letter I sent. Also that same week my claim started moving, it has been about ten days since we received the first letter and as of today both claims have been complete. Please keep writing your congress persons, after we received the letter from the Seattle va a comment showed up on our e-benefits account it said “congressional inquiry”. We did not request one it just showed up. Also try and find out who’s in charge of what departments, address e-mails to them. They all have the same. @va.gov. Or something alone those lines, Just double check. We have had out claim in since July 2009 and we are just completing them. I do not think people

      realize the stress that it puts on people when it comes to money. The va is lucky that
      no one has ever went postal on them. I know they are over worked, well they have a lot of work. There will always be a position in the claims office.
      There were times when I hung up from a rep from the VA and I was so mad. No one

      can give you the same answer regardless if it is correct or not. Everybody is telling
      you something different. As fustrating it has been, but it is worth it. You have to

      think of your future. And never give up and look for different ways to get your claim
      Noticed. And always be nice it isn’t the persons fault on the phone, they are telling you what they see on the screen.

      1. David Davis    

        I’m glad to hear that it helped you to contact your representative. It did not help me. The only thing it do for me was to delay my claim get me a letter from my congressman and another one from the VA. My claim is stuck on the hamster wheel now and I expect to be denied probably some claim that all the falsified records were just imagined or not recalled properly.

    10. Jim Pat Rakkasan    

      I can honestly state that if you want to get your claim started in the right direction you had better have one of the Congressionally Chartered volunteer organizations (Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Foreign Legion and Order of the Purple Heart to name a few) to assist you in establishing and appealing your claim. I belong to our local Disabled American Veterans Chapter in Clarksville and we have 3 DAV National Service Office school trained Chapter Service Officers that ASSIST Veterans of every ERA with their claim.

      The claim is then sent to our main office in Nashville. It is then gone over for mistakes and completeness. ENSURE that you prepare a Power of Attorney to the Organization that is assisting you. Most Organizations will have lawyers who may be paid from the National Organization or work Pro Bono and as ALWAYS NO COST TO THE VETERAN!

      The claim usually gets stuck at the local Veterans Benefits Office for review. They are responsible for scheduling your Compensation and Pension Exams (C&P Exam). Usually there is a certain time frame for the C&P Scheduling Team to contact the Veteran. I personally had to contact my C&P team on 6 January because they failed to contact me on 29 November.

      How did I know this you may ask. There is a new government website http://www.Ebenefits.va.gov that allows you to track and follow everything dealing with your Veteran File.

      Now, be forewarned, the information is not updated as often as necessary, but it will show you a timeline where it is and what they are waiting for. You can also view your GI Bill info, GI Bill Payments, VA Compensation Payments, Obtain your DD2-14 and more.

      Also, there is a new program that every Veteran of EVERY ERA is eligible for if they have one of the prescribed ailments. You need to read the information at http://www.caregiver.va.gov to see if you or your spouse qualifies. Initially, this program was geared towards OIF/OEF Veterans. The Veteran Organizations DAV, VFW, AFL, Order of the Purple Heart and many others righted an injustice and brought in all populations from all ERA’s to qualify.

      Good Luck

      Rakkasan’s 2-187 / 3-187 Inf 101ST
      1-506th In Stand Alone 2d ID
      IOBC Bldg 76
      Keep Up The Fire 3/9 Inf Manchu 7th ID
      Gimlet 5/21 Inf 7th ID
      Hardrock 1-503 2d ID

  2. Ricky    

    I have been out of the service from 5 years but have several military related conditions that need evaluated. After reviewing some documentation, there is reference to “Nexus” letter or “Buddy” letter. I am located in South Korea working as a DoD contractor and want to know where I can get a physician’s Nexus letter.

    Thanks

    1. Denise    

      Ricky,
      The way the Nexus was explained to me was it is a letter or statement establishing a connection (link) between your current condition and your service in the military. It is basically a link (letter) from your physician that you have seen for your condition stating that more than likely or as a result of specific events while in the military your condition has progressed or was caused by these conditions. In short, this Nexus will come from whoever the physician is that is handling the care for whatever your condition is.

    2. Tom Pamperin    

      Ricky,
      A “nexus statement” is different from a buddy statement. Because rating specialists are not doctors, we cannot use our own judgement to relate one event to a separate condition. For example, say you had a bad right knee and favored it quite a bit and were service connected for it. You now come in and say that because of favoring your knee your back has developed a condition. We can’t say ok we agree. We need to have a doctor give us a medical opinion that your back is related to your service connected knee. Similarly, say you worked around jet engines or were in the artillary. When you got out of service your hearing in the range for which compensation could be granted was normal but there was what is referred to as a “notch” at a very high range that you can really only hear because you are in a sound proof room. That notch is generally recognized as indicative of acoustic trauma. You now come in 5 years later and claim hearing loss and your hearing test shows you do in the normal ranges. Again, I can’t say the notch and your current hearing loss are related. I need a clinician to make that nexus.

      A buddy statement is a method of potentially establishing a fact where records don’t exist. For example if you were in Iraq and got hit by flying brick from a building that flew back at you because of gunfire. You put a compress on the wound and drove on without going to an aid station. A buddy statement would be a statement from a comrade in your squad who can attest to the fact that this event happened.

      1. Mark Chamberlain    

        But you will need a VA doctor to attest that the condition is service connected or falls under US code 38.1117 and I can say because I have been working on mine since 1992 that they care less what a real doctor has to say. My current wait since I re-opened my claims is now approaching 2.5 years. Since I started the appeals they keep sending me letters about information in my records that they had all this time, and the last time I called it was stated they where still waiting on medical records for VA.

        1. Dylan Finsand    

          I’m playin the same fun game as you. Seems GWI stuff has a way of not being around. Lots of good interactive advice at VBN.com

      2. jesse moreno    

        i have a %10 rating for the last 4 years for a hearing loss i recieved working on turbines for my 4 years of military service. i have asked for more help than the %10 based on the fact i am having problems with hearing at my employment. i do outreach and court advocacy and there is an obvious lack of hearing boundary that is both embarrasing and cause for concern to do my job. i am close to losing my job. with all that said i am being denied based on the hearing test and i found i am not rated for a loss but for tinitus. i may have a basic hearing awareness but i have many i work with that will contest this i simply do hear a ringing that prevents me from hearing especially with a certain conditions like a quiet background like a courtroom environment. i have shared this with my doctors without any response. simply the va says i can hear just suffer from tinitus (ringing) which i dont deny but the truth is the ringing is why i struggle with normal conversations. i read a blog reply on a back injury u referred to an appeal based on the injury preventing a person at work as opposed to the va finding. also can you give me information on help with being diagnosed sleep apnea.. i have already had surgery (that did not help) through the va and currently have a cpap…. thanks
        jesse

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          Jesse,

          You can’t get more than 10% for tinnitus. It is the max disability evaluation that the schedule allows.

          Are you service connected for hearing loss? If so is it rated 0%. You will find that while the rating schedule allows for intermediate evaluations, the vast bulk of hearing loss evaluations cluster at 3 evaluations: 0%, 10% and 100%.

          Are you service connected for sleep apnea or were you diagnosed with it in service? If you are service connected for it and you were recently given a cpap machine, tell your regional office because that one fact will affect your evaluation.

          If you are not service connected for sleep apnea and it was diagnosed after service it is very unlikely that it will be service connected now.

          While I state from the beginning that I am not a doctor, it is my understanding that there are generally 3 main reasons for sleep apnea. A small percent, approximately 10% of sleep apnea sufferers have the condition because their tongue is too big for their mouth. If you had surgery that would suggest that that may be your cause. If that were the cause you would not get service connected because a tongue that is too big pre-existed your service and your service didn’t change that fact.

          The other 2 common factors are being overwieght and having a few drinks before going to bed.

          Hope this information is helpful.

        2. Wendell Pruitt    

          Mr. Pamperin. I am not a doctor either but having just completed my second sleep study I am very current on this subject and your statement on Sleep Apnea is very wrong in several ways, First and foremost there are 3 types of sleep apnea, Central, Obstructive and Mixed (a combination of both) Central sleep apnea is when you repeatedly stop breathing during sleep because the brain temporarily stops sending signals to the muscles that control breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which the flow of air pauses or decreases during breathing while you are asleep because the airway has become narrowed, blocked, or floppy. A pause in breathing is called an apnea episode. A decrease in airflow during breathing is called a hypopnea episode. And there is a lot more involved than the few Items you state, Brain Injuries, Facial injuries and several other common military casualty classes can and do contribute to Sleep Apnea, Including drugs prescribed for treatment of Service Connected Conditions…In this case Secondary Service Connection may be warranted many many years after service as an new Manifestation brought on by or an Aggravation of other Service Connected Conditions…. I have several questions about issues that never seem to be answered that I may come back and post shortly.

        3. Ovez Japanwalla    

          Thanks Wendell Pruit on his information for Sleep apnea.
          I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea a few years ago. went through many sleep studies. All those contributory factors such as medications, facial injuries etc. keep it short. CPAP machine was a torture and useless. They do have dental appliances that protrude the jaw forward ( Facial injuries) that have been reported to assist.
          Sleep studies are not totally reliable because they are performed in Sleep Labs and the environment is conducive to a restful sleep. The criteria is way too limiting. Anyways these comments were good and helped me a lot in understanding.

      3. Flo    

        I have had a claim in for immune system problems like lupus and a brain tumor post Desert Storm since 1997. It was sent to the BVA, denied, I appealed to the VA Court of Appeals, and it was sent back to the BVA. It was sent for expert medical opinion on 12/9/2010, and then eBenefits listed it as decision made as of 12/31/2010. I haven’t heard anything so I called the BVAOmbudsman number and they have it still listed as waiting for expert medical opinion. Is there any way to find out what is really going on? Thank you.

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          If the BVA says it is awaiting an expert medical opinion then I believe that is what is going on. Those can take 6 months or more to get.

        2. David Davis    

          Those IMO’s are typical of VHA doctors. They are just as poorly written and mostly one sided. Most of the doctors who did my IMO’s didn’t even look at my c-file they just winged it.

        3. Antonier    

          The best thing is to look up the new laws that was pass under 38 usc
          and go to your last military hospital where you was station for help
          and they will be of big help to you, because some of the guy mit have be discharge for the same problem that you have right now.Try to locate
          the huys that servise with you Desert Storm and see if they was
          med/discharge.

      4. SCOTT PRATER    

        ,I am hoping you can shine some light on a letter I received yesterday, as well as more veterans. I received a letter stating ” INDIVIDUAL UNEMPLOYABILITY (IU): Veteran is receiving payment at the 100 percent rate, even though the combined service connected evaluation is not 100 percent.” I filed a claim for my disabilities and latter added another claim for unemployability due to be able to work by recommendation of my VA doctor. I have been looking at my data on the eBenefits site and it showed my claim for coronary heart disease was closed this weekend and when getting back from my second of 4 appointments related to my disability claim this letter was in the mail. I went to the VA Retirement Center here in Lawton, OK, and they said it was a summary of benefits letter and was not the official award letter so I would need to wait on it and Jamie caled and left a message for his contact at the Muskogee regional office to find out about if my claim had really gotten finished and told me to call him after 12 noon to find out. I went home and called the toll free 1000 number and they told me my claim is not finished and they do not have any record of a letter sent. I do not understand why I got this letter claiming I was rated at 100% due to enemplyability and the eBenefits site no longer lists my claim for unemployability, and I am being told the claim in not closed so it should still show on the site and there is no record of this letter being sent. I am only 37 and have 2 daughters and a loving wife that are worried I am not going to be around much longer and letters and web site to keep us informed are saying one thing, and no one can answer why and say they are both wrong. Please help, this is not how you help a 37 year old reduce his heart attacks and make him feel he is being taken care of. I have already delt with the Fort Sill ODVA’s crossing out one of my disabilities and shreding my medical records when my original claim was filed in 2005, they said I had to many claim and would not be rated properly because of how young I was and they did it as a favor, and Carl Bose ( an ODVA ) at the Muskogee tell me he gave me 0% because he could not believe what the doctors said and the results because I was 34 in 2008 and he turned down the claims because people my age have decades of long hard work left in us. And now this! When does a young Vet get taken care of, when I’m dead?

        1. Dylan Finsand    

          Ebenifits is mostly for entertainment cause it doesnt get updated enough.
          I also get a lot of good interactive advice at VBN.com

        2. Ann    

          Scott, I am only a wife, but over the years working with workers comp for my husband and having ins. companies tell us off and on they never received our annual physical even though we certify it, I finally told them when it happened last that we told the Post Office and they are starting an investigation. We have never had a problem since of not receiving mail. I know this isn’t your problem. But the Post office will investigate for you and that is an embarrassment for the company denying reciept.

      5. Jeanette    

        Tom,
        Thank you for both your service in Vietnam and your continuing service to the VA. I understand the “goal” is to get to 95% by 2015, I just wonder how well thats going. I look at the Monday Morning Reports (http://www.vba.va.gov/REPORTS/mmwr/index.asp) and continue to be disturbed by the ever growing case numbers that are pending over 125.
        I retired in Feb 2011 after 20 (sometimes difficult) years in the Air Force. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and depression, not to mention the other large array of physical issues. The medical portion of my exam was completed way back in Feb (all appointments attended as scheduled) and from what I can gather that report was made available to the VA in April or May, however they did not show it on e-benefits until July 19, 2011. I know they had it at least in June as I received a copy of it. It finally moved from the development stage into the decision phase and that is where it has stayed. I have 3 children, I can’t work due to the PTSD and I have extremely limited funds. I have to say that waiting on this process causes more anxiety and depression than I had before this all started. When I call my rep all I’m told it that claims can take a year and they just repeat what is on E-Benefits. Same thing when I call the 800 number…isn’t it bad enough that we have these horrible conditions and now they are just being made worse by the process that is supposed to be there to help us.
        I just want this to be done so I can start to move on with my life. I am a WA resident, but because of old agent orange cases my case got sent down to San Diego and God only knows how long it will take. They have 18,060 cases pending over 125…pending how long, where is mine in that pile???
        Sorry to complain, I know these folks are working hard, its just so hard being on the waiting end.

      6. Jeanette N.    

        Tom,
        Thank you for both your service in Vietnam and your continuing service to the VA. I understand the “goal” is to get to 95% by 2015, I just wonder how well thats going. I look at the Monday Morning Reports (http://www.vba.va.gov/REPORTS/mmwr/index.asp) and continue to be disturbed by the ever growing case numbers that are pending over 125.
        I retired in Feb 2011 after 20 (sometimes difficult) years in the Air Force. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and depression, not to mention the other large array of physical issues. The medical portion of my exam was completed way back in Feb (all appointments attended as scheduled) and from what I can gather that report was made available to the VA in April or May, however they did not show it on e-benefits until July 19, 2011. I know they had it at least in June as I received a copy of it. It finally moved from the development stage into the decision phase and that is where it has stayed. I have 3 children, I can’t work due to the PTSD and I have extremely limited funds. I have to say that waiting on this process causes more anxiety and depression than I had before this all started. When I call my rep all I’m told it that claims can take a year and they just repeat what is on E-Benefits. Same thing when I call the 800 number…isn’t it bad enough that we have these horrible conditions and now they are just being made worse by the process that is supposed to be there to help us.
        I just want this to be done so I can start to move on with my life. I am a WA resident, but because of old agent orange cases my case got sent down to San Diego and God only knows how long it will take. They have 18,060 cases pending over 125…pending how long, where is mine in that pile???
        Sorry to complain, I know these folks are working hard, its just so hard being on the waiting end

    3. Mike    

      Their sure are a lot a whiners out there!! If your claim was legit it would be service connected. Go out and get jobs, quit mooching off the goverment.

      1. Rod Ballard    

        Mike you refer to “whiners” and they should get jobs, and quit mooching off the government. I had a job that I loved and was paid three times as much as the disability I receive. I had to quit the job because my service related disability prevented me from continuing the job. You sound like a slick sleeve with a “John Wayne” attitude. I hope you are never confronted with what I’ve gone through; including the years of runaround I have received by the VBA.

      2. Rich    

        Mike, there is no need to disrespect veterans. It’s not as easy as you think to get the VA to approve even a top-legit claim as service-connected. It’s a battle…ask anyone that ever had to put in a verifiably service-connected PTSD claim (luckily they eased up it).

      3. TomA    

        Mike- I served 23 years serving so A- Holes like you could say what you did. Something tells me you are pretty much a noboady with a big mouth that probably would flee to Canada if asked to serve. By the way. I worked extra jobs while in the military and have worked from day 1 since my retirement with disabilities that I never claimed so someone else could get a break. You are part of what is wrong with this country nowadays. Would like to have had you in my unit…your attitude would be a lot different. Retired SGM.

        1. Dana whitten    

          TO MIKE: You are obviously one of those jackasses who sucked the morale out of your troops. I would have disrespected you as much as possible while in service for being a total prick… only you probably wouldn’t have caught on because you were too busy holding your ego in your hands….one of these days…when you are an old tired, angry, man and have no one, you will need that disability…lol.. Dana WHO CARES THAT YOU WERE A SGM?

      4. William Roberson    

        There is a special place in hell for people like you. Oh why am I arguing with a fire hydrant.

      5. Dylan Finsand    

        Mike are you offering employment to disabled VETS. There are incentives. I have dementia becuase of a tbi durring dessert storm. Would you actually hire some one with severe cognative problems. I have worked as much as any one will have me.

      6. Greg M    

        Mike or is it Michelle now?
        May I assume that you are a REMF? If you do not know what that stands for, you are probably one! You are the child who has never been involved in combat but brags about your heroic battles to civilian. Let it go little man, its not ALL your fault that you didn’t fight. Mike sometimes it is better to be silent and have people think you are stupid than to speak and prove that you are stupid.

      7. Mary Ellen    

        Shame on you, to determine that anyone here or has posted is Just plain lazy
        get off her and leave us alone, how can you make these judgements about ppl you don’t know or never will
        I would love to work, I am so depressed I loved being a nurse and would do anything to work again

      8. Carol    

        Oh Mike – you are so sad a person let alone a representative of the human race. Just simply get out of this forum if you are so disgusted with real men and women! You need lots of prayers mister.

      9. Gary L. Guy    

        Hello Mike, I wished you would have been in my unit. I would have ripped you a new As—le. I spent 22 years in the Army after being drafted during the Viet Nam War. You remind me of the AS—LE that took off to Canada during that time. Just to let you know I am a big dummy, my GT score was the lowest score of all the test scores on the ASVAB test, it was 128, it takes 110 to be an officer, the other nine score were over 130 plus, just thought I would let you know that. I have been fighting VA now for almost 19 years to get what is due me with all the disabilities that I now have. I am rated at 80% service connected at present with a claim on going for the last 4 years because the VA is so fast at processing claims. Rated 100% disabled by Social Security, it only took them 8 months to make a decision. So Mike when you read some of the things that Veterans write about it is true and it is very disappointing when it takes so long to have a claim approved. If you have a problem then you need to take care of that problem but this is not the place for you to go off on Vets. I really hope you take care of your problem that you have and if you happen to be a veteran then maybe you will understand the situation, if you are not a veteran than stay off this site and get a life or go to some other country and live there and see how they treat you. You will wish you were back in the United States of America. Other than that you have a good day.

      10. Kory    

        Mike-
        I have waited almost two decades to file a claim because of people with your attitude. However, during the past almost 20 years I have had terrible night terrors, interpersonal problems, concentration difficulties, increasingly disruptive anxiety disorders, problems in school and with work……The list goes on and on. Do you know why? Because some JERK like you decided he would come into my barracks and start shooting people. In a peace-time garrison setting. I have tried and tried to cope with this. But I am still terrified in my own home, can’t deal with loud sounds, re-live the moment when a bullet missed my head by 4 inches and watching my roommate gasp her last breaths. Finally after my father, on his death-bed, made me promise to give the VA a shot to help make this right, to offer me some help, did I file. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Although I was filled with shame and anxiety I did it. My C&P examiner was very nice and for the first time in 2 decades I felt like someone heard me. So Mike……………………..You should be aware of how hurtful your words can be to those who have given their all to this great country.

        1. John    

          Kory — Thank you for your service and for keeping your promise to your Dad. The circumstances revolving around your disability would have never happened had you not signed that initial blank check to your country. Hopefully, you can find some peace.

      11. Patrick Williams    

        Mike, Dyke whatever your name is. I realize this is pointless to relay to you but to me it obvious you are “projecting” your own baggage and guilt onto others who do not in general deserve it. I realize the terminoligy could be potetially challenging for you to understand putting this any other way would be inaffective.
        FYI Disabled people are “easy prey” . We all hope you really got the thrill and satisfaction from that ignorant statement. Had you had a quality upbringing your parent would have taught you possibly to choose people or situations that would present a higher challenge. I dont suppose you tease retartded people as well in the course of your day.
        Best of Luck?

      12. Shelly    

        Yere well do you feel like that about Senator John Mccain and other Government Officials who collect 100% disability pensions and collect their GOV Senator paychecks etc? Many are deserving veterans who should have their disabilities acknowledge and paid for whether a little worm like you like it or not.

      13. Josh    

        This guy’s obviously a troll….

        Josh
        20 yrs active duty, Retired USCG

      14. Kate    

        I have to agree with Mike. Seems so many of you can work just don’t want to. I was gang raped in 1979, it was swept under the rug and so I wouldn’t mouth off they took me out of my tech school and shipped me someplace else to train in Admin. That was not my chosen career. I just filed as I have had anxiety/ptsd for 34 years but was still able to work, so I did. Finally I am receiving treatment for my disorder and hoping to get some disability. In the mean time I will continue to work as much as I can and support myself. I not only lost my virginity, my ability to form loving relationships but the bastards took my chosen career away from me. Perps were never punished. But I am not whinning, just moving forward. If I get the disability it will be a blessing to pay for doctors and meds, if not, I will appeal and continue to work and fight for my wonderful though damaged life!

      15. David Davis    

        Mike,

        I was tied between two posts and wired up to a field telephone generator, they cranked on that thing until they burnt the hairs off of my arms from wrists to shoulders. After that they drug me over to a post and tied my hands behind my back, lifted me up and tied my legs to the post putting me in a hyperextended position hurt like hell. Started pouring water down my throat while holding my nose closed then reversing it and poured the water up my nose. A big bastard special forces sgt then started kicking me in the lower back lifted me off the ground. All this then hospitalized by us army. Doctor documented that I had a cold was somewhat tearful and complained of back ache. Doctor makes comments patient has mood and personality disorder. Possible nervous problem doctor falsified my records. Now I can hardly move. Help me understand the milking the government for money. I have been waiting remand after remand after remand and no disability after 44 years. I’m confused

      16. Ovez Japanwalla    

        Mike.
        You sound like a lot of people that never served in the military and have no real concept of some injuries that are indigenous to military service. Most “civilians” will never get a TBI, ( that’s Traumatic BRAIN Injury) and that can shut out a TBI’er from some form of life, much less an occupation.
        I served in what was called Peacetime Service ( Cold War). A’int so. This period was full of Clandestine Proxy wars ( shielded from the American Public).
        In 1985, I did get an Honorable Discharge, Full of Pride in serving, although I was already Service-Connected for a Seizure Disorder because of well-documented seizure and incident of injury. My seizures never abated nor did my medications control them. All the meds did was to slow me down and incur mockery from people who did not understand, ( like You).
        Never filed for an increase, got a whole $144 a month. Did undergrad college, went to Law School, passed the Bar, registered as an attorney in NY and also obtained a Masters in Business Administration.. Oh yeah, got 3 Heart attacks from the anti-eplileptic medications. Head is all banged up from the falls during seizures. After 17 years of Post-Secondary education that could lead to a career that I would pull in at least a Quarter Mil, I am just filing claims so I have to my wife and two daughters that we a re losing oure house and and I cant even pay for their books in college
        So what is you fking claim to fame that allows to ascend to your pulpit from where you can issue such edicts that we are whiners and looking to mooch off the government .
        God takes care of people like you.

    4. James Farley    

      I just had a hearing yesturday what afarce it was lastes less than 8 minuets asked 4 qestions presented evidence did not get an answer. What gets me is if you want to appeal their decision you hve 120 days after the hearing to appeal to the USCAVC if they take 150 days to get your results in i guess your out of luck. Well see how long it takes them to get my results in. Oh here was only one board membr present and my rep and myself. The rep did most of the talking i just answered yes or no. I disagreed on one subject.

  3. brenda hayes    

    Mr. Pamperin,

    Thanks for your input. You make it sound so easy to have the VA correct certain things in a timely manner; but there are so many facts that lead to the undeniable truth that this is– More likely than not–the truth.

    In understanding how the VA operates, do I understand that as the Deputy Under Secretary for Disability Assitance for Compensation, Pension Benefits, Fiduciary Service, and Insurance Service that if a Veteran is having substantial problems in these areas that you are the person to contact? If so, where can an email be addressed to you.

    Also, please, if you would, please expound upon the Benefits Assistance Service?

    And since the Fidcuiary Services also comes under your direction, what is being done for better oversight of VA payees. I believe there was a very unfortunate experience with fraud of several Vet’s compensation benefits by an attorney just recently? As we have an increasingly aging Vet community (if they are that fortunate); this is very much of a concern to us–the entire Veteran family

  4. brenda hayes    

    Having problems with the captcha code again and then another page came up with Website not found.

    I will attempt to put my response in correctly again. If I do, please erase the above as I had added to it as you will see.

    Thank you.

    BH

  5. brenda hayes    

    Mr. Pamperin,

    Thanks for your input. You make it sound so easy to have the VA correct certain things in a timely manner; but, there are so many facts that lead to the undeniability that your comments are –more likely than not– to be the exceptions and not the norm for Veterans and their family members.

    In understanding how the VA operates, do I understand that as the Deputy Under Secretary for Disability Assistance for Compensation, Pension Benefits, Fiduciary Service, and Insurance Service that if a Veteran is having substantial problems in these areas that you are the person to contact? If so, where can an email be addressed to you.

    Also; please, if you would, please expound upon the Benefits Assistance Service? Would this have anything to do with the approval and training of VSO service officers? If so, if Veterans and family members have any suggestions, comments, complaints; are these to be directed to you as well?

    And since the Fiduciary Services also comes under your direction, what is being done for better oversight of VA payees; where are the checks and balances?. I believe there was a very unfortunate experience with fraud of several Vet’s compensation benefits by an attorney payee not so very long ago. As we have an increasingly aging Vet community (if they are that fortunate) that are more likely than not to have service connected dementias and/or Alzheimers; this is very much of a concern to us–the entire Veteran family.

    Again, since there seems to be such a disconnect with the VA and its “clients”, it would seem to me that an Ombudsman at the Secretary’s level would be appropriate to help the Veteran/family member navigate this unyielding bureaucracy.

    Appreciatively,

    BH
    Vetwife Advocate

    1. poppa paulie    

      He could care less about veterans. if he did , he would leave phone number or email

    2. Dylan Finsand    

      VA delimas arent a one person can fix it problem no matter who jump into the driver seat.

  6. Edwin Allert    

    I applied for my compensation claim through my county rep, who did not help me at all. I was under the BDD program as I was still on active duty May 2010, I had my physicals in June 10 and now I am still waiting for the decision in Jan 2011, I do have the Military Order of The Purple Heart service organization ready to go to work for me as soon as my decision is made public to me. Last time I called the regional VA office, I was told it should be about the middle of Jan they think. But my question is this, the BDD program was created to help or assist those still on active duty to get a leg up on filing the claim and getting a decision soon after leaving active duty (estimated time frame of 4-5 months) But why is the program broken? why are many (who I have personally talked to) who are filing under this program being shuffled to the bottom of the piles of paperwork and forgotten? until 7 to 18 months later? That is totally unacceptable to those of us who have served and at a moments notice went to all reaches of the world to do our jobs, now the only right thing for the VA to do is be there and do right by us at a moments notice!!!!

    1. Robin    

      I was told BDD claims were to be processed within 60 days of ETS.
      My ETS was 5/27/2011 and they have all the paperwork and records they need.
      My claim has not even been looked at yet and is STILL in development phase as of today 8/30/2011. Thats about 90 days and they have not even looked at it! I called the 1-800 number for va and was told BDD claims in Salt Lake are taking 360 days to process. Not 60-90 days. Not even 120 days..1 YEAR TO PROCESS BDD CLAIMS!! The BDD was just a smokescreen to make it look like they were improving things and to pacify the public. Sorry.. I am just very disappointed….

  7. Lawrence R Lilly Gurley, AL    

    I am a member of the DAV, VFW, and tha American Legion. These are all good, but I found more vets getting better results with the DAV.

    1. Betty Maupin    

      I started my paper work Sept 2010. Th DAV helped me, I am still in Army reserve come off orders 11 2008. When i was out processing I was sent to a sick call doc and he did not read or comply to comments i had. I was still under Docs care. Had to turn down a medical procedure. I came back and started using VA again. As I used them returning from Desert Storm. During my mob 2005-2008. i got hurt at Ft Polk, while training to go to Iraq. I sucked up and drove on.1 yr later, after physical therapy and several bottles of meds. I had MAJOR issues in neck. I have had 3 major surgeries. I just finished my 3rd nerve block and will need 1 more. I take some meds but refuse to keep taking if not needed. I did not do any to file cause i was told because i was state side and did not go down range I was ok. I am still serving waiting to retire.My DD215 is messed up because of dates on orders were screwed up. I am working that issue to top it all off. When i got letters from va something else was added. I turned in ALL medical files from VA from 1992 – to present ALL Military or VA documents about 3 1/2inches thick . I still go to va today. So i will see the outcome, I have herd all kind of stories and i will get a a attorney if necessary. So Mr.Tom Pamperin I can say , YES it is stressful but hope it all turns out well. Thanks

    2. Tim Sorrell    

      Sorry, the DAV has cost me 3 claims in 40 years. Presently they are my ‘official’ representative on my current claim, entering it’s 8 year, including appeals. Currently my claim is on stall, but not by the VA, but the DAV. My claim arrived Aug 30 at the DAV Office in Washington (I have that paper work for proof). When called this past November, the DAV Washington VSO told me, “Your claim is on stack 12, we are currently working on stack 10. Call back in February”. I am sure this is not the response any Vet using a Service Organization to represent them with their claim, expects to hear. As of now, the past 5 months, my claim has sat in a stack, waiting only for a final written plea from my ‘official’ representative. A 5 month wait and delay on your claim does not effect a VSO, they still get their pay check. Most service organizations I have worked with, work the same way. Oh by the way, in the 8 years I have had 16 different DAV VSOs representing me. I would, or could not recommend, or support, any service organization, when their best interest clearly is not that of the Vet they represent. State and County representatives work the same way. Fellow Vet, you are on your own. Read, Research, and take care of things yourself. You couldn’t be worse than 8+ years, could you?

      1. Mike    

        Quit filing bogus claims Tim, your only holding up the claims process for other vets.

        1. Dana whitten    

          To MIKE: GET A LIFE!!!!!!

        2. Gary L. Guy    

          Mike, you really seem to have a problem with making such derogatory comments. You really need to get a life or stay off this forum.

      2. Gene A. Miller    

        I agree. Filing your own claim can work just fine. Take your time. Do the rearch. Make sure the first filing is 100% complete. If anything go above and beyond what is required. I was fortunate in that I received good advice to start. Included documentation to support each section of my claim. Went so far as to get and pay for a civilian ” shrink”to test and diagnose my “PTSD”. I had requested a referel to the ” Mental Health Dept.” at the VA,but the wait was too long.
        It is vital to make the initial claim strong from the ” get go”!

      3. T. J. G. fmr. Sergeant, U.S. Army 2-2 Infantry, 3rd BDE, 1st Infantry Division, OIF II    

        They are composing legal and appellate briefs on your behalf, and by the sound of it have spent several hundred man-hours on your claims and appeals. It’s nice to know you blame your representative for your difficult claims or that fact they have ended up at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

        My questions would be how often did you actually listen to your representative? Probably not too often. The DAV’s guys are better than attorneys in navigating VA law. I bet if you asked they would let you know about all the work they do for people like you who have no gratitude.

      4. Americal196    

        DAV or any other VSO dissapointments: its been proven that veterans need to be proactive and informed. The VAWatchdogToday.org web site is the top veterans web site in the nation. I will never use a VSO of any organization again. I currently am engaged in a soon to be sucessful claim which has been in for almost 18 months now. but soon a good finish. I fired my DAV SO due to AWOL status and i retained an attorney best move i ever made. saved me from going into the black hole of the appeals courts. Be proactive and informed. again best move i ever made. you dont need a VSO…no one cares about your claim more that you do!

      5. Charlie Johnson    

        I hear you….I have talked with American Legion reps in past but DAV has handled my claim as well…I first filed in 2007 with local DAV rep….claim was denied and I had no idea what was going on or how the process worked…I did find out that while I was hospitalized in 84 at a VA hospital that a claim had been filed on my behalf..that I was not even aware of…I watched the local DAV guy continuously getting the runaround and never questioned anyone or anything…didn’t want to rock the boat….so for the past 3 yrs now I have been driving 80 miles to VA hospital to DAV office there. since I got my case reopened…They did finally get me a disability physical last year…but each time I go down…3 times in last 5 weeks…I see a different rep…and the last 2 just stood dumbfounded at my mtn. of paperwork and said I probably need to see my congressman now…..I was injured in 1975…..have been working with pain and paying for my treatment up until a bad divorce in 06 and my health going south….Now I am unable to work and feel stupid for not asking for help instead of fighting and trying to make it alone….VA has told me for years my medical records were destroyed in St. Louis fire which someone (anonymous) in VA got letter for me proving my records were sent to my regional office in 09….which VA is still denying…It’s unbelievable what the process has done to me…I do believe the service reps mean well….but I believe it’s like the chicken and the pig at breakfast….chicken may have provided the egg…but the pig had to be committed to provide the bacon….Charlie..ASAF Vet

    3. Dylan Finsand    

      That sujective and depends where you go…If my DAV rep was so good why did they let VA rate my claim without any SMRs? But it depends on who where what not just for DAV. VBN.com is better than here

  8. Pam Jennings    

    Mr. Pamperin,

    Thank you for the informative description of the claims process. I received a lot of this information at TAP class, but this was far more helpful! Please pass this information down to other VA reps on bases and installations as well as facilitators for classes for retirees and separating members.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Thanks Pam,

      Just forwarded to the appropriate people.

      1. Pam Jennings    

        Mr. Pamparin, I have a quick question.
        I just retired on 30 SEP 10. I completed my VA appointments for BDD in JUL 10, and submitted my DD-214 in AUG 10. My offical claim date is 1 OCT 10. I received a delay letter dated 30 NOV 2010 in DEC. I check eBenefits regularly and it indicates my claim is in the decision phase. It has been in that phase since 1 OCT 10.
        I would like to ask what is the current percentage of veterans under the BDD program that have actually received their rating within 30-60 days after their discharge. I have taken an informal poll of some my fellow recent veterans and their average wait has been closer to 4-6 months after discharge under BDD.
        Thank you for listening.

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          Pam,

          Can you tell me what base you retired from?

        2. Pam Jennings    

          NNMC Bethesda, Bethesda, MD.

        3. Tom Pamperin    

          Let me refer this and see what is going on.

        4. Pam Jennings    

          Mr. Pamperin,

          Thank you for listening and thank you for your action!

        5. Pam Jennings    

          Mr. Pamperin,

          Got ALL my questions answered today and rating is on the way. THANK YOU!!!

        6. Mary Greer    

          I completed my BDD on about 10 June 10. I sent my DD-214 in September and my official date of claim is 01 Nov 10. It is now over 6 months from my official date, yet I am still told that my claim is in review. There does not seem to be any advantage to trying to submit your claim early. I am getting more frustrated at the system, everyday!

  9. Mike H    

    Why is it that it takes over a year to get the Board of Veterans Appeals to make a decision. I recieved a letter dated 11/04/09 (repeat 2009) stating the appeal had been docketed. It was signed by Wayne K. Gibson. Can you provide an answer as to the extended time lag?

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Mike,

      I will forward your inquiry to the Board.

      1. Beth, BVA Attorney    

        Mike,

        I work at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and hope to answer your question. I appreciate your concern – it can certainly be frustrating to wait on an answer to such important questions. Let me give you a little background. When your case arrives at the Board, it is docketed based on the date that VA received your Form 9 or substantive appeal. By law, we consider appeals in the order in which they are “entered on the docket”. Because we receive tens of thousands of appeals per year, you may have to wait some time before a Veterans Law Judge issues a decision. In the meantime, we thank you for your patience.

        We would be happy to discuss the details of your particular appeal offline. You (and anyone else out there with questions on appeals) can reach us on email at bvaombudsman@va.gov, or you can call (800) 923-8387 or (202) 565-5436. We’ll just need your claim number and can explain what is happening. Also, if you’re signed up for eBenefits, you can check the status of your appeal online, too. Check them out at https://www.ebenefits.va.gov .

        I hope this helps.

        Beth

        1. Russell Felter    

          Could you check on this. I came across it while researching my own service connected conditions. It seems the vet served in Gulf War, was diagnosed with IBS and denied service connection. The reason stated is that he in fact had a diagnosed illness and service connection was presumed only for undiagnosed illnesses. It is a good read of why so many are frustrated with the system.

          http://www4.va.gov/vetapp06/files5/0631095.txt

        2. Dylan Finsand    

          Frustrated happens in the first 6-12 mo. After that Desparite. Then Paniced, then…Frustrated is an understatement. Frustrating is when RO reopens and rates your claim with out any SMRs and cause of cognitive probs (dementia) caused by a TBI. You dont knowtice till way to late. The system needs to ID poeple with TBI probs. It is not handicap accessable for US! But on that note it has come a long way since 1992. I can tell you this VA doesnt know what to do with young vets with dementia. And dementia needs to be assessed sooner than 18 yrs later. Yes rare impossible no. THX

        3. Tony    

          Absolutely go to the eBenefits site, they will give you a basic account and then require you to fill out a document and take it to your VA office and get a Premium account. Doesn’t really matter if you are desperately trying to hold down a job so your family isn’t effected and really have no time to do a day trip to the VA much less seek care for your service connected medical problems. Awesome system, make every move a retired service member makes towards getting care a mountain of nonsense and you can keep them totally out of the mix. Then ask congress for more money to create more websites to create more frustrating road blocks to care. Awesome!!!

  10. John W    

    For the VA to set a goal of 95% by 2015 is crazy, I filed my claim on 1/13/2010 and almost a year later it is sitting on a desk in philadelphia waiting for a 2nd signature since 11/22/2010. I try to call the comp and pension office in philadelphia 1/3/2011 and again today 1/4/2011 and go figure all i get is a busy signal during normal business hours but then after normal business hours it rings right in although everyone has gone home for the day.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      We were able to identify your record and I believe the philadelphia regional office has been in contact with you or will be shortly.

    2. Dylan Finsand    

      John thats why its a goal. It sounds good though> VA i hope for future vets it is reached. Big issues with no easy fixes hmmm. Some times must be like drivn the titanic. I wouldnt want the job.

  11. william s. rottinghaus    

    Sir, I served willingly in Viet Nam having enlisted out of college. When I returned not one word was mentioned about the possibility of disability compensation. Now that I’m 61 years old, my body is wearing out. I did try to get some help in the good old cowboy country of Gunnison, Colorado about 25 years ago, but was laughed out of the office. Now with a little help from other vets and some from the local VA I have finally gotten 20% for medical and hearing but have been denied PTSD even though I served in Nam and have been diagonised by the VA shrinks with PTSD. I am now on my 20th month of the initial application and on the 7th month of my first appeal. The VA gives us vets 60 days to respond and yet takes 210 days for their decision. Where is the 125 days and 95% completion goal here?

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      MR. Rottinghaus,

      Sorry for the difficulties you’ve encountered. Checking our systems it appears you will hear something shortly on your appeal.

  12. Charlotte Lacher    

    I’ve became aware there are “3” (three) or more Computer Systems that Do Not Communicate with each other…thus, error prone,incomplete data, staff are limited to what data they can view or research causing great delays! VA staff’s limited access to various VA systems that retain different data! This also includes a VA staff’s limited access within their own VA’s data! Ex: Medical Records “Chief” is unable to access a particular screen that staff in Release of Information could!!! (this is unbelievable)!
    .Such inconsistencies with Staff limitations cause confusion and delays! Computer Systems is not acceptable. A computer is only as smart as it’s programmed to be.The numerous “Systems” problem must be corrected ASAP instead of just hiring more staff to do “work-arounds” due to Computer’s and many Systems Failures!!! In addition the medical records Problem List of health cond.(svc conn. or not,) repeatedly don’t record accurate. “ICD 9 CM” diagnosis codes. for health cond…claims will be drnied without. accurate. dx codes! (to date spouse’s record excludes dx code for “documented” Exposures to Agent. Orange & other chemicals (from over 40 years ago!) I’ve brought it up to PCP,records supervisor. but it appears one dare not tread on another’s area…Vet and spouse are again caught in the middle! Incorrect dx may cause a wrong treatment to be done! !! **Unacceptable. and Dangerous!**! As his Wife and Caregiver this should be the least of my worries!

  13. dennis    

    B.S. THATS WHAT THIS IS I HAVE BEEN JERKED AROUND SINCE 2001.

    1. lefty frizzell    

      Sounds like me. I have tried to get the effective date of my disability changed twice and it has been denied twice because they claim I cannot provide documentation . This is despite the fact that a copy of my initial claim has been submitted each time showing a date of 2001. Seems they just refuse to read it or even recognize it as evidence. I mean, if the date stamped request to re-open my claim is not enough…I truly have no idea.

      Appeals have been denied because I did not submit some paperwork that required my signature (part of the appeals process)…and those papers were never sent to me. I can’t send in what I never receive and have no idea about them to begin with. It is very disheartening to get run around the bush like this.

      I’ve been trying to get a military id card (100% disability) for the last two years…and I’m not even going to go into that.

      I hope all receive their benefits in a timely manner…but, I’ll be dead before I get mine.

  14. Charlotte Lacher    

    Copay,no copay for service connected meds is an ongoing conflict. Ex: If rx expires, different mg or different dosing, different name of the generic med =Errors!. Other errors–Vet not billed a Copay for a Med that “should be”billed! (VA looses $!!!).. Clearly the Computer System isn’t programmed right! Why do staff need to do work-arounds due to these Programming Problems? ,Why do Veterans need to be troubled with this kind of mess? Sad…..the extra money to audit these billing errors… endlessly! ***Please resolve asap!***

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Ms Lacher,

      I have referred your concerns to the appropriate folks in the Veterans Health Administration.

  15. Cecil Allen Sanders Jr.    

    I feel the service officers have made so many mistakes on my case. I have a very good attorney Theodore Jarvi in Arizona working on my case. His staff has always did a good job. After 14 years, still waiting for my appeals case to be approved. The service officers in Texas, California, and the tiger team, and on and on on on on!!! I will believed it when I see my pension get approved, been on social security, retired on disability, and the words continue to be a talk, not action. There is a way to start the jobs,and money, could help The America I love. Pay the 500,000 backlog veterans that continue to die before a appeal is approved. The promise to me in 1971 when I was drafted into the Army, that the government would take care of me. At 62 years old I no longer like the way the country is going. I will help vote to secure my country. Until I see homeless taken care of, talk is cheap. Pay veterans, grant the appeals.

  16. Jim Strickland    

    Mr. Pamperin ,

    Welcome home.

    Well done sir. Thank you for a nicely done and straight-forward article. This is exactly what I hope to see much more of on Vantage Point.

    Much of your good advice is exactly what I’ve told veterans for many years via my writing at http://www.vawatchdogtoday.org.

    I respectfully disagree that the veteran should have a representative at all times. It has been noted often that the first level of a claim for disability compensation is not adversarial and it is an administrative process. While there may be debates about that statement, overall I believe that to be true to a great extent.

    To file an initial claim is actually a simple process. It requires only 3 pages of the 21-526 be completed, the DD-214 and evidence in support of the grounded claim. It is no more complex than that.

    It is my experience after talking to a great many Veterans Service Representatives and Ratings Veterans Service Representatives (VSRs & RVSRs…VA employees…the decision makers) that they would often rather work directly with the veteran than to have an untrained and overworked Veterans Service Officer (VSO) serve as middleman.

    All too often the VARO is blamed for lack of timely processing of a claim or lost paperwork when the fact is that the VSO hasn’t processed it off of his/her desk. The VSO has a well deserved reputation for not returning phone calls, etc.

    It is my philosophy and I teach that a veteran who is capable of reading basic instructions, has a computer/printer and Internet connection and who is willing to take a bit of time to learn a few basic rules will be much happier with their own control of the claims process as it goes along.

    I teach 5 basic steps to follow

    http://www.vawatchdogtoday.org/uploads/5BestPractices.pdf

    that are similar in many ways to your advice.

    You say that the Veterans Service Officers provide a no-cost alternative to using lawyers, etc. While that may be technically true, most often the first thing a veteran hears from the VSO is a sales pitch to purchase a “life membership” in the organization. The hint (wink, wink) is made that the veteran’s claim will receive heightened attention because of the status if the vet is a life member. I know of times that the VSO has refused to accpet a claim if the veteran declines membership.

    The only VSOs that I actively refer to today are those employed by the state/county where the veteran resides.

    “Nobody cares about your claim the way you do” has been my credo for years. Most vets are very smart and fully capable of managing their own claim when the VSR-RVSR are well trained and doing their job.

    Again, many thanks to you and to Vantage Point for an informative and useful article. To hear from senior officials of VA in their own voice is refreshing.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Thanks Jim and I hope your health improves. Will miss VAWatchdog.org. While sometimes your site drove me crazy, I read it everyday and found it a great thing.

      1. Alex Horton    

        A quick note Tom: Larry Scott was the founder of VA Watchdog, who recently retired due to poor health. Jim Strickland carries on the same spirit at VA Watchdog Today.

    2. Jaime    

      Mr. Strickland,
      Although I thoroughly appreciate what you do for our Veterans through VA Watchdog, I must say that I am offended by your comment about not trusting VSO’s employed by the state/county because of incompetent work.

      It is my opinion and experience that there are VSO’s (employed by both local government and Service Organizations which like membership) out there who don’t care enough to put forth good quality work but there are many more who do.

      I agree that every Veteran must take charge of their claim however, most people come to us because their not confident that they can handle the process on their own. Employed by the County, we have seen many people try to file claims on their own and end up coming to us after it’s denied because they didn’t completely understand the process in which VA requires things be done. Look there at how much time was lost. If they came in for help in a timely fashion, no harm done except time but what if they didn’t. It does happen where VA will refuse to reconsider an old claim, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.

      If we are contacted by the family of an active duty military member, we tell them that the process should be started while the Vet is still in using the BDD program (even though it doesn’t always work the say it is intended to). If they don’t start a claim while still in, they can either go online and file themselves or contact our office for assistance. The thing is, there are so many benefits out there that unless they really pay attention during out processing, some things may get missed. Did they get their dental treatment, switch their life insurance, apply for health care, know about home loans, emergency assistance, etc.? These are questions that many times never get asked. We are Veteran’s advocates. This is what we do. We have a vast knowledge of a constantly changing system and work diligently to get a Veteran all benefits that he/she earned. Your comment may deter a Veteran or family of a Veteran to contact our office when they actually should.

      I have Veterans tell me all the time that “if they had only known” or “if someone would’ve helped me” things would have been so much better. Every day, we provide assistance to any Veteran who comes into our office and take tremendous pride in that work because it’s done well. Despite what you may have heard about other VSO’s, passing judgement on us all is just wrong.

      1. Cheryl    

        I agree with you, Jaime. People are quick to give the VSO’s a bad name without thinking twice. I was fortunate to receive excellent help through a VSO and I myself am now a VSO for the Military Order of the Purple Heart. I have NEVER tried to get someone to become a life member, in fact we help ALL Veterans, even those without a Purple Heart. Makes me sad to see such a bad reputation being applied to ALL VSO’s. I am a combat Veteran myself and my goal is to help others the way I was helped.

      2. Aaron K.    

        “The only VSOs that I actively refer to today are those employed by the state/county where the veteran resides.” Maybe I missed something but didn’t he say your the only ones he recommends?

  17. Bruce M.McLaughlin    

    “95% by 2015″…What a total load of hogwash! Yeah, with over 1,000,000+ claims are now pending no less w/many more expected.

    Half of those will be DENIED. A popular game that the DVA enjoys playing with our wounded comrades. I’ve been dealing with this stupid defunct agency for over 33+ years now, so I know the games played and the ins and outs.

    My claim is over NINE YEARS OLD! Still haggling over issues that should have been addressed during the Administrative process. It was either IGNORED or as the VA likes to put it “Overlooked”.

    A KEY issue is the constant violation under the Administrative Due Process that I and other Veterans are put through on a daily basis.

    Another important tidbit is the quality (or LACK of) doctors that the gov’t. hires. Doctors that aren’t FIT enough to diagnose a “Hangnail”, let alone, PTSD, Ortho, Neuro or any other problem that requires a specialist.

    Even though I wrote this while I was ticked off, it makes for an educational reading on how the DVA REALLY cares for our nations Veterans and how it REALLY conducts its business.

    http://usgovissues.blogspot.com/
    (“U.S. Gov’t/DVA Dilemma/Possible Class Action”)

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Bruce,

      I can understand your frustration. That was one of the purposes of this blog effort was to empower veterans with plain language suggestions to help themselves and us. But I do have to set the record strait on something you said. I don’t know what you mean by the assertion that “half of them will be denied.” If you are talking about conditions I don’t know what the actual numbers are but many conditions are denied for the reasons in my blog. But the “grant rate” (i.e. the percent of veterans granted service connection for something is really quite high. In the last 10 years the number of veterans on the rolls has increased by nearly 500,000 and the average combined evaluation has increased from around 30% to just over 40%.

      Finally, I just can’t let the comment about VA medical centers and our clinical staff go without comment. VA is the largest integrated medical system in the world – bar none. And consistently over the last decade our medical system has been consistently recognized as the BEST medical system in the country through customer satisfaction surveys, through assessments of the Joint Commission on the accredidation of hospitals and other agencies. Further, people may not be aware, but virtually all doctors who graduate from United States Medical Schools have received a significant portion of their training in VA hospitals. I’m not trying to sound defensive but I think we need to be fair.

      1. Diane    

        It has been my personal experience that doctors hired to work for VA are not required to have a license to practice medicine in the United States? Is this correct, or is it only those who make the decisions on the claims?

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          No that is not correct. All clinicians who practice medicine in VA must have a valid license. While we have many nurses who work as rating specialists (and we verify they have a license) I am reasonably certain we don’t have any doctors who rate in the regional offices.

      2. Monica Morton    

        I have to speak up on this one. While the VBA, specifically the VARO Houston, TX, is the worst nightmare I have ever had the misery of dealing with, but VHA is a different story. My medical care here in San Antonio is EXCELLENT and I am EXTREMELY grateful for my care. My hat is off to San Antonio VA medical facilities! Also, kudos to the CHAMPVA and VA Life Insurance people. THEY have their act together! The VBA could learn….

  18. James    

    I have had claims in since 5/2009 I have provided all medical records for them as well I call to set up most of my C&P exams after months went by after the RO requested the exams. The latest is they are waiting on my C-file to be returned after over 3 months after the exam. I call the clinic and being told my file was sent back over a month ago and the RO tells me they have not gotten it yet but have sent a another (6) request for the file so they can review it and send it to rating… No wonder there is a back log they can not even track a c-file from a clinic for over 3 months. Most of my exams went well but they keep sending request for clarification exams until they get the docs to say what they want to hear not what he reported (I have a copy of my c-file and all these request) Where is the docs integrity that they do not believe what he has reported. They are not just asking to explain they want him to change his remarks. I have had some good experinces with the VA but all the little things that add up to unexplained months of wasted time is an outrage. I have lost so much already due to not being able to work full time but I try to do as much as I can. I know there are alot of my brothers and sisters who are far worse than me and it saddens me to know they are going through this as well. You want to believe they are trying but the actions tell you otherwise. I pray for all of you fighting the system that was designed to be there for us after we served our country.

    God Bless!!

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      James,

      what state do you live in?

      1. James Midgett    

        Sir I live in NC and being handled by Winston salem RO. I have called several times and they can’t seem to find my records. They tell me it is at Ashville clinic, The Ashville clinic said it was mailed back almost a month ago. This is the only thing they say is holding up my claim from going to rating. My appointment with Ashville was Oct 21 2010. They just seem to be sending request back and forth. I requested a call on December 30 2010 and to this date have not even been given a call back to explain where my records are. The keep telling me we just need the C-file to complete your claim.

        Thank you for any help you can give me on this matter.
        james.midgett@carolina.rr.com

        James Midgett

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          Let me check. Sorry for the delay but was out last week for most of the week.

  19. James Midgett    

    Sorry if this is a repeat post having troble with the CAPTCHA

    I have had claims in since 5/2009 I have provided all medical records for them as well I call to set up most of my C&P exams after months went by after the RO requested the exams. The latest is they are waiting on my C-file to be returned after over 3 months after the exam. I call the clinic and being told my file was sent back over a month ago and the RO tells me they have not gotten it yet but have sent a another (6) request for the file so they can review it and send it to rating… No wonder there is a back log they can not even track a c-file from a clinic for over 3 months. Most of my exams went well but they keep sending request for clarification exams until they get the docs to say what they want to hear not what he reported (I have a copy of my c-file and all these request) Where is the docs integrity that they do not believe what he has reported. They are not just asking to explain they want him to change his remarks. I have had some good experinces with the VA but all the little things that add up to unexplained months of wasted time is an outrage. I have lost so much already due to not being able to work full time but I try to do as much as I can. I know there are alot of my brothers and sisters who are far worse than me and it saddens me to know they are going through this as well. You want to believe they are trying but the actions tell you otherwise. I pray for all of you fighting the system that was designed to be there for us after we served our country.

    God Bless!!

  20. David    

    Took me 19 freakin years to fight through the appeal process. Keep after them. Never, ever give up!

  21. Karen    

    The best thing Veterans can do is educate themselves on the VA disability criteria. There are several groups on line and even on Facebook. I would recommend one to never appeal a decision but take an alternate route such as “reopening.” It took me over 4 years waiting for my appeal. I got a decision in Dec 2010 after retiring in Aug 2005. DAV and other organizations can aid you but educate yourself so you understand the process. My first DAV representative in Oakland really did not care what she was doing and wasted years of time for me. I finally complained and got reassigned to an actual Veteran who has helped me significantly. I am currently requesting a reopening as when my appeal was finally adjudicated the disability date was my C/P exam date and not my retirement date. If you are not employable you may also be eligible for SSA benefits.
    http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/benefits/exams/index.htm
    http://www.military.com/benefits/military-pay/va-disability-compensation
    http://vetwow.com/ for female Veterans

  22. Michael Fern    

    I appreciate every effort to “improve” the VA system/process. But, until the VA gets all the various agencies in the same room, to hear the same words from the guy at the top, nothing will change.

    Having technology is great; having technology that can’t communicate between regional offices/centers is unacceptable. I recently received 30% rating for sleep apnea diagnosis. Explanation for not getting 50% was because there was no evidence I received/use a CPAP machine. Well, the Lake City FL VA center diagnosed/issued me the CPAP machine. But, the Augusta GA VA center who rates GA resident vets didn’t know the VA diagnosed me/issued the CPAP.

    I found a VA rep visiting Valdosta GA who helped me to file a “request for reconsideration of rating decision” and identified the specific VA center to get my “evidence.” She said “reconsideration requests” typically avg 6-8 months rather than an “appeal” which averages 2-5 yrs!

    Keep all this in mind… The Augusta GA VA RO informed me the Gainesville/Lake City FL VA centers would handle all south Georgia vets, yet the Augusta GA VA center will make the decisions. If that is the process, then shouldn’t the Augusta GA center have instant access to ALTA to see just what was diagnosed/issued/completed? Common sense would go a long way to “improving” the over-burdened system.

    By the way, 1 yr now in processing/rating/waiting for a final rating decision!

  23. Tommy Blankenship    

    I served 2 tours in Vietnam and filed my first claim in Nov. 1987 and went through appeal process and was denied for everything including PTSD. In 87 the VA said they didn’t have enough staff to research my stressor and denied me. In 2006 I reopened my claim and a friend of mine wrote the appropiate place and located my military records and verified my stressor. Why couldn’t this been done 19 years ago.
    Frustrated
    Tommy Blankenship

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Mr. Blankenship,

      No excuses but your first claim was back when there weren’t the record support systems in place we have now. And more importantly, VA recently revised its regulation on PTSD so that VA will not have to verify the stressor for people like you if certain conditions are met. I realize too late to benefit you but it certainly will help your fellow veterans.

      1. Mark Chamberlain    

        They changed the regulation for this, but like where Mr. Pamperin worked in 1993 they are still doing it the same way. Just had to do all the investigate reports even though VA doctors said I met all the stressor and that when they diagnose me with it in 1997, (but did not inform me) they should of started treatment then.

  24. Jason    

    I find it a bit ridiculous that the VA can claim such good quality scores when I hear nothing but bad things out the whole process, and its not just what I hear, but what I have to deal with. While it is nothing like the years others have to fight, their stories only serve to frustrate and disappoint me even more. I felt lucky to have finally been given a chance at claims thru a less difficult process last year at the VA with a supposed “one day one stop shop”. Long story short, not one day, not one stop and the appointments were over a month apart. Process started in June and finally was submitted in Sept/Oct.

    Mine is processed by the VA.

    My wife is filed thru the newer civilian program and has her letter and money in the bank in about 50 days.

    I haven’t heard a word from the VA since. I didn’t claim anything ridiculous, everything was in my records, and the conditions had been being treated since I got out. PTSD diagnosed by the VA stemming from Iraq 2003-04, mysterious undiagnosible throat illness making me sick countless times until finally requiring tonsil surgery recommended by VA, shoulder injury requiring months of physical therapy and then surgery, testicular problem found while still active in Army and just waiting for the day I find bloodflow loss and I’m sterile, because that is just my luck. These things were verified in the office by the Dr doing the exam that day as being all over my records and service related. How is it possible that a civilian company is able to help a Veteran in less than two months but the government I served for, and who has some serious experience doing these claims has gone through half a year? And it certainly seems likely from other people it may just be a lot longer. I just realized how much of a rant this was becoming, and somewhat apologize. However, if it wasn’t true and ridiculous I wouldn’t have anything to rant about. And that doesn’t even count my first time using the VA which made me end up using civilian care for so long. I guess my overall point is that the system is broken, and to claim otherwise is preposterous. Thank you for your article and your service, but I followed said article, minus the Vet reps.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Jason,

      Did you get a VCAA letter from us? Did we schedule an exam for you and if so has it been conducted? Do you have a representative? If you do contact him/her. If you don’t, as I said, I encourage you to get one.

  25. Sam    

    First of all, I never call the VA; they have a tendency to develop a very convenient amnesia after such calls. All of my correspondence gets sent via certified mail, an expense that I cannot really afford, but it beats the alternative of “We have no record of your correspondence”. As for the unhelpful individuals, I know a bit about the GS system, and that it is almost impossible to fire someone, you should consider changing it so that the individuals are in danger of losing their positions, maybe then I would stop running into individuals that are more interested in numbers and job security. I also get tired of receiving letters telling me they need this or that, when those items were included in the original correspondence. Let’s face it; some of your people have IQ’s that resemble their shoe size. And as for the benefit of the doubt going to the veteran, yeah, right. What happened to that policy?

  26. LISA    

    I am a civilian since 1979. I had a knee injury for which I am receiving 10%, a back injury for which I also recieve 10%. I recently requested a re-evaluation to try to increase my disability compensation. The issue is that they denied my claim increase, stating I have a certain range of motion, which they state is good. I do stretch to help relieve the pain, but the pain IS STILL THERE!! 80% OF MY DAY is affected by my pain, and it is preventing me from performing my job as a CSR. I have refiled, with additional information. My pain level is a consistent 8 on a 1-10 scale. I am struggling financially because I miss so much work due to my chronic back pain. I am on a pain management regimine, but I still have a lot of pain. Any help or suggestions are appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Lisa,

      Here are some suggestions. Look at your examination. Is there anywhere in the evidence or reasons and bases sections of the rating any discussion of “deLuca”? That is a court case that requires that we consider increased functional impairment of a joint due to pain on repeditive motion. If it doesn’t see you representative about getting that fixed. I would also suggest that you google 38 CFR Part IV. That is the rating schedule. You can look up your diagnostic codes and see what the requirements are.

      1. brenda hayes    

        Mr. Pamperin,

        Good information; but don’t you think this is the type of information that the Service Officers should be knowledgeable in and readily be able to give to the Veteran. And, also, be ready to submit the Vet’s claim into the VARO immediately?

        This is the disconnect that I have stated previously. For whatever reasons; there are too many SO that are either not well trained (by the VA) or they are not being held accountable; either by the VA or its Servivce Agency.

        I just recently learned that the Service Agencies have errors and omission insurance; and maybe if Vets would take them to task–because, IMHO, in some ways it is very much a fiduciary responsibility; then maybe the VA training and its own issues of accoutability as well as for the Service Agencies and Service Officers accoountability– to take these claims VERY seriously as they affect lives.

        ISSUE: Disconnect with SA/SO/VA regardiing Training and accountability with Veterans claims

        SOLUTIONS: Initial SO training and subsequent annual training be given on the VA Website and open to all SA/SO’s, Veteran Advocates, and Veterans and family members.

        Mr. Pamperin, you admitted you read VAWATCHDOGTODAY.com; so you must know this is true.

        Too many mistakes–for whatever reasons are being made not only by SO; but by the VARO raters as well. How many mistakes are these VARO raters allowed to make–in a month, 3 mos; 6 mos; a year? What happens? How are they held accountable?

        Where do Veterans submit complaints about Service Officers to the VA? To Whom, Where? What happens? Where is the accountability?

        If you don’t have quality and accountability built in ALL programs that have anything to do with the Veterans; they you get what you have; it is not excellence. So What SOLUTIONS do you have on this specific ISSUE? Awaiting your reply.

        Thanks,

        BH
        Veteran Advocvate

        BH
        Vetwife Advocate

    2. lisa san miguel    

      What form do I file to get my service connected disabiluty re-rated?

  27. Van    

    Why is it in the case of veterans exposed to agent orange outside of Viet Nam that the DVA puts total stock in the lack of records and denies? This circumvents combee v brown and the veterans right to present evidence to win his or her case with evidence or records on a direct basis.
    The DVA sends these cases to JSRRC and they know it will come back negative as to whether there is any record of exposure. Because there is no record. This lack of records becomes the sole determinate to deny. While the DVA never looks or gives credence to what the veteran has presented.

    1. Randall Thomas    

      I refer you to a Classified report “CHEECO” report prepared in 1973 by the Air Force. States Agent Orange uses at all Thailand Bases.EHW7

    2. Tom Pamperin    

      Van,

      The issue is that there is no presumption of exposure if you served outside of Vietnam or for a certain period in certain units along the DMZ in Korea. Therefore, we have to have documentation of exposure. In reality, we have no idea what JSRRC will say, usually they say no evidence. But working with them we have been able to identified some other areas such as MPs who did perimiter duty at some sites in Thailand and we have provided that information to field stations.

      1. Van    

        Thankyou for your response but it’s a little off target. Does the DVA use lack of records as evidence against the veteran?
        The DoD doesn’t accept that Agent Orange was used in other places such as Guam. But 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, 2,4,5-TPsilvex, picloram and 2,3,7,8-TCDD can all be found in the environment and in the drinking water of Guam. Veterans have come forward with their statements as to the use of AO on Guam. At least 2 were pesticide applicators and they knew what they were using. Personnel that worked in the storage areas where the rainbow herbs were stored have pictures of the of barrels and their color stripe can be seen. Some have won cases for exposure to AO and are service connection.
        ATSDR started monitoring Andersen AFB drinking water wells in 1978 for 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. The government admits 2,4,5-T was stored on Guam as early as 1952. On NCS Guam high amounts of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-TP were in their drinking water wells that were subsequently shut down due to contamination. Most of the navy wells test positive for these substances, even today.
        I would be more than happy to send you a CD that has been provided to both veterans committees, Sec. Shinseki, and many politicians. I is all about the contamination to Guam and AO was a part of that.

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          We need evidence of exposure to apply the agent orange presumptions. If we don’t have it we can’t apply the presumptions.

  28. Joe Average Vet    

    Tom
    We have been hearing, “I’m the new Secretary and I will decrease the claims backlog and reduce red tape at the VA” from so many past VA Secretary’s , that many Veterans are now “from Missouri” and say “show me”. I think it was Nicholson who was the only one to achieve any real backlog improvement and pretty much all the others, including Shinseki, have actually worsened the problem at least so far.
    However, I am going to give you a chance to “show me” that the VA really is “Veteran-centric” and this is just not another failed campaign promise. Well, “the rubber meets the road, here and now”, and I am trying to get help at the VA with evidence that was shredded in 2002-2008. I have been given the “run around” about this and have not been able to get the VA to correct my effective date in spite of resubmitting about 30 shredded documents over the past several years. We need an immediate solution to this shredder problem..not just with documents shredded in 2007 and 2008, but to all documents shredded before and after the “October incident”. Ok, so Im “communicating” and now the ball is in your court.

  29. lawanda slack    

    I had no problems with my initial claim. I had a very good claims rep plus I requested a personal appearance. I found out that itz wasn’t what was in my records that caused a problem but rather what was NOT in my records. I made sure I had copies of all of my medical records both mental and physical. I only corresponded via email on.certain issues so I had proof as well.
    I also had no problem with my increase either. I researched my issue and found out mistakes others have made and made sure I didn’t make them.
    Knowledge is key…know your issue and research prior decisions…

  30. Elizabeth Lightfoot    

    I am proud of the service I render to my country in the US Army. I went in because I wanted to do something for my country. However, I feel I have been kicked to the curb. Went I processed out of the Army in 1979 I was sent to several different stations to get signed out. Nobody really talked to me or explained about any benefits. I was told to file my DD 214 at the local courthouse when I returned home. I did 1 year active reserve. My first visit in 1981 I waited all day to be seen from 8am – 3 pm and finally just left. Years later I tried to file a disability claim for chronic back and foot pain to no avail. I feel that I have been treated unfairly and denied benefits I deserve for the abuse my body has endured that started while in the military. My physical profile changed from entrance to date of discharge. My claimm continues to be denied. I know people that simply stated to government that they had a medical problem at discharge and are now receiving disability benefits at the rate of 50% – 100% and they say that they never even went to sick call. WHERE IS THE JUSTICE? HOW IS THEIR SERVICE BETTER THAN MINE? It is not my fault that there was no war going on during the time of my service.

  31. Trae    

    I went overseas in 2005 and returned in 2006. I went through an office in TX to file my VA claim. I then moved to AZ where I found out there was never a claim filed. I then went through the Purple Heart Foundation to file. I finally got approved for 20% on my back and denied on ALL other claims.
    1. I have 3 plus herniated disk and I am in constant pain every day every hour! I have been told that they don’t even know how I am still walking with my back in the condition it is in.
    RATING – 20%
    2. I took a hearing test 2 weeks before I went overseas and it was perfect. I took another one when I came back and was told I have a loss of hearing.
    RATING – DECLINED
    3. I have had migraine headaches since going overseas.
    RATING – DECLINED
    4. I have had problems breathing and now I have to do inhalers’.
    RATING – DECLINED
    I filed a Notice of Disagreement in Aug of 2009. I have now been told it will be 12 to 24 mo’s before my case will be heard.
    This is ALL B.S.! Nothing will be done faster with the VA. It is the same old military saying – hurry up and wait! The VA does not want to pay for our service and they try and BS us with all the fancy talk…

  32. Curtis    

    I’ve had a differenct experince with the VA than most here. They have been good and honest when it came to exams, decisions, and timeliness. My decisions matched the criteria in every case. I understand that with the amount of claims, it will take a little longer. Thanks for the hard work that your agency does. There are far more that are satisfied than not.

  33. George E. Clark    

    I am a Disabled Veteran, US Army, Desert Storm. I was injured not in war, but by the Ft Hood Hospital. I had slipped a disk, the TMC sent me for x-rays. The x-ray tech jerked me around on the table and ruptured my disk. This would be medical malpractice anywhere else. The doctors just said I stressed my back muscles. It took 3 years (1more in service, 2 out) before the problem was found. A big chunk of the disc was logged in my spinal cord for that 3 years. The VA hopsital fused my back, said they would take care of everything for me. No one told me I would have to file a separate claim for my spinal cord injury. I thought it was covered by the disability for my back. 15 yrs later I was told I need to file. I did last year. The VA is now just covering it up. The hospital (Ann Arbor) it refusing to release records that prove my spinal cord injury. Medical Malpractice, and VA cover up. My county VA officers, the deputy director and director, have been lying to me. Giving me miss-information. I had to leave my job over a year ago, becuase of my disability. I couldn’t get unemployment because I left my job due to medical, and you can’t draw unemployment benifits if you can’t be available to work. The med.review doctor said I was unemployable, that I needed to sign up for SSDI. All the VA is paying me is $540.00 a month. I would be homless now, if it wasn’t for my mother, 74 living on SSI, giving me $250.00 a month to stay in my home. I can’t get anyother assistance from anyone. I appealed the decision, was told after that I needed to file a separate claim on my spinal cord. Just getting the run around and the VA just sends a form letter saying “we are working on your case”. Someone needs to get off their a** and work for us veterans. I wish I could cut my leg off, and cut my lower back off, I am in so much pain. I have lost out on so much in the last 10/15 years. The Hospital, just doesn’t care. It’s a big cover up. I think they know they are responsable. That’s why they won’t turn over the records that will prove my case.

  34. Ed Ball    

    For Ricky and others, to further the comment made by Denise, the VA Clinician Guide provides the following verbage for VA doctors:

    1.16 How do I give an opinion for nexus (relationship to a military incident)?
    When asked to give an opinion as to whether a condition is related to a specific incident during military service, the opinion should be expressed as follows:

    1. “is due to” (100% sure)
    2. “more likely than not” (greater than 50%)
    3. “at least as likely as not” (equal to or greater than 50%)
    4. “not at least as likely as not” (less than 50%)
    5. “is not due to” (0%)

    1. brenda hayes    

      Ed Ball et al…(VA BUREAUCRATS)

      I appreciate you offering the inforamtion from the VCG and I am wondering if that would apply to even those Drs, Nurse practioners, etc. that are paid to do the C&P exams.

      I know when my husband had a C&P; since he had so much difficult getting the “obvious” that was in his records approved; he suggested that the practioner use the language that the VARO is familiar with (such as what was stated in Steps l-5) She relayed to him, “….they were told they could not use that language!”

      Again, whether its computers of the three different components of the VA or its personnel; if everyone is not trained to read off the same sheet of music; you get “more often than not” denials that take years to get corrected; if they get corrected at all. I say that, because as you know, so many Veterans just give up–due to their service connected disorders.

      I’m not for platitudes and I’m not for gushing over the bureaucrats who have good paying jobs for 30 some years to be so arrogant and not answer all questions directed to them on this blog.

      Also, when the VA or its representatives state or somewhat imply that the Veterans and family members that have factual complaints against the VAMC’s, etc. need to be reminded how great the system is “in fairness”; it basically is paternalistic and bureaucratic.

      How many of their family members have been misdiagnosed, mistreated, suffered medical malpractice, etc.from the VA Healthcare?

      Pardon me, are they reading these blogs? And, if they are visiting or “reading” VAWATCHDOGTODAY.com, then they can’t miss these horror stories!

      Other than sitting in the “Ivory VA tower” and receiving “surveys” to speak of how great the VA Medical System is… most have not walked the VA path that Veterans and family members have walked and endured.

      I learned a long time ago; when someone offers complaints consider them as “gold”. OD Consultants fees are quite high; what you get from these sites from Veterans and family members who take their time in hopes of making the VA systems “fair”, effective, and Worldclass should be welcomed with no adverse or condescending comments.

      Trust me, the Vets you need to hear from are being more than FAIR; read the themes; one is strong throughout…The state that most Veterans and family members are from is MISSIOURI–“the show me state”.

      Platitudes, ignoring questions, condescending comments are not appreciated from Veterans and their family members and are seen as..”the same thing, different day”. That’s another expectation of change we’d like to see!!!

      You can’t miss these valid complaints; and it seems that’s there’s a lot of selective reading and answering going on at this blog site like anything else with the Veterans Administration–business as usual.

      I do hope the General is reading these blogs; he still needs to know a lot of what is and what is not happening “in the real world of Veterans”.

      I would appreciate it also if the VP team could request someone from the House/Senate Veteran/Family Member Caucus if they would be a “guest” and relay what their purpose and goals are?

      Looking forward to more “fresh air”!

      BH,
      Vetwife Advocate

      P.S. HAVING CATCHA PROBLEMS AGAIN!!

  35. Jason Shattuck    

    This article, was very informative.
    Thank you for it.

    I find it comical that the VA claims it has right now a “84%” rating. I put my first claim in, Feb of 2010, still waiting and waiting all I got for all of 2010 from the VA was; the fact they got my claim, they secluded a hearing eval, which I went to. All of that was fast within 3 months.
    And then letters saying “WE ARE STILL WORKING ON PROCESSING YOUR CLAIM” that came about every other month.
    Until November, when I had it! I raised hell (on this blog) and guess what it must have ticked some one off. Because my “lost file” was “recovered.” (thank you)

    Yet my situation is still bad. I am still laid off. My Unemployment extensions from the Federal Government, has been used up. I am now, Waiting for the State of WA “Emergency Unemployment” to take effect. They told me Monday this week, that December of 2010 they received 20,000 applications for the State’s Emergency Unemployment. They also told me, that it may take 10 to 14 business days until, I get my first unemployment check from the last application that I can apply for with unemployment.

    Is it, at all possible, for the VA to, start paying benefits, due to hardship, before the claim is finalized?
    And if so, HOW, please help.

    The only bright side, is that Monday this week 3 Jan 2011, my wife got a job, with a local school district. This is a blessing. It wont pay much $1200.00 a month were praying, but it is the first brake we have had, in well over a year. She was also unemployed last year, for about 6 months.

    I know I am waiting 30 days for the VA, to allow me the time to get the requested info to them. I have done that already. The 30th day is 8 Jan 2011. If a “hardship quick pay” is not able to happening. Can someone within the VA system, help on the 9th of Jan 2011. To see what may be needed, in order to complete my claims? You have no idea, how stressed, I am. I quit smoking about 2008, I am so stressed, that I stared back, and have been drinking more then my Marine days, which, just trust me is a lot, im trying to cut it back, but brother sometimes it is hard to do.

    Last note, my report card for the VA
    American Lake VA, Tacoma WA……….A (All issues I have had, have been quickly taking care of. With little to no hassle)

    Seattle VA Hospital………………………..C- ( I had a scheduled appointment that was at 0730 I was on time showed up at 0645. I was seen at 1100 this was in Aug of 2010. And it is a ZOO! the travel pay/ prescription lines are way too long.

    Seattle Regional Office……………………D- (issues mentioned above)
    I want to give them an F for completely failing to be helpful, however, they did, after I raised hell on this site, start to do something which elevated them just enough to have a “passing” grade.

  36. Raymond E. Maynard III    

    I read this article and every article that I could find on the claims process. They are all very informative and well written. Unfortunately the “goals” are not being met and I don’t see anything being done to improve this. Everyone has a story and I of course have my own. After numerous years of substance problems I went into a year long residential treatment program where I was diagnosed with PTSD. To mention things I was in Germany during the cold war era and witnessed some events. I began my claim and quickly received a denial notice that I was never in country. They did however acknowledge the PTSD in my VA file and accepted the stressor event. I then submitted proof that I was in country at which point I was denied again because my name wasn’t specifically in an incident report. I again repeated my explanation and informed them that not everyone there had their name in the police report. So it has now been sitting on someones desk for a year, waiting to go somewhere else.

    During this time I started receiving a NSC pension with the kicker of my child being in college full time. He took a semester off of school and I like a good soldier notified the VA of this. I then called back and told them he was back in school and what should I do. Well I was told don’t worry about it, he was only out for 1 semester. Well they reduced my pension and then stopped it because I had been over paid. The VA in its infinite wisdom took almost 6 months to process the issue so of course I was over paid.

    I then began receiving Social Security Disability because I was determined to be unemployable by the paperwork my VA provider filled out and the Social Security. So obviously I am now not receiving any VA pension just my disability. This I do understand even though it is an extreme hardship. However my SC claim should have come though. I have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s and yet everything just sits and spins uselessly.

    Our hands are tied and we have no recourse. I would love to see the rate go up to 95%, but realistically we are in 2011 at a supposed 84% and we will never make the numbers. I personally think in the back of someones mind is the thoufght that if we just make people go around in circles enough times they will give up.

    I for one will not give up. I would like to receive a reply on where my claim is and the status of it. Things have gone on way too long.

  37. Candy    

    I just found out that I may be MEB’d for exercise induced asthma. I’m not sure where this leaves me as far as a disability is concerned. I just found out about it in April 2010 and I am afraid with that and an existing Medical Profile that expands my entire length of service that I will be discharged. Is there someplace I can find out what qualifies as a disability before all of this gets started, for my own peice of mind. Thanks!

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      If you are referred to the Military Disability Evaluation System (DES) you will be assigned a PEBLO by your branch to assist you. If you are at a large military installation you probably have a VA “Military Services Coordinator” on base who can advise. If you are put into the DES you will also be offered an opportunity for a DTAP briefing.

      1. Lawrence    

        Tom my question is pfb still giving 10%. I just found out after 31 years that I maybe able to get compensation for pfb. Please advise.

  38. David Hudson    

    My problem is with the longevity of the process and decisions rendered. I submitted a claim for sleep apnea with a Dr. note stating that “Is is more likely than not that I suffered from obstructive sleep apnea while serving on active duty in the military,” along with a statement from a fellow soldier in the unit confirming my breathing problems and they still rejected my claim. Now I have to appeal and wait who knows however long to get the right decision that should have been awarded in my favor the first time. These types of problems may very well contribute to the backlog as well. We need to stop denying veterans, who have enough evidence in their favor tI have since filed for a PTSD claim and now must wait even longer. 38 U.S.C. 5107(b) states that the veteran is to be given the benefit of the doubt. “Where there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence regarding any issue material to the determination of a matter, the Secretary shall give the benefit of the doubt to the claimant.” I had this and was flatly denied. This is why veterans are angry and still suffering physically, emotionally and financially. We need Veterans Affairs to understand our suffering and not prolong it.

  39. Barbara    

    I am a disabled vet with a 20% rating for a shoulder injury. Initially Iwas given 20% for just the injury then I had a second surgury and recieved ugly scaring from a staph infection. I was then re evaluted to 20% ( 10% for the shoulder and 10% for the scarring)I routinely go back to the ortho doctor for shots to my shoulder and was was referred to a plastic surgeon for a breat reduction by the ortho surgeon because I had such bad grooving on my shoulder where the scarring was from my bra strap. I had the reduction and the plastics doctor made dictation that I was a large C and was to be reduced to a B but the person doing the dictation heard reduced to a “D”. Needless to say that when I filed a supplement to the shoulder claim I was denied. Due to the fact that the report stated I was was reduced to a “D”. I had to get all of the paper work to file an appeal that was filed over a year ago in Nov. I don’t understand why it is if the people who look at the paper work that I authorized release of(all thru the VA hospital system) could not of called some one in order to inquire about this and not have dragged it out for over a year????? While I was requesting the paper work for the appeal I also recieved a pathology report that said there where abnormal results and thanks to me being my own health care advocate I have been seeing a specialist. I am very saddened by this system. Can you give me any help???

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Do you have a representative?

      1. Diane    

        Mr. Pamperin,
        I respectfully submit that it is curious to me and I am sure to many others reading this blog that the complaints are all so similar in nature. Lost medical records, lost claims, denials, untimeliness (years) of processing claims and most importantdly just plain old disrespect and in most cases no consideration given to all the veterans who honorably serviced this great country of ours. The processors are not treating the vets like are family. I ask them to simply treat these vets as though they are members of their families or ask themselves is this how I would want to be treaated?

        1. Barbara    

          yes I have the DAV as my representative. But even they have told me “one to one and a half years”. Initially, I was 20% and then re evaluated to 10% shoulder and 10% scarring. Their reasoning was due to the fact that I had ‘Corrective surgery’.(I am not sure as to that logic considering my surgeon said that there was tearing of my rotator cuff and that there is nothing more that he can do.) I also at the same time had the DAV put in a claim for a back injury ( that I had numerous surgeries on) that I acquired while in the VA Voc. Rehab. program. I received a letter from the DAV that the VA denied the claim but I have yet to see a letter of denial from the VA. My phone calls about the appeal keep telling me that the case is at the regional office being reviewed. I agree that we the disabled veterans and our familiea are not being treated “like family” more like the “Black sheep of the family”.

  40. John Howard    

    EBenefits, could be one of the best tools for Veterans checking on their benifits. But, I don’t understand the reasoning that the VA has used with eBenefits verification for a premium account which requires the Veteran to travel hundreds of mile to complete. This verification could be done in the same manner as the identity verification with my healthy e vet. If Veterans could check their own status of claims it could and would cut the number of calls the VA would have to handle as well as provide the Veteran with a higher level of customer service.

    A Premium account gives you the highest level of access to eBenefits. You can do everything you can do with a Basic account. You can also view secure, personal information from VA and DoD systems.
    To get a Premium account, you must meet the following requirements:
    • You must be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).
    • You must have a DoD Common Access Card (CAC) or a myPay account to register online.
    • If you are a Veteran, you must visit a VA Regional Office and verify your identity in person.

    Oakland VA Regional Office servicing Fresno is located at 1301 Clay Street, Rm. 1300 North, Oakland, CA 94612, which is 176 miles from my home in Fresno, one way, the VA Hospital Fresno is 8.8 miles from my home.

    Why can’t the VA Hospital in Fresno verify my identity in person as they did with my healthy e vet?

    1. Vinnie    

      Great question! It would as likely as not free up the toll free number and certainly be greener.
      BTW the IRIS system has not worked for monthe. Perhaps the IT guy that took the picture of the woman inundated with C-files could give us an update.

      1. Vinnie    

        It seems to me that this is a fair question. Perhaps the theme of the Vetwife Advocate is correct.

  41. George Bosolet    

    Great information….all Veterans, relax go straight to a Veterans Service Organization…they will assist you and understand the paperwork.

    Good luck and thanks for serving our Country.

    U.S. Marines, Retired
    New York State Veterans Counselor
    VAMC Brooklyn

  42. janie leroy    

    my husband served in vietnam over 40 yrs ago. he has heart disease(which we filed a claim for and was denied in 2003) we understand that ischemic heart disease is now covered related to agent orange. he is at 80% due to diabetes, neuropathy in 3 out of 4 limbs(go figure) & PTSD. he is totally unable to work, he can barely sit up for more than a few hours. he recently had this third stent placed in his heart. social security said he was unable to work several years ago. everything that he has wrong with him can now be related back to his service in vietnam but he continues to have problems getting total disability. he was to have an appeal on oct. 10th which no one notified us of and now we have sent yet another letter into the board and were told that they were notify us in 2 to 3 more months. just don’t understand why it takes them so long with such over and closed cases. these men are not going to live forever waiting to be told that they gave there all.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      You are in an appeal over ischemic heart disease? Im not sure I understand. We are reviewing all claims that were previously denied.

  43. Maurice Wyman Scott    

    Dear Mr. Tom Pamperin,
    As I have said for some time, there are those within the system, that does exactly as you describe, and to them I salute their efforts, but as in any organization, there are those who would oppose the rule of law, only because the DVA has insolated themselves from investigation their own. Basically corrupt because they know they can get away with it. I’m fortunate, I have a man on the inside, someone who confirms the tricks that have been played and continue to be played on my claim, its criminal, its against the statue, and it’s wrong, but as I said on the onset, THE DVA won’t investigate its own.

    My claim road started in 2002, with a doctors statement that I should have been discharged from active duty in 1986 for severe mental conditions. Now that statement and records is disappeared now, but that’s how this started. Three other with three other denials. So in 01/09 with some help, I started on the right path, I got my ducks in order, and submitted my claim, and paid attention this time, so I 06/09, the Columbia Regional Office said 17 different times they had recieved all the evidence, and would move my file on, 17 different times, which turned out to be a LIE. So to compound their efforts they had me get a C and P exam, the problem is that they purposefully decided not to tell the C and P examiner that I was being treated at the Same VA hospital, convenient. So of course the C and P examiner stated that I didn’t have what the VA hospital has been treating me for years, convenient of corrupt. So we go along, and then in September 2010, they deny all of my claimed its, Point one, they said I haven’t been diagnosised with all that I have and continue to be diagnosised with, point two, they said in the evidence that they couldnt find all the evidence that since june 09, they said they had, so 11 issues, and 11 different denials.
    Because I had knowlege of the con job, I was ready, first with the accident reports they said the GSA couldnt find, with a letter saying by the GSA that I was the first person to seek these reports in 20 years, lie 2. Secondly, 750 pages of medical reports from the VA hospital that date back to 2008, of which they seem to leave out, diagnosis PTSD, Dissociative Identity Behavior Disorder, Chronic Kidney Dysfunction, and other things, VA Psychiatrist, Nexus from repeated injuries to head, TBI, from multiple automobile accidents. Kidney dysfunction, notated on two accident reports injuries, KIDNEY. VA’s own website, on PTSD, lists causes of long term PTSD, serious auto accidents. Military medical records, blood in urine, caused hospitalization, Military medical records, prescribed Xanex, not stated by medical professional but down played by rater, as anxiety disorder.

    So I submitted my claim as DRO, then upon a listening ear from the 1800 number, I was advised to change it to a CUE claim for all issues, because something seem seriously wrong, and again the Columbia Regional Office is playing their same games, they didnt do that, they started my claim all over again, hurry up and wait. Now I know from the inside man, that its a game, so now I am mad, so considering I have provided them all the evidence to include statements that they never looked for the evidence, i.e. failure to assist, I decided that upon the VA’s new formats, that I can just declare that my claim is a fully developed claim, which I did, but I guess that didnt serve this corrupt locations processing delays, so in the meanwhile I got Ebenefit access, so suddenly I realize that they are playing the same game again, not acknowledging evidence they have had for over 60 days, the website says it takes up to 21 days, but they again have decided to play hide and seek, then I notice they are playing another game, they said I have a CUE claim in for a RIB injury, I DON’T HAVE, NOR HAVE I EVER HAD A DAMN RIB INJURY CLAIM, LIE 3.

    So I submit a iris request for a phone call, which occurred, talked to a supervisor of the Public contact team, who within a one hour period agreed with every one of my statements, leaving out evidence that is in the file, and inserting claims that I do not have, and stalling for no reason except to stall and delay. So now I believe I am on the road to getting my claim approved, and getting the help I deserve, saving my family, my home, and my life, NOT IF COLUMBIA REGIONAL OFFICE HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT!

    Now we are in the ultimate conspiracy, the Columbia Regional Office has decided to take my claim information and evidence, and steps of processing what they have received, or not, and done or not, OFF OF THE INTERNET, IT SAYS ERROR, IF I WANT TO FIND OUT SOMETHING, CALL THE 1800 NUMBER, THEY ARE HIDING THEY CORRUPTION NOW. Inside information, as well as a letter from the Ebenefit customer service, stating that my claim information is being blocked by the regional office.

    I’ve identified, I told, I’ve illustrated, now while it may not be pleasant, but it’s time to get someone fired, and call a corrupt bunch what a corrupt bunch are, THEY LIE.

  44. Mike    

    It seems things could be expedited by seperating smaller tasks from the regular claims process. I was reciving compensation for my hip arthiritis. I had my hip replaced due to the arthiritis and it is still taking over 4 months now to process my claim. Seems like a no-brainer. Also, when i started recieving 30%, I sent in the form to update my dependents. That was in October and it has still not been updated. i was told it follows the same process as any other claim. That makes no sense. i realize there a lot of backlog and not enough people to process them, but I think a little triage at the onset could aleviate a lot of the backlog.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Mike,

      Well actually Dan no it doesn’t have to. Do you have a Rep? If so call him and have him track it down and get it to the right employee (rating specialists don’t do dependency changes) to get it awarded.

      1. Lyne H    

        Tom,

        Twice I have received the same answer as Mike when I called the VA concerning the form to update my dependent information. Ebenefits shows my form as received as of 17 Nov 11; however, no other action is shown and when I called the VA I was told that the process could take several months because the dependent claim goes into the same process as a disability claim.

  45. David J. Hudson    

    Is there anyway one can apply for hardship and have their claiim expedited? I am unemployed and in great need of my VA benefits. I don’t like putting my situation out publicly like this but I am truly in need of financial assistance.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      What is your regional office

    2. James Midgett    

      I had my congress woman file one for me… It really dosent speed anything up. I think they look at it and thats it.. I am on the verge of loosing my house but still can’t seem to find my c-file and looks to be no rush either.

  46. gordon mack    

    As a gulf war veteran i find the process so stressful because we have been suffering in pain for 20 years claims turn down over and over again even though your illnesses are documented on the VA web site and in your medical records but still being told that its not service connected ,I think its all a big game with the VA system with the joke on the soldier, We would have given our lives for our country ,Now we are being force to play a game with our life we should not have to play, A game B most won’t win are die fighting from the stress.

  47. Jacqueline V. Cornish    

    My situraton is the same as David J. Hudson and my question is the same. I am disable and is unable to work. My claim is at the stage of a decision. However, I have waiting for some time now. I did my part to make sure all requested information was sent to VA. It is now a year later and I still haven’t heard anything as to the decision. We need your help and in advance I greatly appreciate it.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      What is your regional office and do you have a rep?

      1. Jacqueline V. Cornish    

        My regional office is the Columbia SC Office. My rep is DAV however, I did’nt have much success with them therefore, I did everything pertaining to my claim up to this point.

        1. David J. Hudson    

          Any progress on your claim Jacqueline? Please email me at crusadeforchange@gmail.com

  48. Michael P Slocum    

    Sir,my claim for PTSD AND SEVERE Depression both dianosed by VA Doctors.They denied me once claim filed October 2009,now I call they say it is in ratings board.I can not get good mental health from the VA and dont get any answers when I call Waco.I requested what they had , they sent nothing about my actual incidents I filed on.I thought they were going to speed up PTSD AFTER jUNE 2010 RULING. Thanks Mike Slocum

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      The change in regulation makes it easier to be granted service connection but such claims are worked as the development is completed. They are not special handled.

  49. Danniel    

    Mr. Pamperin, Thank you for the information.
    I filed a BDD claim and received a rating decision about 2-3 months after I was discharged August 2010. Half of the issues were denied. I filed a new claim for increase and new conditions back in Oct 2009 and was told my claim was paperless and apparently no claim has been established yet. I tried contacting AMVETS (my appointed rep)at the Winston-Salem Office which is the office that handle paperless claims and they NEVER return my phone calls. I recently re-submitted my claim via VONAPP so I would have some record that it was submitted, however, it still has not been established. Mr. Pamperin, can you assist me with getting in touch with someone at the Winston-Salem office or at least find out why a claim has NOT been established three months after submitting my “PAPERLESS” claim? Why can’t my file be transferred to the RO in the state in which I reside which is St Pete, FL? Thank you for your time.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Dan,
      Paperless doesn’t mean we don’t have it. We are moving to eliminate paper records and have everything on line. Because we are in the relatively early stages of paperless we have some limitations but we are working on the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) that will give us a lot more flexibility with regard to this. Would you be willing to tell me your last name? If you filed a VONAPP claim that should have been routed to our St. Petersburg office.

      1. Danniel    

        Mr Pamperin,
        My name is Danniel Timothy Powell. I would GREATLY appreciate any help on this. Thank you so much for responding to my message as I’m sure you are an extremely busy man.

  50. Neal Ports    

    I am wondering how to go about checking the process of my claim for re-evaluation of an existing condition?

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Neal you can call 1-800-827-100 or, because we are finally getting to the point where we are providing on-line access with much more planned you can register for VA’s eBenefits portal. You will have to be “second part proofed” which will be explained to you on the website. But once provided access you can check the status on line.

  51. Thomas Holloway    

    this is bull…..it has taken the va over 4 months to even start working on a temp disability that i filled in aug….they said they lost it refiled it with also new disability they lost both called em up oh sorry it been sitting on our fax machine….really sitting on fax machine for 4 months that not helping me out at all and they still haven’t found the other one that was mailed to em i have to refill it again cause they dunno what they are doing

  52. Dillon    

    I have a question Mr. Pamperin,Today I contacted the VA as I have been doing for the last month to ask the status of my claim. I filed this claim on July 30, 2010. I know its only been 6 months since being filled, but I am getting the run around by whoever is answering phones. I received the letter asking for records from the doctors that have provided care to me, as well as any additional information towards the end of August (on or around the 28th). Within a month I returned all the medical records from doctors as well as a letter the the VA. I sent this letter via FED EX certified that I could track. The letter was received less than a week later by the VA, that was five months ago and I have proof of the tracking records. When I contact the VA, they repeatedly tell me that they have not received any of my records to the piont, from me or my doctors, and that they cannot move forward with my claim. My representative is Texas Veterans Commission. Why is this that the VA is flat out lying to me and has been since they received the records that I have sent? I am a prior service Army Infantry soldier who served In Iraq just like the Veteran stated above. Why are we treated this way? Is it that hard to verify information and set up exams. We just want the returned service that we provided this country in a timely manner. We sure didnt tell the President that we had to much to do at this moment and that we would go to Iraq in 6 to 18 months….

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Dillon,
      I wouldn’t say we are “flat out lying” if you are talking to someone on the phone. They don’t have access to the paper file. Are you serviced by Houston or Waco? Would you be willing to tell me your last name?

  53. Frank    

    Mr. Pamperin, Thank you for an informative post. Many veterans, though, fall through the cracks: After treatment that began in mid-2003 that the VA later conceded breached the standard of care, both my surgeon & tumor board referred me to a VA case worker for end-of-life & financial counseling, and to a civilian hospital for a second surgery, and for radiation therapy, both on my dime. Second surgery unsuccessful. Third surgery proposed. During financial counseling, case worker stated I was not eligible for VA benefits. I learned in late 2006 that was incorrect, and filed claim immediately. Claim denied 6 months later, I appealed, and prevailed in late 2008. I appealed some issues that were in contention, but unsuccessfully. Filed BVA appeal 4th quarter of 2009 – no response to date. In early 2009, filed claim for secondary condition, and partially prevailed near the end of 2009. Again, I appealed some issues that were in contention via DRO process. As for my PCP whose misdiagnosis started everything, it’s arguably a matter of (written) record that he attempted a coverup. As of 01/2011, DRO appeal remains open, with hearing scheduled for late February 2011. Case is approaching the 8-year point, and its end is not in sight. It’s great that upon prevailing in a claim, back benefits are paid. However, famine + a delayed “feast” does not = steady monthly payment from day-1. A lot of bad things and a lot of sleepless nights can happen as a claim drags on. Thank you for being open to our comments.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Frank,
      Hopefully you have a rep. At least you have a DRO hearing scheduled. That will be an excellent opportunity to discuss the situation with a knowledgeable decision maker.

      1. Frank    

        Mr Pamperin: Thank you for taking the time to read my post, and for your reply. With respect, though, what I *have* is a *scheduled* DRO hearing (what the VA can schedule, it can unschedule (and has)), and no guarantee that the DRO will get it right (the last one arguably didn’t, thus the Form 9 to BVA 16 months ago with no word back yet), versus: VAMC misdiagnosis that “breached the standard of care” (C & P examiner’s words, not mine); botched surgery; VA’s washing its hands of my case; Tumor Board’s referral to civilian surgical oncologist & radiation oncologist (at my expense), and to VA case worker; case worker’s wrongful assertion that I was ineligible for VA disability (now rated, but 2 years’ benefits lost); surgery #2 failed; surgery #3 recommended (but beyond my means); debilitating radiation therapy (partially compensated w/appeal pending); debilitating secondary conditions (partially compensated w/appeal pending); ruinous concomitant financial damage that will never be compensated; case with its origins in 2003; claim history dating to 2006, well in excess of 125 days & well under 95% accuracy.

        1. Frank    

          No response to my January 9th post.

          My February 9th post is this: Rather than “an excellent opportunity to discuss the situation with a knowledgeable decision maker,” it was an excellent opportunity to discuss the situation with you.

        2. Frank    

          The Department of Veterans Affairs, Senior Executive Service, Performance Award Listing for FY 2010, shows an award of $19,207 for Pamperin, Thomas J.

  54. Robert    

    Thanks for this article and your service to the nation, Mr. Pamperin. As an active duty Army retiree, I have several comments to make regarding your article and all the comments listed above that I have read, that are strictly my “opinion” based on my experiences with service organizations (SO) and the VA:

    1) As a 20 plus year active duty retiree and paid “life member” of a SO, it appears that my claims got the top priority processing with them and the VA; my spouse, who is also a Vet (non paying member represented by same SO as me), documents were routinely “misplaced” or “not received” and had to be resent.

    2) The best pro-active, advocate for a claim is the person who looks the Veterans in the mirror each morning, YOU!

    3) A Vet should claim every valid diagnosis acquired on active duty to establish the correct effective date (remember, the govt denied the Veitnam Vets comp for over 2 decades, knowing the affects of AO on them, with many dying before govt admission and granting of those claims).

    4) As previously stated in other posts, “knowledge is power”; if you can read, a Vet needs to get “self-educated” on this VA beauracratic system; I have learned a lot since I retired over 5 years ago by basically “reading” and learning from the unfortunate mistakes of other Vets who previously filed.

    5) http://www.hadit.com is another great site for claims assistance.

    6) My father served in the Marines during the Vietnam era (died of cancer), another brother in the Army back in the mid 1970s (drug addict), and no one informed them of any these benefits they rightfully “earned”; I will do my best to not let what happened to them happen to any other Vet.

    7) Lastly, I applauded the efforts GEN(R) Shinseki is taking in caring out the President’s agenda of tackling the backlog; although the VA has a long way to go, yet still, I have seen some great improvements in processing and streamlining forms with VA over the last two years and just want to say, thanks!

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Robert,
      Did your father serve in Vietnam? If so and if your mother was married to him when he died and is not now married, depending on the type of cancer he died from, there may be benefits due your mother. Google 38 CFR 3.309 and check out the herbicide presumptives.

      1. Robert    

        My mother pre-deceased my father back in 1973 and he past in 1998.

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          Robert,

          Ok thanks for your comments.

  55. Linda Perry    

    Mr. Pamperin,
    I appreciate your service, but I have to tell you the VA does not honor their Vets. It sicken’s me how my Father and other Veteran’s have to fight for their benefits. The government promised to help them for their service. I will do everything in my power to get the word out that this not true to people thinking about signing up! My Father was a received a Purple heart for his serving in Korea. Last week at his Funeral, in his casket, my brother displaced his 3 bronze star medals and Purple Heart. I was so sick with grief because all the hours of work and stress I put into trying to get his Aid & Attendance approved or just get his Medical bills paid for and nothing was ever approved. He had no savings, CD’s or assets and lived in a broken down house. My brother cared for him for FREE because there was no money to pay for a nursing home or caretaker. I sent money for years to help with medical bills and caretakers. I also contacted a congressman and a Senator and all they were ever said is “they are working on his claim” or they never received my information. I have proof that all 3 times that someone signed for it. They asked for the same information over & over. The VA owes my Father and I have no other choice but to use a VA approved Attorney to try to get what we need. Your system is FLAWED!!! I was able to get Registered Trademark approved easier than getting any assitance from the VA. I am not only angry I am outragged how our Veteran’s our treated after they & their families have sacrificed so much. I know that is not your fault but I hope you are making major changes or people need to start loosing their jobs.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Ms Perry,
      Please accept my condolences over your loss. If we haven’t decided your dad’s claim you or your brother can “substitute” for him to get a final decision. If benefits are awarded, they would be limited to covering the costs of the last illness, death and burial of him. If they are awarded you would also be entitled to a burial benefit from us.

  56. Melvin Williams    

    Hi Mr. Pamperin,

    Can you direct me to some one that can help me in getting my claimed processed soon, and get a up to date response on what is going on with my claim. Because my claim has now been outstanding for a year now and I am having some very big financial problems, mental and physical problems. My claim is being handled by the foreign team at the Pittsburgh Regional Office. Thank You.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Mr. Williams,

      I have referred your message to the office to see whats up.

      1. Melvin Williams    

        Thank You. I hope to hear something from them soon.

      2. Melvin Williams    

        Hi Mr. Pamperin,

        Have you heard anything back from the regional office yet or are they going to contact me? Thank you again for your time and help.

  57. Juan Hernandez    

    I too am frustrated by the same promises made to our veterans, until such a time as the VA system is fixed, we are at their mercy. I have been waiting for a decision since 07/2010, the WACO RO staff tell me the same response when I call, it is pending with the Rating Officer. This has gotten old and I would prefer to speak with someone who has first hand knowledge of how the claim process really work.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      I have referred your comment to our office in Waco.

    2. Tom Pamperin    

      Juan would you call 254 299 9766 and someone will help you

  58. james roberts    

    I was discharged due to injuries in 1972. I was sent to a separation center in Jacksonville, and they had me sign a blank claim form and said they would file it for me. They did so saying under the conditions claimed “see attached medical records”. I went home and recieved later 135 per month from Va. In 2003 I detected Cue in the decision and on my own filed Cue Claim.
    It has been pending since 2003, but has been partly seccessful. Last year my VA doctor diagnosed me with T&P. I submitted a REV clasim on this since it was new diagnosis, but since my claim was on appeal (DRO) they wouldn’t accept it as a REV clasim.

    Shouldn’t they, in the interest and spirit of the REV process, have went ahead and ruled on it, thereby drasticaly reducing the waiting time?

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Jim,

      couldn’t say. Have you talked to your representative? Without looking at your file I have no way of knowing.

  59. Beth Grantham    

    I went to basic in the summer of 07. During basic I started having trouble with my back. I went to sickhall several times and all they did was therapy. They gave me a letter that said NOT to carry anything over 10-15 pounds but one of my drill sergeants disregarded the letter and still made me march from one of our campsites with all of my bags (while I was crying the whole time). Then after we were almost back at the barracks she took my bags from me and put them in the vans. After completing basic I returned to high school for my senior year, with several back problems, having to go to the chiropractor. I hauled all of my bags back up to Meps the summer of 08 to go to AIT. There they asked me if anything had changed and I told them I had been diagnosed with slight scoliosis and I had constant back problems. They sent me to the Army doctor at Meps and had Xrays done. They told me that several doctors looked at my Xrays and told them to discharge me. They sent me home with an honorable discharge. I still have all of my luggage and my personal folder. After being discharged I returned to the chiropractor because I was still having a lot of pain in my back. He took full back Xrays and some kind of movement test and showed me on my Xrays that I have two ruptured disk and one on the verge of rupturing. In March 09 I got letters from my unit saying if I didn’t report to them I was gonna be counted as Awoll. I went up there and told them I was discharged and she kept telling me I wasn’t. She then later called my recruiter and he told her I was discharged. I still have tremendous trouble with my back. And I have yet to receive any discharge papers and I still have all of my army issued stuff? Can I file? What do I need to do?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      So you have not separation paper? Do you have a copy of your orders sending you to Basic. You can file a claim and I would. Submit everything you have. Realistically, I’d say your chance you have more hurtles to overcome than most folks. From my experience Particularly if you went to sick call early in your basic. What immediately pops into my mind is that your back condition “existed prior to service.” There are a lot of rule about how you handle those types of claims that are too complicated to discuss here. You of all people need a representative to advise you.

      1. Beth Grantham    

        I didn’t go immediately, it was several weeks after i have been there

  60. Robert Troemel    

    Mr Pamperin,

    As a County VSO for 2 1/2 years, and a honorably retired and 60% disabled veteran i submitted a request to open up a claim in December 2009 to the Phila VAROIC for Meneiere’s disease (currently service connected for hearing loss, tinnitus, tbi and migraines) and degenerative arthritus of my lower back. I also included a Notice of disagreement for my denial of an increase for my currently rated Lumbrosacral Strain. I submitted all the medical evidence from my two specialists for the meniere’s and lower back problems. I received a C & P exam for all three items and submitted the VA form to get a copy of the progress notes and have received these reports. Since that time my claim was transferred to the Indianapolis VAROIC and I have asked why this occurred and have received no reason.
    The Indy VAROIC scheduled a DRO hearing in Oct 2010 in Indy even though I live outside of Phila. Because no one in my “chain of command” as a county VSO nor any VA employee could answer the “why” to this situation, I contacted Allyson Swartz – Congresswoman from Pennsylvania who got a video conference with a DRO from Indy VAROIC scheduled in Phila on Oct 13,2010 which I attended. Calling the VA or reviewing EBenefits about the status of this DRO video conference has resulted in no answers. As for the meneire’s disease, I attended a C & P exam at Coatesville VAMC on oct 8, 2010 as requested by Indy VAROIC. The VA doctor was NOT a hearing or audiology specialist just an MD (because I asked her as she was the same doctor who checked out my lower back during a C & P exam on Aug 20, 2010). I brought a copy of my civilian Ear, Nose and Throat specialist’s testing and write-up and this doctor did not even want to view it. I am again in receipt of those C & P progress notes and she basically states that my meniere’s disease was not a result of my active service. Completely missing all the current VA rated disabilities that I deal with on an everyday routine. Meneire’s disease from all research i’ve done and I have supplied to the VA onsets soon after age 40 (i was retired by then). So i am expecting that claim to be denied but ready with my NOD because of failure to schedule a “specialist” exam.

    I also added my step daughter in a 21-4138 back in May 2010 as I married her mother Dec 31 2008 and I supplied all the required proof. This is still pending both in the VA computers and Ebenefits.

    I have also requested from the VA to review my military medical record and never received a copy of it or an invitation to review and compare what the VA has or does not have. I have recently downloaded through Ebenefits my military medical record. Guess what I got my induction exam and induction medical history totaling four pages of a 20+ year career. In the last 9 years as a VA rated disabled veteran I have requested several times to sit down and review what the VA has as my military medical record as I beleive the VA does not have a complete copy. I made a complete copy of my military medical record, service record and aircrew training jacket before I retired as it was advised to do so at my TAP class by a VA employee.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Mr. Troemel,

      If your file is at the VA regioanl in Philadelphia you can always go into the office to review your file. You should write or call in advance so that they have it available.

      Tom

  61. RAYMOND    

    I HAVE A REMANDED APPEAL THATS 9 YEARS OLD IT WAS REMANDED 2/23/2010 AND ALL DEVELOPEMENT WAS COMPLETE IN AUGUST 2010 HAD C&P IN JULY 2010 HAS BEEN READY TO RATE SINCE 09/24/2010 WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE GOING ON?

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Raymond,

      Without more identifying information I can’t tell you. Is your file at the appeals management center?

  62. Annetta Dryer    

    Mr. Pamprin:
    My husband, Elmer J. Dryer, served USMC, 1942 – 1945 – is 87 yrs. old, diagnosed with advanced, mixed dementia, with PTSD, delusions, paranoia, anxiety, depression.He is a security/safety risk and requires 24/7 care. (All of the above per the VA Hospital, Loma Linda, CA)
    He already had 30% disability; we have filed for 100%disability and aid and attendance.
    He is currently being kept in the Loma Linda VA hospital – awaiting Medi-CAL coverage and/or decision from VA for our claim.
    VA says it is running 8 – 12 months???? He is IN your facility with YOUR diagnosis. Why the long wait?
    Doesn’t this sound “obvious” to you?

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Ms Dryer,

      I will forward your question to Veteran’s Health Administration since this is in their area.

  63. Lawrence (Larry) E. Klemesrud    

    Mr. Pamprin:

    Thank you so much for your article and I know that the VA is working really hard to get claims processed. Why pick a accredited CVSO from the master list and give them a call to see what problems or compliments they have concerning the VARO’s and PMC’s. You welcome to call me sometime (my number should be on file with the Office of General Council), but I am not requesting that or anything like that. I think you might get some good feedback on positive and negative points from CVSO’s.

    Again Sir, thanks for you caring and thoughtfulness.

    AIRBORNE
    GO Air Force

    Respectfully yours,

    Larry Klemesrud

  64. Manuel Gonzalez    

    I submitted my claim in April of 2008 and received a zero rating for my acute Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain). Since January of 2009 I have been waiting to receive a board hearing. My DAV office has not been of much help. I have been suffering with this condition since 2002. The VA does needs to do a better job of evaluating it’s cases and expedite the war fighters claims.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Manuel,

      So your claim is at the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA)? If you have been waiting since January 2009 for a hearing that tells me you said you wanted an in-person hearing at the regional office. That can take a long time since at most regional offices the BVA only comes once or twice a year. You can speed that up by telling the BVA that you would like to participate in a video conference hearing.

      1. Mark Chamberlain    

        That means that all the additional personal that the VA hired has not effected the output of claims. Because if you have 200,000 claims spread amongst all the VA that means each one has to handle about 15,000, and each BVA officer only spends one to two visits a year. They don’t like to Travel?
        I look at the appeals in Kansas and did a search and it looks like they only did 20 for 2009. If you want to find how many they have done in your area go to the VA web site and type in BVA on the search then kook for BVA appeals. When you get to there type in your state in search. This will bring up the ones for your state and you can go year by year.

    2. brenda hayes    

      Mr. Pamperin,

      Is this information regarding letting Veterans know that they can request a video conference hearing instead of waiting several years( due to only a biannual personal hearing at the Regional Office) given to Veterans in writing when they request a BVA appeal?

      Can the video conference be set up at a State DVS’s office in order for there to be a knowledgeable SO present?

      How timely are these conference calls for these appeals.

      Are the BVA remand stats for all VAROs online?

      Thanks,
      BH
      Vetwife Advocate

      1. Tom Pamperin    

        Yes it is on the Form 9 that you complete to formalize your appeal.

        1. Brenda Hayes    

          Thank you.

          Brenda Hayes
          Vetwife Advocate

        2. Brenda Hayes    

          Thanks for your reply.

          Appreciatively,

          Brenda Hayes,
          Vetwife Advocate

  65. Sean Williams    

    All this is great. How about instructions on how and where to file a claim? What forms do I fill out, where do I find them, who do I send them too?

    Many thanks

    Sean P

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Sean,

      You can file you claim on-line, through the mail or in person. If you don’t know where your regional office is call 1-800-827-1000 and someone can tell you. To file a claim go to http://www.va.gov. You can put into the search box VA Form 21-526 and print the application. If you want to file on line go to the same site and access VONAPP and complete the 526. It will be routed to the right regional office based on your zip code. One thing though. This form us used to file for two benefits, service connected disability compensation and non service connected disability pension (a needs based program). If all you are applying for is compensation, be sure to check that box and you will avoid being asked a whole lot of questions that are irrelevant for compensation.

    2. brenda hayes    

      Sean,

      One of the Best sites which is a grassroots organization started by a Veteran that has very knowledgeable Veterans and family members as well as having good information is http://www.hadit.com

      Also, http://www.VAWATCHDOGTODAY.com
      Very supportive and very good information. Another is Veteransbenefits@ezboard.com Learn as much as you can for you oand then reach back and help another Veteran or two! A lot of help is needed now and will be for the forthcoming future.

      BH
      Vetwife Advocate

  66. Mike    

    Their sure are a lot a whiners out there!! If your claim was legit it would be service connected. Go out and get jobs!!

    1. Randall Thomas    

      Craig back off and try to contribute positively…you’re a pain guy!

      1. Randall Thomas    

        The comment for craig was mis-directed…..good ole Mike is ths culprit that needs to contribute somthing posittive or shut their yap.

    2. Steven B.    

      This guy sounds like a tea party support who listen to Rush, Beck and Palin that say VA benefits should be eliminated to save the rich tax money. And cut the federal deficit on our backs.

  67. Craig A. Nystrom Jr.    

    Mr. Tom Pamperin,

    Perhaps it is my ignorance, but the reason that I filed a claim with the VA is because when I got sick with cancer and now subsequently asbestosis my doctors’ said that the reason I developed cancer was that I worked with lagging that contained asbestos. Then top it off since it was my doctor’s that suggested that I file a claim with the VA, I have provided to the VA four medical nexus letters from four different doctor’s from four different specialties (Oncology, Toxicology & Epidemiology, Occupational Health & Environmental Medicine, General Practitioner) who all state that my cancer and or asbestosis is more likely than not caused directly as a result from my asbestos exposure while in the Navy.
    Then the DRO stated that these opinions were not “well founded” as they were not based on service treatment records. Mr. Pamperin I have requested these records since 2005 both in writing and verbally by calling the VA 800 number. I was advised both by the VA employee’s as well as DAV personnel that I should not request these records any further because it would only “delay the claims process only further”. However, I did anyways, only to receive letters from the VA Regional Office stating that they had received my request and that these requests are worked on a first come first serve basis. Finally, I did receive these records in October 2010 after the Statement of the Case was issued and a subsequently also was a Supplemental Statement of the Case in December 2010, which said that these opinions were “unfounded”. But it was not until the SSOC was issued that the DRO said that these opinions were unfounded.
    Mr. Pamperin, how does a DRO discredit four medical opinions by stating that these medical opinions did not include service treatment records, which was in the possession of the VA Regional Office who refused to release these records to me despite asking for these records for over five years? How is this possibly even ethical or morally acceptable? How can the VA say “hey you did use this information even though we are the only ones with this information and we are not going to provide it to you?”
    Next, I also have submitted two witness statements from two different retired Navy veterans who witnessed others and myself work with this asbestos. I have proof that the VA received these statements, yet my asbestos exposure cannot be established? Although I was a cook in the Navy, I have provided a list of every job, location, job description of every occupation that I held before, during and after military service, which I never worked with or came into contact with asbestos other than the Navy. Remember asbestosis is only caused from asbestos.
    Mr. Pamperin how does the VA Regional Office get away from picking and choosing what, where and when they will utilize information? Under the evidence listing the DRO does not list evidence that is critical to my claim that has been in the VA’s possession for years, such as a witness statement and so on? Alternatively, how does a non-medical person namely a DRO say that his/her opinion weighs more that four different doctors? My doctor’s opinions were based on interviewing myself and others, reviewing all my medical records available as well as all science and studies available at the time, and finally based from their experience and professional experience.
    In addition, what are and is there specific guidelines for the formulation of medical nexus letters and witness statements? Please provide information on this as well.
    I just don’t understand, I keep asking the VA what exactly do I need to provide to prove my claim to be awarded, and no VA employee will give you specifics, they say a letter from you doctor(s) so I give them four. They say since my military records do not say anything about asbestos contact and since I was a cook then provide a witness statement, so I provide two, yet I am denied and it goes on and one and on. My claim is made out to be much harder than it is, my doctors feel that the reason that I have had my stomach and parts of other organs removed because of asbestos exposure while in the Navy.
    Now I also have developed asbestosis because of this same exposure. Two bouts of cancer and yet all I am viewed as is another case file, a number, another denial, something to be reviewed while a loop hole is found to refuse further benefits, one amongst millions, that is the reality.
    I am not a malingerer, nor am I pulling some sort of scam, or looking for a free ride. Believe me, no matter what or if the VA awards for my claim, it will never compensate or offset me and my wife and family for the pure hell that I have been through and am going through on a daily basis medically, emotionally, physically. No monetary amount is going to take away the chronic pain, the daily nausea, the neuropathy in all my extremities from radiation treatments. Severe migraines and the chronic dehydration, gross malnutrition, exhaustion, being house bound and primarily bed ridden and all the rest as the list goes on an on will not be compensated by one dollar.
    I am trying to take care of my family, to ease the stress if only for a bit by having the VA acknowledge that all those years ago when I was young and naïve and did as I was told without question, that myself and others were taken advantage of by superiors who said “Don’t worry, this stuff won’t hurt you, you guys are young and healthy, just forget about it.” Superiors who knew better, that cut corners at the expense of my health and perhaps my life, just so they could get a one liner in their evaluations and help their chances for promotion. Well I was lied to all those years ago and the VA today keeps lying and being deceptive even today, there is constants in this world Mr. Pamperin or anyone else if you have solutions please offer them.
    Thank you.

    1. David J. Hudson    

      Craig A. Nystrom Jr.

      I feel your pain sir and pray that everything works out to your advantage. I along with you is suffering although in different ways.

      38 U.S.C. 5107(b) states that the veteran is to be given the benefit of the doubt. “Where there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence regarding any issue material to the determination of a matter, the Secretary shall give the benefit of the doubt to the claimant.”

      As I stated above, I have been denied for sleep apnea from the Atlanta RO after providing a statement from my doctor stating that, “It is more likely than not that I suffered from obstructive sleep apnea while serving on active duty in the military,” along with a statment from a fellow soldier in my unit at the time but was flatly denied. I have recently been diagnosed with PTSD, suffers from a deviated septum, severe nasal obstruction, sinus issues and constant pain from my joints and now must wait for a decision from a DRO about my sleep apnea. I have been waiting for nearly two years on my claim for SA and after reading your story, I will still remain optimistic about mine being resolved in my favor. In the meantime, I continue to suffer emotionally, physically and financially.

      I truly hope the VA follows through on improving the claims process because it does need it. However, I must applaud their attempts in trying to get things on track although I haven’t experienced it firsthand yet.

      Hold out hope and stay prayerful and things will work out in your favor.

      Godspeed.

    2. Tom Pamperin    

      Mr Nystrom,

      What regional office are you dealing with?

      1. Craig A. Nystrom Jr.    

        Mr. Pamperin,

        The Chicago VA Regional Office.

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          Craig,

          You should hear shortly about when your exams are.

  68. Ron    

    Mr Pamperin,

    I read on Vantage Point where you stated the following:

    By Tom Pamperin http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/?p=1089

    “4. If you’re concerned that it might not be appropriate to take money for a condition because “I’m fine, was just doing my duty and I have a job”–there are a lot of people who feel that way–consider this. I think you should file your claim. If granted you can always decline to receive the money. If, at a later date, your condition worsens or you age and it interferes with our work, or you decide you want compensation after all you can always contact us. That way we will examine you and determine your current level of disability. WE WON”T BE TRYING TO DETERMINE WHETHER YOU WARRANT SERVICE CONNECTION IN THE FIRST PLACE.”

    I fall into that category with my following history:

    I hurt my back while on active duty in 1976. Upon my Honorable discharge in 1977 I began having problems with my back and went to the VA hospital for help. They did their x-rays, etc. and a Myelogram injection(which now medical evidence shows can harm patients spines) on my back. With NO final diagnoses except that it could be this and that, i.e. M.S., Tumor, Cancer, etc., As well as an “isolated incident of trauma.”( which is also contributing factor that lead to a civilian operation on my back)Pics available upon request.

    My condition became worse over the years and I filed for VA Disability Compensation in 1979, of which was denied, and I never followed through with it. Afterall, they are our government and wouldn’t lie to me about my back. So.. once again I’ve filed(over 2 years ago) for my disability which is now under appeal to the V.B.A., and I am following through this time. I have supplied them with my current civilian doctors Independent Medical Evaluations from over the past 20+ years, as well as (2) Statements In Support of Claim from 2 of my shipmates stating about the original “Trauma” and the subsequent bed rest given to me from the base hospital. Of which the Paperwork/Documentation from that hospital has conveniently disappeared.

    Their response to the SISC was that my shipmates are/were Not doctors and the VA does Not accept their SISC as “New and Material Evidence”. Basically trying to tell me that there is No supporting evidence as to it being “Service Related”. However, in the VA doctors own handwriting, they state that I sustained the “Trauma” while on active duty. So, as of yet.. I have Not got a Disability Compensation Rating. However, I also applied for the Disability Pension and am now receiving the same. Along with it I also received a Disability Pension Rating of 70%.

    I’ve read previous stories in the media as to where the VA Reps received bonuses for their Denials of/for veterans benefits claims such as mine and others.

    In their letter of Denial for Compensation they make comment about one of my statements to them regarding the Myelogram the VA hospital preformed on me as being a possible contributing factor to the injury/trauma/pain on/to my back. Therefore I should file an FTCA claim for damage or injury aginst the hospital/government. Rather than accepting my disability as “Service Connected”. As well, they stated that the injury/trauma/pain was from a minor auto accident I was involved in 1980, with NO injuries sustained to me, 3 years AFTER going to the VA hospital for the injury/trauma/pain sustained from 1976/77 !

    My question is; Is this the treatment of/for veterans that you endorse? I don’t mean to be rude but, this is NOT how our countries vets should be treated. Afterall, when I Enlisted, I basically signed a blank check to our government to Live, Die and Kill for the same. Is this how our veterans are to be repayed? I can’t work anymore! I can barely get around as it is. The Civilian doctors outlook for me is that I will be in a wheelchair, for the rest of my life, by the time I am 65 years old.

    Am I starting to suffer from P.T.S.D. from all of this? Is there a need for me to file a seperate claim? As it seems to be an easier avenue/disabilty to receive compensation for. Please… if you can help me, I would look forward to the same. Thank You!

    Ron W.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Ron,

      You are affirmation of why I think people who have something should file when then get out and then turn down the money if they don’t want to take it initially. I really can’t comment on the specifics of your claims since I haven’t seen your file. I think you are on the right path in appealing the decision – I’m not saying we are right or wrong in our decision – because it is important for you to get a final answer on your back. Regarding your shipmates comments, they can attest to the external facts such as that you fell or that you had significant complaints about your back. What they can’t do is “diagnose” your condition.

    2. Ron    

      Tom,

      Thanks for enlightening input. If our government had more personell with your demeanor and insight, I think that things would actually get done in theses United States. Thanks Again! Take Care!

      Ron

  69. Steven Moore    

    Mr. Pamperin,

    I agree with you that the VA Medical Center in Phoenix does deliver outstanding service. I have been there several times from the ER to the clinics and have had great service and great experience. Very little wait time.

    I think in your initial comments on How you can help the process you mention communicate communicate communicate, the process needs to be both ways. Most claimants I think are pretty patient through the first 6 months and the only communication you get is a form letter that says we need this or this is what we have done. There is no real information on your claim. In about the same time frame it takes to fill out the form letter they could quickly send an email that would let the claimant know this is a person that has knowledge of my claim and took the time to provide feedback.

    Like in my case my claim is in two parts, 1 service connection boots on the ground and direct exposure in Thailand. 2 – IHD with my private hospital records provided. It would be easy to send an email while waiting on C&P or other supporting documentation for the IHD, to state we have granted your boots on the ground and/or direct exposure to herbicides in Thailand and are presently waiting for the C&P results to send your claim to the ratings group.

    I feel with this type of communications you would find the veterans would be less anxious over the process and out comes.

    I am fortunate that I researched the process and took note of what Kurt Priessman, Larry Scott and Jim Strickland all said.

    Thank you for your service and dedication to the Veterans

    Steve

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Thank you for your comment. I assume you are a Vietnam veteran if you are claiming IHD. We could not begin processing the claims until October and we have about 200,000 of them. Realistically, with all the other claims we also have, we are working to get the Agent Orange claims done by the end of this year. Some of them, if they fall under the Nehmer lawsuit are very very complex.

      1. Steven Moore    

        I am vietnam era vet but served in Thailand and traveled through vietnam 4 times
        Steve

      2. Steven Moore    

        Unfortunately this is the type response that reflects that the person responding did not totally read the email. If they had they would of realized that I was stationed in Thailand and this is the standard type response. We all know that the new presumptives went into effect at the end of Oct. 2010 and that the VA is working diligently trying to get through all of the backlog. Steve

    2. marine    

      i got mine it took 7 mos

  70. Ricardo Cavazos    

    I got out of the service in 2005. I am currently receiving 40% disability. I filed a claim to get ptsd, sleep apnea and my hip added to this as well as get my other ratings upped in march of 2010. I had hip replacement surgery in october 2010 and filed a claim for temporary 100% due to the hip replacement. It is now January 2011 and I call every week to check on the status of my claim and the status never changes. I have sent them everything they ask for immediately after I receive it. I have completed all appointments. I am real curious about what takes so long when all my records are there.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      what is yor regional office and do you have a representative?

      1. Ricardo Cavazos    

        I dont have a representative it was filed through the va clinic in Harlingen Texas and the regional office is in houston I believe. That is why I cant get an ebenefits id because I cant ride in the car all the way to houston to get it.

        1. Ricardo Cavazos    

          They have a representative that helps you fill out your claim at the VA clinic in harlingen but they do not help you follow up on it. I tried to get in contact with the DAV in the area but you can never get a hold of them. I kinda live in the middle of nowhere in the Rio Grande Valley and it doesnt make things any easier as far as getting any help with the claim. The last I heard from the claims people was they sent me a paper for me to sign stating that I had no other information to submit. I sent it back to them and continued to call every week more than two weeks later they still claim it is not showing as received on the file. They also informed me that instead of having two seperate claims one being for the up in compensation and one being for the temporary 100% they have now lumped them together so now I have to wait on the whole process with the second claim before I can even get an answer on the first one. I dont think that is fair at all as they were filed more that 7 months apart

        2. ricardo cavazos    

          called again today and they are claiming they still have not received a letter that was sent over three weeks ago. No change in status on the claim at this time.

  71. Robert Troemel    

    Mr. Pamperin,

    My VA file is still with Indy VAROIC and I live outside Philadelphia.
    Even when my VA file including my military medical record was at the Philadelphia VAROIC, I wrote several letters requesting to review and compare my military medical record copy with what the VA has on file.
    I never got a response.
    Now my entire VA file including my military medical record is at the Indy VAROIC and in writing I’ve asked, why my VA file was transferred from Phila to Indy VAROIC? and when will I be able to review and compare my military medical record copy with what the VA has.
    Ebenefits has on file 4 pages of my military medical record that I requested and downloaded.

    Still no answer has been communicated to me, and the VA has on file, my phone number, my address, my email address…

  72. James Midgett    

    Mr. Pamperin,

    I had a post a few days ago, I would just like to let you know about the call back I requested. Well it came in today from 336-631-5200 they let it ring one (1) time I went to answer it and nobody on the line. I guess this is their way of putting a check mark on returning a veterans call request. If you can look into this please do so. And still No C-file at the RO from Asville NC after 10/21/2010 exam.

    RO- Winston Salem, NC

    james.midgett@carolina.rr.com

    James Midgett

    1. James Midgett    

      I just wanted to add, I had a very helpful gentalman at the call center who looked at all the traffic on my c-file and noted that Winston salem RO is requesting my file and ashville is sending back again and again that the file was sent back to them in the middle of December. Could someone please help find where my file is so they can get this in rating! He also requested again that someone from the RO call me to update me of this mess (his words).

  73. SAC    

    I originally filed a claim in may 2010, was set up for C&P doctor visits, and completed both the physical and the mental. My claim came back with 0% service connected HIV. The other disabilities were deffered, then I re- submitted additional documentation to support Depression associated with HIV and was re-scheduled for a mental C&P. The doctor I visited was the same one I saw a couple of months before on the original C&P, he then told me that he was approving my disability. As of today i have not seen any documentaton from the Waco Office. As for me i, did not file a claim earlier if Life because of a good paying job, not until I retired that i need the assitance from the VA to keep my regiment of medications and Doctor visits. According to the WARMS classifications on HIV if I had originally file in 1987 i would have been a 60% but I did not want to MILK the VA (Governemtnt), maybe just pride. Just ask for what you need, my two cents.

  74. Jon    

    Mr. Pamperin,
    I would like to thank you for opening up this discussion and your concern and follow-up on a lot of these posts. It would be great if everyone at the VA were as helpful as you, and I believe this is one of the largest problems faced by the VA. All calls to the VA go through the 1-800 number, and these people don’t see you face to face. Same thing more often than not with claims, etc. The employees don’t always seem to realize they are dealing with real people. In short, they just don’t seem to care about helping you. If you disagree, sit in with a veteran as he calls the 1-800 # about a claim or anything else.

    To all posters complaining about the VA:
    We as veterans do not always realize how lucky we are. The VA provides far more benefits than any civilian will ever be offered. As well, look at vets programs in other countries. We are lucky to be supported by something like the VA, even with the problems we experience.

  75. BayRone    

    I am curious as to the efficiency of the VA mentioned earlier. I too am a disabled vet. I too have my own horror stories (ongoing) dealing with the VA. I am not convinced of a 84% effective rating however. When the VA integrated it’s computer system, that was a move in the right direction. Currently, most VA facilities do not utilize this tool effectively. A regional Hospital, can’t see the information from a local hospital. (or won’t look) I’ve seen where an Ortho department, can’t look in the computer, to see what was noted by the E.R. The VA is also notorious for making the Vet do the leg work, of providing paper copies of treatments, exams, etc that are ALREADY in the computer system. If a vet moves out of state, why can’t the next state Va agency (using the same computer system) see the veteran’s file from his previous home state? To draw attention to more antiquated areas, look at convalescent pay. This is treated as a claim, like for disability. The doctor has ordered a surgery on a vet, for a service connected injury. The doctor has stated the time required for the vet to be convalesced. Under the current system, rather than have the pay be linear to the surgery, it is treated as a claim for benefits. Adding to the piles of claims for actual injury ratings. Rather than being treated as part of the patients care. This takes up needed resources elsewhere, and does the veteran a disservice while under medical care. The pay usually comes as a retro payment, rather than during the time actually needed. Yes, we need people to review cases and documents. Yes, we need people to make decisions based on facts and information. We also need to people to be able to use, and have the desire to use the tools at hand to better assist the veteran. The politician says the system works, the veteran can PROVE the system is broken. A veteran can go into a C&P with all medical records, exams, and images pertinent to his claim. The veteran in that C&P will RARELY get to present that information, as the doctor of general med, is not there to do anything but a visual assessment of the veteran with MAYBE a range of motion test. Sir, pick a vet and walk with him through his process, (every part and exam)and you will see what every other vet has to deal with in the real VA world.

  76. Waiting    

    I have been waiting to hear on a claim for which I went to the VA hospital for exams in June, 2010. I recieved a letter last week asking if I had my exams. The VA is the party that sent me to their hospital to be examined bt their doctors. I started my claim in September of 2009. I dont understand how the regional office does not know if a veteran has been seen by their doctors in their hospitals. I, like many others recieve these bland letters saying that we are working on your claim. I have sent medical records and everything that I have been asked to do in a timely manner yet the VA does not play by the same rules. I understand that there are millions of claims but it seems that the VA wants everyone to just give up. We were all trained to never give up so all this does is anger people that honorably served this counrty. I would like to know what percentage of these people who are working on our claims are veterans themselves. There are plenty of unemployed veterans out there who would do much better and in a timely manner then the people currently employed in these positions. This country seems to be able to find the money to help support other countries in the world yet not help veterans. Im at the point that I am going to maybe take the advice that we all heard a hundred times by the drills when something didnt seem fair. WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN.

    1. Monica Morton    

      The sad thing is, I’ve contacted my Congresswoman twice…the VA writes her letters telling they will take care of it “in the very near future”…that was June 2010…I’m still waiting…As to the “bland” or form letters that they send us – that makes me crazy(ier)! They ask for the same thing 4, 5, or 6 times….those same letters acknowledge that they already received the same thing they are asking for! It is crazy! They are working on an antiquated workplace mentality, I think. But, it isn’t the fault of the front line people. I blame Senior Management…and they are all very qualified and educated (and many are decorated veterans). I know they are trying to fix the VA…it’s just frustrating to be stuck in the web of confusion.

  77. marine    

    combat medais HELP

  78. Thomas J Dittmar    

    Sir, I filed a gulf war illness claim with the Seattle RO in the 90′s but the gulf war illness claim was deferred in the 90′s with no further contact by VA. I refiled the claim march of 2010. Approximately 2 months ago I received a notice that I would be contacted by VA medical for an exam but never heard another word. Can someone explain to me what is happening with my refile? I don’t want this claim to be lost like the one in the 90′s. I have called the 1800 number and they advised my case is awaiting medical report and I have never been scheduled for a medical.

    1. Waiting    

      It took about 4 months for them to get me in for my Gulf War exam at the Seattle VA hospital after I received that letter. Get in line brother. It has been 6 months since I did my exam and I still havent heard if my claim is going through. Are you represented by the DAV or some other organization that deals with this daily? The DAV has an office on the floor below the Seattle VA office so they walk all documentation up to them and then send you a letter stating that your documentation was turned in. I suggest you get in contact with them as they speak”VA” language and know how the VA works. They will be able to answer your questions. You have to go there in person to the Federal building in Seattle. Good Luck.

      1. Thomas J Dittmar    

        I have a rep from VFW she is very hard to get ahold of so I don’t know what if anything she is doing.

  79. judson a locke    

    i am a 20% disabled veteran i have a back injury. i was released from the service honorably and there was no comment about my back. my records said i was elegable for reinlistment. i could not get a job because of a scar on my back. i could not get back in the service because of this scar. i went to the va and did receive 20% dissability but to this day i believe i deserve more because of the problems other than fisical. i have tried but no one would listen to my other than fisical problems. the scar has haunted me all my working life. should this be considered in the compensation?

    1. Tom van Hees    

      Hello, Judson, I have no idea when you received your decision on your disability but I can assume that it was years ago. What you should od immediately is go see a VSO or get a personal representative and file for an increase in diaability compensation for your condition. We all know that conidtions and injuries get worse as we get older not better so chances are your condition is no acception, Tom van Hees.

  80. Monica Morton    

    Dear Mr. Pamperin: Thank you for taking the time to write your article. I think it is very important to emphasize, however, that sometimes, no matter what you do, and no matter how ‘right’ or ‘correct’ your claims are, the VA will and does make errors. You say to COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE…I am here to swear under oath that you can attempt to communicate until flying pigs land in freezing hell…and the VA is non-responsive. There is no accountability within the Regional Offices, specifically Houston. I have called, faxed, and mailed (via certified/return receipt requested) the Houston RO, my congresswoman, and even Secretary Shinseki. My congresswoman has been in touch with the VARO Houston twice. They are paying her lip service (I have all the documentation to back this up). There is no accountability at the line level in the VA, apparently. I am so frustrated I am ready to get a lawyer. Long story short, they made a CLEAR AND UNMISTAKABLE ERROR on my dependency claim and they need to fix it!! The most appalling and ludacrious part of this ‘saga’ is that since I received my 100% SC rating (I received my decision in Nov. 10 – effective Oct. 09), my husband enrolled in DEERS and has his dependent’s ID card (for commissary/exchange privileges), and even CHAMPVA has certified him eligible. What the heck is going on here?? I have done everything right and they don’t listen…what now, Mr. Pamperin?? P.S. I fired my VSO 2 years ago; they are the ones who filed my initial claim which was denied. They treated me like a dumb woman, which I did not appreciate. I am not a combat veteran (and maybe that’s why my file sits probably in a trash can), but I will tell you that you grossly under-emphasized the stress that dealing with the VA can cause. Talk about exacerbating my condition…

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      I have forwarded your comment to the Director of our Houston Regional Office.

  81. Tom van Hees    

    I have been a veteran’s advocate for more than five years and I now help all veterans in filing claims for their service-connected disabilities. In four years I filed fifteen claims for my service -connected injuries and conditions. Five of those were denied and three of those five were deined more than twice. In the end i eceived an award on every single one of them which is unheard of in todays world.
    In these four years I learned valuable information on what the VA might and would be looking for when filing your claim. Information such as evidence strong enough to substantiate your claim,how to write a statement on your claim, how to word your statement so that when read by the VA reviewer it catches and holds their attention, what additional evidence is needed from the civilian sector on treatment received for that particular condition, statements from doctors and medical personnel who treated you for this condition(when available), statements from employers,co-workers,friends and
    family members that supoort your claim.All this valuable information as good as it may be in filing a claim will do the you no good if the veteran is not persisitent in their goal to secure compensation. A denial on a claim is not the end of the veterans quest. To me a denial was a challenge because I knew that the evidence I submitted supporting my claim was strong enough to warrant an award. The name of the game is persistence, persistence, persistence. Never give up because there is most always a way to turn a denial into an award. I tell all veterans that I work with that when they file a claim make sure before you start the process do your homework, check out all the possibilities and above all have all evidence and material supporting the claim gathered before hand. Doing all of this will shorten the time it will take to receive a decision on your claim. And now days it is all about how long it takes to reciev a decision.
    Something else that the veteran should always do without fail is once the claim has been filed they should stay on top of it.Do not assume that the VSO(veterans service officer)will stay of top of the situation for you. You must remeber that these VSO’s handle hundreds if not thousands of claims and for them to remember your particular claim will not happen. After a couple of months after your claim has been filed contact your VSO or personal representative and ask they to find out the status of your claim. They usually will have an answer for you in a couple of days.
    In my world there is no such word as “NO” there is always a way.Tom van Hees

    1. brenda hayes    

      Tom,

      Thanks for being a Vet Advocate. Finding a very conscious and well trained Service Officer is difficult at best–Not to say that they aren’t out there; but they are the exception rather than the rule.

      That is why the advice that has been given by others on this website, including Jim Strickland from http://www.VAWatchdogtoday.com , is…”you are the best person” to look after your claim. It’s the truth.

      What I have heard from other Veterans/family members; and it has also been my own personal experience, is that the SO’s usually just write up something on the VA Form of what the Veteran thinks is wrong and sends it to the RO–not a developed; much a fully developed claim.

      For one; most Vets don’t understand completely what their ills consist of and a lot of them don’t remember what might have occurred while in service. In my opinion, there are very few SO’s that are doing fully developed claims…for whatever the reasons. This only sets up the vicious circles of submissions, waits, denials, reconsiderations, longer waits, denials, appeals, even longer waits, etc.

      As well, Veterans are not usually told of what is needed and how to get it..the NEXUS, the C&P exam criteria, etc.(what does the regulations state that should be done by a C&P practioner?).

      I have found very few Veterans that are aware of or that understand secondary conditions or the SMK awards like the “loss of creative organ”.

      There are disconnects in this part of the VA system…from the training of the SO’s to the lack of information given to the Veteran by the SO’s.

      What are the duties and responsibilities of the Service Agencies and their Service Officers to the Veteran/family members?

      What are the rights and responsibilities of the Veteran in this process?

      Not too long ago, I was told that the SA’s have Errors and Omission Insurance; and when Vets come to understand this, and if their claims have not been addressed properly and/or correctly; then using outside assistance might get the attention of the VA and the Service Agencies that this is serious business and is not to be taken lightly.

      ISSUE: Disconnects with the Service Agencies/Service Officers with the Veteran and the Claims Benefits process.

      SOLUTIONS:

      A) Mandatory monthly seminars given at the local VAMC’s to fully explain the Benefits/Claims process to both the Veterans and their family members (spouses). Service Agencies cpi;d take turns having their most knowledgeable Service Officers present or they can do it jointly.

      B) Website could be created for Service Officers, Veteran Advocates, as well as being open to include Veterans/family members. It would include a diagram of the Claims Process (visual; the layout of a fully development claim, with examples, as well as where specific information can be found on the VA Website that would include, but not be limited to C&P exam criteria, Rating %’s, SMK awards, and/or VA Directives regarding Claims matters, etc.

      C) All VA/SO initial training and subsequent yearly mandatory continuing education to be placed on the website for Veterans to observe. Consider havi ng VA/SO training modules on website; exam with passing grade of 70%.

      D) Have monthly “call-in events/webinars” in which SO’s and/or Veterans/family can ask questions, etc.0

      E) All VA changes to the claims process will be posted so that Veterans/family members can see that the VA means that they do want to make the process more accountable and effective for our Veterans.

      F) Have email sign ups for information coming from the VA and VAMC posted at all VAMC clinic locations and at all Vet Centers in a very obvious and open locations at these sites.

      G)Have computers at these locations (streaming onto televsion sets in the clinic waiting rooms) that can print out any specific interested information if the person does not have access to a computer.

      PLEASE, Veterans/Family members add your own “thoughts” that might help this large VA vessel turn around in the Harbor “for change”.

      BH
      Vetwife Advocate

      Blogging for change for Veterans and their family members

      “..because Veterans Deserve Better; much better.”

  82. Mark Chamberlain    

    Mr. Pamperin was the the adjudication officer at the time of my claim in 1993 in which he had used the constitutional or developmental abnormalities to deny a claim for allergy and zero percent on another. No C&P exam was done. One was schedule but was canceled due to weather. When it was reschedule they turned it into Gulf War exam. What they should of done is review my medical records and seen if it existed before or during service. It goes to show that they use this anyway that they can if they cannot deny it for any other reason. When I reopened claims it seams they could not find these records, good thing I kept them. Now I have waited a couple of years for the to find some other reason to deny them.
    Don’t claim things like personality disorders, baldness, and the fact that you wear glasses or similar kinds of things because they are considered “constitutional or developmental abnormalities” that you would have gotten whether or not you were in service. The law doesn’t permit payment for these. Don’t claim lab results like hematuria (blood in the urine) or high cholesterol. We don’t pay for those either. On the other hand, you should claim pseudofolliculitis barbae (a skin condition that affects some black people).
    TITLE 38 – PENSIONS, BONUSES, AND VETERANS’ RELIEF
    CHAPTER I – DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
    PART 3 – ADJUDICATION
    3.380 – Diseases of allergic etiology.
    Diseases of allergic etiology, including bronchial asthma and urticaria, may not be disposed of routinely for compensation purposes as constitutional or developmental abnormalities. Service connection must be determined on the evidence as to existence prior to enlistment and, if so existent, a comparative study must be made of its severity at enlistment and subsequently. Increase in the degree of disability during service may not be disposed of routinely as natural progress nor as due to the inherent nature of the disease. Seasonal and other acute allergic manifestations subsiding on the absence of or removal of the allergen are generally to be regarded as acute diseases, healing without residuals. The determination as to service incurrence or aggravation must be on the whole evidentiary showing.

    [26 FR 1592, Feb. 24, 1961]

    1. Mark Chamberlain    

      I guess this one hits to close to home for Mr. Pamperin to replay.

    2. Monica Morton    

      Surely you know why Mr. Pamperin may not respond. First, that was back in 1993 and I have no doubt that he has before and since adjudicated many more cases than yours; secondly, it is not appropriate for him to respond as a public ‘official’ representative of the VA…which is what you are waiting for. Did you know he’s been promoted a few times since he was your adjudicator? Not saying he’s right…just saying you are wasting your time here now. I say go get a lawyer, get patience and fight like hell, or come to terms with the fact that maybe you don’t have a valid claim. You can appeal your entire life…if you have patience…the VA is there, and they are going NO WHERE…Good luck with your claim.

      1. Mark Chamberlain    

        Well Monica what you are saying is that if you are part of the problem it is ok to get promoted on up the latter. If you look most of the changes that are done at the VA are because of law suits.They don’t change on there own, and if you notice he was in charge when they ended up with the massive amount of appeals. So you can say I have patience….. and in for the long haul. And what I can tell of your statement is that your claim was approved whit no problem and are happy with it, or a employee of the government, and lastly NO I DID NOT EXPECT HIM TO RESPOND or do any thing else just like in 1993. But this site does give me a place to vent. Like the time they where in such a hurry to get my paper work out that they put one condition into others that they had denied. I guess rejection in mass. But Thank you for your response.

  83. PAUL V SHEPHERD    

    Tom….

    Without dumping on You, I to graduated University Of South East Asia,

    CLASS 69

    for over 40 YEARS I have Communicated, Communicated, Communicated, and

    COMMUNICATED, with most of the CIVILIAN REMF PERSONNEL Working for the

    Veterans Administration, I HAVE BEEN SHOT AT ALMOST AS MANY TIMES as CHUCK

    shot at me.I have been rolled in the CLOVER more times than a 200 P bar-

    girl,in Saigon, by the VA, I guess I should be GREATFUL Though I did

    get 10 %, for my HEARING!!!!! only took 13 MFNNNNNNN Years! Did get a

    WONDERFUL RECEPTION WHEN I GOT, HOME THOUGH, Welcom we are the VA……NOW

    BEND OVER, while we stick it to you for the rest of YOUR LIFE, HERO!

    PS….YOUR PITTSBURGH OFFICE HAS MADE MORE MONEY IN BONUSES FOR DENYING MY

    CLAIM, than a MEGA BALL WINNER LAST WEEK!

    PS Welcome HOME BROTHER…….25774025

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Guys,

      I know you may find this hard to believe but there is not now nor has there ever been any kind of performance standard or award system associated with whether benefits are granted or denied. Our standards to which we hold employees to focus on the quality of the actions taken, their production and their customer focus.

      1. brenda hayes    

        Sorry, it was past my bedtime!!

        But then again, maybe conscious would be the better word than CONSCIENCIOUS!!!LOL
        22KR
        We have to have a sense of humor or we die!!

        In the name of VA transparency to Veterans and family member; how is the criteria you mentioned for your VA employees (VARO raters) “measured”, Mr. Pamperin?

        As well, how are the “bonuses” determined for VA admin execs?

        Appreciatively,

        BH
        Vetwife Advocate

        1. Mark Chamberlain    

          I guess the 60 Minutes story was wrong, someone should let them know.

  84. John J. Jamason    

    tom, forgot to mention that I filed for dependant status for my wife of 32 years and was denied, citing lack of information on my wife’s previous marriages, which plainly state on the marriage certificate that there were none, 0. I was asked by VA to document my previous marriages prior to the 32 year union I am enjoying now. I was very ill when VA asked for that paperwork and did not forward that request to VA in a timely fashion and was denied dependant status for my wife. BUT VA took it upon there- selves to locate my previous marriages and certificates for me without my request to do that. So now that VA has that information in the file, I petitioned them again for dependancy status for my wife and was denied again, citing that they needed the very information that they already have in the file. So for 2 years now, I have been denied that benefit in spite of the fact that VA has the neccessary info to grant the claim and for whatever reason, they won’t. Tom, what does this vet have to do to prove that I have been married 32 years and my wife only has been married one time and to me only/ What is VA looking for?

    1. Monica Morton    

      John, how do you know they have those documents in your file? If they are still asking for those documents, I would get my own copies (you can go online and get info to get them – I did); send them certified/return receipt requested to the VA. Also, on the divorce papers make sure you annotate somehow (highlight, underline, circle, whatever) the names of the parties. (They either didn’t read at all or misread one of my documents). Make sure your name and SSN or service number are on each and every page. That still is no guarantee, and I know you are frustrated, but it’s the ‘dance’ they (the VA) want. Best wishes for a good outcome.

  85. Ray    

    This is a repeat of what I had submiited before but there is additional information that I had forgot to include. Whether or not I ever recive a response is something else entirely, but at least I have made the effort.I read this article and every article that I could find on the claims process. They are all very informative and well written. Unfortunately the “goals” are not being met and I don’t see anything being done to improve this. Everyone has a story and I of course have my own. After numerous years of substance problems I went into a year long residential treatment program where I was diagnosed with PTSD. To mention things I was in Germany during the cold war era and witnessed some events. I began my claim and quickly received a denial notice that I was never in country. They did however acknowledge the PTSD in my VA file and accepted the stressor event. I then submitted proof that I was in country at which point I was denied again because my name wasn’t specifically in an incident report. I again repeated my explanation and informed them that not everyone there had their name in the police report. So it has now been sitting on someones desk for a year, waiting to go somewhere else. The interesting thing about this is I have been asked at least 3 times for the same information. And of course when I get the requst for the information there is a new time line, which extends the date out even further.
    During this time I started receiving a NSC pension with the kicker of my child being in college full time. He took a semester off of school and I like a good soldier notified the VA of this. I then called back and told them he was back in school and what should I do. Well I was told don’t worry about it, he was only out for 1 semester. Well they reduced my pension and then stopped it because I had been over paid. The VA in its infinite wisdom took almost 6 months to process the issue so of course I was over paid. I never did get the issue of VA reducing my pension while he was in school. I fiugred it would just complicate and confuse things even furhter, because unfortunately the left hand never knows what the right hand is doing.
    I then began receiving Social Security Disability because I was determined to be unemployable by the paperwork my VA provider filled out and the Social Security. So obviously I am now not receiving any VA pension just my disability. This I do understand even though it is an extreme hardship. However my SC claim should have come though. I have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s and yet everything just sits and spins uselessly.
    Our hands are tied and we have no recourse. I would love to see the rate go up to 95%, but realistically we are in 2011 at a supposed 84% and we will never make the numbers. I personally think in the back of someones mind is the thoufght that if we just make people go around in circles enough times they will give up.
    I for one will not give up. I would like to receive a reply on where my claim is and the status of it. Things have gone on way too long. What is my claim status, the ebenfits doesn’t help you at all.

  86. brenda hayes    

    John,

    Excellent post and thanks for taking the time. Too many relay the same shameful VA stories over and over. This is what happens; you don’t have to make this stuff up!!

    I also appreciate any help that Mr. Pamperin is giving to Vets/Family members and I do hope, in his position, he can learn from these posts and he and his underlings can make changes in the processes that aren’t working for our Vets.

    So who are the VA employees that should be doing “autopsies” on errant VA rater behaviors that lead to all these disgraceful situations? What’s working well? What’s NOT working? Have any OE/OD people on the job?

    It also is very much of a concern for me that Viet Nam Vets are being “pushed to the rear” for the OIF/OEF. Veterans should never be placed in this circumstance.

    Several years ago, I was told (by a very good source) that a Directive had come down and the source stated, ” ..we were told the emphasis needs to be placed on the OEF/OIF vets.” ) Needless to say, this didn’t help with the pile of nonsweet smelling VA related disgusting and shameful acts/stances against the Veteran/family members that I have witnessed and have heard since 1985!!

    I don’t think I have ever heard anyyone at the VA as to the facts that you mentioned including others stated facts of VA delays, misinformation, coverups, shreddings, etc. that have been perpetuated on our disabled Veterans including the Viet Nam Vets and the Gulf War Vets.

    Closest I’ve come is when General Shinsecki stood up and said, “…I don’t know why…Veterans have been dealing with this…for so many years”. I think he was speaking about the Viet Nam Vets and the denials to diseases/disorders from the A/O toxins.

    I believe in General Shinsecki..I do believe he cares and wants to do something to make the VA change in how they treat Veterans, but he can’t do it alone. Those who have been in VA leadership especially, but at all levels within the VA systems, KNOW what the problems are and how they can be Fixed!

    I look forward to your book. Are you sending a signed copy to President Obama and General Shinsecki?

    I do hope your rightful benefits will be shortly forthcoming. As well, I do hope you are feeling better.

    I am interested to see what Mr. Pamperin says about your statement of how these VARO raters are “paid”. Maybe this is why the information is out there that speaks of how the VARO raters get “”bonuses” on how many files they “work” on.

    Also, you made the point again as to the fact that there really seems that there is no accountability when the “mistakes” are found and especially when they are SO obvious?

    If I could “touch” something every 15 mins. and didn’t have to be accountable for the quality….??? Where is the justice in this non-accountability? Seems like obvious changes need to be made if this is the case.

    Appreciatively,

    BH
    Vetwife Advocate

  87. Van    

    Mr Pamperin. If you please. Does lack of records constitute evidence against the veteran? That seems to be what you’re implying. If that’s the case then why is there benefit of doubt or combee v brown? The negative response is neither for or against the veteran but the DVA is interpreting as evidence against by denying the veteran his or her service connection. Below is a quote from the 2002 ATSDR report for Andersen AFB Guam:

    “On-Base Production Wells (Drinking Water Supply Wells)

    The Air Force collects samples from on-base production wells. These
    wells supply Andersen AFB with its source of drinking
    water. The Air Force routinely monitors these wells under requirements
    set forth by EPA’s the Safe Drinking Water Act to ensure safe drinking water for base workers and residents. Currently,
    drinking water quality data are collected on a biannual
    basis. Production wells in the MARBO Annex and in the Tumon-Maui have
    also been extensively monitored since 1978 for
    select compounds, including TCE, methylene chloride, pesticides (e.g.,
    endrin, lindane methoxychlor, toxaphene, 2,4,5,-T,
    2,4-D), nitrates, and certain metals (SAIC 1991). ”

    The herbicide Agent Orange is being monitored in the drinking water wells many years after the supposed use was stopped and all AO was sent to Johnston Island. Why would the airforce be testing for something that isn’t there? And in 1978 there was no requirement by EPA for anyone to monitor these substances, the AO 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T.

  88. Ms. Wanda L. Williams. RN, BSN    

    (Questions from: Ms. Wanda L. Williams. RN, BSN)

    Dear Sir,

    Thank you for allowing God to use you in assisting veterans.
    My questions are:

    -What are the policy and/or procedure for proper VA disablity claim processing?
    -Can unauthorized medical information from private establishments become an active part of VA disabilty claim?

    In conclusion, veteran contacted local VARO (Columbia, SC) in reference to above stated questions with negative success. Thank you again and God bless.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Ms Williams,

      Not sure I understand what your first question means. Service connection requires three elements: 1. an inservice event; 2. a current medical condition; and 3. a medical nexus linking the current condition to the event.

      It is unclear to mean how “unauthorized” medical information from a private provider got into a file. Non-VA/Non-DoD medical treatment evidence only gets into a file one of two ways, the claimant sends it to us or the claimant signs a release and the clinician provides it. Once in the file all evidence must be considered.

  89. Steven Moore    

    Mr. Pamperin

    When I replied the other day about the response, I did not mean to be disrespectful and not appreciative of your response.
    I was not looking for a response from you as we know you have way to much on your plate trying to get things back in alignment. I was only expressing my ideas as to maybe help reduce the frustration on the veterans side of the equation.

    again I thank you for your support and dedication to Veterans everywhere.

    Steve

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      not to worry. In my business you learn to have a thick skin.

  90. ricardo cavazos    

    I posted earlier in connection with my va claim. I will refresh everyone’s memory. I was Army Infantry and got out in 2005. Within 2 months of getting out I was receiving 40% disability rating for my back, knees, and shoulder. I was still able to work at the time so I did not question the rating. It has now been almost 6 years since I got out and alot has changed. I can no longer work. My back, knees, and shoulder have gotten worse, I have been diagnosed with PTSD, and Sleep apnea, I had to have a hip replacement in October and have not been able to walk much since March. I filed a claim on March 30 to have my hip (diagnosed with osteonecrosis) added as service connected secondary to my back, as well as adding the PTSD, and the sleep apnea. I did all my test they set up and had all this done by June. I call every week to check on my claim and kept being told I would know something in 7-21 days. Of course this started in June well in October I had my hip replacement surgery and called to add the claim for temporary 100% for the hip having still heard nothing on the other claim this is when they tell me I have a hearing test I still have to take. It took them from June till October to figure this one out. So I did the hearing test which the got back from the facility on December 15th so then they sent me a letter asking for information on the hip replacement surgery which the VA authorized and paid for so they should already have these records as they were given the information in October. Now they have combined the 2 claims together and I am having to wait on them to do whatever with the second claim before they will even send the first claim on to ratings so almost a year later they still have me in discovery stage even though I have sent them everything they have asked for usually the day after I find out they need it!!

    1. ricardo cavazos    

      UPDATE: Called va again today and still no update on status they claim they only have 21 days to post that they have received paperwork you have sent in but it has been over 21 days but we did however get a rep that was very helpful and she sent a request for them to pull the file and verify the letter was received as well as sending a request to seperate the two claims for us so they can go ahead and send the first claim to ratings. The issue with filing the two as one is the second one can only be a valid claim once the first one is determined as you cannot get convalescence if it is not service connected and the first claim was to get it service connected. The other thing is we have already spent almost a year in discovery phase and should not have to wait another year cause they wanted to add the two together if we had filed them a couple months apart I would understand but they were filed 8 months apart

      1. Ricardo Cavazos    

        Well we called again yesterday and they still have not changed anything they still claim they have not received a letter that we sent back to them more than 5 weeks ago. I know the mail is slow but it is not that slow. They still havent seperated the two claims and we cant seem to get any help with the situation. It has been almost a year since we filed the first claim

  91. Michael Garee    

    Mr. Pamperin:

    You are certainly to be applauded for having the courage and demonstrated leadership it took to write and post this article. Add to that the fact that you also took the time and made the effort to personally respond to so many of the postings and you are to be applauded even further!

    I share at least some of the frustrations and concerns expressed by so many who posted to this article. Currently, I am going into the 227th day since I filed my initial claim with the Atlanta, GA, VA Regional Office, for the presumed service-connected disability for prostate cancer and the related symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome. (I served as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967.) With the backlog of a million+ pending claims, I anticipated that I probably would be in for somewhat of a wait before my claim was finally settled, but I must say that I didn’t anticipate that it would take quite this long!

    The current status of my claim, according to information obtained by calling the VA 800#, is that it is in rating, and has been since December 6, 2010. That means that, as of the date this is being written, January 11, 2011, it has already exceeded the maximum number of days allotted for rating, 26. So, maybe—I hope!—I will be hearing something soon.

    As you have stated in some of your responses to posts, I believe that the vast majority of VA employees are simply hard-working, average people trying to do a good job under extremely difficult and challenging circumstances. To be sure, many current VA employees are paying for the “sins” of their predecessors. I wonder how many of us would find it enjoyable to have a job where each day that we go into the office we find an ever-growing stack of work that would take a Herculean effort to even put a dent in! I certainly know I wouldn’t want such a job. So I also thank those VA employees who are making a genuine effort at clearing the current claims backlog and attempting to make things work far more smoothly for future generations of veterans.

    Let’s be honest here, the problems at VA didn’t start yesterday and they sure won’t be remedied tomorrow, either—regardless of how desperately we all want them to be. With leadership such as that which you have demonstrated, as well as that demonstrated by Secretary Shinseki, perhaps we will see greater improvement in the process sooner rather than later. At least that’s my hope, and I also suspect it’s the hope of so many other veterans awaiting resolution of their service-connected disability claims.

    God bless you!

    Michael Garee

  92. maurice wyman scott    

    To each and ever good VA employee, this doesnt pertain to you, so please excuse me, but i’m feed up with the corruption that no matter what you do, contines to be in existence in Columbia, South Carolina, and the absolute irresponsible attitude of that worthless agency arm called the Office of the Inspector General.

    When falsifying a claim is on a individual the VA is quick to respond, but when the falsification is done by the Regional office, they are equally quick to ignore. So its off to the pictures, I have decided crazy or not, disabled or not, I’m either way going out with a bang. I have decided this week to expose this local agency for the fraudulent processing of claims to every type, location, and state and local agency i can find, these folks are criminals.

    Claim started in 01/09, denied in 09/10, because this corrupt agency decided to exclude the VA hospital records, and claimed they couldnt get some other information from another federal agency which turned out to be a lie, the agency had the records, and provide a letter that no one had ever asked for them before. but never the less, the Columbia Regional Office stated they had evidence that they didnt have, nor as required, informed me they didnt have it.
    So my claim was denied falsely and by design which I could prove. But its been 7 years so i played to game, because I got them covered this time, so I filed a appeal, then by IRIS asked a question, which netted me a phone call, a supervisor from the public contact division of the Regional Office, and she had my file in front of her, and she agreed with me, caught on tape, that something was wrong with my previous processing, and that it was still wrong, because they had evidence in the file, that they have failed to say they had, guess they were again going to hide it, to deny. So in that she recommended to me that I cancel my appeal, and place my whole claims in CUE claims because it was error when you omit evidence that you have. So that’s what I did in addition I filled out the form for fully developed claim.

    So in the mean time i got premium access to Ebenefits, and low and behold they are trying it again, my claim says now I have a CUE claim for a rib injury, I DONT HAVE A CLAIM AT ALL FOR A RIB INJURY, NEVER. So again I speak to a supervisor, and she again acknowldeges that I don’t have a Rib injury claim, and indicates that she will personally get this fixed, and fixed it did, now the Regional office has blocked my access to specific claim information, that’s right blocked,verified by ebenefits customer service.

    Now today I find out why, not only have they changed my claimed items to things i have never claimed, they have omitted the items that I have, now I have a claim for a scar, which I don’t have a claim for, and never did. This is corruption, and corruption at the highest level, and no responsible person will change the problem, so I just have too. Corruption doesnt care who does it, but it has to be stopped.

    Facts.
    Just one of my issues.
    PTSD
    1. Three serious automobile accidents in government cars
    2. diagnosis by and currently treated by a VA doctor, Psychiatrist.
    3. VA’s own PTSD website, nexus from car accident to long term PTSD, and other mental health issues.
    So based upon the rules a easy approval, but not if you hide the evidence, or destroy it before anyone can see it.

    Chronic Kidney Dysfuction
    1. VA diagnosis
    2. present while on active duty
    3. accident report reports kidney injury
    So why am I not approved, seems pretty easy stage three kidney dysfunction with secondary chronic gout. When you hide the evidence or ignore it.

    Each and evey claimed item is recorded, and factual, but they still deny, delay, stall, ignore evidence, and change my claim to the things they can deny not what i have claimed. This is a fraduluently operating location, I can prove it, and im going to make them famous for the fraudulent practices they inflict on our veterans. I’m willing to go to jail to stop this madness for the veterans of today, yesterday, and tomorrow. Lets see you lie your way out of this one, no spin will over take written evidence.

  93. maurice wyman scott    

    Mr. Tom Pamperin, I can prove that the Columbia Regional offic is involved in jerry rigging claims for the purpose of denial, to include changing what you are applying for, to removing what you did apply for, so can i count on you to be better than these folks, seek investigation, or do we need to have the media show it better, either way, its going to happen. I don’t want the whole VA blamed, for the corruption of some. Do the responsible thing. Lets be honest, the Va knows who we are, you are big brother, so look, and if I am lying I ll shut up, but since I have proof, then its time for redress.

  94. Randall Thomas    

    Mr. Paperin I was awarded for Exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Thailand 1969-1970. Initial claim date was 10 January 2005, Award date on claim c-27-219-809 docket Numbet 06-11 292 was 27 September 2010. Regional Office located at Louisville, Kentucky.

    I am in desperate need for VA to finish rating this award.

    Randall D. Thomas Sr.
    rthomass@insightbb.com

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Mr. Thomas,

      We have your exams and are getting your records back from the medical center and it will be rated.

  95. Eric    

    Will someone from the VA address the many attempts by others to address the “what about the Benefit of Doubt to the Claimant” clause stated in CFR 38? Why does that continue to be ignored?

    It’s certainly not taken into consideration at the Columbia, SC RO. Can VA push this policy out to its ROs ASAP and have them adhere to it? Afterall, it is policy.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Benefit of the Doubt means that when the evidence is in equal balance for and against an issue the doubt is resolved in favor of the veteran. But it must be in balance.

      1. Eric    

        Unfortunately for the veterans, at least at the Columbia RO, it doesn’t seem like it applies. Obvious claim(s) that fit “equal balance” are being denied. Can you push the definition with guidnace to the ROs? Thanks. Erik

  96. Jerome Mitchell    

    Mr Pamperin ,
    Can you tell me if Gulf War Veterans claims will be re-opened or do we have to re apply? I have been denied so many times in the last 20 years for Gulf Was Illness. Latest is Sleep apnea that has been denied, appealed and I’ve been waiting on a decission / SOC for a few years now. I live in Germany, and first thought …for many years, the “holdup” was because I’m Oconus, but reading this page, that’s not it. I’ve learned a lot here. My rep is the DAV. Thanks for careing at least enough to look into some of the Veterans claims. I know it’s not possible for you to look into every claim, but I would appreciate any assistance availible.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      You would have to reapply. Not sure what Gulf War claim you are referencing.

      1. Jerome Mitchell    

        Sleep Apnea, the others have been re-submited Oct, 2010…

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          see discussion elsewhere on this blog about sleep apnea

        2. Jerome Mitchell    

          Sorry, Been through twice and did not see a sleep apnea comment. Can you relay the date of the blog?…Thanks

      2. maurice wyman scott    

        Mr pamperin,
        I’m just one vet that has tried to follow the rules, and unfortunately at every turn the system is getting more and more corrupt, unfortunately you won’t believe me, but I had someone who would, and then I got a call from d.c. saying they would help if I didn’t go on CNN. And I’m sure they tried but this ro is so corrupt that they think they are above the central office. So on the 15th they tried to medicAL assault me,, so now once again I have the news interested because why do the va need additional funds if they are wasting the resources they have. Order a duodenum exam when I have no claim for such, the Dr. Even said I must have made someone mad. The Columbia ro is bad and they take out vendetta against anyone who exposes them, does this have to be on tv or will you seek justice for me?

  97. Jeffery Coffman    

    I finished 4 years active duty in 1977. I enrolled in college under the GI Bill. After two semesters of late benefit checks and more paperwork, I finished college on my own “dime”.

    In 1988 I went into the Reserves. During an annual physical I mentioned that I had been a test subject for the Army’s bio/chemical program at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland during 1975. The doctor said I should apply to the VA.

    So in 1990 I called the VA and told them about being exposed to various substances as a “guinea pig” at Edgewood Arsenal. The VA rep said I was just making the story up as the VA had no record of such experiments.

    During my another physical for the Reserves in 2007. I mentioned my participation in the Edgewood Aresenal experiments. This doctor had been to Edgewood and knew about the experiments. Told me to do a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for my records. So I did and submitted copies for my Reserve Health file. I had a quadruple bypass and decreased kidney functions documented over several years.

    In August 2009 submitted a claim with the VA. The VA rep admitted knowledge of the experimentation (when I cited a GAO publication http://archive.gao.gov/d37t11/148642.pdf). I underwent an examination at the VA. For the past year I have been getting monthly notices that the VA is responsible for obtaining my Reserve Health records (I retired 3/2010). I gave the VA the name and telephone number of the person who had my records.

    Still nothing.

    It seems that the VA has not changed much since 1977 when the hassles exceeded the benefits.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      We are aware of a number of tests at Edgewood. My question though is what do you think you have from those tests. Again, we pay for disabilities not for exposures.

  98. David J. Hudson    

    Mr. Pamperin, I was wondering if you received my response. My regional office is in Atlanta and I certainly appreciate all you do.

      1. David J. Hudson    

        Mr. Pamperin, how did the follow up go?

      2. David J. Hudson    

        Mr. Pamperin, I certainly don’t mean to be a pest and regret having to use to public forum to share how grave my financial situation is but I am truly in need of getting my claim resolved expeditiously.

        Thank you!

  99. Carl Lafever    

    Mr. Pamperin: You stated in your article that when your decision letter comes and you do not agree with it that I should contact the VA to avoid the lengthy appeal process. I received a denial of a claim pending since January 2009 in March 2010 and I then went through a lenghty and expensive Independent Medical Examination and submitted this as additional evidence in July 2010 and still have not heard anything on this from VARO. I tried as you stated to keep this out of appeals but as my time is running out to appeal I have now submitted my NOD. I have lost a year of time on my claim by doing as you and the denial letter said that I should do. I would advise any veteran to file the NOD quickly.

  100. Al Adelung    

    Thank you for a really informative article. It is unfortunate that VA Regulations are not written in such plain language. I filed a claim for the new “presumptive” diseases (Parkinson’s and Ischemic Heart Disease) in January 2010. I have, up until last week been able to see how the claim processing was going via the E-Benefits page. There is now a phone number there to contact, the phone call is then forwarded to the Regional Office in Roanoke. The contact person in Roanoke looked me up in the computer and said that yes, a decision was still pending, and that they did not know why I was referred to that number. Now, I know that I am old, and have some dibilitating illnesses, but, for the life of me I can’t figure out why a contact number would be published when the person who answers can not tell me why I needed to call. It took me several hours to get through to someone who didn’t know anything. Is there some process that that takes place at the VARO’s that is not being shared with those who answer phones? Again, thank you for a great article that would have been extremely helpful when I first started this process.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      No but we have almost 200,000 claims for the new presumptions. In all honesty it is going to take the better part of this year to get them all done.

  101. Steven B.    

    Funny.. By reading this article made me think a little.

    It took me 3 years (2003-2006) to be granted SSDI by an SSA Admin Judge. With plenty of evidence to support the initial claim, but the SSA office denied it saying the evidence wasn’t enough!!!!!!! 3 years wasted.

    Now, with the VA claims process. My STRs from 1986 show I was discharged medically from service as “unfit for duty” for feet/ankle injuries and was under 24 months on active duty so no basic VHA entitlement in 86. So, I did without VA benefits for over 20 years.

    But, the military said my injuries weren’t service connected on my DD-214. Have a laugh. I was young and dumb then to know how to fight that error of fact. To late to fight it I found out now. Can’t afford a high priced attorney to fight the military to get a revised DD-215.

    The SSA Admin Judge at the time of my hearing in 2006 before him after reviewing my record saw my military service said I should apply for VA benefits. As my feet/ankle conditions were one of the reasons for the SSDI grant.

    So, in 2006 I filed an initial claim for VA benefits for my feet/ankles and lower extremity problems secondary to my feet/ankle conditions from pushing my disabilities from working hard labor. Needless to say I am permanent and totally disabled by my private doctors and by virtue of the SSA Judge’s decision.

    In 2006 the VARO in Denver, CO. never bothered to schedule a C&P Exam for my conditions and denied the claim going from the military’s decision only. Against the VA regs.

    In my opinion this was a way to save the government money under Bush’s admin. Right, wrong or indifferent. Cause my father a 20 year career military person with 4 years in Nam and had heart problems related to Agent Orange. The VARO in Minn. said he wasn’t in Nam.. Have a laugh. 4 years later he got his VA Comp, but died in 2005. Two years after the grant. Sad.

    Now, to my claims the VARO in Denver, CO. flat out denied a legit claim full of evidence from private doctors at Denver Health Medical Center, even without a C&P Exam to establish service connection.

    Went to a DRO in 2007 and that was a JOKE as the VA DRO employee denied the claim again using the military’s decision.

    My claim went to the BVA in 2009 and was granted service connection for my flat feet, and remanded the other problems I had.

    C&P Exam was done on Feb. 12, 2010 and the AMC denied the remanded issues in December 2010 even tho the C&P Exam supports a nexus as “casually related” my secondary conditions to my service connected feet. Current my claim is before a VLJ according to ebenefits.com.

    Here are my 5 tips on how to file a claim based on my experience:

    1) Make sure you have a strong claim in the first place. And only claim conditions that can be supported from your military records including 201 file.
    2) Make sure you have a computer and a printer, and keep everything in “triplicate”. STRs, C&P Exams, Rating Decisions, Private Medical Records, etc.
    3) Keep Congressional phone numbers handy, as well as numbers to the VA Central Office. (Don’t know if I can post VA Central Office numbers here without deletion?)A Congressional helped me.
    4) Keep reference urls on your bookmarks like past BVA decisions that may help your claim… http://www.index.va.gov/search/va/bva.html
    5) Do most of the work YOURSELF!!!!!!!! Cause not all Veteran Service Orgs like the one DAV office in the VARO building in Denver, CO. are worth it.

    I found the DAV office in my area to be worthless as their staff turn around is every 2 to 3 months and the new person assigned to my claim has to read everything again and familiar him/herself with the claim to be effective. Doesn’t help in a BVA appeal. I found better results doing this stuff myself and only use the DAV for other simpler tasks.

    Overall I find the VAROs are denying valid claims for whatever reasons and are forcing unnecessary appeals and a bulk of the backlog problems the VA has. Whether by design or not only the upper VA management knows the truth.

    Plus, the C&P Exam I had was a result of two different AMIE request and has some info missing. I can see the board again remanding my TDIU claim again.. Great fun…

    Here I am about to become homeless as a result of this B.S. as my rent went up and my benefit payment from SSDI and a flawed AMC rating decision assigning 10% only to my service connected condition which should have been at least be 50% from start. Fighting that issue currently at the BVA level.

    Hoping and praying the VA can get their **** together in the near future!!!!!!!!!!

  102. Mark Chamberlain    

    I guess that Mr. Pamperin has answered his percentage of claim for this blog. For all of those that got help hope your claims are processed. For those that did not do not give up hope keep fighting. GOOD LUCK

  103. Charles Stewart    

    Hi Tom,
    Thank you for your service and for continuing to serve our country’s veterans.
    My message is more of an FYI than a question which needs answering. My first claim in 2002 was for Diabetes Type II for which I am currently rated 50%. I filed a claim in 2007 for my heart condition secondary to Diabetes which of course was denied. I filed with the Military Order of the Purple Heart here in Syracuse, NY. I refiled in October 2009 upon hearing that IHD was now considered a presumptive disease to AO but filed through the NYS Veterans Benefits Office (one door down from the MOPH.) After a couple of months I got a call from the MOPH stating that because I had submitted my first claim through the MOPH that I had to file the second came through the same. So I had to re-sign a Power of Attorney for MOPH which “supposedly” pushed my claim back “two” months. Well…when I check with eBenefits, I see my claim was received in May 2010. That’s seven months after I filed with NYS. So now I sit waiting for my due compensation when in fact I could possibly have received it much before this. I’m not sure why I was told I had to file the second claim with the same VSO as the first. Just a heads up to all of you out there. Good luck with your claims and again Tom, thank you for what you do. I hope I didn’t ramble and that this all makes sense.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Charles,

      I’m a little confused as to why your heart disease was not granted based on the diabetes as a secondary condition. Without your record can’t tell if there was a sound reason or if that was a mistake. In any event, your award will go back to the date you first applied.

      Who your representative is is your decision. You can cancel a service organization and elect a new one at any time.

      1. Charles Stewart    

        The diabetes was diagnosed eleven years after my first heart attack. If it were the other way around it would have been no problem.

        That’s what I thought…that I could have had anyone represent me. They said because they (MOPH) filed the first claim that they had to be the ones to file again. I’ll sure know better next time. It has delayed my claim being submitted from October ’09 to May 2010. Thanks………………….

  104. Mike Jones    

    I was in the 82nd in the late 80’s early 90’s, did my service and moved on. Several years later I had back problems. I never made any association to jumping out of planes as a potential cause of my back troubles. I ended up having surgery in 2001.

    I’ve come in contact with several guys I served with and most of them have had back surgery too. Should I be contacting the VA and getting this noted?

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      It is worth a shot. A service organization would be in the best position to advise.

  105. Bill Morris    

    Thank you for the insightful information Mr. Pamperin.

    What do you do when all records are gone? My Gulf War unit, ‘A’ Battery 40th FA, MLRS – 3rd Armored Division, deployed with approx. 143 soldiers. Two years ago, I began building a web site for my combat unit. The web site has sense, morphed into the 40th Field Artillery Veterans Association.

    We currently have contact with approx.104 veterans from our unit’s Gulf War deployment roster. To a man, every request for service records/medical records from St. Louis comes back with the same reply “We do not have any records.”

    The best we can tell, our entire unit’s records were somehow ‘lost’ during our Gulf War deployment. The only people with any records are those who had previously made copies.

    Example: My request came back with one document: A dental check-up from the dental clinic in Hanau, Germany in 1989, nothing else!

    A large number of our veterans from the 40th Field Artillery have filed for, and received, claims for disability, even without these records.

    Do you have any suggestions I can pass on to my fellow A/40th veterans as to what can be done about to handle the lack of records?

    By the way, that web site I started 2 years ago, is now the largest, unit web site on the Internet! You can visit us here: http://www.a40deepstrike.com or http://www.40thfieldartillery.com/.org/.net/.info)

    Thank you again,

    “All for One!”

    Bill Morris
    A/40th FA, MLRS 88-91
    Deep Strike!

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Medical records from the First Gulf War can be a problem. The Army has a working group with VA to identify “late flowing records.” I would check again to see if they have been found. But, because this was a combat situation, statements from comrades can be used to help establish the fact of an event. Of course you still need a current condition.

  106. Roger E. Thomas    

    HELLO;I HAD BACK SURGERY IN 1999 AFTER SUFFERING SINSE 1970 FROM BEING BLOWN OFF A APC AS A FIFTY GUNNER IN MY 6TH MONTH THERE,I WAS SENT TO THE FIREBASE AID STATION WHEN WE GOT INTO THE FIRE BASE,ALPA-4 ON THE DMZ,I WAS WITH A1/61 2ND. PLATOON 2ND. SQUAD. I WAS DOWN IN MY BACK FOR A WEEK AND AT THE AID STATION THE DOCTOR THERE SAID IT LOOKED LIKE A BRUISED BACK WITH SWELLING.SO MUCH FOR THAT BULL-CRAP AND MY DOCTOR HERE IN TENN. SAID THAT IT WAS A VERY OLD INJURY, BUT HE WOULDN”T WRITE ANY KIND OF STATEMENT FOR ME,I”VE FILED 2 OR 3 TIMES ON MY BACK AND KEEP GETTING TURNED DOWN ,DO YOU HAVE ANY HELP FOR ME? I WAS MY SQUADS POINTMAN FOR THE 5 MONTHES PRIOR TO THAT..THANKS ROGER.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Roger, how do i get in touch with you.

      1. Roger E. Thomas    

        HELLO BROTHER;MY PHONE #865-4287065; I LIVE IN SEVIERVILLE,TENN.37876 AT 843 SHARP ROAD;YOU HAVE MY EMAIL ;rogvnam1969@yahoo.com/ BY THE WAY ,I WAS WITH THE 5TH. INFANTRY DIVISON (RED DEVILS) A 1/61 ON THE DMZ/from nov. 1969 till nov. 1970 Welcome Home..THANKS ROGER

  107. Roy McSorley III    

    Mr. Pamperin,
    I have a question or more of a suggestion I guess, why can’t we meet with someone face to face when discussing the decision process. I retired in 2005 I filled for Gulf war illness with memory loss and other brain functions impaired. Thank goodness the VA approved this and a couple other problems I received a 30 percent rating, but I also got TB while stationed in Japan and TDY to Korea, but the VA bean counters can’t find this in my records even though the doctors can see it on my x-rays and I have provided copies of my records that shows my treatment. Of course this may be because they lost my records for the first six months after I filed. Also I was told by an Army doctor and two different VA doctors that I had hearing loss and needed an hearing aid, if fact one doctor even took a mold of my ear to fit a hearing aid. Low and behold the bean counters once again stepped in and said I didn’t have hearing loss. I assure you, you can ask anyone who knows me I need a hearing aid. Now I don’t know if loss of hearing or getting TB in service is a reason to increase my disability but add this to my other disabilities and I currently can’t not work and my retirement is all I have. What really frustrates me is the lack of personal contact. If I could sit down and show my records to whoever makes the decisions then I would feel better and know it’s not just some put it in one stack then shift it to another and call it a day. I am being seen at the VA for previous problems and finally have another hearing test scheduled but not sure what good it will do. I think it’s great that there is a plan for improvement I just think there should be a little more personal touch. I would like to say thanks for what you are trying to do.
    Roy

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Roy,

      You can ask for a hearing at any time regarding your claim with decision makers in your regional office.

    2. Tom Pamperin    

      Regarding TB I am assuming you currently do not have TB. If you don’t – and hopefully you don’t – service connection, if granted, would at best be zero percent disability.

      Regarding your hearing loss claim, what you really have to do is compare your entrance hearing exam with your separation hearing exams. If there was no change service connection would not be warranted. I would talk to my representative though. If you were in a military occupation that was exposed to noise, even if you hearing were in the “normal” range in the 500 – 3000 range, if the test showed a “notch” at about 4,000 (a range for which we cannot grant compensation or service connection) that notch is indicative of what is referred to as acoustic trauma and would generally be sufficient to award service connection once hearing deteriorated.

      1. Roy McSorley III    

        Thanks for your response maybe I am miss understanding but, I had a positive PPD and was treated for TB having to take a pill for 6 months or more. I have scaring on my lungs, I assume that means I have TB, it’s may not be active at this time but it is always there. So even though I got it in the service there is no compensation? As far as the hearing goes like I said three Doctors all claimed I had hearing loss and needed a hearing aid not sure what else can be said. Again I want to thank you and the VA for what they do I do appreciate your help.
        Roy

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          Roy,

          Google the following citation 38 CFR 4.97. Once there go to diagnostic codes 6701 through 6724. This is the rating criteria for TB. Generally speaking you are either 100% or 0%. I assume that you TB is inactive. If inactive TB is the case, the specific rating criteria for inactive TB are found at diagnostic code 6724. As you will see, if you have scarring of the lungs but there is no loss of function it would be 0%.

          With respect to hearing loss that is 38 CFR 4.85. I would discuss the hearing issue with my representative together with whatever documentation you have.

          Know this may not be what you would like to hear but at least I hope it is helpful.

          tom

        2. Roy McSorley III    

          Thanks for the information, I learned more from this than 5 years of corrispondence with the VA and service rep.
          Roy

  108. Larry Evans    

    Just wanted to share something I found out during the processing of my claim ,I like many of you am waiting for a final determination since 2007 I made all my scheduled appointments OTC in Pa scheduled them upon request from the VA Admin. I frequently received from the VA we still need this or that or we received this and and are sorry for the delay we are still working on your claim as of now it has been 3 months I have not heard we need anything more , what I learned was one day I was called by QTC to remind me of scheduled exam and we began talking about how confusing it was and the stress involved she tole me they had these two other exams I had previously made I ask her if she had sent them to the VA her reply was no we hold them all until the exam file is complete reviewed by their staff to see if the doctor crossed all the “T”s” and dotted all the “I’s” so you mean they dont have the records back several months ? When we get this final one we will send it as a package to the VA so I stayed in contact with QTC to find out when the sent out my package To the VA (work with QTC they have a toll free # to keep up with where your paper work is because before she told me this I thought my paper work was all stretched out either at my VSO ,Doctor,QTC or Va which is not the case I told my VSO this and he was surprised because he was not aware it was handled this way either so now he can help his veterans better by simply calling QTC with ouestions on where the paperwork is presently hope this helps Thanks Larry

  109. Charles Walters    

    Mr. Pemberin:

    Thank you for answering veteran’s inquires in your blog. This is the only time that I have ever seen anyone in the VBA answer a veteran’s inquiry about their claims! I am a retired Marine Corps officer. The issues addressed by others are real and still continue. The VA ROs are non-responsive to vets inquires except when the vet travels to an RO and talks to the VA’s rep at the front desk. Only then is there any help to the vet concerning feedback to a question. Everything else goes into the big computer IF it is not lost or shredded first.

    This comment concerns my brother, Martin L. Walters, a Vietnam Army vet who died in Aug 2010. I helped him complete and file a Statement of Claim in the July 2007. No hearing anything from the Nashville RO by November 2007, he called and was told there was no record of his claim and to check back later. He checked back in April 2008 and was again told there was no record of his claim (this was the timeframe of the Nashville shredding incident). In Ocober 2008, again with my assistance, he submitted another claim except this time it was via Senator Lamar Alexander’s office. Mrs. Kay Druhan confirmed in a phone call to me and to Martin that his claim had been submitted by her. After no contact by the Nashville office to Martin for a medical exam or even to acknowledge that they had his claim, we requested Mrs. Druhan to followup. She did so on September 21, 2009. After several months, neither Mrs Druhan nor Martin received acknowledgment that Nashville RO had his claim and that it was in processing.

    As noted, Martin died in Aug 2010 and his initial claim submitted by a US Senator’s office was never acknowledged. I buried Martin and he received full military honors curteousy of the American Legion. I received a letter from the VA in Sept 2010 concerning burial allowances which stated that he had no claim on file! This was a surprise since I had visited Senator Alexander’s office and Mrs. Druhan showed me the claim she had submitted and her follow up letter. Since then, Senator Corker’s office has also become involved trying to find out why his claim is missing and not processed. Mrs. Magnuson has submitted two followup letters and several phone calls. She to was told they had no record and your Nashville RO director wanted to know what she expected him to do (after all, the Nashville office outlived another combat veteran). She told him what he should do and we are waiting for the correct action which should be to process the claim regardless of he fact he is dead. That is what I expect. You still have someone in that RO who is destroying veterans claims and not responding to a US Senator’s inquiries.

    Please investigate this situation. Mrs. Magnuson in Senator Corker’s Jackson TN office can give specifics. Martin worked with Agent Orange in Vietnam at Long Binh, was wounded in a mortar attack but did not receive the purple heart due to his med records being lost by the Army during his medevac. This is a travesty that needs to be corrected to prevent it ever occuring again for another veteran.

    Thank you,

    Charles Walters
    LtCol USMC-Retired

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      You are correct you or the veteran’s surviving spouse can “substitute” for him. If he doesn’t have a qualifying survivor (spouse, minor, school or helpless child)and the claim is successful only that part of the benefits to which entitled that he might have gotten, will be awarded to reimburse whoever bore the expenses of last illness and burial. If he has a qualifying survivor, that survivor would be entitled to all the money he would have gotten but for the fact that he died.

      Have referred your inquiry to the Office for review.

      1. Charles Walters    

        Sir:

        Noted your response, assuming that you are referring to my query/comment. The issue is not so much as to who survivors benefits are to be paid, the issue is why wasn’t his claim processed when it was sent to the Nashville RO by a US Senator’s office? When the Senator’s staff did a followup months later after no response to the claim, no one attempted to respond to Mrs. Druhan of Senator Alexander’s office even though Mrs Druhan included another copy of the claim as part of her correspondence to the Nashville RO. Lastly, Senator Corker’s office is not involved since I wrote to Congressman Filner and Senator Akaka informing them of this situation. One of their staff members forwarded my inquiry to Senator Corker. Mrs Magneson took it for action and has not had any success from the Nashville RO. Something is seriously broke in your VA Nashville RO that is affecting veterans lives and in some cases, may be contributing to their untimley deaths due to inaction by your Nashville RO raters. Someone is intentionally “losing” the claims and ignoring two United States Senators. It would make sense that you become involved to determine why and who via Senator Corker’s office in Jackson TN. I sent a package to the VA IG, they responded that they were not interested in pursuing the problem!

        You and I both served in Vietnam. You left and went to work for the VA and have climbed the ladder to a position where you and Gen Shinseki can right some wrongs, but most importantly, ID inhouse problems that affect not only one vet, but perhaps thousands. Though Mrs Magneson doesn’t think this is a widespread problem, she doesn’t know and the fact that no one responds to their offices leads this career Marine Corps officer to think someone wants to bury a bad situation without you or Secretary Shinseki knowing about it.

        I have had a couple thousand Marines working for me over the years and probably acquinted myself with another thousand. I may have retired from the Marine Corps, but I have not abidicated my concern for their post active welfare as it pertains to the VA. Unfortunately, the terrible treatment of Vietnam vets, and probably others, by the VBA needs to corrected and you are the guy to do it. Please contact Senator Corker’s office to learn the specific details about this situation and ask the VA IG to become involved in case the Nashville RO didn’t learn from the claims shredding incident a few years ago. Political appointees come and go with an administration. VA bureaucrats remain with their own personal policies! You are in a position to level the veteran’s playing and indicated that you want to do this based on this blog. It is obvious that you haven’t forgotten those soldiers who served under you and with you. I certainly have not.

        Sincerely

        Charles Walters
        LtCol USMC-Retired and a VA rated veteran who has trudged through the VA’s morass of challenges in my own case

      2. Charles Walters    

        Correction to previous followup comment from me: Senator Corker’s office is “now” involved. I mistyped and said “not” involved. Mrs. Magneson is actively pursuing this issue. Your Nashville RO staff should have immediately initiated processing action at least on the claim received from Senator Alexander’s office considering that we had no proof that the 2007 claim was submitted other than Martin’s word that he mailed it after I provided the writeup and put together the attachments.

        Definitely the Nashville RO staff should have done something with the claim in the followup letter from Senator Alexander’s staff, but obviously ignored it AGAIN. There are more details to Martin’s Vietnam experience that includes PTSD symptoms that none of were aware of in 1968 and the 1970s. He had numerous recorded medical issues that appeared in the 1990s and later that are directly reflected to his handling Agent Orange at the Long Binh Ammo Depot 1967-1968.

        Charles Walters, USMC-Retired

  110. Eric    

    It seems when we speak the facts of the VA consistently screwing the veteran, or quote the CFR stating the VA awards the opposite, we have run the VA representative away, apparently he/she has no comment nor wishes to get the ROs in line. Just another SNAFU.

    With that, the VA should just issue a memo to all veterans and tell them what they have is what they have, live with it. Then the VA should just close their doors because it seems like all they want to do is tell us why they can’t, instead of why they can. Sad operations. One thing though, they seem to be consistent nationwide.

    What’s the hiring process for the VA? Can’t be much, the reps i’ve spoken to are clueless. It’s completely sad when you file a secondary claim to a service connected disability, and the ONLY CAUSE of the secondary is the SC disability, and yet, they make a VA hospital appointment, you have to provide additional evidence to support how it’s secondary, and go through the NOD/appeals process when it’s denied. Even the VA hospital Dr said, “why didn’t they just Google the damn thing?” This is what creates backlog, at some point, VA needs to install a common sense policy.

    Another thing, every month or so, i receive a letter that my claim is still being worked. No kidding…….that’s great and i’m glad the VA spends the postage to send such a letter. I imagine with all the vets out there, each getting a letter each month, hmmm….. i wonder how much they spend on that. Here’s a suggestion, quit sending the obvious and process claims! Get some hard charging recently retired Sergeants Majors in charge of these ROs and get these claims moving. The reasonable doubt clause in the CFR, if followed, would drastically reduce the backlog in claims. If the VA hasn’t caught on by now, veterans are not going to give up. A claim that obviously fits the reasonable doubt clause, when denied, IS GOING TO BE APPEALED. Save everyone the heartache and provide some justice to the veterans.

    Your current process obviously isn’t working.

  111. David Robinson    

    My self I have waited now for over 18 months for two intila claims. after supplying many copies of y srb and copies of medical service records to help speed the process> yet what I have seen is the disinfrancizing of me from the process. After being palced in ros section for over 4 months in ohio all of a sudden moved to louesville KY> to only be put at the bottom mmm. I belive that law says you can only move unialaterly a veterns file. They said due to the camp lueijune water contamanation claim on one claim. well the other was also held up having its own merit I see that we tend to violate the law very frequently at the V.A. when asking about this many times no one has called me to explain why this happing. just reinforses my thoughts on this system. I have asked to move the other claim along since it has no bearing on each still deaf ears are not listing. due to the fact Im at the intial stage I can not abtain a councel this should not be allowed for the V.A> to hold up this process the “veteren ” has no rights under this, nor can he have a avenue to complain and get any results from, certain emplyoees in this system that feel that they have to not answer veterans. Two things first: the buercrtes in this system need to read why the v.a> was established not for this I asssure you. second I think privatizing this system is the way to go get rid of the dead weight and usless idelaogies found in it. I honstley think that many in the V.A. think they are to big to have nay accountablity to any one . just to let you and the V.A> know Im not going to die before I get answers. I have warned my son now seriving to obtain copies of all his medical and srbs when they are intered. he will have to fight another war when he gets home. one with the V.A> a much more cunning enamy then the afgains.

  112. Walter Ortiz    

    Sir,
    I thank you for taking the time to inform us veterans about the process. I retired 1 October 2010 from the ARMY. My retirement post was Fort Eustis, VA. I have filed and turned in all my paperwork prior to retirement date and routinely check ebenefits and or call the customer help number in order to obtain my claim status. At this point is at the Decision phase and it has been since 1 Oct 2010. I must say that Veterans Administration employees have been very respectfull and willing to provide the information available, I sincerely thank them. I have been told a decision will be made in between 16 to 21 days, as far back as in November when I initially checked the status. As you can tell by this short description I am still at the decision point. Is there anything I can do or is this a normal occurrence?

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      You should hear something on your claim early next week. It was completed today.

      1. Walter Ortiz    

        Mr. Pampering,
        Thankyou for your reply and assistance. I would like to thank all of the VA employess as well, many of us do not fully understand the magnitude of their tasks providing support. THANKS

        Sincerely,
        Walt Ortiz

  113. Van    

    Your silence is deafening Mr. Pamperin. I brought up the issue of lack of records being the sole determinant to deny veterans their just due. This circumvents combee v brown and it throws out benefit of doubt. The DVA is breaking the law and you and the rest of the sole called leadership know it. You sir are a big part of the problem. Your willingness to go along and allow veterans to die to hold down the costs of the DVA is sickening. The blood is on your hands.

    1. Rachel    

      I know that around the time of my initial discussion about records disappearing that mine might have been part of them. (even though before I got out I sent them copies of the ones I had) but they denied a bunch of stuff that was “missing” from my med files. so of course lost files are just that “lost” so when they went for a reevaluation the “lost” files were still gone (shocking right? lol) and I was returned with the same decision. funny because I know one vet who fell down a hill (drunk) broke her ankle and is now receiving 30% and another vet who hurt her knee but is now pursuing a degree as a nurse who is at 80% but I have been in 3 car wrecks (all on active duty none of which I was found at fault) one was rear ended the other I was driving and someone drove out in front of me and another one was where the lady hit me on the side, can’t make that one up either!) I’ve had issues with my back since then. I can’t drive for more than 15 minutes before everything goes numb in my legs. I can’t shop for more than 30 minutes. (if i cant’ sit or stand for that long how am I to hold a job? or If i found a job who will want to give me time off to go to my doctor appointments? the whole system is aggravating especially when one is accused of wanting to live off of disability (yeah that’s living the dream!) I didn’t feel obligated to let the neurosurgeon know I am pursuing a career in professional counseling so that I can eventually have my own practice and set my own hours. (almost done yay!) But thank you for posting this because everyone seemed to have forgot the “lost records”

      1. Van    

        Sorry Rachel but we’re talking of two different things. You would have to read my other posts on the subject to know. And you would also have to understand Viet Nam vets and exposure to AO in and outside of Viet Nam. But Mr. Pamperin knows exactly what I’m talking about and that is why there is no response. The DVA knows they’re breaking the law as well as not following the intent of the law or just plain ignoring the law to deny or manipulating the law so they don’t have to pay these claims of exposure to AO outside of Viet Nam.

    2. Tom Pamperin    

      Well, frankly Van that is your opinion. The facts speak differently. Nearly 1 million new veterans have been added to the rolls in the last 10 years. The average combined disability has increased by about 25% You may be frustrated at your circumstance but as I say, the facts speak differently.

      Tom

  114. Rachel    

    I applied for medical disability and got a low rating at 10% however they keep throwing meds at me and informing me that there is something wrong with me. I’ve been diagnosed anywhere from osteoarthritis in lower back to not having an updated pap smear and as a result my back hurts. I’m so sick of the rhetoric and the run arounds it’s not even funny. I reapplied since the physical therapist found that there is something more wrong with my back (it’s twisted in lumbar region) and so my pcp sent me to the neurosurgeon in ann arbor mi. well he said i need to not live off of disability and try to work and I didn’t need surgery and if I went to a civilian doctor they would have done the surgery but the VA won’t do the surgery. (this was after I asked will the surgery make my back feel better I’m sick of being in pain) I was then diagnosed with apparently a diagnosis mainly found in “fit males” so there’s no way I could suffer from this. I am so frustrated with the VA and it’s insults to my intelligence that I’m about to give up. I’ll just let them keep throwing vicodin at me. (funny how I went to a social security disability evaluation and felt more welcomed there and the doctor didn’t insult me or belittle me.) I saw him write down everything that was found in the va medical records and if I get approved I will be so mad with the va for not doing their jobs because they went off of the VA medical records because I do not have the money to go to the regular doctor. However, I do plan on spending my own money to go to a chiropractor and get xrays done there and if they find anything I will be seeking legal advice.

  115. Daniel E    

    Sir, is it ever too late to refile for an injury? I retired in 2002 after 22 years. I filed for an upper back injury that was clearly documented several times in my medical files over several years. At the disability interview (or whatever it’s called when you are clearing and filing for disability) when the doctor was looking thru my medical files for a cause, I thought I was being proactive and pointed to an X-ray showing a curve in my spine (scoliosis) and said, “That’s the reason, isn’t it?” The doctor just looked at me and said “sure” and wrote it down. Of course it was denied because scoliosis is hereditary and usually does not affect a person if not too sever (which mine wasn’t). I learned later that I should have just let the doctor write down his own determination. I still have the pain. Usually its bearable but sometimes (like this week) I can barely get out of bed. So is it too late to refile for the same injury and have a doctor review my medical records and make his own determination (like I should have done the first time) or has too many years pasted?
    Thank you

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Pat,

      Can’t answer specifically because there is no way for me to identify you merely by “Patrick F” If you can give me more information I would be glad to check it out.

      1. Patrick F.    

        Here is my identifier F-1332

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          Let me see if I can identify you in VISTA I’m assuming the 4 numbers are the last 4 of your ssn.

      2. Tom Pamperin    

        Pat,

        I’ve been able to identify you and am checking now.

        1. Patrick F.    

          Tom, have you been able to find out anything about the status of my case?

    2. Tom Pamperin    

      Dan,

      No it is not. It’s just harder. What I would do is
      a. get a representative
      b. file the claim
      C. get a copy of your service medical records (if you have not previously filed a claim you request that from the National Personnel Records Center if you separated prior to about 1995 or from VA if after) Do this so you know what your records say so that you can shape your argument.

      Tom

  116. John    

    The VA disability claim scenario is ridiculous. I’ve dealt with it for a decade and am about to give up. Stop the madness.

  117. Patrick F.    

    Tom,

    I refiled a claim, again, after being denied 7 years ago which was received at the Baltimore office Mar ’10. Per eBenefits it has been in the decision phase since July of 2010. Why so long? The site says “The Decision Phase is completed on most claims between 16 and 28 days.” What is going on over at Baltimore?
    Does the unofficial motto of the VA apply here? “Delay, deny, and hope you die?” I say this because I recently had a heart attack, at 46, which I feel was caused my service in the Gulf War. Ischaemic heart disease has now caused two stents to be placed in my heart. How do I file another claim while a claim is currently pending?
    The previous slam on the VA does not apply to the VA Hospital-Wash DC, which saved my life from a heart attack, or the VA medical services.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Pat if you would give me your last name I can check but there is no way to identify you by “Patrick F”

      1. Lois    

        Mr. Pamperin

        Is there an email that I can get in contact with you, or is this the only forum that you communicate through.

        I not a veteran, just a computer literate individual assisting veterans with submitting their claims. Some have VSO and others that are just submiting claim do not.

        I have a Veteran that does not want you to take action on his clsim, for fear that it will cause a major delay and repercusions for his VSO.

        He only would like you to hava a disinterested individual familiar with the VA claims process to take a look at his and greport back to you what they found.

        He hopes that the report will assist you in veterans that file future claims with this particular VARO.

        Thank you very much!

        Lois

        1. VA Employee    

          I work with and serve veterans everyday. First and foremost thanks to all that have served. I appreciate what you did for our country. I listen to stories from veterans and my heart goes out to you all. Serving the veterans has been very rewarding for me. I am not a veteran but doing my part to make your visit as pleasant as possible is my mission daily. If it was up to me I would approve all claims because you all deserve to be compensated for what you did for us. Again I say thanks.

      2. David Cavagna    

        Thanks for the advice Mr Pamperin, could you please check on the status of my claim. My name is David Cavagna and my VA rep told me today its been sitting idle since November. If you have any advice it would be appreciated.

  118. sick and tired    

    Dear Sir: 01/18/2011
    I have personally witnessed a serious and longstanding problem with the claims process at the VA, at the same time I am not just going to complain about it but am offering a simple solution to the problem that could be put into effect immediately at a miniscule cost and save both millions of dollars as well as countless man hours throughout the VA. I am only using my claim as a generic example of the problem while offering a simple solution to help all veterans in the future. I have been struggling with the VA for 9 years on a legitimate claim, in total and only recently found out exactly what I needed to get to prove my claim, which I immediately got from my VA primary care doctor within 2 weeks and submitted. Here is the problem [When a veteran files a claim for compensation and goes to his VA doctor for subsequent treatment he assumes his medical records from the VA doctor will be forwarded in support of his claim] this is NOT TRUE. My claim was denied because the regional office said I couldn’t prove the condition claimed even existed, even though I had been treated for it for years as well as operated on for it , and yet when they scheduled me for a C&P exam and the examiner agreed with me, because my service treatment medical records were not sent by VA to C&P for review by the C&P examiner they gave their own C&P examiners opinion no probative value and denied my claim I couldn’t believe it, my claim which is a very legitimate claim by the way denied due to the inability of VA employees to follow VA procedures, this starts a very lengthy process forcing me to appeal their wrong decision and adding unnecessarily years to the process as well as wasting many man hours by VA employees and causing undue stress and aggravation as well as financial ruin on me. Since this happened to me I am sure it also happens to many other veterans as well, it is very unlikely that this is an isolated incident considering the amount of claims on back log at VA, more likely than not to be a common occurrence through out VA. I have a simple solution to solve this once and for all worldwide, that could save many millions of man hours as well as dollars and reduce the number of claims to go to the appeals board significantly from day one after it is implemented. Every veteran should have a master treatment file or [e file] established in a centralized computer system at VA for them and when being treated at any VA facility worldwide, for any condition, when the records are sent from the treating doctors computer to the records division within the same building as it is done now a simple cc copy could be and should be automatically transferred to the master record or [e file] data base under that veterans name and file number. Then before any claim is decided at any regional office anywhere worldwide the decision makers would have access to all records current to that date showing all conditions and treatment for conditions and the duty to review the master record [e file] in support of the claim. This would be a simple but positive solution to a long standing problem at VA, and very cost effective, reducing both ongoing administrative costs as well as ending the redundancy in the claims process and drastically reducing the time required to adjudicate claims and I believe would in itself greatly reduce the back log of claims on file as well as greatly reduce the amount of claims sent on to BVA for appeal.
    Additionally if a [medical nexus letter] is required for VA from a doctor to prove a claim for the VA regional offices, then shouldn’t the VA regional offices immediately inform the veteran of this fact once a claim is filed, and if the veteran is only being seen by VA doctors, shouldn’t the VA regional offices themselves request a [medical nexus letter] from the primary care doctor on behalf of the veteran and not make the veteran try to outguess the claims process and or explain to the doctor what they need. At no time during the 9 year process did any DAV rep nor anyone else tell me exactly what I needed to prove my claim aka [medical nexus letter], while this may sound unlikely to you, let me assure you this is the truth, additionally my primary care doctor at the VA has worked there for 26 years and this is the first time he has heard of a [medical nexus letter] being necessary to prove a claim as well, he immediately wrote me one once I informed him what I needed without any hesitation. The claims process need not and should not be neither lengthy nor as confusing as it is, since information is almost nonexistent for veterans from the VA to help with this process, this would eliminate some of the Burdon from the backs of the veterans as well as ease the job for VA. I believe this would be the equivalent to adding an express lane at VA, Please consider this solution to help all veterans from this day forward so maybe, they won’t lose their homes as I did or suffer the financial hardships I have suffered throughout this difficult and very lengthy process and still do because I can no longer work due to my service connected disability, while yet the VA is still in denial and still delays my claim that is on appeal, I should eventually win the appeal now that I finally figured out what they needed on my own through hours and days even weeks and months of research on the internet and have sent it in to them from the VA’s own doctors now 3 different ones say the same thing all in my favor directly service related and not likely to improve. But this should have never, never, never happened not even once let alone countless times to countless veterans we have suffered enough, if a simple master [e file] was in place as I described to you and it was reviewed back in 2003, I am confident this never would have happened. Please consider this suggestion and implement it as soon as possible for the sake of all veterans and thank you for your time and consideration and hopefully compassion on this matter of the utmost urgency. While it is already too late to save my home and my credit rating that took me years to build up, Please don’t let it be too late to help the next veteran in need due to inaction when this could easily be prevented.
    P.S. I wrote to all Missouri reps and asked for help before I lost my home, to no avail both republican and democrat alike so to all veterans I say unless this change is made at VA nothing will be done on our behalf to correct this obvious problem. While their office will send out a standard inquiry form, that is all they will do, they won’t pick up a phone on your behalf and inquire about you themselves personally and until they do what good have they done.

  119. Raymond Gillett    

    First thank you for your service in Vietnam and continued service to our Veterans!

    Thank you for the clear and direct responses to questions.

    1. Evidence of service connected (nexus question).
    2. Evidence I had this while in the service and have been continuous to the present day.
    3. The impact this has on my ability to work and live my daily life.

    This is very frustrating and anxiety creating for me. I just want to give up on the VA. How in the world do I provide evidence of these factors when the doctor says “that medical science has no idea how or why this is happening?”

    These kinds of physical problems are very complex for the medical professionals and for a layman I have no idea what condition I should file for… so my VSO fills out some forms, I sign them, but what if we file for the “wrong” condition? Or don’t even know what to call the condition? Do I have to keep guessing as to what to file? It seems that someone in the VBA process could read the medical reports and know what to file and therefore stop the “going around in circle issues” and decide the claim. By doing this it could clear up a huge backlog of claims because they wouldn’t have to be refilled or appealed.

    The doctors should be required to “check a box” … Either (A) This condition is directly linked to military service. (B) This condition is as likely as not connected to military service. Or (C) This condition is in no way connected to military service.

    It seems that the medical providers don’t really know what causes a lot of conditions and since they are scientist they don’t want to guess but it seems to me that they could certainly circle either A, B or C. The wording of “C” is important because the medical professional would have to state that in their medical opinion that the condition can’t be linked in any fashion to military duty. With this issue clarified many of the “questionable” conditions would be instantly denied. So either the VSO or VBA could decide this claim in under a minute.

    It seems that each issue a Veteran files for should be treated as a separate “claim” rather than being all confused with several issues. So the things that are “rejected” would be done so quickly and avoid the jamming of the system with useless “claims.” I have assumed that VSO’s operate under some kind of ethical guideline that would prevent them from filing any paper work where a doctor has circled the “C” factor in my above illustration but rather tell the Veteran straight up… this condition isn’t connected to your military service. (Period) No re-filing, no waiting 6 months, no appeal.

    Since we don’t have the medical professionals make the clear distinction between A, B, and C we have this problem or tension between the Veteran and the claims processor. When in reality we are both working for the same “team” and want to legally determine the claim.

    Is the condition caused by exposure to environmental, hazardous chemicals and/or radiation exposure?

    I don’t know all of the “exposures” while in Iraq… there is talk of “burn pits” etc but there was garbage burning in every company, BN, Bde TOC areas in addition to the “burn pits.” (Plastic bottles, etc.) Let alone the continuous smoldering garbage heaps of the Iraqi people. It seems that we get hung up on some “wild goose” issue such as “burn pits” or “depleted uranium” when the issue is veterans have been exposed to all kinds of harmful elements, chemicals, bombs, rockets, bullets, IED’s, smoldering garbage, and carcinogens as well as many other kinds of issues. I think any Veteran that was in Iraq would verify what I have stated above. This should be a non-issue; rather it should be a simple “check box” for the VBA.

    Why not settle the issue with the Veteran and allow the scientist to figure out what happened. It really makes a Veteran feel like they are expendable and merely being patronized.

    Below are some of my personal details:
    When I returned from Iraq Sep 2005 I followed the advice of having a complete physical by the VA. One of the conditions I was concerned about was a difficulty swallowing. The VA had me do some kind of breathing test and it came out okay. But I still had difficulty swallowing but I shrugged it off and drove on. I continued to see the VA medical doctors for treatment of different issues and sometimes mentioned my difficulty swallowing. Finally after 4 years of saying this I met a speech therapist that suggested that I have a swallow study performed. Not being in the medical field I have no idea what the different test are or mean. At the test she discovered that indeed I had a swallowing problem… I was glad that she was able to confirm this and took serious my problem. Several other tests were performed and they determined that one of the issues was a lump in my Thyroid gland but they didn’t think this was the swallowing problem. The VA removed part of my Thyroid gland and found some kind of cancer in the gland but as a result of the surgery I was completely unable to speak. For over two months of struggling to regain some kind of speaking ability the speech therapist was able to help me regain most of my voice but I continue to have a partially paralyzed vocal cord and continued swallowing problems. The story goes on and on but now they have said that a muscle in my esophagus is remaining closed instead of opening as it should and it is caused by some nerve that isn’t working correctly and the doctor says they don’t know what causes this but they can attempt to treat the symptoms.

    Sincerely,
    Raymond Gillett

    Of Kansas but all hazardous exposure “claims” are handled in some other state. My “claim” has to go through the Oklahoma office.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Ray,

      Have you told the Wichita Office of this new development? I’m taking a chance here because I haven’t seen your records but it sounds like, if this has occurred over a 4 year period since separation that you have an evidence trail here that may be persuasive. Please reopen your claim and get with your representative.

      Regarding your understanding that all exposure claims are handled in another state, that isn’t true. We “broker” cases to other states if your particular office needs assistance. We are also working Agent Orange cases that had previously been denied in 13 locations. The only “environmental claim” that for sure is handled in only one office are those cases from veterans who particpated in atmospheric nuclear testing (those are handled in Jackson Mississippi) and those involving contaminated water at Camp LeJeune (those are handled in Louisville, Ky).

      Finally, I know it is frustrating but I disagree that “doctors should be required to check a box.” The simple fact of the fact is that medicine is a science and an art. There are contributing factors to disease that they don’t know about and that are only learned through research. It is the state of the science, in which thousands of folks are working very hard, that produces medical knowledge. In the most simple example, Doctors in the Civil War didn’t always know the importance of sterilization of instruments and that dirty hands and dirty instruments produced bad outcomes. No one would ever question that now. A more recent example is that it was only in the last 2 years that the medical research – generated by studying folks exposed to dioxins – produced evidence that ischemic heart disease can be caused by that exposure. When that became known, Secretary Shinseki created a presumption. So it isn’t a perfect world. We are responsible for managing the program and the dollars intrusted to us to insure that those who are entitled are paid. When the evidence isn’t there, we must say no. When the evidence is there, we will say yes.

      1. Raymond Gillett    

        Again thank you for your clear response.
        My question was a bit flippant speaking from my frustration and thank you for seeing the serious side of my question. I clearly understand that the medical doctors and other scientist are working to figure out the medical questions.
        In reply, I would like to know how many Veterans from the Kansas Regional office in this past year were added to the Gulf War Registry. (Really I’d like to know how many from each regional office) How does a Veteran know if they are included in the registry? I thought I was… I checked with my primary care team, they didn’t know, I checked with the regional office, and they didn’t know, I went to the people listed as the coordinators and clinical team for the registry and discovered that only one person has the authorization to look and see if someone is on the registry. That’s how I found out that I hadn’t been screened for this registry. I filled out a form requesting to be screened. The priority for the compensation and pension examiners is on those who have filed claims and they will get to the registry as they are able. (The C&P team is working very hard to meet all the deadlines and is highly committed to serving the Veterans.) My concern is that many Veterans don’t know that they have to request to be screened and to fill out a form to be considered for the registry.
        Is there a link between the Veterans medical treatment records and the registry? Or a link from the Veterans service connected conditions and the registry?
        Today I read the WRIISC (War related Illness and Injury Study Center) Dec 2010 newsletter called the Advantage. In this VA publication they use the term Gulf War I, and refer to research that has been done for the Gulf War Illness issues but latter it refers to Gulf War as having started in the 1990 and continuing onto the present time.
        In the publication it states that they have examined 450 Gulf War I Veterans. This seems like a small sampling of those with these major issues. And that from 2001 until Dec 2010 that 2,500 Veterans have been examined… I know that this isn’t all of those that are in the registry… does a Veteran have to find this research and show the examiners and raters these facts? The connection seems to be very clearly evidenced by the VA’s research teams already. The publication and “Study Center’s” are from the VHA. Do the raters take this kind of information into account or does the VBA have to wait until the Secretary of the VA determines there to be a connection? And really doesn’t the Secretary make the recommendation to congress and they hold hearings and discuss these things thoroughly? So is it science or politics? Are the decisions based upon the scientific evidence as in your Civil War illustration or is it politics?
        For example, on page 9 and 10 Dr. Mian Li, MD, PHD Neurologist from the D.C. WRIISC is pictured with the text saying, “Besides unexplained pain caused by Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, other autonomic disorders may manifest as unexplained irritable bowel syndrome, some types of chronic fatigue syndrome, ill-defined dizziness and/or fainting spells, and poorly-controlled or early stage reactive airway disease/heart disease/diabetes, among others. The autonomic testing available in the Autonomic Function Testing Program at the DC WRIISC may establish the diagnosis and guide treatments for a diverse spectrum of autonomic disorders.”
        If those who should be added aren’t then are we providing good data to the researchers, the Secretary, the Congress, the American people about how many cases of IBS or some other issue is occurring among the Gulf War II population? I became intensely interested in this research due to my personal connection with cancer in the thyroid gland.

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          The gulf war registry is a program administered by the Veterans health administration. You can submit a freedom of information act request to

          Department of Veterans Affairs
          Environmental Health
          810 Vermont Avenue N.W.
          Washington D.C. 20420

  120. DL Jones    

    Mr Pamperin,
    I retired in Jun 10 and have since received back my decisions from the VA.I’m in the process of appealing some decisions because I believe them to be inaccurate and am gathering new medical evidence to prove it. My question is should I re-submit all of the new evidence together or one by one as I gain the update information from my doctors. For example, my carpal tunnel, back problems and PFB were denied. I have MRIs and updated dr reports that will state my current conditions with my back are more than a mere lumbar strain. I actually have to have cortisone shots to relieve pain in my lower back. I dont want to necessarily wait and submit them all at once becuase it takes time to make appts and get updated results when I can submit them as I go and have the VA actively working on my case. What do you think I shoud do in this process? Should I submit the updated dr reports and documentation as I go until I have all my claims re-submitted? thank you so much for your article and info on the process. It is invaluable information.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      There are 2 right answers to your question DL. In the ideal world – and even if this isn’t – I still recommend that you submit the medical evidence as you get it. If you haven’t appealed yet you need to do that because your 1-year appeal period expires 12 months from the date of our letter to you. The alternative is to do as you suggest and submit it all at once. In either event keep copies of what you submit and preferrably submit them through your service organization. In a perfect world we would rate each condition that we receive additional information on as we get it if we can pay. But here are two realistic factors to consider. First, we have received an unprecedented number of claims so some decision makers might review the record and say I am going to rate this once and waite till all your evidence is in. Just as importantly, if the evidence you submit doesn’t change the decision either on the grant of service connection or the evaluation, we prefer not to prepare ratings “just to deny.” Rather if we have to deny all claims so be it but if there are some we can grant we would rather deal with the whole issue at once.

  121. charles strasshofer    

    I find it unbelieveable that a VA office does not have a public phone number. The Appeals Management Center is impossible to contact. I’ve written,faxed, tried to call, and no response. 1-800 tells me the same things , they are working on it. My claim from 2003, not done yet, the AMC has had it since 12-14-2009, this tactic of delay,delay,delay, hope they die just might work in my case.I’ve was patient as the BVA had my claim for many years,but now my high school children will be finanicial suspended from school,how do I explain that to them? or explain why dad left us because of the VA.thanks and good bye cruel world.

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          The Appeals Management Center is researching now.

        2. charles strasshofer    

          MY REPLY ENDED UP DOWN FARTHER ON THIS PAGE

  122. richard bertoli    

    I have 2 claims relating to intestinal wounds received from mortar rounds and the denial for additional benefits made erroneous statements. How do I request a copy of the examiners report??

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      There are 2 ways you can get those reports. First, if you have a service organization it is easiest to ask them to get the file and copy the reports. If you do not have a representative you can file a request under “The Privacy Act.” In that request explicitly say what you want such as all examination reports associated with my claim or the exam report of Dr. Jones, etc.

  123. Charles Walters    

    Mr. Pamperin:

    Even though you did not respond to my reply concerning the Nashville RO losing my brother’s Statement of Claim and not responding to Senator Alexander’s staffer query concerning same, I must state that it is most appreciated by we veterans of the time that you have taken to respond to many of the veterans on this blog.

    The VBA does not respond to letters unless it is via a Congressional Legislative assistant or to deny or approve claims. After viewing the blog on the backlog of paper records at the Nashville office, I can understand why this is so, but still no excuse. Hopefully the electronic files will be better, but I seriously doubt it since each of the documents that are stacked on a raters desk in the photo will now be the same size stack except it will be electronic. It clears the paper, but the rater will still have to trudge through the electronic documents which is more difficult unless the rater has two or more screens to assist them. Additionally, the paper files increase in size because we veterans do not get answers to our correspondence resulting in we sending multiple followups via our VSOs.

    Perhaps the VA can initiate an electronic followup postcard that tells the vet that correspondence was received and would be included in their claim file. It would also be helpful for an estimate of when a claim should be reviewed by the rater to further let us know that it has not been lost or shredded by accident. Silence to the vet is probably the biggest enemy of the VBA resulting in more paperwork and frustration on our part.

    That said, you are an exception to how the VA interrelates with the vets because of this blog. I can forsee though when the number of people interface with this blog that you will be so overwhelmed that it will become a black hole unless you have a couple of trusted agents in your office who can respond on your behalf with the promises of action that you have indicated to many vets.

    Best wishes and try and open the VBA door a little wider to veterans who are both frustrated and demoralized. The men and women at the ROs are extremely helpful but they only touch a handfull of vets because others cannot physically go to an RO due to distance or ailment.

    Charles Walters, USMC-Retired

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Mr. Walters,

      I did inquire as to your brother’s case and I believe that Nashville is responding. We are moving to an electronic file and we hope to be fully there by the end of 2012. In the meantime, a veteran can go on VA’s ebenefits portal to check the status of their claim.

  124. Thomas J Dittmar    

    Mr. Pamperin
    I am a Gulf War Veteran who recently re-opened a Gulf war fatigue claim. The original claim was filed in the early 90’s and was deferred May 30, 1997 by the Seattle VARO. The May 30, 1997 letter stated “We have deferred your claim concerning fatigue syndrome pending further development and instructions on evaluating Persian Gulf undiagnosed illness.” The deferrment letter was the last communication I received from the Seattle VARO.

    March of 2010 I refiled the fatigue claim, IBS, skin rash swelling and upper resperatory issues. The last contact I had from Seattle VARO was October 2010 when they stated I would be contacted by the nearest VA Medical Facility for medical evaluation. Well I don’t want the new claim to fall by the wayside like the original one did. MY VFW rep stated that all gulf war claims have been held up due to the Vietnam agent orange claims. The VA 1800 number is no help they state my claim is awaiting medical results and I have not been scheduled for any medical exams. Can you please find out the status of my claim. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Tom,

      While significant resources have been developed to the nearly 200,000 agent orange claims we have received, that in no way means that “all gulf war claims have been held up.” I have referred your inquiry to Seattle.

      1. Mark Chamberlain    

        Mr. Dittmar;
        I too am a Gulf War veteran and have the same problems. Have got the same run around with plenty of medical evidence, and no C & P exam. I do not know but if you are filling a claim you should go to http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=a5a77e8f34f37b3d3a42d66a60ae3a62&rgn=div5&view=text&node=38:1.0.1.1.5&idno=38#38:1.0.1.1.5.2.109.62 this web site deals with the E-Codes for conditions that you can use when filling a claim. Also look at http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode38/usc_sec_38_00001117—-000-.html for the U.S. code 3.117.

      2. Emmett Bryant    

        I have had my appeal pending since early 2008 I am a Gulf War vet got sick in the desert after we blew up the munitions got a letter from the DOD stating i was there in the area of contamination have the medical records to prove it and filed my claims with the VA in mid 1990s Its been a constant fight ever since. I moved from Denver to California because i was told that if i move my files to LA that it would put my appeal even further back. I use the DAV in Denver but feel that my rep isn’t interested in helping at all I have Ebenefits and it shows my appeals pending at the first stage of seven stages and it says that my file is still in Denver I ask for my DAV rep if he could go upstairs and inquire for me and he says there isn’t anything he can do! Is it really that hard for the DAV to look for something in the same building? Its bad enough that they are closed for training every Wednesday and most times you cant get a call thru. I called almost two weeks ago to speak with my rep and was told he just went to his desk with another vet and that he would call me back either later that day or the next. Any help that I can get would sure be appreciated

  125. Mike    

    First and foremost I would like to thank all VBA and VHA employees for their service to our nation and veterans. I have several questions and suggestions for the claims process. This could help improve the disability claims process time meet the goal of the Secretary by the 2015 time frame.
    First it is my understanding that it is current VBA practice to pass around the infamous C-FILE. Yes even sending it to VHA / VAMC centers for review during the C&P process. Since veterans only have one C-FILE why would this be done? Below are examples that can lead to delayed claim adjudication.
    EXAMPLE 1 A veteran has a DRO appeal pending dated 3-2010 PTSD. The following month the Veteran puts a new claim in for an increase in current service connected headaches. The team that is working the appeal cannot work it because claims folder is now at the medical center and not at the RO because the team has ordered a C&P exam for the headaches.
    In the mean time over the next several months the veteran has to have surgery for a service connected condition which under current CFR they are eligible and meet the legal requirement for hospitalization or convalesce but this is not the contentions of the DRO appeal or the new claim for increase in service connection (headaches) and veteran is eligible for a temporary 100% rating for this condition.
    It is my understanding the so much weight is put on the claims folder being with that specific team VHA examiner, DRO, and Rater…..Etc. That until the C-file moves from one place to the other then who ever has it the others must wait. All the veterans’ medical treatment records whom have all their care at a VAMC are easily accessible by the RO through it ability to access VHA computer system via CAPRI correct?
    Consider not only does VBA and VHA risk losing or mixing claim folder information it also is causing long delays in the claims process. Yes the example above is complicated but veterans medical conditions are often complicated and unpredictable.
    The solution that will allow multiple VA personal to view the C-file is to scan it into VISTA or a system that can communicate with VHA and VBA. That way everyone can see the C-File at the same time just like we can view content on the internet from many areas and locations.
    So how can millions of documents currently at the RO’s can be scanned into this system? First technology, upgrade the scanners and add more. Create a record department that’s its job is to make this happen. Have a team go to VHA record departments see how they have transformed their near paperless system learn from your sister agency. Off coarse you will need people and lots of them this is one way to lower the unemployment rate. We have so many bright minds in this country I think this could be accomplished by the end of this year if someone in VBA spearheads this digitalization.
    If budgets constraints do not allow for new hires/ background checks…Etc. Ask for volunteers provide them transportation or gas vouchers and meal vouchers this could be done on Saturdays or training days so not to interfere with the normal claim adjudication process.Until VBA can implement this department I would start asking for volunteers at the VHA most employees already have background checks and I am sure there are many veterans who will be willing to help other veterans. Digitizing the claims folder must happen if the DVA is to transform and meet the claim load and needs of the veterans of the past, present, and future. Pilot this at one VA RO to work out the kinks for several months then transform every RO to do this as a matter of SOP.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Mike,

      Thanks for your comments. We are moving to a paperless environment for disability claims processing. Such a process already exists in our Loan, education and insurance product lines. Currently all non-service connected disability and survivor pension beneficiaries have electronic claims files and all veterans who go through the benefits delivery at discharge program have paperless files. We did our first two cases in the new Veterans Benefits Management System this past Tuesday at one regional office. Our goal is to get to paperless in 2012. There are a lot of links that have to be created. VISTA, the most comprehensive integrated electronic medical record anywhere has taken years of development.

  126. mike flythe    

    Mr. Pamperin,
    I retired on 31 AUG 10. I completed my VA appointments for BDD in MAY 10 and submitted my DD-214 in AUG 10. My offical claim date is 1 SEP 10 10. I have received two delay letters since Nov 10. I check eBenefits regularly and it indicates my claim is still in the decision phase. It has been in that phase since 1 DEC 10.
    I was told that with the BDD process, I would receive a decision letter no later than 120 days after my retirement date. I retired from Ft Sam Houston and my claim is with the Houston Regional Office. Thank you for time.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Mike,
      Hum. You went through BDD and think you file is at the Houston Regional Office? Normally BDD claims are consolidatd at the Winston Salem and Salt Lake Regional Offices. Let me check.

      1. mike flythe    

        Mr. Pamperin,

        Thank you for your assistance with this matter.

        v/r,
        Mike Flythe

      2. mike flythe    

        Mr. Pamperin,

        My claim closed on 27 JAN 11 and I should be receiving a rating letter within 7-10 days. Thank you again for your assistance and your continuing service to our nation’s Veterans.

  127. charles strasshofer    

    WOW,the AMC called me noon today. That must have been your doing. But,, as she started to explain my decision and said 10% for my left knee, I asked how that could be as there is a knee replacement in that knee? as i hear her flipping papers she says yes yoyr right, let me call you back this afternoon. How in the world does the AMC spend 13-14 months with my file and not rate a knee replacement right? and I have both knees with replacements, and proof in the file that the right implant is loose. How does anyone work a job with a loose knee implant, the doctor says my best hope is to be able to put off a knee implant revision as long as possible, and at the age of 49, my right leg has a chance of being cut off, as you can only have so many knee replacements done in a lifetime, and if they missed my left knee replacement in my file that doesn’t bode well for the rest of my claim decision. Since 2003 I’ve had 6 knee surgeries, how could anyone hold a job through that? or work with a loose implant, and all the rehab time from the surgries, it is so dissappointing that it seems they have it so wrong, but i feel good at least someone with knowledge of my claim is talking to me. thanks for your help and have a nice day.

    1. charles strasshofer    

      WOW AGAIN, AMC CALLED BACK AND THEY WILL FINISH TOMMORROW, I’M IN SHOCK. I can’t say thanks enough

  128. Kim Stryker    

    Mr.Pamperin,

    I have filed my claim with the VA in May of 2010, I have sent all the the required paperwork and gone to all of the appointments set up by the VA yet here is is the middle of January 2011 and I am still in the 1st phase of my claim. Could you please explain to me how in the heck this is possible? I just don’t get it. I have called the 1800 number several times and all I ever get is an automated message that says the lines are too busy and to call back later or some old lady who doesnt even sound like she wants to be at work much less help me with my claim tell me that there is nothing they can do but wait for my claim to continue to process. I thought my time in Iraq was a lot of BS but it seems that dealing with the VA on my claim is even more BS, and is aggrivating my already messed up head. This process is doing nothing to help with my PTSD if anything it’s making it worse. When will something change? I expect some kind of responce or some kind of action on my claim!

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Kim,

      What regional office are you at? Why is it taking so long. Read the blog. A lot of new people and unprecedented claim volume. 10 years ago were were doing about 500,000 disability claims. This year we expect to get about 1.2 million but only expect to be able to produce 1.1 million. Not an excuse just reality. We are working on a number of issues to increase output, increase information to you and increase your ability to manage much of your own account. In the meantime, folks are working tons of overtime to move the claims.

      1. Kim Stryker    

        I am out of the Reno Office, and I think it’s rediculous they should have known with Two wars going on that they were going to get more claims than ever and they should have planned for that and hired more employees to help with the backlog. I should not have to pay for it because the government didn’t fix the situation before it got out of hand. I shouldn’t expect to have to wait 1-3 years to get a rating for my disabilities this is just unacceptable. And to think I put my life on the line for a country that can’t even take care of me now that I am back home!

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          Hey Kim,

          Totally understand your frustration. The budget process is a complex one that requires the Administration and the Congress to agree on funding levels.

  129. Eric    

    Mr.Pamperin,

    Dependent Claim: I filed a dependent claim in October 2010. A month or so later, the Columbio, SC RO requested additional documents proving divorce of my spouses first marriage. I submitted what they needed and the RO logged it on e-benefits as received on 23 December 2010.

    As you know, it’s now 21 January 2011 and still no change. Why does it take this long for a dependent claim? Once they received the needed documents, why doesn’t the system allow the rep to go to my file and change “single” to “married,” push submit and be done with it?

    I understand medical claims require a process and take time due to the number of claims, etc., but a change in dependent status should be immediate once all supporting documentation is on hand. Any way of making this easier for future vet submissions?

    Thanks,

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Eric,

      I hear you. The short answer is that it shouldn’t. These are pretty straight forward claims. Call you representative and ask them to find the claim and take it to the coach to have it assigned and worked. We are working on enhanced self service where some of these things can be done by you as long as you have everyone’s social security numbers. That is about 12-18 months off though but it is on our list of really really want to dos.

  130. JOANNE GRANT    

    I have been out of the military for awhile not since 1992. I was denied disability but there were things missing in my medical records like physical theraphy and things of that nature. As the years go by my body seems to be on the downhill slope with arthritis and other things. I’ve had a knee surgery, hip replacement surgery among other things. I just want to find out if I should reapply and try again or is it too late.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Joanne,

      You should first get a representative. If things were missing from your medical rcords such as physical theraphy notes those probably were appropriately not in your medical record jacket that travels with you. Did the PT occur in a military hospital or through TRICARE. If it was through TRICARE it is problematic. You could ask the Regional Office to contact TRICARE Managed Care Program (TMP) and ask them to search the M2 database for evidence of care. That database is the one that shows who TRICARE paid with the dates of service and the diagnosis. Doesn’t really show anything else though. If in a military hospital you should asked that the records from that hospital on you for the period in question be requested. That can take a while to get. But ultimately were you fine when you left the service? Get with your representative and your VA claims file and see what we have and what might be missing to inform your claim, if you decide to file a claim. As i said in my blog the longer you wait the more problematic the chances are but it may be worth a shot.

    2. Mark Chamberlain    

      My tips for filling a claim from what I have seen;
      1. Get all medical records. For whatever you been treated for from the time you where in the service, whether NG, active, or reserves to include civilian doctors. Also get your service records, you will need these later.
      2. While waiting on you medical records look at Title 38 CFR part 4 and 3. This is where you will pick out the condition that you are filing for; it will look something like this. 6309 Rheumatic fever: As active disease 100%. Thereafter rate residuals such as heart damage under the appropriate system
      3. Now go to the Department of Veterans Affairs web site and in search type BVA once there look for Board of Veterans’ Appeals. In this search area you can type in the condition and search for cases that are related to your problem and this will give you insight to what you may need for your claim.
      4. Now that you have all this info go to your full time doctor and show them how you think this condition relates to your current condition, and show them the medical evidence. If they think it is make sure they put in your records that after reviewing your medical records that they put the statement in that more than likely than not this condition is related to your current condition.
      5. The VA will also do a background check and check all your medical records for drug and alcohol arrest or treatment. Tell the doctors up front whether you had been treated for these problems so you can dispel any link to your condition.
      6. If you have not been seen by the VA for your condition you may want to make an appointment have them start doing testing. This is another reason they will use to deny a claim, not using the VA.
      7. Once you have all this info go see a VSO. Ask around or check with other veterans. You can also file yourself but be ready to be jerked around. They have a tendency to try to put you off because they think you will give up.
      8. Also if you are filling a war related presumptive claim send any buddy statements and relative statements in at this time for your claim.
      9. Also check the above info from Mr. Pamperin. Put it all together and you should have a good change at a claim.
      10. As I have been told by other veterans and VSO that if you have your Congressperson contact them about your claim they seem to misplace your paper work a lot.

  131. Patrick F.    

    Tom, have you been able to find out anyting about my case?
    You may email me if you need any further information.
    Thanks

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Pat,

      Based on new evidence in your file, the Baltimore regional office has ordered an exam for you at the Washington Medical Center this past Friday. You should be hearing from the medical center this week as to the time of your exam.

      1. Patrick F.    

        Thank you Tom. Why the such the long delay at Baltimore?

        1. Tom Pamperin    

          There are a lot of reasons. Lots of new staff and lots of changes in leadership mostly.

  132. Steven B.    

    Here is a good example on how screwed up the Denver VARO is..

    Hey, Tom when will you fix things like this????

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/torrey-shannon/veterans-foreclosure-crisis_b_811365.html

    “In one case, the VA disability file of a Fort Carson soldier sat untouched for six months. This file contained a form that stated his rating should be expedited because of his hardship. Even so, nothing had even been started on his file for six entire months. “

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Steve,

      Its a large system and things don’t always work the way designed or should. Do you have a specific issue with your claim?

      1. Steven B.    

        My specific issues are that the Denver VARO keeps denying claims with amble evidence to support service connection.

        In my claims folders permanent file currently with a VLJ in D.C., and temporary claims folder with the Denver VARO.

        Even with a C&P Exam and private medical to support my claims for multiple conditions secondary to a service connected condition both the Denver VARO and the AMC in D.C. keep denying them hence forcing unnecessary appeals.

        I currently have 4 appeals heading to the board as a result.

        1) AMC makes an errors on a rating decision implementing a BVA decision on October 9, 2009 granting one condition bilateral pes planus and assigning a 0% which should have been rated 50%. And only through a letter to the Chairman of the Board the AMC did raise the 0% to 10%, but this rating still isn’t reflective of the severity of my disability. Hopefully the Board correct this flaw.

        2) The board remanded 4 conditions to be developed further on February 12, 2010 I went to a C&P Exam at the Denver VAMC. In the Exam provides a nexus of my secondary leg conditions to my service connected condition. AMC denys all conditions and fails to submit the TDIU claim to the Director of Comp. per remand order. Hence the remand is in front of the board again.

        3) Loss of Use of feet, and lower extremities with SMC. Denver VARO denys this even with enough evidence to support claims. NOD filed and waiting for them to either deny or grant in appeal status locally or to sent me a SSOC with VA form 9.

        4) Clothing Allowance claim which I filed at the Denver VAMC was granted in 2009 and 2010. A Ms. Thacker, Chief of Prosthetic, pulls the 2010 grant saying my condition doesn’t meet the law and blames her employees for making an error in the grant. Again records supports the claim. Hopefully the board restores grant.

        All in all I have been fighting the VA since March 2006 through one Congresional, letters to the VA Secretary’s office, and to the board itself.

        My contentions here is simple the VA doesn’t proceed as you say and the VAROs seem to be disconnected from Washington.

        Denying valid claims with EVIDENCE shouldn’t be denied for the hell of it in my opinion.

        It seems my email address is part of this message. If you care to respond feel free to do so… Will be waiting.

        1. Steven B.    

          Hello?!?!

          Are you still with me here???

  133. richard kent    

    I filed a claim for PTSD back in 2001 and was denied for I could not prove a stresser.I appealed it with the VA office here where I live and for some reason they said that I never did appeal. The VA Office did it for me and I was told I never Appealed. I was talking to the same person that did the appeal for me. Guess they just did not do anything with it. Now that I (back a few years) started getting the VVA ( Veterans Voice) and the Vet.Mag. which I found they had a Vet. locator, I got in there and finally some guys that was in the unit I was in and wrote me letters and E-Mail so I could prove a stresser, I am now appealing again. I do not think as good as I once did and filled out as much as I could on the paperwork the VA gave me.I was fillig it out and noticed they it said to send it in ,in 30 days. I am 5 days over that date and thought the lady at the VA said I could carry my papers down. I have to be there 1/28/2011, and it took a while to get Doctor Records and some letters from guys that was there and are helping me. Am I srewed now with me taking the records with me?

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Richard,

      Sorry I am late in responding but I am on travel status attending a meeting in Phoenix. I have a couple of questions for you. When you say that the “VA Office did it for me..” what exactly do you mean. Did you go into the public contact office in the St. Pete regional office or did you go to a service organization at the regional office or did you work through your county veteran services officer. The latter two do not constitute an appeal until we actually receive the documentation. Do you have evidence that you timely appealed (i.e. name of the employee you talked to, copy of the appeal, record of the appointment or anything like that? That would be helpful.

      When you say “am I screwed up now for taking the records with me?” I need more information. First some basic principles. Although our letter asked that you submit the requested evidence within 30 days or we will proceed to decide, you actually have one year from the date of the letter that said 30 days to get the evidence in and protect your filing date.

      You say you have buddy statements. Those are good. You should submit them but keep copies.

      You say you don’t think as well as you use to. All the more reason that you should get with Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars or some other office that has offices at the regional office and appoint a representative to help you with your claim.

      Have you been scheduled for an exam? You should know that the evidentiary requirements for PTSD changed in 2010. The requirement is that you be diagnosed with PTSD by a military, VA or VA contract physcian who explains the basis of the diagnosis and as long as the stressor is consistent with the circumstances of your service, you should be ok unless there is something else in you file.

  134. Jeffrey Nickerson    

    Tom, I utilized the BDD program 2 May 2010, 179 days prior to retirement. I completed all that was requested, and have been in phase 2 of 4 phases for 72 days now. The advertisement is an average time of 16-27 days in phase 2 and I’ve almost tripled that time. I called a couple of times and was provided two different answers. The first was “do you know how many veterans there are?” The second call they told me they had just received my DD-214 on 20 December 2010. I explained that I had mailed my DD-214 on 1 NOV 2010, and it was signed for as being received on 4 NOV 2010. The answer was to just be patient with the process. I’m confused with the process and the advertisement of the BDD program. Please help me understand! Thanks for your prior service and the time you take to answer questions.

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      At what installation did you go through BDD? Be glad to check for you.

      1. Jeffrey Nickerson    

        Tom, I went through BDD at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. Thanks for looking in to this for me.

    2. Jeffrey Nickerson    

      Tom, I went through BDD at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. Thank you for checking on it for me. I really appreciate your efforts.

    3. Jeffrey Nickerson    

      Tom, I went through BDD at NAS Jacksonville, FL. Thank you for checking on this for me. I really appreciate your efforts.

  135. Lois    

    Mr. Pamperin

    Is there an email address that I can get in contact with you, or is this the only forum that you communicate directly with Veterans?

    I am not a veteran, just a computer literate individual assisting veterans with submitting their claims. Some of the Veterans have VSO support and others who have just initiated their claims do not.

    I have a Veteran that does not want you to take any specific action on his clsim, for fear that it will cause a major delay in processing. The Vet does have a VSO, however, he gets very limited support.

    He would like you to hava a disinterested individual that is familiar with the VA claims process to take a look through his particular claim folder and afterwards provide you a candid report of the facts found.

    He is hoping that the review of his case will alert VA to specific errors that could be addressed VA wide and help the claims of future veterans not be handled in the same way.

    The veteran understands that no matter what he says or who he complains to, the leagal appeallant process must take its course.

    Thank you very much!

    Lois

    1. Tom Pamperin    

      Lois,

      Are you a registered agent with VA? I’m really not sure how to answer. The veteran has appointed his representative. It would be inappropr