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.

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684 Comments to “Some Tips for Filing a VA Disability Claim”

  1. Wayne Bufford says:

    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!!

    • Berta Simmons says:

      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!!!!!

      • Dylan Finsand says:

        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

    • Thomas J Dittmar says:

      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

      • SCOTT PRATER says:

        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

      • Dylan Finsand says:

        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.

      • Bekki says:

        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.

        • Miguel Cucue says:

          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.

          • Carmen Tellez says:

            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.

        • Romy A. says:

          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.

        • Halrow says:

          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.

    • John says:

      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.

    • Laura says:

      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

      • Melissa says:

        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.

    • joseph roe says:

      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.

      • Aledia Jones White says:

        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.

    • Judith says:

      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.

      • Shanna says:

        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!

    • Nancy Moore says:

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

    • Frank says:

      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.

      • David Davis says:

        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

    • D ball says:

      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.

      • David Davis says:

        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.

    • Jim Pat Rakkasan says:

      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 says:

    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

    • Denise says:

      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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • 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.

        • Dylan Finsand says:

          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

      • jesse moreno says:

        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

        • Tom Pamperin says:

          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.

          • Wendell Pruitt says:

            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.

          • Ovez Japanwalla says:

            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.

      • Flo says:

        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.

        • Tom Pamperin says:

          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.

          • David Davis says:

            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.

        • Antonier says:

          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.

      • SCOTT PRATER says:

        ,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?

        • Dylan Finsand says:

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

        • Ann says:

          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.

      • Jeanette says:

        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.

      • Jeanette N. says:

        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

    • Mike says:

      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.

      • Rod Ballard says:

        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.

      • Rich says:

        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).

      • TomA says:

        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.

        • Dana whitten says:

          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?

      • William Roberson says:

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

      • Dylan Finsand says:

        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.

      • Greg M says:

        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.

      • Mary Ellen says:

        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

      • Carol says:

        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.

      • Gary L. Guy says:

        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.

      • Kory says:

        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.

        • John says:

          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.

      • Patrick Williams says:

        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?

      • Shelly says:

        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.

      • Josh says:

        This guy’s obviously a troll….

        Josh
        20 yrs active duty, Retired USCG

      • Kate says:

        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!

      • David Davis says:

        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

      • Ovez Japanwalla says:

        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.

    • James Farley says:

      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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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

    • poppa paulie says:

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

    • Dylan Finsand says:

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

  6. Edwin Allert says:

    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!!!!

    • Robin says:

      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 says:

    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.

    • Betty Maupin says:

      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

    • Tim Sorrell says:

      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?

      • Mike says:

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

      • Gene A. Miller says:

        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”!

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

        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.

      • Americal196 says:

        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!

      • Charlie Johnson says:

        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

    • Dylan Finsand says:

      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 says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Thanks Pam,

      Just forwarded to the appropriate people.

      • Pam Jennings says:

        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.

        • Tom Pamperin says:

          Pam,

          Can you tell me what base you retired from?

        • Pam Jennings says:

          NNMC Bethesda, Bethesda, MD.

        • Tom Pamperin says:

          Let me refer this and see what is going on.

        • Pam Jennings says:

          Mr. Pamperin,

          Thank you for listening and thank you for your action!

        • Pam Jennings says:

          Mr. Pamperin,

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

        • Mary Greer says:

          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 says:

    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?

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Mike,

      I will forward your inquiry to the Board.

      • Beth, BVA Attorney says:

        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

        • Russell Felter says:

          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

        • Dylan Finsand says:

          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

        • Tony says:

          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 says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

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

    • Dylan Finsand says:

      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 says:

    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?

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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 says:

    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 says:

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

    • lefty frizzell says:

      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 says:

    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!***

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Ms Lacher,

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

  15. 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. 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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

    • Jaime says:

      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.

      • Cheryl says:

        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.

      • Aaron K. says:

        “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 says:

    “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”)

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • Diane says:

        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?

        • Tom Pamperin says:

          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.

      • Monica Morton says:

        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 says:

    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!!

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      James,

      what state do you live in?

      • James Midgett says:

        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

  19. James Midgett says:

    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 says:

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

  21. Karen says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • 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 says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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 says:

    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 says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • brenda hayes says:

        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

    • lisa san miguel says:

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

  27. Van says:

    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.

    • 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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • Van says:

        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.

        • Tom Pamperin says:

          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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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%)

    • brenda hayes says:

      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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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!

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • Lawrence says:

        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. John Smith says:

    This was in error

  39. David Hudson says:

    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.

  40. Barbara says:

    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???

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Do you have a representative?

      • Diane says:

        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?

        • Barbara says:

          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”.

  41. John Howard says:

    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?

    • Vinnie says:

      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.

  42. 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

  43. janie leroy says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

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

  44. Maurice Wyman Scott says:

    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.

  45. Mike says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • Lyne H says:

        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.

  46. David J. Hudson says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      What is your regional office

    • James Midgett says:

      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.

  47. gordon mack says:

    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.

  48. Jacqueline V. Cornish says:

    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.

  49. Michael P Slocum says:

    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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  50. Danniel says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • Danniel says:

        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.

  51. Neal Ports says:

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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  52. Thomas Holloway says:

    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

  53. Dillon says:

    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….

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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?

  54. Frank says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • Frank says:

        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.

        • Frank says:

          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.

        • Frank says:

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

  55. Robert says:

    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!

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  56. Linda Perry says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  57. Melvin Williams says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Mr. Williams,

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

      • Melvin Williams says:

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

      • Melvin Williams says:

        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.

  58. Juan Hernandez says:

    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.

  59. james roberts says:

    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?

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Jim,

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

  60. Beth Grantham says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  61. Robert Troemel says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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

  62. RAYMOND says:

    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?

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Raymond,

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

  63. Annetta Dryer says:

    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?

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Ms Dryer,

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

  64. Lawrence (Larry) E. Klemesrud says:

    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

  65. 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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • 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.

    • brenda hayes says:

      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

  66. Sean Williams says:

    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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

    • brenda hayes says:

      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

  67. Mike says:

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

  68. Craig A. Nystrom Jr. says:

    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.

    • David J. Hudson says:

      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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Mr Nystrom,

      What regional office are you dealing with?

  69. Ron says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

    • Ron says:

      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

  70. Steven Moore says:

    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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • Steven Moore says:

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

      • Steven Moore says:

        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

    • marine says:

      i got mine it took 7 mos

  71. Ricardo Cavazos says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

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

      • Ricardo Cavazos says:

        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.

        • Ricardo Cavazos says:

          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

        • ricardo cavazos says:

          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.

  72. Robert Troemel says:

    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…

  73. James Midgett says:

    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

    • James Midgett says:

      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).

  74. SAC says:

    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.

  75. Jon says:

    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.

  76. BayRone says:

    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.

  77. Waiting says:

    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.

    • Monica Morton says:

      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.

  78. marine says:

    combat medais HELP

  79. Thomas J Dittmar says:

    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.

    • Waiting says:

      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.

      • Thomas J Dittmar says:

        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.

  80. judson a locke says:

    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?

    • Tom van Hees says:

      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.

  81. Monica Morton says:

    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…

  82. Tom van Hees says:

    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

    • brenda hayes says:

      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.”

  83. 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]

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

    • Monica Morton says:

      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.

      • 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.

  84. PAUL V SHEPHERD says:

    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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • brenda hayes says:

        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

  85. John J. Jamason says:

    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?

    • Monica Morton says:

      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.

  86. Ray says:

    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.

  87. brenda hayes says:

    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

  88. Van says:

    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.

  89. Ms. Wanda L. Williams. RN, BSN says:

    (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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  90. Steven Moore says:

    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

  91. ricardo cavazos says:

    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!!

    • ricardo cavazos says:

      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

      • Ricardo Cavazos says:

        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

  92. Michael Garee says:

    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

  93. maurice wyman scott says:

    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.

  94. maurice wyman scott says:

    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.

  95. 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

  96. Eric says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • Eric says:

        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

  97. Jerome Mitchell says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

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

      • Jerome Mitchell says:

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

      • maurice wyman scott says:

        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?

  98. Jeffery Coffman says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  99. David J. Hudson says:

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

  100. Carl Lafever says:

    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.

  101. Al Adelung says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  102. Steven B. says:

    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!!!!!!!!!!

  103. 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

  104. 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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • 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………………….

  105. Mike Jones says:

    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?

  106. Bill Morris says:

    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!

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  107. 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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Roger, how do i get in touch with you.

      • 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

  108. Roy McSorley III says:

    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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Roy,

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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • Roy McSorley III says:

        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

        • Tom Pamperin says:

          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

        • Roy McSorley III says:

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

  109. Larry Evans says:

    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

  110. 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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • 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

      • 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

  111. Eric says:

    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.

  112. David Robinson says:

    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.

  113. Walter Ortiz says:

    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?

    • Tom Pamperin says:

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

      • Walter Ortiz says:

        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

  114. Van says:

    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.

    • Rachel says:

      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”

      • Van says:

        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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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

  115. Rachel says:

    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.

  116. Daniel E says:

    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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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

  117. John says:

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

  118. Patrick F. says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

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

      • Lois says:

        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

        • VA Employee says:

          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.

      • 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.

  119. sick and tired says:

    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.

  120. Raymond Gillett says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • Raymond Gillett says:

        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.

        • Tom Pamperin says:

          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

  121. DL Jones says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  122. charles strasshofer says:

    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.

  123. 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??

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  124. 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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  125. Thomas J Dittmar says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • 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.

      • Emmett Bryant says:

        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

  126. Mike says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  127. mike flythe says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • mike flythe says:

        Mr. Pamperin,

        Thank you for your assistance with this matter.

        v/r,
        Mike Flythe

      • mike flythe says:

        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.

  128. charles strasshofer says:

    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.

  129. Kim Stryker says:

    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!

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

      • Kim Stryker says:

        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!

  130. Eric says:

    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,

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  131. JOANNE GRANT says:

    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.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

    • 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.

  132. Patrick F. says:

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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  133. Steven B. says:

    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. “

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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?

      • Steven B. says:

        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.

  134. richard kent says:

    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?

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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.

  135. 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.

  136. Lois says:

    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

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      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 inappropriate for me interfer with that relationship. If he/she is dissatisfied with his representive he can always change it.

      How long has this veteran’s claim been pending and at what regional office? What kind of claim does he have. If you think that there are common threads of errors – not processing delays – that you have identified we would be glad to hear about them. You can write to

      Director, Compensation & Pension Service (21)
      Department of Veterans Affairs
      810 Vermont Avenue N.W.
      Washington, D.C. 20420

      with the information

      • How do you become a registered agent with the VA? And does this give you a special excess to them?

        • Tom Pamperin says:

          You apply to the General Counsel of VA and pass a test. You would only have access to the claims of individuals who chose to have you as a representative.

      • Lois says:

        Mr. Pamperin, Thank you and Secretary Shenseki for establishing this great site for veterans. It really feels good to get feed back from someone in your position.

        Very Respectfully,

        Lois

      • Lois says:

        Mr. Pamperin

        No, I am not a VA registered Agent. I am overseas and voluntarily assists Veterans with completing their claim application and write responses through their VSO(the vets who have one) and to VA when a response is required. Many Veterans feel that their stateside VSO should communicate more with them

        One of this Veteran`s claim has been on and off since 1990 and is now being reviewed in response to a recent NOD submitted 5 months ago. was told by the VSO that it could take at least 7 more months for a decision because of the backlog. This claim really has issues.

        His other claim is 2 years and 5 months old and has been certified to BVA 5 months ago but the claim is still at the local level pending another DRO review based on evidence that was at VA but not considered in the SOC. The veteran is expecting a SSOC, per the VSO.

        The Veteran has your mailing address and will write you if his assertions/contentions and evidence are again ignored in the new DRO decisions for these claims.

        Very Respectfully,

        Lois

  137. Robert Gift says:

    I have been reading some of the comments and I know how some of them feel. I had over 15 years in the military and developed a heart condition which prevented me from being deployed which made me unfit for military service. I was married with 3 small children and then one day I was told my services were no longer need and was released from the military, with no job to go to and a $200.00 a month disability pension. Shortly after leaving the service I had a severe heart attack which was the start of major medical problems. It was discovered at the time of the attack that I also had diabetes and that it should have been detected while on military service becasue it just does not happen overnight. I take 4 injections of insulin a day. Since then I have had bipass surgery, stints put in, pacemaker, defribalator, thyroid disease, and a stroke about 2 years ago which left me blind in one eye(developed glaucoma) and hearing loss. Originally I was rated at 10% then went to 100% for over a year and finally rerated at 30% because it was determined most of this was not service connected. I still cannot figure out how this was determined. I was put on a drug called digoxin which is a short time drug,but I was on it for years before a doctor at the VA was smart enough to tell me that I should have been taken off of it long ago and that it could have caused some of the additional problems I was having. Recently I am at the VA hospital for treatments up to 3 times a week. I have no leave to be able to take, I am in the hole as they say have had numerous laser and eye surgeries to save my eyes but yet have been told that I a out of luck on filing for additional disability compensation. I will even let you have access to my medical records if you would like to review them so you can see for yourself what I have gone through. I have seen so many doctors at the VA in Washington, DC (Because they rotate in and out) and when a new one comes in it is like starting all over again. Now tell me what I can do?

    • Brenda Hayes says:

      Robert,

      It concerns me that you say you were rated at 100% for a year and then the VARO abruptly reduced your benefits. Do you know if this “reduction” was “legal”? Did they give you notice and with what sufficient rationale? Were you sent for another C&P?

      If I were the Under Secretary, I would be wanting to find out what were the facts and if something happened negatively whether it be a doctor(S) (Don’t think the Under Secretary for the VAHBA has shown up yet)or raters; someone would be held accountable. But, again, I reiterate, that is Part of the problem as it seems there is more than enough proof that there is no accountability in the VARO’s and upper management is part of the problem.

      How many IG negative reports needs to be issued before they are taken seriously?

      The VA constantly tell Vets that they need to get a rep. I have to tell you…my husband had something similar happen to him. He was dropped from XX to XX. No notice; no due process; and no notification from his “Service” rep.

      If you’ve read previous posts; you will see where they tell you “..you are the one who cares the most about your claim”. It’s true; either you or your trusted family member. Whether you have a Service Rep involved or not…yoo might end of telling him what he needs to know!

      Please go, ask questions, and learn from other Veterans and family members that have been dealing with these circumstances. As well, there are pro bono attorneys; check out http://www.hadit.com; http://www.veteransbenefits@ezboard.com; http://www.VAWatchdogToday.org

      I am interested to see how the House and Senate Veteran’s/family members Caucus will address these complaints or the Veteran’s Committee; apparently, the Veterans have to use “politics” as well to get ACCOUNTABILITY!

      I also would suggest you do a “running” agenda of your claim. It does sound like you have been “screwed”. This isn’t new; but still not acceptable for you and other Veterans.

      There is help out there; maybe not on this blog board; it is not set up for the type of help that you or others need. It also is not OK to help some; but not others. But it does seem if you “play nice” you might get some help. This is not acceptable as well.

      You and other Veterans have the right to have your claims done in a professional and timely manner; without CUES and illegal reduction of your benefits.

      My Vet and I only learned about such on the various boards I referred you to…I only ask that you also tell other Veterans about this grass roots Veteran/Family members true Advocacy organizations.

      I do have to laugh when I hear the VA is calling themselves Advocates for Veterans…maybe when they get their House in order and that is all 3 of their houses including the HBA, etc.

      These VA problems have been around for a LONG time; it’s not like no one knew about them. The General just arrived a few years ago; but you have to look at the career bureaucrats; they have to have known!!

      Also, as one blogger said, “…you (the VA) knew a War’s been going on for a while; you should have known…” We’re still not dealing with VNVets or Gulf War Vets and we still have what, another 40 years or more with the OEF/OIF Vets. It ain’t anywhere oVer!!

      If your health has been compromised, etc; there are such legal possibilities of what they call a 1151; you sue the Government for malpractice…I know I would be looking at it if they had my Veteran on a short term med and should have been taken off of it! Just unacceptable medicine.

      I bet most of the Vets on SSRI’s don’t know that being on these drugs lead to early cataracts??? I have found that the primary Docs, the eye clinic docs, etc. don’t know about this as well; AND, sound medical advice says your eyes should be protected from UV/UB solar rays with adequate eyewear protection!!

      Another few instances concern A)Our friend, who was on the DMZ in Korea, had his bladder and prostrate removed…the DOD institution in Europe told him…”we screwed up…” They missed it; the lab results were yelling problems; but apparently it was “lost in the shuffle” or just ignored and was not brought to his attention and thus not caught in time–and now he waits for a 5 year clean time to see if they did finally get it in time! b) A Vet who was in my husband’s Vet group…died within just a few months of being notified that he had leukemia! You just don’t get it and die. Make sure you have outside sources go over your records, ESPECIALLY your blood labs results, etc.

      Don’t give up…

      Again, I continue my mantra “….if the VA doesn’t have quality and accountability built into their programs, etc. the Vets can’t count on their rightfully earned benefits–quality and timely healthcare; well trained staff at the VARO’s to professionally and competently, and timely adjudicate Veterans claims as well as having the VA oversee the hallowed grounds of our Veterans burial sites.

      Robert,

      My Best to you and your family and I hope you will have the best quality of life that is possible for however long you are on this earth. I am so sorry you have had to endure what you have. I apologize, as a fellow citizen of the United States of America, because it seems that the Veterans Administration, its upper management, its employees, etc. apparently DON’t apologize as they should!.

      Brenda Hayes
      Vetwife Advocate

      P.S. I went to the White House Webpage and read intensely about how the President is concerned about military families and I do think they mentioned they wanted to know how things were or were not working!! I think they have a blog as well and I encourage all to check it out and voice your concerns, suggestions, and complaints.

      The old saying is “…You can’t fix it if you don’t know about it!” And it goes without saying…you have to be willing to listen and be appreciative if people have taken their time to give you feedback to fix what needs to have been fixed for a long time; a simple thank you is most probably appropriate.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Bob,

      Let me check with the Washington medical center. When did you go through the disability evaluation system and what branch of service was it? Do I understand that you didn’t know you had diabetes until after you separated? Are you on temporary or permanent disability retired pay from the military or did you get severance pay. It may be worth a shot to applied to the board for correction of military records from your service about the diabetes that it should have been unfitting. Or, if you got severance pay and were separated on or after 9-1-2001, their is a Department of Defense Post Disability Review Board (PDRB) at Andrews Air Force Base that will review your separation.

      Is your file at the Baltimore Regional Office or Roanoke?

      If you have a doctor who is saying that digoxin was perscribed by VA but was administered longer than it should have been and that has caused disability, it is possible to file a claim with the regional office for compensation for the other disabilities under 38 USC 1151. You should have a representative on these types of claims because they are complex and can easily fail if the documentation doesn’t meet the standard.

      T

  138. Shawn Devaney says:

    Dear Mr. Pamperin,

    I want to state that I apprciate your committment to our fighting men returning with injuries and your efforts in correcting the current short falls of the current VA claims system. You have a very challenging job going forward and I wish you the best of luck.

    I served in Iraq from 2004-2005. Upon my return I began to have issues – (Chronic Illness). I have gone to VA in Boston and was seen by a lot of diferrent Doctors who conducted a lot of test but none could give me a specific diagnoise, as they stated they could not put my symptoms in a nice little neat box. I was then sent down to The Gulf War Illness Center in Orange, NJ and spent three days with the Doctors down there. The Doctors confirmed that yes I have physical symptoms and an undiagnoise Chronic Illness. The Doctors at the Gulf War Illness Center stated that the illness I have could be caused by many diferrent circumstances during my service in Iraq, (Antrax shot, recieving all my immunizations at once at Pre Mob station, Gas exposure, Uranium exposure, etc.). They stated that it can not be just one issue that has caused my current Chronic Illness but a variety of diferrent things. Since my return my symptoms have been getting worse and new issues have been developing over the years.

    I am now represented by The Wounded Warrior Project and have someone who has helped me put in another claim. I have now completed all Compensation Examinations that the VA requested and each of the Doctors who peformed the
    VA Compensation Exams confirmed that I have PTSD and Gulf War Syndrome. I also have forwarded to the VA Statements of Support forms filled out by various Private Doctors who also state that I have an undiagnoised illness. And finally I have a Statement of Support from Dr. Osinubi, one of the Doctors from the War Related Illness Center who I met with stating that all the symptoms I have lead her to believe that I have Gulf War Illness.

    I have turned in all the required paperwork that the VA required and still there has not been a decision. I have been dealing with the process for years now. My illness has been effecting my job due to missed work days. I would think that with the Statements from the VA Compensation Doctors, Statements of Support from the Private Doctors I have seen and a Statement of Support from Dr. Osinubi from the Gulf War Related Illness center plainly stating that I have Gulf War Syndrome would be pretty clear cut as far as a decision being made in an appropriate timeframe. I have called the Boston Regional VA office many times with no luck in finding out what could be holding up my claim. My Rep from The Wounded Warrior Project has also called and he can not find out what the hold up is.

    Sir, again this process has been going on for years now. This has been a frustrating process and my overall concern is my family. My condition is not getting better but worse. My biggest fear is losing my good paying job due to this illness. I am looking for help. I appreciate your time with this matter ecspecially knowing how busy you are.

    Thank you again for listening.

    Regards,

    Shawn R. Devaney

  139. Gregg F says:

    TOM, Where do I begin? July 2005 filed appeal at RO ( Pittsburgh Pa ). IN that decision, the RO denied a claim for service connection for a ruptured right ear drum with hearing loss. First part of 2010 filed another appeal with VA.Chose option to go to Washington D C VBA AUG 2010. Presented my appeal to the the BVA and the ( FINDING OF FACT) states “Resolving all doubt in the Veteran’s favor,a perforated right ear drum and residuals are related to active military service.” Medical evidence was presented to the BVA at this hearing.Sept 28 2010 ( ORDER ) :
    “service connection for residuals of a perforated right ear drum is granted.” I contacted the RO or so I think I am but keep getting replys like appeal is still waiting on a proposed decision to be made or you are in the final stage of the appeals process or my favorite and most recent 1/21/2011 your file is with a team that reviews all medical evidence and makes a decision reguarding the claim. I thought this was reviewed at the BVA in DC. I can see why there is such a back log of cases. Can you help? Sincerely Gregory P Friedline

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      The BVA only decides the issue before it, in your case, residuals of right ear drum perforation. It then goes back to the RO to determine the evaluation. While this may seem bureaucratic it really is to you benefit. If the Board had assumed jurisdiction of the evaluation (which it couldn’t because that issue wasn’t before them) and assigned an evaluation you would have lost your legal right to a second and final decision of the Secretary on the claim.

      Let me check on the status of your claim. I am on travel status in Phoenix, assuming I can get back to Washington tomorrow with the storm, I can check on Friday.

      • Gregg F says:

        Tom, thank you so much . First honest answer i’ve gotten so far.Waiting for your follow up

        • Gregg F says:

          One more ? I was told by a VA rep @ a call center from Nashville,his name is Todd that HIPERTANSION was added to the list caused by Agent Orange. Is this true? Thanks again for all you do GREGG F

        • Gregg F says:

          Still awaiting your reply to my appeal status.

  140. Alicia says:

    Mr. Pamperin,

    My husband retired in 1999, after serving 20 years (most of them on jump status). During his service to our great country, he was in the first wave of soldiers to hit the ground during H-hour during the Panama Invasion and he served in the Middle East, during Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991.

    Upon returning from the Middle East, he had to have a physical for an upcoming school. The chest x-ray revealed abnormalities and he was sent for an MRI. Subsequently he was referred to a surgeon at WAMC (formerly Womack). The surgeon concluded that something was wrong and scheduled him for a right thoracotomy and a left lung biopsy. Both of these procedures were done, taking a portion of each of his lungs. We have NEVER been given a diagnosis as to the findings! No one seems willing to state that whatever they found, he contracted it while in the Middle East. Absurd? I agree!

    We currently have a claim filed, seeking increased compensation due to complications from service connected disabilities – which have worsened. The RO in Winston-Salem, NC is handling his claim. They have requested a C&P exam at the VA in Fayetteville. This office seems to be over-loaded with the recent changes of trying to effectively process all claims in a timely manner while reducing the distance that the veteran has to travel for an appointment.

    I understand budget restraints, lack of manpower, etc. It just seems as though the government would have a more effective way of reducing the amount of time a veteran has to wait on an answer.

    My biggest qualm is not the waiting part (I don’t enjoy it, however we have learned to adjust). I would greatly appreciate it if someone will please explain what he contracted when he went to the Middle East.

    When he enlisted in the military, he was deemed 100% fit for service; meaning that he had every vital organ and limb to function at the level necessary to render service to the military. Now that he only has a portion of each lung, a disfigured leg (due to numerous airborne breaks) this is documented through one of the major magazines that photographed the jump in CA where a number of the troops were injured, due to high winds. A nerve condition that produces paralysis, etc. Can you or anyone explain the lack of concern and communication. Is it asking too much to get an answer as to why he was cut opened, vital parts removed?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning you. You were not the medical professionals which treated him, nor were you the one that assisted with his retirement process. However, since this forum is open, I’d greatly appreciate a response.

    Thanking you in Advance.
    ABSJ

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Alicia,

      Generally in-patient records are not part of the records that are included in the personal medical jacket that accompanies a member from duty station to duty station. Usually a discharge summary is included but if for some reason that didn’t make it’s way to personal medical jacket we’d have no way of knowing about it.

      “Hospital Records” are retired to the national Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis by the military. I’m sorry I am on travel and can’t give you their address. But google them and you can get it. The records are retired by a service specific period. What you should do is submit a Privacy Act request to NPRC. Tell them that you are looking for all records of treatment at WOMACK during the appropriate period (for example between January 1992 and July 19992). If they find records they will copy them and send you a copy.

      Good Luck.

  141. Charles Cauthen says:

    Great post John, I too am a VN Combat vet 173rd Airborne dealing with St.Pete VA Claims office. They have repeatedly misinformed me. My DSO told me today my claim was placed on the bottom of a large stack and put in a storage room. I filed 9 months ago for AO exposure, CAD and PCT. The WPBVA hosp diagnosed me and are treating me. My primary phy. is a nurse praticioner who sends me letters saying my conditions are normal/ satisfactory.I have chronic Hep C. Hope to live long enough to get denied. So the review board can say the nurse said you were normal even though VA doctors are giving me medicines. I’m suffering from PTSD, some from the war, mostly from dealing with the VA.I beleive Congress gave the VA 54 billion $’s. How much of that actually goes to veterans. Where can I find that information Mr.Pamperin? And how do I get my file back in the system ? I can’t and don’t work, have O income. I fought, my friends died for this country and deserve better treatment than what we get from disfunctional VA. Oh, your ratings aren’t that good, check with J.D. Powers, just did a survey for them on the VA, gave ya’ll a O, same thing you’re giving me. I’ll fight you till the day I die.

    Thank you, for the help you’ve people on this blog.
    God bless you,
    Divided greedy empires will fall.
    C. Cauthen

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Charles,

      First question first. If you filed under the new presumptive disabilities for heart disease you case will be reviewed. We have about 80,000 claims from people not previously denied. To be sure that we know you have a claim in for AO exposure, call 1-800-827-1000 and ask the agent if you have any one of the following “end products” pending: 681, 687, 405, 409. If you have a 681 pending we are about a 3rd of the way through those claims. If you have a 687 pending (much more complex because they involve previous denials) we are about 10-15% of the way through those. If you have not of those pending send us a letter because it means we haven’t identified you as an agent orange claim for some reason.

      Regarding the $54 budget, that number sounds like the compensation and pension budget and all of that money is for benefits.

      Hope this helps

      • C. Cauthen says:

        Thank you Tom,my claim is in St. Pete.I’ll call and let you know what happens. I filed a Fast Claim, AO compensation,with help from a state VA agent, filed by Amer. Legion.DSO. I’m not asking for benefit’s, just compensation.
        Thanks again, made my day better. C. Cauthen

      • C. Cauthen says:

        Tom,I have 2 claims Ist is ischemic HD presumptive, end product 405, second claim is for PCT, Chronic Hep C, end product is 110. I understand the IHD and am assuming the Hep & PCT are not presumptive. If they rate the IHD, which is Fast Tracked will they process me or wait on the 2nd claim?
        Thanks,the VA needs to clone you, or at least give ya a bonus.
        C.Cauthen

  142. DANIEL BRACKER says:

    Tom, Thanks for your service in both the Military and VA. I have a claim in for my back/arm injury which is in the decision phase, and in the process VA added a dependancy claim (I wasn’t getting what I should have). Anyway the dependency claim is in the developement stage. Will the dependency slow down the back/arm. It appears to have been in the developement phase since august.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Dan,

      They are independent claims and one shouldn’t impinge on the other. What regional office is handling your claim. Dependency issues are handled by veterans services representatives and your back/arm condition is being handled by a rating veterans services representative. Two different people to different skill sets.

      Again if you would tell me what regional office is working your claim I would appreciate it.

      tom

      • DANIEL BRACKER says:

        Chicago is working on my claim. Thanks for the information, dan

        • DANIEL BRACKER says:

          Tom, By the way I don’t want to get anyone in truble. I guess my claim is proceding as normal, per the times. I just had a question, if one could slow up the other. Thank you very much for the answer dan

        • DANIEL BRACKER says:

          Tom,
          I called the 800 number, and they said I needed to fill out a dependancy statement. Ebenefits on the web showed me that no further input was required from me. I filled out the dependancy form online (386C — I think), so we’ll see where it goes from here. It was strange, that no one contacted me (either by mail or phone), to inform me of the requirement. Thanks again for your help.

  143. Larry Evans says:

    One commenter stated of being told Viet Nam vets were being placed on the bottom does concern me about my claim ! I could write a book but this is not what this site is for in brief I went to Nam 1965 made 3 gun fire support tours then my rate specialty was needed badly in country I answered that call and went for one year in country all in all I had 5 tours of Nam as per DD-214
    My claim has been an uphill battle I have made every appointment and answered every Question to the best my memory served me , I was moving through the process just as it was designed with reminders we are working on your case or we have this appointment scheduled for you , when I made the last one they were needing from me I contacted QTC and ask if all the Doctors had submitted their Paper work to them and was told yes and we have Sent all of the Doctors reports in a package to your RO it had 4-5 separate reports sent to Winston Salem NC , I believe it is in stage 2-3 not sure but have not heard from them in four months My VSO said this was a good thing and I intend to agree with him My claim has been developing since 2007 to present thats 4 years now and if It gets put on the bottom of the pile how long before i get a thumbs up or down vote ? When I called and checked up on it 3 years ago I was told then there was like 47,000 ahead of me then , It seems to me if you want to clear a forest you dont run over to one tree and take a couple of chops and then run all through the forest giving each tree a couple chops you never get the trees on the ground And yes I support our troops fighting right now last night they received a standing ovation and were i there i would have stood also but Viet Nam vets have been spit on protested called all sorts of names and never been given their due recognition for their service mine was 5 tours in Nam and 20 years as a Veteran All I want is to be treated like all other Veterans no matter if they served 2 years or 30 years and quit being treated as a Military retiree I am a Veteran And demand to be treated as one ,I am proud to have served my Country now it’s time for my country to step up to the plate it’s not fair to go from 47,000 to 247,000 on the list just saying. So Tom I am asking you to see if They will rate me because if I disagree and have to Appeal it could be one of those 6-8 year claims tom could you contact me via my e-mail address and let me know what if anything is being done and what stage of DEV Thank you Tom for your service help and support hope you have a great day and GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS !! Larry

  144. Barbara says:

    In Nov of 2009 I filed not only an appeal but a claim for a back injury that I sustained while in Voc. Rehab. Get this… I received a letter from the DAV stating that the VA denied my claim and that I would be hearing from them. I NEVER received a denial letter from the VA!!! So this month Jan of 2011, I sent a letter to the DAV stating that I would like them to appeal the decision. It was a good thing that I did because the VA sent me a letter stating that the original rejection of the claim was dated March of 2010. If I had not followed thru with the DAV I would have missed the 1 year deadline to file the appeal. Another example of how the VA is working for us the “Black Sheep of the Family”. NICE!

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Barbara,

      Is your claim/appeal on track now? If not what regional office is servicing your claim. What did you file an appeal on?

  145. steve says:

    Mr. Pamperin: I am also a Viet Nam vet and I thank you 4 your service and this post which I have ben reading all day…I am scared to death of the stories I have read about, especially about the Columbia SC region office.
    I filed a claim for PTSD in august 2010—had C&P on Jan 7, 2011…of course no answer yet and i expect it will be some months or a year before I hear from them.
    I have spoken with others from my vet center group and they all tell the same horror stories I have read in this forum….
    It is great that people at the top set requirements/expectations of faster claim decisions, but it is something else to get the regional offices to do that—I am convinced the rules are to deny, delay and they will die—yes, Viet nam veterans will all die soon…the 84% decision is a dis-grace and the 95% will not be met—deniels will keep the backlog growing.
    I probably should not have written in this post, because I am confident that it will again put my claim at the bottom of a stack—the va dosent even know what stack anyone is in….
    PLEASE do not put the VIETNAM VETERANS at the bottom of any stack—we dont have long on this earth and we did what our country needed us to do—now our country needs to do for us—approve our claims in 30 days or less.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      First Steve,

      I would not cause your claim to go to the “bottom of the stack.” I would hope that you wouldn’t think that of me. Regarding the quality level, I agree with you. Our quality level is really nothing to be proud of but we are fixing it. Again, most of the errors that are included in that quality level do not ultimately affect the outcome of the decision. But vets deserve a lot better than that. That is why we are moving to rules based systems.

      I sincerely hope we, just because we are Vietnam Vets, have a lot longer to live than you seem to imply. I for one am counting on it! :)

      If you had your exam in January, my guess is a few more weeks to hear.

      Tom

      • steve says:

        steveJanuary 29th, 2011Mr. Pamperin: I am also a Viet Nam vet and I thank you 4 your service and this post which I have ben reading all day…I am scared to death of the stories I have read about, especially about the Columbia SC region office.
        I filed a claim for PTSD in august 2010—had C&P on Jan 7, 2011…of course no answer yet and i expect it will be some months or a year before I hear from them.
        I have spoken with others from my vet center group and they all tell the same horror stories I have read in this forum….
        It is great that people at the top set requirements/expectations of faster claim decisions, but it is something else to get the regional offices to do that—I am convinced the rules are to deny, delay and they will die—yes, Viet nam veterans will all die soon…the 84% decision is a dis-grace and the 95% will not be met—deniels will keep the backlog growing.

        TOM.
        Thank you for your reply—I guess that the Columbia, SC regional office does not share your “few weeks” scenerio—It will probablly be in a few “years”. but i dont believe i will be alive to recieve compensatio—It is a constant battle not to just use my pistol, but i am still trying not to do that—only time will tell.
        Steve
        I probably should not have written in this post, because I am confident that it will again put my claim at the bottom of a stack—the va dosent even know what stack anyone is in….
        PLEASE do not put the VIETNAM VETERANS at the bottom of any stack—we dont have long on this earth and we did what our country needed us to do—now our country needs to do for us—approve our claims in 30 days or less.
        [Reply]

        • steve says:

          TOM.
          Thank you for your reply—I guess that the Columbia, SC regional office does not share your “few weeks” scenerio—It will probablly be in a few “years”. but i dont believe i will be alive to recieve compensatio—It is a constant battle not to just use my pistol, but i am still trying not to do that—only time will tell.
          Steve

  146. Michael L. Garee says:

    Dear Mr. Pamperin:

    I earlier posted to this blog (January 11, 2011) and I have a follow-up question.

    I have been told by VA personnel answering questions on the 800 number (1-800-827-1000) that the “national average” time in the rating phase is 16 to 27 days. My claim (file number ****) for prostate cancer residuals and secondary chronic fatigue syndrome has been in rating at the Atlanta, GA, VARO since December 6, 2010, and, to the very best of my knowledge, remains there as this is being written (January 30, 2011). Should I be concerned that my claim has been in rating double the “normal” time? In other words, I would hate to be waiting to hear from the VA only to learn later that, somehow, my file has either been lost or misplaced in rating. Certainly, if I don’t raise some type of “red flag,” there would be no way for VA to know that my file may have been lost or misplaced while in the rating phase, correct?

    Based upon my understanding of the rating process, it would seem to me that rating a claim would be relatively straightforward, provided the veteran clearly and specifically spells out the nature and type(s) of disabilities being claimed (which I did). That is, in my case, the rating specialist would determine, specifically, what residual symptoms I am claiming (in my case, very high urinary frequency—on average less than an one hour during the daytime and five to six times during the night—as well as specific symptoms relating to chronic fatigue syndrome, e.g., frequent, severe headaches, tiring easily, etc.), determine if my claims matched up with the medical evidence presented to the VA, then go to the rating manual and assign the appropriate percentage(s) of disability allowed. (I’m quite aware that there are a number of steps involved in the entire process, but as I understand it, in the simplest terms this is the way the rating process essentially works, correct?)

    If the present delay of my case in rating is due merely to a tremendous backlog in rating, then I will just have to be content to wait my turn. On the other hand, if there has been some sort of snafu with my file . . .

    What would be your advice to me at this point?

    Thank you!

    Michael L. Garee

    P.S. The total time my claim has been in process as of this date is 246 days.

    Editor’s note: Removed a Social Security number. Please do not leave any secure information on the blog.

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Mike,

      Generally speaking what the person at the 800 number told you is the average tilme in what we call the “ready to rate” phase. If you call them again ask them specifically if they are looking at “MAP-D” and is the case identified as “ready to rate.”

      But when I get back in the office on friday I will follow up

      • Michael L. Garee says:

        Dear Mr. Pamperin:

        Thank you so much for your quick response. I will call the 800# and ask the questions you suggested, and I would certainly appreciate it if you would indeed follow up with the Atlanta, GA, VARO when you return to your office. Mike Garee

      • Michael L. Garee says:

        Dear Mr. Pamperin:

        As you recommended, I have been trying to contact a CSR on the 800 number, in order to get answers to the questions you suggested I ask, before you contact the Atlanta, GA, VARO on Friday, when you return to your office. However, “due to unusually heavy call volume,” I have thus far been unable to make contact.

        Nonetheless, I will continue trying to get the questions answered either today (Wednesday) or Thursday, so you will have that information before contacting Atlanta.

        Thanks again for your kind offer to follow up on this matter for me. I sincerely appreciate it!

        Michael Garee

      • Michael L. Garee says:

        Dear Mr. Pamperin:

        Bingo! I finally got to talk to a CSR on the 800 number today (Wednesday). Here is what she told me: She was indeed looking at MAP-D and said the notation was that the claim is “ready for a decision.”

        Hope this helps and I will await hearing back from you once you contact the Atlanta, GA, VARO on Friday.

        Thanks again for all your help!

        Michael Garee

      • Michael L. Garee says:

        Mr. Pamperin:

        I know responding to the comments on your blog is hardly the only thing on your plate, but I did want to follow up and see if you have yet been able to learn anything about the status of my claim, which has been in “rating” for 67 days as of this date. As I earlier indicated, I fear my claim may have fallen “through the cracks”!

        Thanks again for any assistance/information you can provide me on this matter.

        Michael L. Garee

        P.S. I notice that your last responses are dated February 1st, and that you were out of your office for several days, so if that explains your absence from this site, please excuse my impatience.

      • Michael L. Garee says:

        Mr. Pamperin:

        It seems that a number of us have noticed that you seemed to have “dropped off the face of the earth” since February 1, the last date you responded to any postings. Hope everything is OK!

        Michael Garee

  147. Freeman Gordon says:

    I had surgery on my knee in 1970, it heeled up fine. Went into the marine corps in 73. Went to okinawa, japan, had a very bad fall. This put a hole in my knee cap 1/4in deep. My I fractured my face(chin), teeth wired shut. I was never told I could apply for disability when I left in 75. Botto line over 30 years went pass, I got approved for my face, but not for me knee, this was a aggravation claim for the knee. Would I be covered. Thank you

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Gordon,

      Your’s is a problematic case because you have a pre-existing condition and a lengthy time between separation and claim. Is there something wrong with you knee now? If not, then no service connection would not be warranted.

      If there is something wrong with your knee now, I’d assume arthritis?, did you have any treatment prior to filing your claim? If you didn’t have treatment for say 20 years after you got out I’d say – without looking at your records – getting service connected is going to be pretty hard to do.

      To be successful you will really need to have some evidence of treatment in a reasonable period of time after you were discharged (i.e. 1-2 years). Were you hospitalized for your knee in the service? If you were you should let us know what hospital it was and the approximate dates of hospitalization to see if those records would show something that could be service connected as a chronic condition. Again though if there really isn’t anything wrong with your knee now that won’t work because we don’t pay for events, we pay for chronic residuals. Hope this helps.

      • tired says:

        This is the problem with the VA. Tom, you state, “To be successful you will really need to have some evidence of treatment in a reasonable period of time after you were discharged (i.e. 1-2 years).” I was told this by a DAV rep and almost gave up on my claim. This is not true, You do not have to show treatment you have to show “continuity of symptomatology”. You, Tom should know this!!!!!

        For continuity of
        symptomatology, the Board cannot determine that lay evidence
        lacks credibility solely because it is unaccompanied by
        contemporaneous medical evidence. Buchanan v. Nicholson, 451
        F.3d 1331, 1336-37 (Fed. Cir. 2006).

        • Brenda Hayes says:

          Tired,

          Thanks for posting that great piece of information.

          You are right; too much false information given out by all concerned for Vet claims.

          Please post more often with your hard earned knowledge.

          Vets need to network.

          I encourage you to post it at http://www.hadit.com; http://www.veteransbenefits@ezboard; and http://www.vawatchdogToday.com

          From what I understand; the BVA/COVA cases cannot be used for precedent; this also needs to change as it continues to set up reviewing the same thing over and over–again, just a piece of the puzzle for “fixing” the claims system.

          Alex,

          Can you get someone from the BVA to do a guest commentary with any possible changes, mission, etc.?

          BH
          Vetwife Advocate

  148. Mike Paschall says:

    Dear Mr. Pamperin

    A friend of mine wrote you on January 28, 2011 at 8.05 pm regarding a couple of claims that I have filed with the Pittsburgh Regional Office.

    Please note that while I have two claimed conditions that have VA mistakes that my service represntatives and I have pointed out. I would in fact like to make you aware of the one of the claims that I think is the most obvious erred and reserve discussion of the second one until the reply decision to my Notice of disagreement is received.

    Issue; In August 2008, I applied for a Persistant Tinea Cruris (severe skin condition of the groan). I never received a VCAA notice for the Tinea Cruris condition until 21 November 2009. I replied back to inform them that the August 2008 claim was already open for tinea cruris and was incorrectly noted in their March rating decision. A servere condition that I was diagnosed with treated while in service. In service treatment records were sent in along with the August 2008 claim. I never received a VCAA notice for the Tinea Cruris condition. In March 2009 I received a VA decision from the St. Louis Regional Office, Zip Code 63103, dated 26 February 2009 along with a Pittsburgh Regional Officecover letter dated 5 March 2009 which denied me for a “Fungal condition of the Feet” instead of my claimed Tinea Cruris condition. I noitified my VSO and the Pittsburgh Regional office of the incorrect claim condition and the overwhelming evidence of systemic therapy treatment. Dispite showing the service treatment records in the evidence section of the decision, the St. Louis March 2009 decision also indicated in the REASONS FOR DECICISION section that “you submitted no evidence showing that you currently suffer from a chronic bilateral knee condition” Mr. Pamperin- I did not apply for this condition and it like the fungal condition of the feet should not have been in the decision at all. In my 16 July 2009 Notice of disagreement, I again notified the Piitsburgh Regional Office that I did not apply for the fungal condition of the feet and requested that my tinea cruris claim be reconsidered. 23 October 2009 I received a response from my notice of disagreement stating that “the notice we accepted on appeal is/are service connection of the feet (claimed as tinea cruris). 30 October 2009, I again wrote VA in response to there 23 October 2009 letter clarifying my claimed conditioned again in more detal. All letter were submitted through my veteran service representatives to the Pitsburgh Regional Office. In the mean time, I was sending numerous systemic therapy medication prescriptions through my VSO to VA to help substantiate my claim. As a response to the VCAA notice from Pittburgh dated 12 November 2009 that stated in the WHAT HAVE WE RECEIVED section stated “Your claim for benefits, which we recieved on October 27, 2009″. As mentioned above, I responded accordingly again with the facts. In July 2010, I recived a Statement of the case from the Pittsburgh Regional Office Dated 3 June 2010. In the ISSUE section: it states “Entitlement to service connection for tinea cruris, a fungus condition. In the EVIDENCE section: VCAA letter dated 8-18-08 (I did not and the records will not show that I recieved a VCAA notice for Tinea Cruris. In the ADJUDICATIVE ACTION section in noted that 08-11-08 as the date the claim was recived. In the DECISION section: It states Entitlement to service connection for tinea cruris, a fungus condition, remains denied. In the REASON AND BASIS: It States Rating decicion of 2-26-09 denied service connection for a fungus of the feet: Your treatment records do show treatment for tinea cruris of the groin. Following a de novo review of your case, entitlement to service connection for tinea cruris, a fungug condition remains denied, as there is no medical evidence showing that it presently exsist. Mr. Pamperin, with all due respect, a letter from my pysician in 2009 gave notice to the Pittsburgh VA of the severity of not only my groin skin condition, but also in and around other areas of my body that was just as severe and made an overall diagnosis of Tinea Pedis. The doctor expounded on the groin because the flare up systoms were the same that was diagnosed in my service teratment records that he reviewed during my examination and interview. I ahve since had to complete a VA form 9 which was submitted through my VSO on 16 June 2010 along with all of the important medical evidence that was mistakenly missed by the Rater and the Decision Review Officer. The VA form 9 was certified for the BVA on 8-11-10. I spoke with my VSO repreprsentative on 18 January 2010 to get an update and he stated that a footnote indicated that the Pittsburgh Regional office found mailed evidence and that my claim was again waiting review by a Decision Review Officer. He also stated that VA is just waiting for the Decison Review Officer to send me the supplemental statement of the case, which I interpret as a continous of the denial. Sir, Dispite this long write-up, at this point I am somewhat at a loss for words. I totally understand that maybe I and the VA made a couple of minor mistalke in the processing of this particular claimed condition. I only ask that someone review my case in accordance with VA regulations, schedulars, and the applicable laws. I honestly believe that if viewed in accordance with these standards, as I have read them, I should have received no less than a 60% rating under the skin condition schedualar. In Claim Tips your number one point was Communicate x 3. I have been communicating and believes that do to the abundant amounts of claims that are being processed, errors that I truly belive made on mine were accidental and not intential. Last Question: Is there a way to fix my issues at the VARO level instead of having me wait the 1.5 to 2 years at the Board of Veterans Appeals. If someone just kept me informed with corect information, I would be happy, no matter how long the process took.

    Sorry that this post is so long.

    Respectfully,

    Mike P

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Mike,

      Can you give me your last name or, if you are being seen in VA the last 4 of your social security number and i will check. If we’ve made a mistake we want to take care of it too rather than have it go to the BVA.

      Tom

    • Mike says:

      Mr. Pamperin

      My last name is Paschall. My Claim is being processed at the Foreign benefits unit at the Pittsburgh Regional Office.

      Any assistance you can give will be greatly appreciated.

      Respectfully,

      Mike P.

      • Mike Paschall says:

        Mr. Pamperin

        One correction to my January 31 post. Tinea Corporis was the overall diagnosis by my doctor in the letter on file at VA. I accidently wrote Tinea Pedis.

        Than you!

        Mike Paschall

  149. C. Cauthen says:

    Mr. Pamperin, Without a doubt the whole VA system is broken.Beyond broken. I have just 2 questions for you and would appreciate an honest answer. Where do you get your employees and how do you get them all to go along with your business of denial? And why does the VA deny, even when caught redhanded, lie to veterans? WE ARE YOUR COST FOR FREEDOM! A thank you, doesn’t do much good for the pain we are suffering from. It really just makes it hurt more. Please don’t refer me to St. Pete office, an answer to those 2 questions will do.
    Charles Cauthen

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Charles,

      We get our employees by posting on USA Jobs and through a number of alternative employment strategies. A large number of our employees are veterans themselves. As I have indicated before, while some may feel that way, I don’t believe there is a culture of denial in VBA. As I indicated it that were true it would be hard to explain how we have added over 1 million veterans to the rolls in the last 10 years and that the average disability evaluation has gone up by almost 25%. Having said that I also indicated that we have many many relatively new employees both to VA and if not to VA to their current positions. So we make mistakes.

      Regarding “lying to veterans” such behavior would warrant disciplinary action. There is a difference between “lying” and making a mistake just like there is a difference between the fact that I believe that virtually all veterans who file claims honestly believe that they are entitled but that when we look at the records the correct answer is to say no.

      Tom

      • Charles Cauthen says:

        Tom, thanks for information,my problem is with VA health care and S/S. I have reported and will let you know the outcome. There are many good people in the VA. Sometimes I feel we veterans are unfairly mistreaded. The system needs overhaul, wish there was something I or we could do to make it what we believed it should be.
        C. Cauthen

        • Charles Cauthen says:

          Mr. Pamperin,
          Problem with VA Health Care solved. With certain individuals you have to envoke your rights in a civil manner, assumptions can be dangerous, like being point man, watch where you put your foot!
          Can you set me straight on the meaning of “end product 110″. Also Thanks to you, my anger at the VA is gone. Thanks to you, you have my respect and best regards.

          Charles Cauthen, F.O. Recon, 173rd Airborne,VN 69-70

  150. Robert says:

    Dear Mr. Pamperin

    While hospitalized four over four months for my service conectied condition, the BVA mailed myIndiviual Unemployability decision to my home address. Due to me being placed unexpected in the hospital, I was not able to notify the postal service to hold my mail and based on a telephone conversation with a BVA reprepresentaive, the decision letter was returned undiliverable. The BVA informed me that they had sent the decision letter to the Pittsburgh Regional Office where my case is being handled and that I should request a copy from that offioce.

    I tried to request this BVA IU decisosin telephoniocally form Pittsburgh Regional Office and was told that the request had to be in writing.

    I mailed a letter dated October 11, 2010 explaining my situation and requesting the BVAIU decision from the Pittsburgh Office.

    Yesterday, January 29. 2011 I received an envelope dated January 25, 2011 from the Pittsburgh Rergional Office with a letter dated January 21, 2011 stating that the Appeal decision that I requested was enclosed. Mr. Pamperin, the BVA decision was note enclosed. The documents that were mailed in the envelope were of a previous Pittsburgh level decision, NOT THE BVA IU DECISION AS REQUESTED. Today I am going to write Pittsburgh again to inform them of this mistake as well as to inquire about my temporary 100% disability and my 21-4138 requsting an increase to my current disability bases on my recent social security award. The 21-4138 increase was also sent to VA in October 2010 as a result of my long term hospital stay and worsening condition. I have not received any corresponce from VA regarding my Oct 2011 increase request or 100% temporary unemployability being that I had to be hospitalized for over five months for my service connected condition.

    Any assistance you can provide in getting my appea decision back on track and my 100% temporary disability request and increase request acknowledged by the Pittsburgh VA Office would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you very much!

    Robert Winchester

  151. MIKE

    THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE. I FILED MY DISABILITY AT THE LOUISVILLE,KY REGIONAL OFFICE THIS TIME LAST YEAR. I FINISHED MY C&P EXAMS OVER 3 MONTHS AGO. I CALLED THE LEXINGTON MEDICAL CENTER TO SEE IF MY RECORDS WERE STILL THERE AND THEY COULD NOT GIVE ME AN ANSWER. I WROTE THE IRIS SITE, THEY SAID MY RECORDS WERE IN LOUISVILLE. I AM A VET CLAIMING ILLNESS DUE TO CAMP LEJEUNE WATER CONTAMINATION. AS YOU KNOW, THEY HAVE CENTRALIZED ALL CAMP LEJEUNE CLAIMS IN LOUISVILLE. I NEED TO KNOW EXACTLY WHERE MY RECORDS ARE AND IF THEY HAVE BEGUN TO PROCESS THE CLAIMS? I HAVE CONTACTED MY CONGRESS REPRESENTATIVE FOR HELP. I AM UNABLE TO DRIVE TO LOUISVILLE WHICH IS A HUNDRED MILES AWAY. I NEED HELP IN EXPEDITING MY CLAIM. THERE WERE AT LEAST 200 CLAIMS THAT THE VA HAD TO DEAL WITH. I HAVE OWNED AND OPERATED 2 MEDICAL CLINICS AND IF I WERE TO TREAT MY PATIENTS IN THE MATTER THAT THE VA HAS DONE IN MY CASE: I WOULD HAVE BEEN SUED AND OUT OF BUSINESS AND RIGHTFULLY SO. WOULD YOU LOOK INTO THIS MATTER FOR ME. ANY HELP WOULD BE GREATLY A[[APPRECIATED.

    THANKS
    JIM MORELAND PA-C, MHS

    • Mike says:

      Jim

      Mr. Pamperin, VA Deputy Under Secretary for Disability Assistance and Vietnam Veteran is who you are trying to reach.

      I hope he or someone from his staff gets back with you.

      Since reading posts on this site, you may be asked if you have a VSO. I recommend that you get one assigned to your claim if you do not already.

      Since I am writing, I recommend that you send a friendly letter to the lexington and Louisville Agencies and ask them to confirm your record location and the status of your claim.

      Good luck and wish me luck as well.

      Take care!

      Mike

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      Jim,

      Let me check

  152. Laura Hendryx, LCDR USN (Ret) says:

    I would like that e-mail as well. I do not think that Mr. Pamperin knows what really happens in the bowels of his beast.

    I am a retired US Navy LCDR as well as a 70% disabled veteran who is trying to be rated ‘unemployable’ by the VA due to service connected disabilities, one of which is Fibromyalgia, which has a capped rating of 40%(? Who pulled this number out of their anal orifice? Not someone who has the affliction!). I am also a Gulf War Veteran. I served in London, England but received various vaccinations and was under the same stressors, and exposures. I would not only like to refer you to the excerpt below at the bottom of this message, but to your governing regulations as well (the ones that I am able to access) 38CFR 3.102 with regards to “Reasonable Doubt”, 38CFR 4.15 and 4.16 with regards to “Total Disability Ratings for Compensation Based on Unemployability of the Individual”.

    It was not nor is it my wish to have a new “designer” disorder but I have one, a neurological disorder “thought” to be caused by and worsened by stress, or maybe a vaccine, pesticide exposure or other exposure but I am not the only veteran you have with this issue. I was first suspected of having Fibromyalgia in 1990, tested for 8 years and diagnosed in 1998, prior to my retirement. (Maybe it was exposure to MREs!) YOUR VA Psychiatrist stated that I was severely depressed as a “direct result of and in addition to my service connected Fibromyalgia”, thought to be caused by severe stress such as I experienced in the Navy workplace as a woman during the 80s and 90s (re Tailhook, ever heard of it?). I am rated as 100% disabled by Social Security SSA due to the depression caused by the Fibromyalgia, the fatigue and the pain of it all. This is Social Security, the one I paid in to all those years, not to be confused with SSI (welfare), which I do not qualify for due to my retirement income.

    Due to inability of VA employees to comprehend their own guidance and instructions and lack of knowledge about Fibromyalgia, a neurological disorder that is not curable or really, even treatable as yet, my case is on hold indefinitely. I am not even allowed to know the super secret timeline of alleged suspense dates that they have no intention of meeting anyway, according to your Congressional Representative. Perhaps you have not yet hired enough of his relatives. Another excuse they have invented is that it is due to Fibromyalgia being capped at 40% and some non Fibromyalgia experts deciding that my severe depression is PART of my Fibromyalgia, which is capped at 40% not “IN ADDITION TO AND CAUSED BY” as stated by the VA Psychiatrist. I and my attorney will need to see (demand to see, as a taxpayer and a citizen and a veteran) chapter and verse, the exact reference(s) and wording upon which they are basing this ‘opinion’ as well as the qualifications of the person reaching this opinion (medial or otherwise)…BUT, none of this has anything to do with the fact that I am designate-able as 100% disabled via the 70% rating, with one at 40%. They are lost in their own red tape and cannot see past it, nor do they know anything about Fibromyalgia. They are also wrapped around the axle about my SSA being based on my depression caused by the incurable Fibromyalgia and by some bureaucrats mistaken idea that VA disability pay cannot be paid along with Social Security (if this be the case, there are millions of veterans out there as well as retired civil servants who have been over paid). They cannot even read their own internal instructions which say that if they are in doubt, they should find in favor of the veteran (38 CFR 3.102) and that “marginal employment (as a door stop, for example, which I still cannot do, but I am an experienced Systems Engineer/Analyst with 20 years management experience as well as an MBA) IS NOT acceptable”, only “substantial full time employment” (38 CFR 4.15, 4.16)

    I am also told that I do not count as much as my male counterparts because I was blocked from going to war or serving in combat related positions and in fact, I must line up behind both they and their spouses. I am the daughter of a Vietnam combat veteran as well as a retired United States Navy Lieutenant Commander myself. Our new Congressman’s new aid has been overwhelmed with bureaucrat double speak and her head is spinning with all the reasons they cannot act on my case, the number of various committees and levels it must go through and the secret internal timelines that the VA sets but does not feel it should reveal to myself, the customer and the taxpayer. All I can say is that had I ever provided such poor work service, I would have been fired.

    Could some knowledgeable individual reach down into Little Rock, Arkansas and help this confused bureaucrat out? Also, this individual should never be allowed to deal with Congressional Representatives. I am in danger of becoming one of your homeless vets along with my daughter due to financial difficulty. We are recovering from Katrina and I owe taxes from all those years when I was homeless and had no idea what my income was or if I even was to have one. We did not eat. There are tax liens on our home and I owe more for last year. FEMA is prevented by law from helping those of us who were insured and the insurance companies would not pay. I have been in major depression and unemployed since 29 August 2005 when I and my then 12 year old daughter were rendered homeless and possessionless in Ocean Springs, MS by Katrina and the stress of it caused my Fibromyaliga/depression to get even worse. The back pay will help me with the back taxes and mortgage so that I can get caught up. Seriously, how hard can it be for those folks to do their jobs? Have they really been doing them so long that they just do not care any more? It has definitely become form-over-function for them and they have long ago lost sight of the goal.

    EXCERPT from 105th Congress

    “ The United States deployed nearly 700,000 military personnel to the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations (KTO) during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm (August 2, 1990, through July 31, 1991). Within months of their return, some Gulf War Veterans reported various symptoms and illnesses they believed were related to their service. Veterans, their families, and VA subsequently became concerned about the possible adverse health effects from various environmental exposures during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In response, in 1994, VA asked Congress for special authority, granted under the “Persian Gulf War Veterans’ Act,” Public Law 103-446, to provide compensation benefits to Gulf War Veterans who are chronically disabled by undiagnosed illnesses. That authority was later expanded to include certain illnesses of unknown cause. In 1995, VA implemented the “Persian Gulf War Veterans’ Act” by adding 38 C.F.R. § 3.317, which defines qualifying Gulf War service, establishes the presumptive period for service connection, and denotes certain signs and symptoms that may be manifestations of such illnesses. These signs and symptoms include: fatigue, skin signs or symptoms including hair loss, headache, muscle pain, joint pain; as well as neurological, respiratory and cardiac signs or symptoms, abnormal weight loss and menstrual disorders. In addition, three medically unexplained multisystem illnesses’ namely, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, are currently recognized by both statute and regulation as “qualifying chronic disabilities” and thereby presumptively service connected based on Gulf War service.

    Further, through the “Persian Gulf War Veterans Act of 1998,” Public Law 105-277, Congress authorized VA to compensate Gulf War Veterans for diagnosed or undiagnosed illnesses that are determined by VA to warrant a presumption of service connection based upon a positive association with exposure, as a result of Gulf War service, to a toxic agent, an environmental or wartime hazard, or a preventive medication or vaccine known or presumed to be associated with Gulf War service.

    ——————————————————————————–

    • Tom Pamperin says:

      LCDR Hendryx,

      First, thank you for your service. Second, I realize that you may be frustrated but frankly your manner of talking doesn’t help you or anyone else. Are you service connected for depression secondary to fibromyalgia?

      If you are what is your evaluation for depression?

      We can check it out.

      • Brenda Hayes says:

        Mr. Pamperin,

        I think you overstepped your bounds when you made that disparaging comment to the Veteran.

        It would behove you to focus on your responsibilities of your job and what is not happening under your leadership at the Regional Offices.

        I’ve seen countless numbers of posts from Male Veterans and you have never made such remarks to them.

        I think you owe the female Veteran, LCDR(ret) Hendrx an apology. I think you might want to take your own frustration and anger out on your employees who aren’t doing their jobs; not our Veterans.

        I think she stated facts that apparently so many of your Regional office DROs and raters are not well versed.

        You might want to think about and relay to the Veteran Community that you are putting in more training for your raters and DRO as well as placing more consequences with accountability in their annual reviews.

        You’ve seen over and over the posts here that the 38 CFR regs are quite frequently being ignored; and thus, claims are being rated erroneously; only to be appealed and only adding more to the backlog of claims.

        Facts, especially the 38 CFR regs speak for themselves.

        Until you walk the shoes of those less fortunate Veterans than you; I would refrain from more remarks such as the one you made to LCDR (ret) Hendrx.

        But again, you did answer her post and did not completely ignore it as you have done with others on this blogsite.

        Very disappointed in you, Mr. Pamperin, VN Vet or not.

        Brenda Hayes
        Vetwife Advocate

        • Tom Pamperin says:

          I’m not angry

        • Mr. Pamperin was part of the problem in 1992 when I filed my claim why would he change now. I started my claim the month after I got out. In November of the same year received a codesheet for the claims and a letter from Mr. Pamperin stating a C&P exam was scheduled. I had to cancel the appointment due to bad weather. In 1992 they did not reschedule your appointments my VSO informed me I had to write to them and have them reschedule. This became a problem because they had made a decision, so they changed the exam to a gulf war exam. The problems I had been having showed up during the exam but they said I could not file a claim because I had been out a year. A good way to CYA yourself as the new exam would have been schedule two weeks after the date of the decision 11/04/1993. Also mention in here is your reference to 38 CFR, you didn’t follow it then why would the people you trained follow it. After all reg. 38 CFR 3.380 has been around since 1961 and you ignored it in 1992 and the people in Wichita Kansas gave the same answer in 2008 without all the medical records, good thing I kept mine. Looks like you taught them well follow it to refuse and don’t follow it if you can deny the claim.

  153. Maurice Wyman Scott says:

    Tom Pamperin@ Today is the day when become the voice of no reason, today is the day I have a mission of correction by termination, today is the day when while intellect will become my weapon, instead of might, today is the day when termination of employment by any means necessary becomes necessary in the Columbia Regional Office.
    Let it be said, that I tried to be a good soldier, let it be said that I gave all who came to me a chance to be as honest as they could be, let it be said that when armed with the very things that would cause for investigations because the Department of Veteran Affairs became a part of the national conversation, i gave a chance again. No more.

    Carl W. Hawkins, Jr. Director of the Columbia Regional Office lied to a United States Congressman, and unfortunately the Congressman was waiting on him to do it. The claim file in 01/09 has been fraudulently processed, evidence hidden, and denied having, failure to obtain which constitutes a failure to assist, now reopened, and the same process exist. Same hidding, same failures, but now assuming the ability to deny consideration of claims where because of their failures in September 2010, my entire claim is new and material evidence, but they still deny having it. But i guess that wasn’t in Carl W. Hawkins interest, still covering up for the incompetent behavior of others, by assuming a position that he isn’t able to assume, that of denying a veteran the opportunity to submit a claim.

    The worst of it, is that I have a claim stated on date, November 24, 2010, bearing issues I have never claimed, they have blocked, per ebenefits customer service supervisor my access to information on the ebenefits site, so they can attempt to get away with this. Sadly in this Mr. Carl W. Hawkins Jr. has lied in writing to Congressman Joe Wilson, by stating that I had not in November submitted new and material evidence on my previous claim, and that that was the basis of my claim starting over, its fraudulent, and its a conspiracy to defraud a veteran, and this can’t go unchecked.

    So while we struggle in the good Regional office, we have to subit ourselves to the lying, fraudulently, and overly discriminatory practices of people like Mr. Hawkins, because he has no regards to the lies he portraits in order to cover for his incompetent staff, they have the belief that they are above the law, well I am going to break that glass house through the news, paper, television, and any and all media that is available, because they not only have overstepped their authority, but they have created a claim that doesn’t have my signature on it, they have created conditions that I am not diagnosed with, so they can take 24 months and deny again, its a fraud.

    So Mr. Pamperin, the only justice I can achieve is making this regional office and their performance apart of the national conversation, maybe then and only then they will terminate MR. Hawkins, and the others names who will be mentioned in whatever news medium I seek, no turning back now, he lied to my Congressman, and that is unexcusable.

  154. Zach G says:

    Hello, I have been out for a year and finally decided to file a claim with the help from the VFW. I am wondering how the VA decides what kind of disabilty you deserve. I am going to file for compensation becuse I broke my foot during training and It has always botherd me. The problem was that non of my NCOs belived me and by the time i was allowed to see a doctor, my bone was begaining to heal out of place. Now the pain in my foot is getting worse, and the muscle in it cramp up all the time. In addition, My knee is bothers me and it builds up with fluid, I think this might be becuse my broken foot is all messed up. I wanted to go to school to be a cop but I have to change majors becuse it is getting harder for me to run, and I am nervous as to how much damage is getting done. thanks for your time.

  155. Gregg F says:

    TOM, still awaiting your reply to my Jan.25 letter. You were to check on the status of my appeal at RO Pittsburgh Pa. Thanks again Gregory P Friedline.

    • Gregg F says:

      TOM, I guess I’m getting the same treatment from you as I get from the RO in Pittsburgh Pa. If you’re not going to check on the status of my appeal then don’t tell me you are. I guess I should of known you were to good to be true. Thanks anyway.Gregg F.

  156. Maurice Wyman Scott says:

    @TOM PARPERIN
    Mr. Parperin, why is it that I have to go to the extremes to get justice, there is no justice in Columbia Regional Office, just one level of untruths throughout the chain of command, all the way to the top. Does it take seeing the Columbia Regional Office on CNN, or MSNBC to eventually get your office to see the file yourself, and say, oh damn, he was telling the truth. I recently requested the congressional liason send a inquiry, asking specific questions, where they had the evidence already just to see if the Regional Office director would tell the same lie, he did, a lie based upon that congressinal liason had in his hand evidence contrary to what was written.

    I’ve asked for my file transferred to another Regional office, denied, I’ve complied with text evidence, and nexus, now the position is that even with new and material evidence, they won’t consider my claimed items, because in doing so, someone has to blamed for ignoring the evidence at first hand. It is indictable that the staff at the Dorn VA even thinks that you are unfairly ajudicating me, i.e. saying i wasnt diagnosed with issues, and the VHA clearly says that is false, so your regional office is indictable by the on campus hospital.

    So if its going to take what I originally promised I wouldn’t making this regional office subjective to judgment by the national public, then that is what it will be, but I am hoping that it won’t take that much, at least if you police your own, it won’t damage the opinion of the whole VA in Columbia, just those who don’t deserve to work there.

    Your facebook representative contacted me, and promised that someone would call by last friday to see if we could get some resolve, but resolve hasn’t happen, and no phone call as well. I have dedicated my energy to seeing Mr. Hawkins unemployed for providing a written document to a Congressman knowing or should have known that it was false. I am seeking to remove any and known named previous rating person and supervisor, because they purposefully and intentionally decided to exclude evidence to support my claim even excluding the VHA records, knowingly that they existed.

    Does it take going this far, or are you willing to police your own, either way it will provide justice no matter who does it. I await your contact, and reply, its to everyones benefit that you do, In my opinion.

    • Jim says:

      Mr Pamperin,

      Columbia SC is my regional office too. I would easily say they “do what they need to do” to deny claims. With nexus statements stating “at least as likely as not” “more likely than not” “is due to” etc., along with “have reviewed service medical records” and secondary claims that are easily related to service connected disabilities (just Google it sometimes), we seem to still receive letters of denial. In an earlier post, i asked about the CFR 38 clause of reasonable doubt going to the service member. With said statements from medical doctors and relation to service connected disabilties, how difficult can it be in this particular RO to grant the claim(s) based on reasonable doubt? At some point, common sense needs to apply? I’m beginning to wonder if these “raters” have even read the CFR. Do they understand the quotes above and how they are consistent with reasonable doubt? Are medical doctor opinions worthless? Are they only allowed a quota of approvals and once met, “find” reason to deny and hope we go away? I understand Mr. Scott’s frustration and would also ask for someone of authority to visit, investigate, hire/fire accordingly, and get this particular office to function in a professional manner. Sorry for the 100 percent negative comment, but these are facts. Thanks for the ear:).

  157. John Birch says:

    As I have said in the past, the Department of Veterans Affairs DO NOT care about Vietnam Veterans, they are just waiting for all of us to die off. I was diagnosed with PTSS (fore runner to PTSD) at the Marion Indiana VA Hospital in 1973. After spending 2 months as an in-patient, I was told that I was cured and kicked to the curb. When I try to get records from them and from the Indianapolis RO, no response. I would even think that they would be in my master VA file, but no. Guess back then it wasn’t any more important then it is now. In the last 4 years, I have been treated for PTSD by VA doctors all who have stated it was caused by duty in Vietnam. I filed, had my appealed, my records were sent back to the St Petersburg RO and I guess they are on the wrong pile to be considered. Figure the more money the VA RO’s saved the bigger their bonus.

  158. Richard L. Duley says:

    John J. Jamason Reply:
    January 10th, 2011 at 2:18 am

    It is very hard for me to add to John’s post. He has covered it all for me. I am aslo dealing with the St. Pete, Florida bunch and hope to live long enough to receive my fair claim for military service.

  159. Kama Mountz says:

    Mr. Pamprin,

    I apologize if this is out of your lane and you are not the right individual to be asking…

    I am an OIF vet, Army reservist, recently relocated from AZ to Charlottesville, VA and am just trying to get in to see a doctor, I havent even started the disability process for my injuries received during active duty. I currently am paying for my MRI’s, nerve blockers, and rehab out of pocket because I cannot get a response.

    I saw the VA in AZ before I relocated and they were pretty helpful. I simply just need someone to respond to my phone calls here to get my file tranfered from AZ to VA so I can see a doctor. Over the course of the last couple of months I have left about half dozen phone messages, with all of the pertinent information to get my records transfered. A Ms. Robinson, Richmond, Va office at 800-784-8381 x5824 has declined to call me back at all and I still havent been able to see a VA doc.

    I appreciate any guidance, and of course am thankful for everyone on here that has given so much for their country.

    Thanks again.

  160. Alonza Wallace says:

    After 20yrs 9 mos and 6 days. History, Jun 22 1993, Form SF 600, Dr. Mighell of Kings Bay, to Dr. R. Boehme, Neurology NAS Jaxs. Somnolence now occurring 3-4 x 1 week up to 4 x 1 day, usually sleeps well at night for six hrs, sometimes wakes up thirsty. (Note: This visit was the first recorded number of sleep episodes). Aug 6, 1993. Sleep Disorders Center MLST, Narcolepsy Likely; because of the presence of three sleep-onset REM periods. L. A. Smolley, M.D. Certified, American Board of Sleep Medicine.
    Aug 30, 1994, patient on several occasions has fallen asleep. On several occasions, he has fallen asleep while sitting at stoplights. It seems to have manifested itself over last several years and has become progressively worse.
    Mar 31 1995, I was s/c for idiopathic daytime hypersomnolence and medically discharge with 20% disabilty based on the navys evaluation for at least 2 minor seizures in the last 6 months form the navy. Placed on TDRL On Mar 31 1995 with a Disability rating of 20% under V. A. Code 8199-8108 for the Diagnosis of Idiopathic Daytime Hypersomnolence. Oct 18 1995, VA OPC Jax’s FL, established diagnosis of narcolepsy, MSLT conducted Aug 5-6 1993 results mean sleep latency 3 min, 3 sleep-onset REM periods, MSLT likely representing NarcolepsyI filed a claim for when i retired and recieved a decision on Mar 18 1996 20% granted for idiopathic daytime hypersomnolence from the VA. TDRL Evaluation on Feb 20, 1997 at NAS Jacksonville Naval Hospital. Physical Evaluation Board Panel reviewed case on Apr 22, 1997, found unfit for duty because of physical disability Ratable at 20% under V. A. code 8199-8108, that was considered permanent. TDRL report indicated the member’s systems have gotten worse since placement on TDRL with two to Three sleep attacks per day despite treatment of Cylert. If such a rate of sleep attacks can be documented, then a rating higher than 20% would be warranted under V. A. code 8199-8108-8911. Such worsening indicates that the disability has not stabilized. Sep 06 1997, VA, Dr. A Herbert, C&P exam results, episodes of narcolepsy were occurring 3-4 times per day, currently 2-3 times per day, symptoms not improved on either Ritalin or pemoline. Patient episodes of narcolepsy as well as hypersomnolence is affecting ability to perform his job and affecting his quality of life to a moderate-to-severe degree.
    Applied again, recieved another decision on Sept 8 2000, VA exam notes complaint of fatigue occurring 6 to 7 times per day with blurred vision. Exam opined hypersomnolence was most likely related to his medication, may contribute to poor sleep at night. When continuous meds is necessary for control of seizures a min of 10 percent assigned. The evidence shows a history of episode occurring 6 to 7 times a day 20% eval is confirmed and continued. Feb 5 2010, 20% eval continued, evidence of record failed to sho that it meets the criteria for a higher evaluation. Evals for seizures are based on frequency of seizures (sleep episodes). Diagnosis of idiopathic daytime hypersomnolence occurring 7 times per day. Sep 15 2010 decision, Sleep Dr states that you require both ritalin as well as provigil in order to maintain an adequate level of daytime alertness. Records from VA Medical center gainesville reports, there is no objective evidence within these records to show that a higher eval is warranted.
    As you well might know that the rating for narcolepsy is shown below.

    The Epilepsies/Narcolepsy Rating

    8910 Epilepsy, grand mal. Rate under the general rating formula for major seizures.

    8911 Epilepsy, petit mal. Rate under the general rating formula for minor seizures.

    Note (1): A major seizure is characterized by the generalized tonic-clonic convulsion with unconsciousness.

    Note (2): A minor seizure consists of a brief interruption in consciousness or Conscious control associated with staring or Rhythmic blinking of the eyes or Nodding of the head (“pure” petit mal), or Sudden jerking movements of the arms, trunk, or Head (myoclonic type) or Sudden loss of postural control (akinetic type).

    General Rating Formula for Major and Minor Epileptic Seizures:

    Averaging at least 1 major seizure per month over the last year 100

    Averaging at least 1 major seizure in 3 months over the last year;
    or more than 10 minor seizures weekly 80

    Averaging at least 1 major seizure in 4 months over the last year;
    or 9-10 minor seizures weekly 60

    At least 1 major seizure in the last 6 months or 2 in the last year;
    or averaging at least 5 to 8 minor seizures weekly 40

    At least 1 major seizure in the last 2 years;
    or at least 2 minor seizures in the last 6 months 20

    A confirmed diagnosis of epilepsy with a history of seizures 10

    My question is what am i missing, am i not reading the requirements correctly or what, even my VA rep ask what are they looking for. Could you please help me out. I have filed a claim for Clear and Unmistakable Error CUE, because of the mistakes that have been made, concerning systoms and episodes of sleepiness i have. I awaitg you answer.

  161. Alonza Wallace says:

    Mr. Pamperin

    Thank you sir for having a site that Vets can get a better understanding of the true process of what’s going on as far as their claim process.
    I just found you site Yesterday Feb 4 2011 I have two issues, for now anyway.

    1. In this response concerning Sleep Apnea, you stated, “ 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 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.

    While still in the Navy on Aug 6 1993, I had my first sleep study by Baptist medical center sleep lab, results Epworth sleepiness scale score was elevated at 17.overnight latency was 4 minutes. MSLT mean sleep latency was 3 minutes and had 3 unequivocal sleep onset rems. Has minimal history of snoring. Does not drink alcoholic beverages, report Interpretation narcolepsy is likely, because of three sleep-onset REM periods, the navy rated it as idiopathic daytime hypersomnolence.
    After several complaints of increased sleep episodes, (at discharge records report up to 4 attacks daily) with both PCM and the VA Claim process. PCM referred me to a sleep Dr. who is a diplomate of the American board of sleep medicine, (at that time the episodes were at 8 to 9 a day) he ordered another sleep study, the outcome mild sleep apnea, in which narcolepsy was still not ruled out. CPAP was ordered VA Lake issued the machine. I had problems with the nasal mask, VA tried three diffident types, but none work. I mention it to my GA VA Rep, who saw my record and told me that my service connected Nasal Fracture with Septum Deflection, could be the problem. My sleep Dr referred me to an ENT, his report stated that patient has trouble breathing through his nose and cpap mask. After the physical exam, I was noted to have turbinate hypertrophy, deviated septum 90% obstructed. ENT is writing me a nexus letter stating, that the Nasal Fracture with Septum Deflection is as likely as not the cause of my sleep apnea. Is this a valid statement from an ENT or will VA do a re-examination, and deny this to?

    2. Second issue, I read in your letter Some tips for filing a VA disability claim. The letter stated, that, “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: ——-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.

    If my case can be settled without going thought a CUE could I cancel the it and still get the back pay that was due because of the mistake that was made or the evidence that was over looked.
    I have been trying since 1995. I hope you can expedite, or get me on the right fast track for my issue.

    Your help in this matter will be greatly appreciated.

    I really hope you can help

  162. MIKE

    I AM A 100% TOTALLY DISABLED PHYSICIANS ASSISTANT WHO HAVE BEEN TOTALLY DISABLED FOR 10 YEARS. I M ON SOCIAL SECURITY AND I HAVE PRIVATE DISABILITY POLICY THAT I COLLECT ON. I OWNED AND OPERATED 2 MEDICAL CLINICS AND PAID MILLIONS IN TAXES. I HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH LUPUS, SJOGRENS AND FIBROMYALGIA AND RAYNAUDS AND HAVE HAD BOTH HIPS REPLACED AND THEY ARE ON RECALL. I HAVE A HOST OF ENDOCRINE PROBLEMS THAT A WHITE MAN IN HIS EARLY FORTIES SHOULD NEVER EXPERIENCE. I AM A CAMP LEJEUNE CLAIMANT. I LIVE IN RICHMOND KY. 90 MILES FROM LOUISVILLE. TODAY I JUST RECEIVED A NOTICE THAT THE VA HAS RECEIVED MY SECOND CLAIM FILED IN EARLY OCTOBER. THERE ARE 200 CLAIMS THEY ARE PROCESSING PER THE PAPER, BUT I AM SURE IT IS HIGHER NOW. IT HAS BEEN A YEAR AND I HAVE NOT HEARD ANYTHING BUT THEY HAVE MY FILE AND THEY ARE BEGINNING TO EVALUATE BUT NOW I HAVE A 30 DAY PERIOD TO GET THE REST OF THE INFORMATION IN OR THEY COULD RULE. I SUBMITTED OVER 900 DOCUMENTS FULL OF RESEARCH AND MEDICAL RECORDS AND NEXUS LETTERS. I HAVE A CHOICE TO HAVE THEM EVALUATE IT AS IS OR WAIT AND SUBMIT MORE INFORMATION. WELL I AM GOING TO SUBMIT MORE INFORMATION YOU BET AND I AM THOROUGH. MY QUESTION IS, HOW MUCH LONGER WILL I HAVE TO WAIT IF I CHOSE TO WAIT TO SUBMIT MORE PAPERWORK THAT WILL TAKE ME 5-7 WEEKS TO PREPARE AS I HAVE HAVE MY BROTHER TO DO THE TYPING AND RESEARCH. I CAN NOT WAIT ANOTHER YEAR TO HAVE A DECISION. I SPENT OVER 50,000 DOLLARS LAST YEAR FOR MY MEDICAL CARE ALONE. I CAN NOT SUSTAIN SUCH OUTLAYS LIKE THIS ANY LONGER. ALL I ASK IS A FAIR SHAKE, I HAVE BEEN PATIENT FOR A YEAR, BUT I AM COMING TO YOU FOR SOME KIND OF REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS OF WHEN MY CASE WILL BE DECIDED. IT IS A VERY COMPLEX ILLNESS.

    THANKS
    JIM MORELAND PA-C, MHS

    • Mike P says:

      Jim

      The individual that you really need to discuss this with is Mr. Thomas (Tom) Pampering.

      His Address is;
      Director, Compensation & Pension Service (21)
      Department of Veterans Affairs
      810 Vermont Avenue N.W.
      Washington, D.C. 20420

      Please send him a letter registered return receipt as soon as possible!

      Ensure that you include your service number on the letter and the department of Vetarns Affairs that you has your case.

      Also, Did you get in touch with a Veteran Service Organization as I recommended. They can somehow get information directly from the VA office that is handling your claim.

      With all of the claims that are pending and the overwhelming Agent Oranges cases that are being processed, one year is not a long time for a decision to be rendered.

      In your case, you may also try writing a hardship letter to the office that is handling your claim. It sounds like you stand a good chance of getting your claim moved up on the decision list based on the condition that you say your are in (that is if it is read and processed with immediately feed back.

      In any case, it should have them try and resolve your case a little faster.

      Start writing today. Send one letter to Mr. Pamperin and one to your VA office.

      Sincerely,

      Mike P

      • JIM says:

        THANKS MIKE, I HAVE UNDERGONE MULTIPLE SURGERIES THIS YEAR ALONE AGAIN AND I WILL TAKE YOUR ADVICE ON THIS MANNER. I HAVE SINCE HEARD FROM THE LOUISVILLE VA AND THEY SAY THEY ARE PROCESSING MY FILE. I AM A LITTLE FRUSTRATED FOR THE LENGTH IT HAS TAKEN, BUT I HAVE ALWAYS TREATED AND COMMUNICATED WITH RESPECT AS I KNOW THEY HAVE A RELENTLESS AND UNTHANKFUL JOB AT RESOLVING VA CLAIMS. SO, YOUR ADVICE IS GREATLY APPRECIATED AND THANKS FOR THE TIMELY RESPONSE. IT SURE HELPS TO HAVE YOUR INPUT. JIM MORELAND

  163. Will Lehman says:

    Although I just read through the comments quickly, something which I did not read, was the fact that in years past many of us were run off by the VA and we are now trying to get justice in the VA “fog of time”. In the pre-Court of Appeals of Veteran Claims era, once you were screwed by the BVA, it was pretty much over. Most VSO’s would not help you and the VA rarely told you there were options to reopen a claim. Now, there are aging veterans who are faced with reopening their original claims and un-fucking the mess created 30 years ago incompetent RO working in concert with incompetent VSO’S.I was one of those veterans. I fought my claim for 10 years and lost thousands of dollars in retro-active pay because of an incompetent VSO and outright VA lies. Today, rated at 100%, I work pro-bono, on a part time basis, doing records reviews and analysis of military and VA c-files , for an attorney who handles claims, which have been previously denied by the VA. I am often infuriated by what I find, both in the military records and the c-files. I was a corpsmen, and I wish that back then, I had a better understanding of the VA, my records would have been much more important to me than they were.Part of my penance for that is that I constantly talk to active duty members and tell them get everything you can documented, I don’t care if its an ingrown toenail. I also speak to veterans groups about the process and assist them in finding competent attorneys to handle their claims after the notice of decision denies them benefits, which as everyone here knows, is much to frequent.Our service organizations argue that we do not need attorneys, but then when they fuck up a claim at the BVA level, they kick you to the curb, unless they feel the case is extremely important to their cause.My advice to everyone here, is go to http://www.vetadvocates.com/directory.html and find a good attorney to assist in your claim.

  164. Mr.Pamperin

    I wanted to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to reply and help my fellow Veterans! I understand the claims frustration as i am having problems myself. It has been a breath of fresh air to have a man of your status clarify some needed answers.VA seems to be headed in a positive direction!

  165. Juan C. Lopez-Heredia says:

    I input a claim in Puerto Rico but just moved to Kissimmee Florida, I did the chance of Address but have not heard from the VA. Would like to know how my claim is doing?

  166. Gregg F says:

    Tom, Let me first say I’m sorry for my harsh and rash replys to you and your diligent work that you supply to us veterans of all wars. It’s so frustrating not knowing or getting questions answered from my local RO (Pitt. Pa.).I’m again requesting your services to look into the status of my appeal and anything you con do to speed things along. File#27267681.Last four 7548.Again I’m sorry for my actions.Respectfully Gregg F

  167. Ivan says:

    Tom

    Good article on navigating the VA bureaucracy. Thanks for taking the time to communicate to the Vets who are just trying to make sense ofthis process. I know your job title comes with a target bolted to your back and thank you is a suspect word but after serving for 24 years in the AF I undrerstand all too well how organizations function or don’t funtion.

    I left active duty 1 Dec 09, I filed my claim 23 Dec 09. I completed my C & P Exam Jan 10. As of 13 Feb 2011, I still don’t have a decision. However, I received 3 letters from the VA explaining their growing work load (Working 2008 claims in 2009, 2009 claims worked in 2010, ect)and they are working my claim and “there is no need to call”. However, I discovered after calling VA in December 2010, that my claim was at the Development team but due to the work load the Baltimore office, “brokered it out to the Cleveland office. “ After nearly 15 months of protracted activity I am considering my options for moving my claim forward. I certainly welcome any advice.

    Ivan

  168. wendy turner says:

    Dear Tom,

    I wanted to first say thank you for all your service to our country and your comrades. I am new to this and I have finally decided to file for VA benefits due to 2 horrible circumstances that began while in the military and continue to make my life almost unbearable at times, but at 41 and these wounds not coming from enemy fire, the sting is almost worse.
    I served in the Air Force from 1992-2001, as a pharmacy technician. It was a fun job. However we were constantly told that when we dispensed meds form our dispensers, many of the products had residual effects that could cause Cancer among a slew of other things but hopefully would never happen, but could. We also handled Chemo drugs with our bare hands which we all knew could cause cancer when touched.
    Let me start back in 1995, my right foot began to tingle and was having trouble, out of the clear blue, my right foot always felt uncomfortable along with I personally noticed that my gait began to shift, but thought maybe I was being over reactive.. I also taught aerobics at the fitness center along with participating in classes in the evening. What I used to be able to do during step aerobics was now becoming harder and I even tripped over the lowest step a few times. I also noticed that when I got off an exercise machine, I could not walk right away; I had to wait for my foot to relax. We left Germany in 98, I was pregnant, and while staying in TLF, I fell getting into the shower face down and had a deep, dark bruise from my neck to my ankles, luckily the baby was fine. My fatigue continued but blamed it on the pregnancy but once Lindsey was born, the fatigue got worse even with naps and extra sleep at night. I also noticed that my right foot would sometimes walk very heavy when I was fatigued/tired. My husband was also in the military and we both decided to get out in early 2001. As each month passed, my right side got a teeny bit worse. I worked in the pharmaceutical sales industry and when ever I would talk to my neuro friends, they would say it could be MS, MD, or ALS, I was too afraid to find out but at the same time my quality of life was slowly diminishing. In 2004, I realized that when I walked in sandals my right big toe would not move and was soon diagnosed with foot drop. Also in the middle of 2004, my daughter was waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs and I ran up stairs and because of that toe, broke the bones around my left eye and got two dark black eyes. I needed to get into the Doctor at Ft Belvoir, but the only doc who could see me was a Richard Dombrowski, DO in the ortho clinic. He watched me walk in the clinic all the way down the hall and said this was an easy diagnosis, I HAD MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS. I was devastated. He knew this so quickly because he was one of the people in charge of the MS clinic for the ARMY so he had been doing this a very long time. He is now at Ft Sam Houston, I immediately had a spinal tap; my IgG was high but nonspecific. When we finally had the MRI, the plaques showed up. Unfortunately those plaques were seen in the C-Spine which is such a small area but was the area that effected by ability to move. In Jan 2005, NNMC officially diagnosed me with MS and although I still do not have a massive amount of plaques they are continuing to show up and also affect my cognitive skills. My life now consists of with a cane sometimes a provided wheelchair, My Neurologist who officially diagnosed me documented that my MS started with those first symptoms 10 years earlier while active duty in the military. Besides the fact that I had to go out on disability, long term know, I can never and have never been able to be a room parent or go on a field trip or take a long walk, heck even a short walk, and I no longer can ride a bike. My husband and daughter always include me, but I am now the official holder and watcher. I fall almost every day; I have for the past ten years and often do it in public places. I have lost a great deal of my bladder function and my ability to hold in #2. When it is ready it is ready. I take Detrol for this. I also take provigil but I am still exhausted. We live in Northern Virginia where all the houses are 2 stories. We bought a house on the smaller side but it takes me a good 10 minutes to get up the stairs. When I get really tired, which does not take long, I fall. 2 months ago, I fell backwards down the stairs and had a concussion and for a short time was asking my daughter who she was and that made me feel horrible because she was terrified. My gait is completely off; I have a terrible time walking. My cognitive skills are starting to go downhill, making rational decisions, my memory sometimes looses itself, I have terrible spasticity in my right leg almost regularly that makes me often need the help of someone else to help bend my leg and with that spasticity comes a weakness on my entire right side including loosing the ability to hold anything in my hand, to include utensil or writing instrument. I was just told last month by my neurologist that my right leg has atrophied and that I need to get tested for what she believes I have, optic neuritis.
    Now comes the good stuff, remember when I first told you how working in the pharmacy caused a great deal of contact with Carcinogenics, well that was all I needed to allow all of those carcinogens to run rampid in my body and in the same year as the MS, 2005, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. I was only 35 at the time and already had so much on plate. I did not have the gene but I needed to be treated aggressively, hard core chemo first and then surgery. I had over 7 rounds of death like chemo with horrific vomiting and 2 weeks through all of this in the hospital for neutropenia that could have killed me. The chemo made my bones hurt and I am still treating my MS. After the 7th treatment, my body went into septic shock and was placed in the ICU for 2 says, they told my husband it was a good thing he brought me in because my organ were very close to shutting down with my 105 and climbing fever.. Once I was better and removed from the ICU, I was then diagnosed with a heart condition that there is no treatment for, either sudden death or tachycardia. This condition was one that I was probably born with and only be detected through tachycardia or a stress test, which I had many throughout my military years and they saw nothing. Interesting. Once my Chemo was complete, I was ready for my radical mastectomy. I had my Centinal node removed with other lymphnodes. This arm where the lymphnodes were taken out, this arm can never be used for taking blood, blood pressure and other circumstances that could possibly cause permanent arm edema. After my mastectomy was done and an expander was placed in the area where my breast once lay. The morning after my surgery, my plastic surgeon came in to check my dressing and I was purple from the neck to the bottom of my rib cage. She took me back in for immediate surgery. I had large, thick, blood clots, the size, and consistency of baseballs and they could not find the source of the bleed even after they scraped out most of the tissue. They placed the expander back in and after the first time of adding nacl to the expander, the expander began to thin out my skin to the point where my skin was beginning to tear, and the expander was ready to come through. So back I went in for surgery, to take out the expander. I waited an additional year to have anything else done since I was not ready for anything but a positive result. At this time, OIF was only doing plastics at NNMC so I was as outsourced to Georgetown where I was very blessed to get a doctor who could make my breast look similar. I had a DIEP flap that involved cutting my stomach from hip to hip to remove an artery on each side and connect those arteries to my new breast . I had to stay in the ICU for 3 days before step down therapy. I know have a large scar across my stomach, from hip to hip that was done due to the breast cancer, a scar around my entire new breast that is definitively not symmetrical and huge holes on the side of the new breast from the drain. I will never have back the body I had, however thankful I am alive. Since my breast cancer was HER2, estrogen based, I had to take tamoxifen, another poison daily for five years. I recently hit my five year mark and since I am no where near menopause, the original cancer has to be prevented from coming back, I have to surgically have my ovaries out to push my body over the edge into menopause, a natural occurrence but not natural for my age. I heard that this process of pushing my body will be horrible and intense.
    In Pharmacies today there are many protective measures in place to ensure that employees are not exposed to carcinogenic or other dirty drugs. If these measures could have been taken when I was in the pharmacy, I can just imagine how life would/could/should now is, unfortunately, I have to live the horrible consequences.
    I do believe that these two disease’s, one alone could push someone over the edge, has caused me to experience PTSD, The NIH characterizes PTSD as “Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder It can occur after you’ve seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death”. Unfortunately I deal with this everyday. A perfect example was I left the mall yesterday late afternoon and because I lose my balance and fell, I tied 3 times to get back up, unsuccessfully of course, and I was in the middle of the parking lot crying, I also cry a lot and have one person pity parties for one, but mainly because this is what my life has become. Finally a nice couple came by and helped me up. When the wife first came over, I asked her if her husband could please come over too because “those without MS don’t understand that when I fall, I become dead weight and it you are not strong enough to pick up deadweight, then it will be impossible to get me up. This couple came by to help me after 2 other people had walked by because they probably assumed that I was drunk because that is what I look like, but you can’t change others.
    Before my daughter was born in 1998, I was told by the military and it was documented that my pelvic bone was too small for natural birth. Unfortunately the civilian hospital did not pay attention to them or I and nurses made me push hard for over 5 hours, leaving bruises all over my ribs. Once the doctors came in they still did not care and were determined to get her out and she was efface, the doctor was pompous and tried both the vacuum pump and the forceps to pull her out. The finally gave up, acting angry at me and did a C-Section. That was inappropriate and unnecessary behavior
    I am now on long term disability and have applied for SS. However, because we live where we do, not by choice, we cannot even afford the extra money for a chair that could take me up the stairs. I am sorry for the long winded message and I thank you so much for your service, but my life is forever negatively changed to include ongoing depression, self inadequacy and a dependency on others that I would never wish upon anyone. Please let me know wHat you thinK

    Wendy Turner

  169. Ricardo Cavazos says:

    I have been waiting almost a year on my claim and they are still in the stage of gathering information although I have sent them everything they have asked for the problem is they ask for 1 thing at a time instead of continuing to review and find out everything needed. A year is way too long to wait on a claim and I cant get a straight answer from any one I call 2 times a week and am told something different every time. I need someone to tell me what is going on.

  170. Retired Marine says:

    Mr. Pamperin,
    Thanks for your website, information, and advocacy for veterans.
    Just wanted to share my timeline, it may help others to gauge their own.
    – 18 June 2010 – submitted my claim to Wash DC office, with complete and legible copies of my med/den records. Benefits During Discharge Program.
    – Jul/Aug 2010 – attended 5 different exams/physicals at the Wash DC VA Hospital. Made all the appts, never cancelled or rescheduled.
    – 01 Oct 2010 – my retirement date from the USMC. I ensured the VA had a copy of my DD-214, so as not to delay claim.
    – 27 Oct 2010 – my claim goes to the rating official.
    – 15 Feb 2011 – my claim is still with the rating official/Winston Salem regional office.

    So, my timeline is:
    – To date, 240 days since claim was submitted to VA.
    – To date, 110 days with the rating official.
    – Still no decision.

    I’ve recently written letters to the Vet Benefit Administration, and the Winston Salem Regional Office, inquiring on the status and requesting to be contacted. I also monitor EBenefits and occasionally call the 827-1000 number.

    Good luck to all.
    Semper Fidelis.

    • Michael L. Garee says:

      Dear Retired Marine:

      Thanks for sharing your claim “timeline.” It was very informative and, at least for me personally, helpful because I now know I am not alone in experiencing inordinate delays at the various claim phases, particularly the so-called “rating” phase.

      I submitted my claim for prostate cancer residuals (Agent Orange-related from my combat service with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam, 1966-1967) and secondary chronic fatigue syndrome to the Atlanta, GA, VARO on May 29, 2010.

      As this is being written, my claim has been pending for 269 days and has been “in rating” since December 6, 2010, 79 days.

      The “national averages” touted by VA for each phase of the claim are as follows:

      DEVELOPMENT: 102 – 139 days

      RATING: 16 – 27 days

      NOTIFICATION: 10 – 40 days

      According to these averages, then, the MAXIMUM number of days it should take to process a claim would be 206; the overall AVERAGE number of days would be 166.6, which is close to the 161 days the VA currently claims it takes to process the “average” claim. Obviously, in my case and yours (as well as many, many others), today these averages are apparently largely meaningless, if in fact they ever have had any genuine meaning.

      When I originally began calling the 800 number to track my claim, I was told that I should expect to wait about five to six months. Then it became seven to nine months. The latest thing I was told (about a month ago) was to expect it to take at least a year to process my claim.

      What is the truth, insofar as current processing time is concerned? Who knows.

      I am fully aware that the VA is absolutely overwhelmed with claims today, but it would seem to me that they would be far better served to issue NO time estimates whatsoever as regards claim handling or any phase of it. By issuing estimated timeframes the VA only builds up certain expectations among veterans, and these expectations rarely seem to be being met today by the VA.

      My biggest concern today—and it may well be yours as well—is whether or not the VA somehow lost or misplaced by claim, since it has been in “rating” nearly THREE times the estimated maximum number of days they say it takes to clear that phase. To me, being in “rating”—and an indication that the claim is “ready for a decision”—for so long is tantamount to having a car completely built and ready to come off the assembly line, but no one seems able to start it up and drive it off the assembly line! That would certainly “back up” the assembly line, wouldn’t it? Hey, wait a minute! That’s apparently what is happening at the VA, too—the assembly line is backed up because no one seems capable (or willing) of making a final decision on the claim once they have all the evidence they need to make a decision.

      Why in the world would anyone want to come in to their office each day, know that there were claims that could be finalized and moved off their desks (and therefore out of their “hair”), and not do that?

      Michael L. Garee

      • Retired Marine says:

        Mike,
        Exactly.
        If the VA would publish realistic timelines, it might make the pill a little easier to swallow and probably reduce the workload and complaints to the 1-800-827-1000 number. But when the VA advertises and tells me the timeline is approx 161 days to process a claim, and I’m on day 250, I’m going to start losing confidence in the VA, or think they lost my claim.
        Good luck to you, thanks for your service.

        • Charles Cauthen says:

          Mike, You’re looking at 18-24 months. I don’t know why VA has to misinform and give Vets bad information. My advice is not to call the VA. Talk to your VSO, a good one will tell you the truth. Eventually they will get to your file, it has to be looked at by 100 different people, when you call, they will put in the back of the line. Most importantly DON’T piss them off! Don’t believe all the BS you hear. Forget about it, it’ll drive you crazy, and it really is OUT OF YOUR HANDS.One day you’ll get an answer, expect the worse.

          Good luck to you guys.
          CTC. 173rd Airborne

    • Retired Marine says:

      You can add 45 days to my above timeline. My BDD claim is still at Winston Salem in the decision phase since 27 Oct 10. On 25Feb11, I requested congressional assistance in determining the status of my claim, and still don’t have an answer. I guess the VA treats the Congressman just like the veterans – ignore them.

  171. Gregg F says:

    Tom, Still waiting for your reply about my appeal status at the RO Pittsburgh Pa. Waiting patiently Gregg F

  172. dana k says:

    I filed for disability in 1992-1993 and received a 10% rating. Now I have more health related problems that were not included in my original claim. How do I apply for reconsideration of the initial determination and include my new problems?
    I fell off a rooftop during my service time and injured my knee, I got out of the service for problems from that injury. Now I am suffering from a disabling spinal issue, have had numerous surgeries and my civilian (NON VA) surgeon has rated me 100% disabled and unable to work, drive, etc….They cannot rule out that my condition was worsened or even caused by my time in the service.
    How do I get the VA to reconsider my initial claim and include new doctor information in the hopes my disability rating with VA will be increased?

    • Mike P says:

      Dana

      Not sure if you have received a reply to this message. If so, here is a little more information that I have gathered reading the VA web site www@va.gov.

      In your case, I recommend that you go to the forms menu on the VA web site and find VA form 21-4138 (fillable). Type In the block that that begins with “The following statement is made in support of my claim”, the following statement “example: Request that I be reevaluated for an increased rating for my current service connected disability (state what the condition is). Also, state that “I would like to open a new claim for a spinal condition (state what the doctor diagnosed the spinal condition as”. Sign and date the form and send it in registered return receipt to your supporting Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office. That will get things started.

      While waiting for a VA response (VCAA, etc), look for a good Veteran Service organization and request that they assist you with identifying medical evidence that will support your request for increase and evidence that will somehow support your spinal condition as it relates to your military service.

      The VSO representative will tell you what is needed in order to substantiate your new claim.

      Good luck!

      Mike P

      • dana k says:

        Mike, I looked at the VA Website today and my claim is still in phase 1, they have a section that says WHAT HAVE WE DONE; And in the first block are the letters MES. What does that mean?
        Also, the site says: You may be entitled to compensation at the 100 percent rate if you are unable to secure and follow a… substantially gainful occupation because of your service-connected disabilities. If you believe you qualify, complete, sign, and return the enclosed VA Form 21-8940, Veterans Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability.
        6/25/2011 7/27/2011 and then another section says: Ask your last employer to complete and return the enclosed VA Form 21-4192, Request for Employment I…nformation.
        Are they sending me these forms? Are they sending the employment form to my last employer or is that my responsibility?
        I am just not sure what to do from here as nobody ever sends me info nor do i receive any calls to update me.

  173. Juan Alvarez says:

    Mr Pamperin,

    The VA BDD factsheet states that the goal for BDD claims is to have “benefits delivered within 60 days” of release from active duty.
    Has that goal been changed? Every fellow vet (two bases in FL) I know that has retired in 2010 has yet to receive a rating. The BDD was designed to expedite claims, so far in 2010 that promise appears to have been broken.

    I submitted my BDD claim in May 2010 through my base. My C&Ps were promptly scheduled in June and my last C&P (a follow up) was on 19 August 2010.
    I retired 30 Sep 2010
    According to VA reps I have spoken to when calling the 800#, my claim went to decision/rating on 28 Sep 2010 to Winston-Salem instead of St Pete… I retired in Florida.
    It is 16 Feb 2011 and still no answer. When I call the toll free number I have also been told that some “unknown action” was taken on 14 Dec but the agents could not explain what it was. Lastly eBenefits shows an additional claim in closed status dated Nov 22 2010 with no explanation of what it was, and none of the reps can explain why it is there either.
    My questions:
    Has the goal been changed or at least is the VA communicating to the bases that it is no longer able to comply with the stated goal of 60 days? The VA rep I spoke to on 14 Feb told me that it was unofficial but he heard that BDD claims where going to take 6 to 9 months AFTER retirement to settle.

    My claim date on eBenifits shows 1 Oct 2010 – even though I submitted my claim in May. When the VA does finally close my claim out will it count back to May 2010 when my claim was submitted and stamped or will the VA use the 1 Oct date to count the number of days it took to process? This is data the VSOs should be tracking also b/c it could lead to the release of false performance data.

    Last question: Will my file stay with the Winston-Salem office because of it being a BDD, or will it be transferred to St Pete upon completion… nearest to where I live (Tampa)? I have read on a vet blog that files that were associated with BDD claims will not be transferred.

    Thank You

    JA

    • Sean Bruce says:

      Juan,

      Amazingly, your claim submission date (may 2010) and retirement date (30 Sep 2010) are exactly the same as mine. Unfortunately, I have had only one appt in March this year. I am very discouraged by this process to this point. I’m curious, have you had any updates to you situation since you made this post?

      Best,
      Sean

      • Juan Alvarez says:

        Sean

        I have heard nothing. I have called several times. I also submitted an IRIS on 14 Feb… and a follow-up.. No response at all from the RO.

        Thanks for your service… best of luck to you

        JA

  174. DANIEL BRACKER says:

    Tom,
    Thanks for this article. It really taught me alot, about the flaws in the system. I know that you are trying to make the system work better, and you probably learned a few things too. I feel sorry for you, that some of the blogs attacked you. I’m sure, that you didn’t deserve to be written to,or attacked in that manner. Thanks for the time and effort you put into this, which is truely above and beyond. It has truely been the best blog on the site.

  175. Pamela says:

    Tom,
    Your article was excellent.
    My claim was submitted in May 2010 (when the VA got it and opened it according to the Regional VA phone person). It had an addendum added in Jan 2011, as I underwent 2 brain surgeries in Sep and Oct 2010.
    The Board at the Navy Yard has done their part, and it has gone to the VA (I believe about a week ago). There is no update at the Regional VA office. Where is my claim?How long until it shows up in the Regional Office? When can I reasonably expect it to be completed?
    You say in your article, “Communicate, communicate, communicate.” With who? I’ve yet to find anyone that wants or cares if I communicate. Calling the VA Regional Office and finding out it’s not even there yet, is terribly frustrating. The NNMC and VA put together my claim after extensive appts at the VA in DC. No one said not to claim for anything.

    R/
    Pamela

  176. Marcus says:

    Mr.Tom Pamperin
    I was in a car accident in June of 2002 while in Airborne school that I was hospitalized and had emergency surgery for. I have no memory of the accident or ever evn being in the hospital. not long after the accident I noticed that I was having short term memory problems, severe migraines, lower back and shoulder pain pain in my right knee and ankle. I filed a claim for all but only received 20% disability. I still have all the pains and memory loss to this day and decided to go to a local chiropractor recently and she explained to me that my right hip was twisted, causing my right foot to stick out at a 45 degree angle and that this could be why I was having the back, knee and ankle pain. Should I resubmit a claim for my knee, ankle and memory loss?

  177. Charles Cauthen says:

    Mr. Pamperin,
    I watched Sec Shensiki plead his case to Congress about Viet Nam Vets and AGENT ORANGE. Saw their reaction to this, the President made a statement on TV. The VA got their 110 billion dollars, partly on the Sec.’s concern about Viet Nam vets.Thursday and Friday, I was told by two reliable,inside sources that all regional claims offices were ordered to STOP Viet Nam/ AGENT ORANGE claims, stack em up and put em in storage.Why would they do such a thing? Does President Obama and Congress know this? Do the American people need to know this?

    Charles T. Cauthen
    173rd Viet Nam Combat Vet

    • Michael L. Garee says:

      Charles,

      As a Vietnam veteran (U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam 1966 and 1967) awaiting resolution of my disability claim for prostate cancer, I sure hope you’re wrong about this, or at least that your “insiders” are wrong about it! If, however, the information you received is correct . . . WOW!

      If you will read through the posts to this blog you will notice that the last date Mr. Pamperin was online responding to posts was February 1st. Don’t know if discussion is “closed” on this blog or not, or if Mr. Pamperin simply got “side-tracked” for awhile. If he returns to the site, I sure will be interested in seeing his response to your post, though.

      Also, I noticed that you responded to my response to “retired Marine” above and indicated that I should expect not to hear anything on my claim for 18 to 24 months (my claim is in the Atlanta, GA, VARO), and that when I do hear, to expect the “worst.” What did you base that on, your own experience, information from your representative, the VARO, what? (Not trying to be argumentative, just want additional information.)

      By the way, I currently am not working with a representative. To be honest about it, it seemed to me to be relatively simple and straightforward to complete all necessary paperwork for my claim myself. Also, I really didn’t want any “middle man” between me and the VA. I may, however, live to regret this choice because, certainly, I can’t get any information from the VARO except that which is available through the 800#. It’s just a matter of wait . . . wait . . . wait . . . never knowing if my claim is lost, misplaced, etc.

      So sad.

      • You probably won’t see this, but in case you do:

        The VA rates easy claims (those that can be quickly denied or there is no doubt about the vets situation) in about 8 weeks. Anything more complicated will extend to 18 months or more (personal experience). Beware of the DRO offer to “expedite” your claim in lieu of an appeal. I went that route and waited about 10 months for them to tell me that my claim was still denied. The cost was that my package could have been in the VA Court of Claims for Veterans’ Appeals instead of the inbox of a VA Regional Office supervisor. My appeal is now in the 3 to 5 year appeals queue.

        The VA continues to fail at their job. The timelines that we hear about are those given to the Congress and the Senate. This is the only group who gets a response from the VA to letters and queries. The VA does not respond to vets. I have no sympathy for the people doing the “work” since they should be trained sufficiently to get the work done. Think about it, if we did our jobs at the same level of professionalism and dedication as the VA employees, we would never win any war and we would all be under the USSR since it would not have collapsed! At least when we were in combat we knew our enemy, his capabilities, and was able to defeat him based on that info. We cannot defeat the VA, only roll with their timeline. Mr. Pamperin probably was told to cease and desist since he actually provided some limited help. That is probably why he no longer participates in this blog (which I am guessing is dead at this point).

        Best wishes to all and Semper Fi (Retired Marine Officer)

  178. Roy Klein says:

    I am a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran. My disability claim was fled on 29 Sep 2009. And, since that time the VA lost a set or two of my medical records despite having receipted for them earlier. Each month the lost records would miraculously be found, but a different set would be lost. Finally, after some intervention by my U.S. Congressman, the VA stopped losing my records.

    But, the VA then started the game of bouncing my claim between “development” and “decision”. The VA did this at least two documented times, each time the decision team found a different excuse to bounce it back to development. Following is the summary of the last two times my claim was sent to “decision” and bounced back to “development”.

    On 1 December 2010, I was told that my claim was “Ready for Decision and is with the rating specialist”. But, the very next day, on 2 December 2010, the VA informed me that my “claim was returned to the development phase while [the VA] makes a line of duty determination regarding a vehicle accident that occurred while traveling to reserve training.” The line of duty determination is the exact same issue for which I was told was resolved in August 2010. Apparently, the VA either did not read, or conveniently lost, the definitive proof provided to them in August 2010. Therefore, I resubmitted another clarification letter in December 2010.

    On 10 February 2011, I requested the status of my claim. On 11 February 2011, I was informed that my claim was sent to “decision” on 25 January 2011. But, on 22 February 2011, my claim was again bounced back to “development” because they interpreted my “clarification letter” as showing that I claimed additional disabilities. However, my support statement did not mention any additional disabilities. Although, page 2 of my statement mentioned a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) conducted by Social Security Administration in March 2010 and submitted to VA in September 2010.

    Therefore, it is readily apparent that the December 2010 “decision” team ignored the FCE (submitted in September 2010). This is not the first time VA either ignored, or conveniently lost, my submitted records.

    Now I know why there is such a large backlog of claims. The VA has found a loophole to prevent from being sued. Apparently, as long as they don’t make a decision, veterans cannot APPEAL or SUE the VA. To me, this sounds like Fraud, Waste, and Abuse. But, it seems that the VA is exempt from this as well.

  179. Dylan Finsand says:

    Wow this place is so swell. I feel better already knowing every one in the big VA are cared for. Group Hug There are some very serious delimas and big mistakes made that effect lives in real time. I perplexing to think so many raters either just dont care or are very incompitent. Really it is a scary thought because we have to put our lives and futures in these peoples hands. I have dementia how about a rater bring me thier car to fix. I use to be a good mechanic. If they loose every thing cause I cant fix the car and they cant get to work so on so on.. I dont have any ideaa how raters are paid but would actually like to know. Why would a rater/s make a desicion with out SMRs in thier hand? It happens… Why would c&p happen with out smr? It happen… and to much to be consider mistakes in my oppinion. But to be fair there are lots of good stories to, and VA has come a long ways in many areas.

  180. I honestly think that VA would serve the Vets better if all of the Vets had a contact person.

  181. Chris says:

    Sir, I’m a Vietnam Vet who retired in 1990 with 10% disability. Since then I’ve developed Sleep Apnea, a back problem and just in the past 2 months Tinnitus and a 35% hearing loss in one ear and 25% in the other. I’ve received an additional 10% for my back. When I requested re-evaluation last year I listed Sleep Apnea however it was denied because there was nothing in my medical records although back in 1990 when I retired it wasn’t even mentioned. Is there any way I can re-file another claim for this and get consideration and what about my Tinnitus and hearing loss? Should I file a claim for this or would it be a lost cause?

    Thank you for your time
    Chris

  182. Rick says:

    As of March 30 it will be a year since I filed my claim. When I call they are telling me that it is still in the discovery phase. I am having an issue with this as all my paperwork has been turned in. My daughters live in germany and I only get to see them once every two years but if the va doesnt hurry up and make a decision I will not get to see them as I cant afford to pay to fly them home if I dont have income coming in.

  183. John Minnigh says:

    Army, Vietnam, two Purple Hearts. Stepped on a landmine with left foot. shrapnel went into uppper left leg. Day after being released filed VA claim in 8-69 for bootm of left foot. Had no shrapnel or open wound but bottom of foot hurt. Did not know what was causing it, however, I do now. It was torn ligaments from the blast under my foot, Plantar Faciitis. Rated by VA 1970 at -0- percent. Back in 1970 X-ray would not show torn ligaments and MRI was not invented. Filed claim again 6-2010. VA has been deceiving me. They examined my foot, told them of the pain and what happened and they gave me an X-ray rather than MRI. X-ray shows nothing so I am rated at -0- persent again. I am appealing. Come to find out the reason why VA does not want me to be rated with a percentage is back in 1969 their Rating Decision was for my RIGHT foot rater than my left. My claim from 1969 has never been adjusicated, or closed out. Meaning if I am found qualified I would be due back pay for 42 years. Does anybody have any input on this?

  184. george h. says:

    contrary to popular belief i do really think that the va is geared towards helping vets.i have filed for benefits with an awesome vso officer GEORGE BOSOLET and all i really did was show up and follow instructions and though it took about a year for the va to make a decision the process was seamless and favorable so i don`t want to beat up on the va too much but like everything else there is a whole lot to be done to improve the service e.g the turn around time could be sooner it is currently too long and that in itself can add to an already stressful process.To all vets however i must insist that you retain the help of a vso officer or someone qualified to assist you don`t do it alone these folks are familiar with the process and the language and really want to help vets they will take on the va for you too should you have a denial.vets must understand too that there are criteria and if you don`t meet them you simply can`t get an award speak with your doctors and your reps get it right on the first try.lots of great info here though really enjoy reading all the comments.

  185. Sean Bruce says:

    Mr. Pamperin,

    This was a great article, with great insight into the process. As I read the timelines you outlined for each program, I am surprised my claim is taking so long! During TAP at Tinker Air Force Base I was encouraged to file my claim while still on active duty. I filed my claim in May 2010, began terminal leave in Jun 2010, and retired effective 1 Oct 2010. VA initiated communication with me has been nill until just about two months ago. Now, I constantly get conflicting reports from the VA stating my case is being handled as a Quick Start and other communication stating it is no longer being handled as Quick Start since I am no longer on active duty. I get conflicting information regarding who will handle my evaluation apptms (QTC versus the VA) and each organization points the finger at the other! I was out-of-town for two weeks in early Feb. As I reviewed my mail when I returned I realized I was notified and missed a QTC appt within the two-week period I was gone. I contacted QTC to inquire, and they informed me the appt should have never been made with them, but all is being handled directly by the VA anyway. A few weeks ago I actually had one appt at the VA medical Center in Oklahoma City.

    I’ve called the VA several times to attempt to obtain some clarification and help move the process along, and each time an “inquiry” is submitted, but in each case so far I’ve not received follow-up. Additionally, in early Jan I mailed the San Diego office (whom I understand is handling my claim) additional medical evidence of one of my claims. Unfortunately, to this day no one is able to verify receipt.

    I guess I am sharing my situation with you because it seems from these previous posts that you follow-up with people. I appreciate how you have followed-up with others in this thread as it gives me hope. I am closing on a house at the end of Jun and was hoping to have the VA funding fee waived due to my anticipated service-connected disability. It’s been 10 months since filing my BDD or “Quick Start”. I have been patient, but this far exceeds the timeline goals of the article. I feel like I have been faithful and diligent to what I’ve been asked to do, when will the VA?

    Also, why is it the VA only corresponds via mail? They always verify my phone, but I only ever receive mail correspondence. I would certainly welcome a phone call or email to help expedite the process?

    I appreciate any insight you may offer.

    Thanks,
    Sean

  186. Well here is something new. Had an appeal in for a year and had no answer then a couple weeks ago I received a new form for appeals and a statement of whether I still wanted to appeal and if I did send in the new Form 9 again. While reading the statement of case they where once again missing VA medical records and claims from 1992, 1993, and 1994 with Mr. Pamprin’s signature on them. So I sent these back and then received a letter that they where scheduling a C & P exam just because I had in an appeal and they needed it to send to the BVA. So this will be my first C & P since I filed claims in 1992. If my VSO back then would of told me that you have to get the law involved (BVA) then I could of had my claims done by now. Being that a C & P was schedule in 1993 and I had to cancel because of weather and when I asked to reschedule they did not because Mr. Pamprin and crew decided the claim with out it. Just some more CYA by the VA to cover incompetence and an excuse to avoid back pay. I also wonder if this starts the 2 year wait to have my case heard by the BVA. I might get mine done in time for the 2015 that they are stating as the we are all caught up year.

  187. Henry Bohne says:

    Tom Pamperin – I am a County VSO. Some veterans want to claim anything and everything that is wrong with them now. Making the nexus sometimes is impossible. But what really interested me in your article was the “constitutional or developmental abnormalities” description.
    I some times feel that waht the vet wants to claim as a SC disaability just doesn’t fit. For instance, kidney stones that were passed while in service. I questioned, are there damage results because of the stones? No, but I might have more some time.
    Where could I go to learn more about the “c and d abnormalities you mentioned.
    I liked you article and we are using some of your points on reducing stress, especially with PTSD type claims.

  188. steve says:

    Dear Mr. Pamperin:
    I know you are very busy and believe you are trying to help veterans and the backlog of claims…Thank you for that…
    I filed in august 2010 for PTSD and had a c&p on Jan 7, 2011.. As of this date, I have not heard on the status of my claim. Is there really any attempt for ALL regional offices to decide claims quickly, or is it only those regional offices who are located in LARGE CITIES???
    My claim is being handled by the Columbia, SC regional office and I have heard “horror” stories from other Vets who has claims pending there and it is the general concenses from other veterans in this area that their “orders” are to delay, delay, delay..
    I hope this is not true and if it is, they should be fired!!!!!!!!
    I expect that if you youtact them about my claim, it will suddely get “lost”
    Respectfull,
    Steve

  189. Randy Mosele says:

    Tom,
    I just received my claim letter from the VA for PTSD and a back injury. I am rated at 20% which was about what I expected but I was utterly shocked to read on that the VA is going to recoup my separation payment of $47,000 from the “Peace Dividend” drawdown of 1994 before I will receive anything. At my comp rate that won’t be until 2027. No one in this process mentioned that they would take back money I received to help the army meet it’s active duty officer drawdown targets almost 20 years ago. I can’t find any information on this web site that even discussed this policy. Does this sound right?

  190. Patrick F says:

    Tom,

    I need to thank you. Back in January I wrote you about my claim after waiting a year. The very next week I receive a letter from Baltimore to schedule me a C&P Exam. After nearly a year waiting, you managed to light a fire and get those in Baltimore working. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard from them since. eBenefits says my claim is in the decision phase. But it also said that for many months before. Might you check on my claim again. But please try not to upset the rater. I am forever grateful.

    Patrick [F1332]

  191. Nicole says:

    I filed a BDD claim on April 22, 2010. I hand delivered a complete Form 21-526 along with my entire medical record to the VA representative at DES-Fort Meade. After waiting about eight months (I try to keep my expectations realistic), I had not received any correspondence. In need of medical attention for one of the conditions I claimed, I called and discovered that my name and my social security number weren’t even in the system. “They must dropped the first digit of your social while inputting your data”, I was told. I couldn’t even enroll for the Health Benefits program until that problem was resolved.

    After two weeks, a mysterious agent called and told me that I had the basic information had been put on an initial record. He also told me that he would refer my case to the BDD office in Winston-Salem. Our call was disconnected, and I wasn’t able to get his ID number, or write down his name.

    I was eventually able to enroll in the Health Benefits Program. I called back and made another inquiry. As of now, it’s close to a year since I filed, my condition is worsening and the VA cannot verify the existence of my claim paperwork. I was told by an agent that I might be better off going in person to the Regional VA Office. That’s a five hour drive that I’m going to take soon, if I can arrange childcare. I hope that if I just bring all of my paperwork, maybe I can get this resolved.

  192. Mike says:

    1. Communicate, communicate, communicate”

    Why do veterans get run around concerning questions and conflicting information about their claim when contacting the 18008271000 or when iris response is done? How come the people actually working the claim are not more involved with the claimant? This is customer service talking and resolving problems and concerns the veterans have. I would think this could help both the veteran and VARO’s with claims.

    “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.”

    Ok then today I will try contacting the RO and see if this is actually how the VBA really works.
    I just got off phone with public contact at the Winston,Salem VARO and they are going to look into all this. I could tell by speaking they were not happy I was contacting them directly. They assured me they would look into my question and concerns. I know that the VA backlog is overwhelming.

    However, when you are the veteran waiting for claim adjudication and have first hand knowledge of the impact of the service connected disabilities on your life. You feel customer service should number one on the list.

  193. My question is: I was in the service from 1980 to 1986. While in the service I developed problems with my feet. I visited the military dr. Over the years my feet have start to bother me. I never made a claim for my feet. Can I make a claim even after these many years?

    Please let me know.

  194. Maybe someone can help me. I have a 80% rating, my left knee was messed up 45 years ago and last year I had to have a hip replacement due to arthritis. I was told this was caused by me favoring my knee. Do I have an avenue to try to get an increase in my rating? I cannot hold a job due to the pain and limited physical abilities. I am 65 years old.

  195. Scott B says:

    I am a retiree living in Germany as civil service. I recently found out the VA will cover service connected disabilities (already identified) through the Foreign Medical program. Since there is no VA facility overseas I will be using a foreign provider.

    This leads to my question. My rated disabilities have worsened considerably since retiring last year. How do I apply for an increase in my rating from an overseas location? The Landstuhl Regional Medical center VA office only handles separating servicemembers and not retirees. I believe my “regional office” which I keep getting referred to is in Pittsburgh.

    One of my rated (although at 0%) disabilities was profound hearing loss. I understand I can receive free hearing aids for life from the VA. However, being overseas I am not sure where these would come from.

  196. Norman Rose says:

    Mr.Thomas Pamperin:

    I have filed a claim on Jan. 27, 2010 and now it contains a 1151 claim attached to it (by the VA) which has been made a part of the original claim. I was told via telephone by the VAMC here in Shreveport to file this 1151 claim as a result of some bad doctoring and a “Peer Review” investigation.

    In February 2011 I was told they had all the info they needed for a decision and it would take from 14 to 27 days to make a decision. After about 20 days I got a letter that stated that they needed 2 more documents. I promptly sent them and them and they acknowledged receipt and told me it would be another 4 months to make a decision. On April 13 I was sent an email that stated “It appears all information needed to support your claim has been received as of April 4, 2011, as your claim is currently awaiting a decision.” Also it said “The Decision Phase is completed on most claims between 16 and 27 business days.”

    I ask another question via IRIS and received the following on April 15, in part it reads: “We are aware of the 1151 and it is part of your claim. Your Regional Office must develop for all pertinent evidence in order to make a determination as to whether or not benefits for the claimed disability or death are warranted.

    The Regional Office will send you a letter advising you of all evidence that is required to substantiate the claim. This letter will also inform you of the specific actions the Regional Office is taking in order to make a proper decision.

    The Regional Office will contact the VA Medical Center or Clinic for all pertinent records related to the treatment/examination/event and the claimed additional disability.

    The Regional Office will attempt to obtain any other medical evidence (such as private treatment records) that the veteran/claimant identifies as being relevant to the claim. Please note for private treatment records, we require a completed VA Form 21-4142, Authorization and Consent to Release Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in order to request the records on behalf of the veteran/claimant.

    When all pertinent evidence concerning the VA treatment and disability are received, ROJ may request a medical opinion to determine whether or not the veteran’s additional disability or death was proximately caused by carelessness, negligence, lack of proper skill, error in judgment, or similar finding of fault on the part of the VA, or was proximately caused by an event not reasonably foreseeable.”

    Because of this type of service and communication I do not plan to appeal anything within the framework of the VA. I am advised to talk to you before I take any further action, however I do not have any idea who to talk to or how to reach them.

    You apparently have info from the VAMC about the “PEER Review” that resulted in the VAMC telling me to file this 1151. At least you say you have everything you need to make a decision. I do not have any info about what was submitted to you by the VAMC.

    As a result of the mentioned “Bad Medicine” the quality of my life is now at the very bottom and my life expectancy has been severely impacted. I am now 100% disabled and any other decision on your part would be ludicrous.

    My 15 year experience with the VA has been really nice except for this current life ending experience.

    Sincerely,
    Norman Rose 2344
    Claim number: 20 342 758

  197. Norman Rose says:

    Sorry if I changed the subject or messed things up. My head isn’t working right.

    Norman

  198. Colleen Martin says:

    Mr. Pamperin,

    My Name is Colleen Martin. Currently I am an 80% Disabled Veteran for both my knees and PTSD. I would like to voice both my frustration and gratitude to the VA. Although it was a fight and took me ten years to receive my initial disability rating it did finally happen in approx. 2005. Since then I have had over 17 knee surgeries and have had difficulty holding a job. I am currently in VOC REHAB and have filed a re-eval since my knees were initially rated at 10%. I find it hard to believe with so many surgeries and so many impairments they were rated so low. I filed the re-eval with the Denver RO on 12/03/2010. The DAV at the Denver RO was given a power of attorney in 2004 for the initial claim. I spoke to them last week and am still waiting for a call “right back” I have received several “we are working in your claim letters” and I have been told that they are currently just processing June 2010 claims. My family is having a hard time financially since I am unemployed and would like to know what can be done to expedite the claim. Any advice assistance you could provide would be much appreciated.

    • steve says:

      Colleen:

      As you should know by now, there is nothing you can do to “expedite” anything with the VA

  199. Kandi wilson says:

    I just ets from the army a week ago. I requested all my medical records n before I ever got them they were shipped to st Louis. I have several injuries including a broken deadening in my right foot that I was told they could not fix due to having to cut tendons. My question now is how do I get started with my claim when the only paperwork I have is a form my pa signed as a “separation physical”?

  200. steve says:

    So, where did Mr. Pamperin go????????????????? His absence and lack of response is so obivious

  201. I went to CMP on November 2010 for 2 conditions then went in April for another condition. Can anybody tell me how can I GET THE STATUS OF THESE CMP’s.

    • Sign up for ebenefits on VA web site. You will have to find the sight closest to you to get verified with an ID then after that you can check it at home.

      • charles p. lamont says:

        Dear Mr. Mark Chamberlain, I just wanted to let you know that the ebenefits system sucks. I have been in the ebenifits program for more than six months and evertime I checkl the status of my appeal the only thing I see is still at the local RO, since 26 April 2010. The way I feel is that this is just another lie from the veterans administraion.

  202. Danny says:

    Is there a process that you can cancel your va benifits?

  203. charles p. lamont says:

    My name is Charles P. Lamont and I am a retired MSG. I served 26 1/2 years in the Army 2 of which were in Vietnam. On 25 July 2008 I filed a claim with the Los Angeles Ca Veterans administration for PTSD. My claim was denied 2 times, and I filed an appeal on both of them. The question is when is the Veterans Administration going to quit lieing to the Veterans. I had a C&P examination on 31 March and evertime I call the 1-800 number I get the same answer it is with the RO. Can some one in the Veterans Administration give me a straight answer on how long it will take to complete my case. I kn ow that I am not the only one but it seems that the Vietnam Veterans are at the bottom of the pole.

    VR

    A VERY DISGRUNTALED VETERAN

    • CHARLES P. LAMONT says:

      Hello Mr. Pamperin, My name is Charles Lamont and I have read many of your messages to Veterans and how they respond with thank you. To start off welcome home and God Bless you. I usally start off by complaing but this time I am going to try a different route. Well I am not going to bore you with a long story. I am a retired Vietnam Veteran, I served this great country on active duty for 26 1/2 years 2 of which was in Vietnam, I am presently still serving my country work at a military baise in california. I have work for the Army for almost 46 years, the problem is I do not know how much longer I will be able to work with my PTSD problem. Now I can get to the reason I am writing you. I have tried to write many other people and the only thing I get if they answer is you have to be paitient, well to be honest I have run out of patients. I would really like to get a straight answer from some body. My story is in November 2007 I was diagnosed with positive PTSD, I waited until 25 July 2008 to file my claim since I have filed my claims it has been denied 2 time which I filed and appeal both times I was able to prove the california veterans administration wrong. I finally received and appointment for a C&P examination on 31 March 2011. The examination was received at the Los Angeles Veterans administration on 14 April 2011. Since they have received it I have not heard anything from the VA. My last appeal was filed on 26 April 2010, it took almost 1 year before I received this appointment. I guess my big question is before I die will I receive my compensation. In closing I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for just listening. If you can help great, if not thank you for trying.

      • CHARLES P. LAMONT says:

        • Dear Mr. Pamperin, this is a follow up message from the one I sent you yesterday. I felt that I should give you my story. I do have documentation that can support my inquire.
        In November 2007 I was diagnosed with PTSD and a follow up appointment was made for me at the Loma Linda Hospital. When I went to my appointment the doctor that I was seen by said that I should submit a claim. Well in July 2008, I filed a request for disability for PTSD which was caused by an incident along with other things that happened back in Vietnam the 2 years that I was serving my country. I filed this claim because I was diagnosed by the Loma Linda VA Hospital as testing positive for PTSD. In June or July 2009, I received a letter from VA stating that my request was denied because my records did not show that I was stationed in Vietnam at the time of SPC Charles R. Leonard’s death. In reviewing the letter it showed that my entry date into the military was 1 December 1966 and not 12 January 1966. In the same letter they said that someone checked my retired military medical records and it showed that I was first seen in the 25th medical hospital in September 1966 which was located at Chu Chi Vietnam along with the 25th Infantry Division. Upon reviewing this letter I gathered documents showing that I was in Vietnam at the time of SPC Leonard’s death I resubmitted the documentation. I especially re-submitted copies of my DD 214′s along with copies of my orders indicating that I was stationed in Vietnam at the times stated. In August 2009 I received a call from the LA office that my case was being forwarded to the state of Washington to a review board for a relook. I was informed by the individual that I spoke with that this could take about 2 months and that I could call back around 15 October to find out what the status was on my request. On 20 October I called the LA office and I was informed that my packet was returned on 30 September 2009 and that it was at the review board. Since my records were returned on 30 September 2009, I have called the number provided requesting information on the status of my request and each time I was told that the request was up for review. On 8 February 2010 I received a letter from the VA office requesting that I submit a form outlining what my stressor was. On 9 February 2010 I sent another copy of the same document along with copies of my orders and DD 214s, this was the third time I have submitted these documents. As noted above, this request was originally submitted in July 2008, and the resubmission was in July 2009. It seems like every time I call I am always told the same thing that my request is at the review board for approval board and once it is completed at the review board, it will be sent to the classification board for approval. It is now over a month and I am still getting the same message that my request is at the review board and when completed it will be forwarded to the rating board. Once again I have received a letter from the LA VA office dated 13 April 2010 stating that my request was denied due to the fact that I could not prove that my friend SPC Charles R. Leonard and I were stationed together in the same unit at the time of his death. In the letter from the VA office it stated that SPC Charles R. Leonard was not in the 86th Signal Battalion but was with the 86th Engineer Battalion stationed at Phu Loi Vietnam. I have attempted to obtain orders or any other documents showing that SPC Charles R. Leonard in fact was with the 86th Signal Battalion and not the 86th Engineer Battalion. The only proof that I could find was on the web site Virtual Wall, which showed SPC Leonard as being with the 86th Signal Battalion at the time of his death. I have contacted the Virtual Wall Organization to find out where they get the information on the soldiers whose names are entered on the wall and I was told that the information is obtained from official military records. Again I requested an appeal for the above action on 20 April 2010. Again or about 25 April I received another letter from the VA office requesting more information. I resubmitted the document the following day. It has now been over one month and I still have not received any information from the LA VA office. One other thing, in the letter dated 13 April 2010, the LA VA office stated that I did not show for a appointment on 7 April 2010 with the Loma Linda VA hospital, I must admit that this is correct, however on or about 1 April I called the number provided and requested that the appointment date be changed to 19 April 2010 due to the fact that I would be on leave from 2 April 2010 to 18 April 2010 in Philadelphia. The individual I spoke with said that this would not be enough time for him to complete my case and that they would cancel this appointment and that I would have to call the LA VA office to make a new appointment. On 2 April 2010 I called the number provided and the individual who I spoke with said they would send a message forward to request a new appointment. It seems that every time I submit documentation the LA VA office comes back with other items that I need. If needed I can provide all the documentation to substantiate this complaint. One last note, it has been almost 23 months since I submitted my disability request. In December 2010 I received a letter from the Los Angeles VA stating that they are responding to a letter from the president and that my case is with the RO. It is now 7 February 2011 and I have not heard anything else about my case. During the time that I filed my original request for PTSD compensation and the 2 appeals that I have filed it is now 36 months. On 31 March 2011 I finally had a C&P examination with the QTC Medical services. The Los Angeles Veterans office received the C&P examination results on 14 April 2011. I have been diagnosed 5 different times by the VA with chronic PTSD, and also one time by a civilian doctor. I have tried numerous times calling the 1-800-827-1000 number and also checked the e-benefits system and I get the same answer my case is with the RO since 26 April 2010. Mr. Pamperin, the reason I am seeking your help is I do not know what else to do, and also I have read so many comments about you that I feel you are my only hope. Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated. In October I will be 65 years old and I do not know how much longer I will be able to work with my PTSD problem. In closing once again welcome home and God Bless you and all my brothers and sister veterans.

        Charles P. Lamont

        • CHARLES P. LAMONT says:

          Dear Mr. Walcoff, I did not realize that Tom has retired. Tom has helped many Veterans when they had problems with disability claims. The above messages is mine crying out for help. If you can help I would greatly appreciate it. In closing God bless.

  204. Lucas Berard says:

    WOW…a lot of info here!! It is nice to see some personal attention being paid to vet concerns!

    Quick question. This may have been covered earlier, but I simply don’t have the time to go through each individual post on here. I apologize if this has been asked previously.

    I have received my VCAA letter. in the letter, they show that they have a copy of my VA records, which is great, due to the majority of my care regarding my claim has been through them. However, they do not say that they have any of my military treatment records. I have a copy of these records, so should I send that information with my response to the VCAA letter? If so, should I send only the pages that show evidence of the condition, or the entire record?

    Once again, thanks for taking the time to answer the concerns posted on here.

  205. gary says:

    I am SC 30 % ( 10% for pelvis FX and 20% cervical injury ) I have had headaches/migraines since my cervical injury. this happened while on active duty in South Korea. I have a long history with the VA treating my headaches under mt SC cervical injury. I was recently told to apply for Migraines. I have received my medical records from the Va. what should I do to help myself give them the info they would need? and what are my chances?

  206. George says:

    I filed for PTSD based on combat in Vietnam. I received no individual awards. The C&P psych as much as said I was lying even though I had all the dots connected to a specific ground action in which we killed 100+ NVA sappers and were on the brink of being over run. I received an SC for PTSD 1 year after filing. I am filing a NOD as I believe it should be higher, but I am very satisfied with what the V.A. has done, is doing and I’m sure will continue to do. I’d like to give a BZ for the hard workers at the VA. People suck, you only hear complaints and not “atta boys”. I did what I had to do and they are treating me fair. Well, except for that C&P assshole…..

  207. charles p. lamont says:

    Why is it that everybody makes so many promises and then when it comes the time to give you an answer you get the same thing “YOU HAVE TO BE PATIENT”.
    Well to be honest I have ran out of patients I have come to the conclusion that the united states and the Veteran administration does not give a s**t about the veteran. I know that this message will not be answered however I have to voice my feelings. I would rather someone say that they cannot help me so I can go someplace else. Even writing the President, vise President, secretary of Veterans Affairs, California Veteran Administration, congress, and senators does not help, it only increases the frustration and anger which fires up my PTSD. If you people are not working for the Veterans administration please give me some names so I can complain to them. Myself and many other Vietnam Veterans are tired of being treated like second class citizens at the bottom of the disability pole.

  208. charles p. lamont says:

    To all you good people who say they will help you thanks for nothing. I am getting tired of hearing the same this over and over you have to be patient. I am a very proud veteran who gove almost 27 years in protecting my country on to be screwed by the veterans administration. I really wish that some one would answer my messages even to tell me to stick it in my butt. I love all my brothers and sisters who have put their lives on the line for their country, however I wonder how come all the other veteran get better treatment than the Vietnam Verteran. As you may already know that there is over 2500 Vietnam Veterans who die every day and never get their claims approved. I just wonder when my number will come up I know VA hopes I will give up or die befor they do anything besides disapprove my claim. I know that no body will answer this message so good by and bless all my brother and sister veterans.

    • I know that Vietnam Veterans have had a tough time of it in the VA system, and thanks to the ones that stayed after the VA. It is because of there Law Suites that the VA had to start to step up to the plate. But if you look at it the real shame is that it is and was Vietnam Veterans that where in charge of different offices of the VA like Mr. Pamperin that you are fighting for your benefits from. The best thing to do is try to keep up with the changes in law, keep your paper work up to date, and keep filing when there is a change.

      • charles p. lamont says:

        To anyone out their that really has any respect for the veterans please help. There are so many Vietnam Veterans who really need help and the only thing we get is be paient VA is working on you case BS. The only thing that the VA cares about is collecting their pay checks and nothing else. When I go into the WEB sights and read some of the lies that my brother and sisters are given it really makes me sick. Thousands and thousands of my brothers and siter veterans write messages on this web sight and also other web sights and their questions are never answered. Only thing I ask of you is to do your jobs and quit complaing that you are working so hard and quit lieing to the Veterans. As you can see I am not affraid to put my name on my messages, whaT ELSE CAN THE VA DO TO ME. In closing God Bless all my Brother and Sister veterans.

  209. charles p. lamont says:

    Mr John J. Jamason, welcome home,I am also a Vietnam Veteran I served 2 years in Vietnam. Reference your statement that you are also a Vietnam Veteran who also took part in the Vietnam War Games, weel I would Like to correct you on this. The war in vietnam was not a game is was real and if you think it was a game you can tell that to the family and friends of the over 58283 mem and women who die there. Now to Mr Tom Pamperin and Mr Alex Horton. I realize that you probably will not answer this email however I figued I would try anyway. I have written numerous messages on this sight and others, In my messages of 5, 17, 20 May 2011 I just asked for help an trying to get an answer on how long does will it take to complete my case. I have been working on this for almost three years and because some one in the VA can not
    read, my claim was denied 2 times which I file an appeal on both cases. As stated in one of my messages I stated that I haD MY C&P examination on 31 March 2011 and it is now 22 maym 2011 and I have not heard anything. If you do work for the Veterans administrion try and help the Vietnam Vetefrans befor they die.

  210. MIKE BEADLES says:

    I have to constantly reminding myself to not to base my life by what I see.
    I so far I see my waiting period is getting really long.
    I’m now in the decision phase and my waiting time is now double the average.
    I’ve been out of work due to my disability 9 months now. I need the VA’s help more than soon.
    There are others Im sure with more troubles than mine. But I remember that it is God that will
    provide for me. I/we have to stand on this fact or we will live in disappointments.

    Now I’m speaking to the mountain… In Jesus name help is just around the bend.
    May God Bless all those that help us. God blesses us so that we may be a blessing to others.
    Faith is the currency of God.
    Love Mike DAV

  211. arley ash 1014 says:

    thomas pamperin where can i find the files of an alchol and drug program @la jolla vamc in the early 1970s out-patient. the va cant seem to find them altho they paid me milage to go to the program.. i recieved 100% in 97 but my first claim was @la jolla in 70s. please help bud

  212. arley ash 1014 says:

    tom pamperin sir i need help. the va cant find my records from early 1970s at la jolla vamc. please help bud

  213. Win Reither says:

    Great advice, Tom. Hopefully, after today you can contribute to the Vetspac efforts to align veterans with credible assistance.

  214. Brooks Outland says:

    I agree with Win Reither, Tom. Great advice! Wish I had received this advice when I retired back in 1973. I stumbled around on my own until I found a way to make contact with the VA. Long story shortened, I went to a VA doctor and requested a physical exam for the purpose of establishing a VA disability rating. The 3% rating offerred by the doctor who performed the discharge exam (which I flatly refused) was a joke. The VA doctor pronounced my service-connected disability as 60%. I dealt with the agony of post-operative surgery on my spine for several years, but gave into it and had to resign my position as a Civil Service Manpower Analyst (GS-11). After four years of mountains of paperwork, more physical exams and an officiel Appeal, the VA pronounced me to be “individually unemployable” and my rating was changed from 60% to 100% IU.

    My experience in dealing with the government caused me to take up the difficult task of a “grass roots” supporter of legislation affecting disabled veterans. My indivudual efforts on behalf of my fellow veterans brought me to an association with three other permanently disabled veterans who were fighting the same fight. That wee group of determined veterans worked voluntarily out of the website CRLegislation.com, which later evolved into a political action committee (VETSPAC) at vetspac.com.

    There’s an old expression, “C-4 comes in small packages, but packs a helluva wallop!” That small group of four was very instrumental in getting our Federal Congress to pass a law which permitted veterans categorized 50% or higher (VA) to receive their earned retirement pay and their awarded VA disability compensation, concurrently.

    We have added these valuable “tips” in a link from the VETSPAC website. VETSPAC continues to assist our disabled veterans. I relocated to Hawaii about 4 years ago and I have found several issues that affect veterans way out here in the middle of the Pacific. I am presently working closely with state Senator Maile Shimabukuro on a bill which would provide an exemption of the annual vehicle weight tax for permanently disabled veterans(Senate Bill SB-103/House Bill HB-1501). Hopefully this bill will pass in the next session of the Legislature.

    Im also attempting to make it possible for our veterans who are patients at the Matsunago Clinic to receive their Beneficiary Travel Reimbursement on the day of their appointment. The system in use today requires a wait-time of four months or longer to receive payment of travel claims.

    I had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with General Shinseki at a fund-raising dinner here in Hawaii. When he learned that I am a Korea and Vietnam War veteran, he started up a meaningful conversation. As you no doubt know, the General lost a foot in Vietnam. Before we broke away, he asked my wife Cathy if she would like a photo taken with him. Jaws were dropping all around us; no one anticipated his offer! The General handed me one of his Challange Coins and I gave him one of mine. We did not discuss VA problems, but I personally believe that he is making a great deal of headway in his effort to provide care to all veterans who seek VA assitance. He recently stated that with about 99K claims being filed each month, the task is formidable.

    Welcome home to all my fellow veterans. Patience is a worn our word, but that’s just what it takes when it comes to our earned benefits. Hang in there.

  215. Brian says:

    Dear Mr. Pamperin

    I have a simple question I couldn’t get answered the other day after receving a call for another C&P at the Anchorage RO. I was repeatedly exposed to Sodium Dicroamte at Qarmat Ali and have had several Diganosios for lung problems by Va and private Dr’s that the VA sent me to. My question why another exam they know I was there and have a lung problem from my exposure.

    Thanks in advance. Last four (0132)

  216. Gary says:

    Tom Thank you for your service in Viet Nam. I recently recieved a 30% for IHD from the Columbia SC RO and had a claim for back injury returned to development for the 2nd time, Also I applied of disability for exposure to agent orange ( C123 crewmember and slid around in agent orange on the airplanes) in Mar 92 and was denied. Any Idea why the claim did not go back to 1992 vs 2009 ?
    Thanks 2910

  217. Miss DustyJo says:

    Tom,
    Thank you for your service, both in the past and today. Keep up the good work!
    This past Wednesday I visited my primary care physician at Fort Harrison, in Helena, Montana, and all I can say is that everyone, greeters, nurses, pharm staff, travel pay people, benefits advisors, physical therapists, and especially my doc, were exceptionally, professionally great. They treated me with respect, used all the resources at their disposal to try to help me, included me in the decision process of treatment for my medical issues, and through it all, their caring showed in everything they did.
    The VA has helped me and I really feel for my fellow vets who are having a hard time, truly and deeply…. yet, please know that there are good things being done too. For my fellow soldiers, I’ll be praying you find your way to a more positive experience so you can get the help you need.
    God Bless all of us.
    Don’t try to keep trying!!!

  218. Christopher Debbas says:

    I was once denied in a very painful way, but it’s always been in a painful way even though my side of the story was never fully explained. They told me that they didn’t care that I was schizo-affective. I was schizo-affective before I joined, while I joined, and will always be for the rest of my life. The pain I endured while I was in the navy will never be fully explained even though I will always go through some of it.
    They didn’t even mention the severity of my personality disorder which they definitely knew about; and diagnosed while I was in the military,(a form of anti-social and narcissism). among a lot of other problems. Plus now I’m finding out that obtained PTSD while in the service.
    I never got a chance to fight my Captain’s mast ten years ago, because of my grave and severe illness. Since I served I’m somehow surviving with even more mental illnesses than I obtained while I was in the military.
    I don’t know what to write for help with a discharge upgrade, and I desperately need the help and support of the VA just to be able to get through life and they can’t because of my discharge… other than honorable.
    I’m asking that someone please help. -Chris

    • chad joseph says:

      Chris- Hey, thank you for serving. I would start with your Congressional Representative. If they care and are worth a darn, they will help you with that upgrade. Good luck to you, buddy. Hang in there, swabby!

  219. Melissa says:

    I have to say that after reading all these posts i am truly afraidof what lies ahead for me. I got out of the Army a while ago and have done my best not to apply for disabily as long as i could. But looking at these posts it looks like i should have applied as soon as i got out and i might be close to a decision by now. I feel for each and every veteran out there that has served their country in any capacity and now how to struggle to make ends meet. I often wonder what the governmnt expects people who are disable to do until “a decision” can be made. Last time i checked he grocery store or the electric company did not allow you to utilize their services until “a decision” is made. I wish each of you all the best of luck.

    • Angel says:

      I started my claim while on active duty and had everything finished before I started my PTAD and terminal leave. It took about 5 months to get anything back from the VA. I am now waiting for a claim for individual unemployable due to my disabilities. It has taken some time for that, but it was to be expected. I was told my initial claim would be complete in 6-8 weeks. I called the VA every 2 weeks after that 8 week period and explained the financial hardship my family was facing and my claim was approved shortly thereafter. I also contacted the DAV because I couldn’t get in touch with a rep at the regional VA office and the DAV contacted the VA for me and pushed the issue. Bottom line, there are thousands of veterans trying to get their claims taken care of and thousands of spouses/dependents trying to get their stuff taken care of, so be patient. If you are absolutely out of options and you need your claim done ASAP, contact a veteran’s group and ask for help. Or even call the VA and ask for help….the VA rep is the one that told me to do a letter for the financial hardship based on our conversation. They are really doing the best they can and I give them all a big KUDOS for the work they do and the attitudes they put up with daily. Thank-you!

  220. chad joseph says:

    “Thirty percent of claims have taken longer than 125 days….” I’d say so.
    I’m already compensated at the rate of 30%, but the VA has employed every tactic, down to disappearing notes from a former VA doctor, Joseph Magliozzi, who diagnosed me with PTSD on December 1991/January 1992. The record of my visits to him still remain, but not his notes. He even wanted to hospitalize me for a study he was conducting on how PTSD affects men and woman differently. Professional Medical Associations have been even worse in not helping to find him. Probably wrongly assuming that I want to sue him or something. Other records have mysteriously vanished as well. The very records which were used to arrive at my present 30% disability rating. Specifically records attesting to the two (2) incidents of closed head injury at the same time that my present disability injuries/wounds were suffered. My MRI shows “hemosiderin and calcification of my bilateral globus pallidus” (NOTE: PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE of closed head/traumatic brain injury) VA Doctors attest to my
    history of closed head injuries- at age 19 and at 20 within 14 months of each other- but the VA has dragged this one for EIGHT (8)YEARS- count ‘em- EIGHT YEARS. I think they are wanting me to DIE so they won’t have to increase my service-connected disability awards. This at a time when VA executives received FREAKING BONUSES for saving the VA money- read for DENYING BENEFITS TO VETERANS. Is it any wonder so many people go berserk and do strange stuff out of sheer frustration?! Who would ever think our OWN COUNTRY would be one of our biggest obstacles!

  221. chad joseph says:

    “Thirty percent of claims have taken longer than 125 days….” I’d say so. I’m already compensated at the rate of 30%, but the VA has employed every tactic, down to disappearing notes from a former VA doctor, Joseph Magliozzi, who diagnosed me with PTSD on December 1991/January 1992. The record of my visits to him still remain, but not his notes. He even wanted to hospitalize me for a study he was conducting on how PTSD affects men and woman differently. Professional Medical Associations have been even worse in not helping to find him. Probably wrongly assuming that I want to sue him or something. Other records have mysteriously vanished as well. The very records which were used to arrive at my present 30% disability rating. Specifically records attesting to the two (2) incidents of closed head injury at the same time that my present disability injuries/wounds were suffered. My MRI shows “hemosiderin and calcification of my bilateral globus pallidus” (NOTE: PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE of closed head/traumatic brain injury) VA Doctors attest to my
    history of closed head injuries- at age 19 and at 20 within 14 months of each other- but the VA has dragged this one for EIGHT (8)YEARS- count ‘em- EIGHT YEARS. I think they are wanting me to DIE so they won’t have to increase my service-connected disability awards. This at a time when VA executives received FREAKING BONUSES for saving the VA money- read for DENYING BENEFITS TO VETERANS. Is it any wonder so many people go berserk and do strange stuff out of sheer frustration?! Who would ever think our OWN COUNTRY would be one of our biggest obstacles!

  222. Eric Robinson says:

    First, thank you to all the veterans out there who volunteered to serve in the military. Secondly, I’d like to say thank you for this informative and eye opening blog. I knew the VA had issues adjudicating claims, but wasn’t aware it was so widespread with so many others experiencing the same issues as I have encountered.

    When I left the service I never fathomed I would file a claim for anything with the VA. I felt there were others who were more deserving than me and that I could deal with my problems myself. Well…turns out I wasnt the superman I imagined myself to be and eventually I filed a claim.

    Currently I am rated at 40 percent for knee and shoulder problems. Took almost 2 years to get that rating. Seemed like every time I submitted the evidence they requested, a month later I’d get another letter requesting something different. What really irked me was why couldn’t they ask me for all the information at one time instead of milking the process along? I had each and every piece of information they requested. Sometimes they’d ask me for the same info again a second or third time! Well, in the end that claim was approved and they paid me retroactively from the initial claim. But why did it take almost 2 years to process? It was a simple cut and dry claim.

    Now since then I have filed another claim that I feel is well substantiated too. All my exams, treatments and evaluations have been done at the VA hospital or clinic. I keep giving the regional office all the requested information and I just had another C&P exam in February for this claim as it too has been going on for over 2 years. I thought they’d be close to making a determination by now, but nope. I got another letter requesting more information that they could have asked for a year ago. I’m starting to believe that all this is done to keep delaying claims.

    I don’t want to believe that, but it they were not the VA Regional Offices would make sure they ask for all pertinent information to adjudicate the claim right away. Not asking for something new after each time you send them what they asked for in the previous letter. For example in one letter they ask.. “Please send us information on the medals you have received in service” Ok…off it goes. Then another letter comes… “Please send us copies of your orders in regards to mission X” Ok…off that goes. THen another letter comes asking for something else. I mean…come on.

    Another thing that really irkes me is how they keep asking for medical information and each time I keep refering them to get my medical information from the Denver VA Hospital and the Pueblo VA outpatient clinic. I am at either one of those two places once a week for treatment or exams. Are you telling me the regional offices cannot see that?

    Now, I am happy that I am able to receive treatment and I am thankful that there is somewhat of a system in place to assist the veterans. But I am disappointed in how it does not work well. I am hoping I am at the last stage in this current open claim I have. I actually went to the Denver regional office today to verify myself for access to the ebenefits and to follow up with my claim. Right now it’s awaiting further documentation….which I gave them there on the spot. So, fingers crossed I don’t get another letter next month asking for something else. :P

    All I can say to all my brothers and sisters out there is don’t give up.

    HANG TIGHT, UNITE, AND DON’T GIVE UP THE FIGHT!

  223. Richard a Felty says:

    Tom…I am a Viet Nam Veteran that served from ’64-’87. I was from Phu Quoc Island, Da Nang, Can Ranh Bay, Mekong River Delta, I was on various ships and river patrol craft. Was part of a Battle Group that waited off the coast of Haiphong Harbor to air raid and bombard Hanoi and Haiphong when Se. McCain was in Ho Lo prison there . If the rescue was a success we were to deploy and bombard. Due to bad intel they had moved Mc Cain and the others.
    That was in North Viet Nam. I was also in North Viet Nam when we were shot at with 47 rocket rounds and one hit the ship and that was in the area of Dong Hoi / Dong Ha North Viet Nam.

    I filed a claim in 1988 for my hearing loss from Naval Gunfire Support. Not until last year after the investigation of the V.A. did the Nam veterans find out that our claims were s*** canned because the woman at the top thought she had Carte Blanch and was giving employees bonus’s NOT to file veterans claims. So, now she is gone, we and I have refiled for PTSD and hearing loss both supported by the VA medical clinic, and the VA’s own clinics. This was in last July of 2010. My claim has been sitting in a basket waiting for rating approval at the final stage since December. I keep reading ” we will have it completed in 6 months” I am working on month number 11. I’M TIRED OF BEING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LIST BECAUSE OF DESERT STORM, IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, and who knows…now maybe Libya. I FEEL I “SHOULD” BE PAID BACK TO 988 OF THE ORIGINAL CLAIM. Just exactly what does it take to get Seattle VA off their butts and get it done ???

    Tom can you dig into this and shake some answers ?

    Thank you

  224. Richard a Felty says:

    I have read the same stories coming from the veterans from the Nam era. “Wait til they die ” is the logo of those who get paid and sit on their butts and could care less. What does it take ? For us to get Senator Patty Murray on their ass. For all of us to go to the Directors of each VA office and twist his arm unil he signs them Or better still realistically, ALL THE VIET NAM VETERANS stage a Protest against the V A on the steps of the WHITEHOUSE and capitols of each state and not leave until we get media coverage local news CBS ABC NBC and let our voices be heard, and see what we look like now after we gave this country our innocence, our adolesence, our youth ? Each one of us wrote a blank check to the government of the United States willing to give our life for this country and now they, the government renigs on us. Are they also going to renig on the veterans of TODAY AND TOMORROW WITH LIES,DECEPTION, COVER UPS, RED TAPE AND BOGGING DOWN PAPERWORK ? THE V. A. ACTS LIKE THEY ANSWER TO NO ONE…..WE VETERANS NEED TO SHOW THEM OTHERWISE !!!! I ENCOURAGE YOU TO BAND TOGETHER AS A BAND OF BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND FIGHT THE VERY INFLUENCE THAT KEEPS PUTTING US DOWN !!

  225. Ken prichard 377th SPS K9 says:

    I have been on 100% disability since Jun1/01. It was easy to get because I did my homework prior to going for it. I also got SSD, in one try. I am not bragging, I would gladly give it all back if I weren’t sick.
    I have helped many vets get what is coming to them. I find that they need help and hand holding during the process. Attitude is a big thing, you must have a positive attitude, you must know how to tie your problem to the service, and you must have tenacity. If all else fails contact your Congressman’s vet rep..you will be surprised how well that works. The other thing is to appreciate and expect the help you will get and do not give up or accept waiting a long time…call your congressman. What do you have to lose.

  226. jeremy says:

    I have been out for 4 years. I have a permanent profile for (meralgia paresthetica) and it was denied as not service connected disability. How should I pesewa this further?

  227. Sal Med says:

    Dear, Thomas Pamperin
    My name is Sal Med (abbreviation of Name) Last four 0725 and am asking for your help. Can you please take a look at my case that is in the Houston, Texas Regional office?
    Thanks in Advance,

  228. Nailah Baderinwa says:

    In reply to the individual who says we Veterans are whiners… I am a Female Vietnam Era Veteran (yes, and females volunteer) who has been fighting with the VA for 37 years trying to get my just compensation, all the while dealing with records that weren’t kept ( in the 70’s females really didn’t count in the military) trying to get compensation for military sexual trauma, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and diabetes (of which there was NO TREATMENT FOR IN THE 70’s), getting medical opinions from VA DOCTORS who opined more likely than not the incidents happened (in the 70’s females being sexually assaulted didn’t matter) and STILL being denied because of “constituionally developmental” and pre-existing before military service, even though “anything that manifests itself within one year of discharge is considered serivce connected” and no treatment was done while on active duty (which lead to diabetes diagnosis in 2009). WELL, TODAY I HAVE DECIDED TO BE A REOCCURRING NIGHTMARE TO THE VA.

  229. Dan Yoshida says:

    I am 100% diabled and receive compensation for it. I heard about addtional compenstion example: PTSD 100% with sleep aphnea apparatus which is secondary condition to my PTSD. I was informed that if I file a claim for the this condition with the VA and with a doctor’s note I would be given addtional compenation which will be catagorized as 100% K. Also heard from VA psychiatrist that there is a 100% R. Does anyone know about the K & R or have information regarding this addtional compensation? i.e. Catagories such as 100% A, B, C, D….etc??????

    • James a says:

      usmc infantry squad leader 5 yrs i just got out may 27th it is now october 17th multiple deployments i claimed for sleep apnea with a machine got it when i was still in the corp tinitus, ringing in my ears, knee surgery, back injury that was a result of deployment and also severe ptsd i went to all my appointments gave them everything from my whole medical record to phychaitrist i was seeing while in like i said it has been almost 6 months how long did it take you for ur claim to go thru and since you rate 100% and what do you think i can expect ? thanks

  230. Lawrence says:

    HOw far back does one get for a service discharge disability that he should of been comp for when he was discharge and didnt know it. I still suffer from PFP the shaving condition tha affect black men.

  231. Bryon says:

    Ok my question is simple in my opinion. I went to the VA hospital to see if i could get help for some attention problems i was having they diagnosed me with ADD and started me on medication. Well a year and a half later with no reaction to any of the medications they prescribed my psychiatrist asked me about my sleeping habits. After a through discussion she suggested i be tested for sleep apnea. Much later after my sleep study i was told that i did indeed have sleep apnea. They also told me it was most likely the reason none of my medications were effective, or possibly causing my ADD symptoms. Now i never remember having any of the problems i have now, like waking up in the middle of the night, always feeling tired etc. before my time in the service. I never had a sleep study when i was active and i did not get a physical leaving the army. I did however see a mental health specialist for attention and anxiety near the end of my enlistment. Now I was told by a VA employee that i should file for compensation but I don’t want to waist the VA’s time if it’s a pointless endeavor. So I just wanted to know what someone else at the VA thought about my situation and if I should file and, if it’s likely that I would receive compensation?

  232. Tony says:

    I filed my original claim in 1989 for my hearing loss. I have total hearing loss in my right ear and bi-lateral hearing loss in the left ear. I went to the VA hospital last year to get an exam becuase my hearing is getting worse since I have only one ear to hear with and that seems to happen over time. In the letter that I recieved from the Phoenix Regional office was that in my file there was no documentation that I went to the doctor while on active duty for hearing loss. Luckily for me I listened to my sargent that told me to make sure to make copies of ALL of my medical records becuase when I would make my claim that first thing they will say (VA) that there is no medical records to collabarate my hearing loss. And sure as HELL that has happened. So I sent them the copies three times becuase each time I sent them to the VA regional office they would send me a letter that they have not recieved them. Not until I threatened to get an attorney they finally acknowledged recieving them. I originally refiled for the claim in May of 2010 and it has been waiting to be rated for over six months now. I filled out a document for non-employability and they stated that they needed to send a letter to my previous employer and that was done back in March of 2010. I then notified them that the employer went bankrupt and that is probably why they did not respond. I have had my congressman and senator call to ask what the hold is and they stated they do not have the time to rate it since they have priority for Agent Orange vets and that everybody else will have to wait. That there is no time when they will get to it but it will take awhile. There is exceptions and if you qualify for it then you can be placed in front and it would be rated. I qualified and they went to rated it when again the issue of notifing my ex-employer came up again that they need to notify them again even though I told them they filed for BK. They have waited for months and they did not send out another letter for a second request and they are supposed to do and now that I have pressed they give this to me as why they can not rated. So now they have to send a second request (which by the way they still have not sent it). I asked myself what the HELL do you guys think that we just are waiting around until you guys feel or want to finish the claim. YOU MUST REMEMBER YOU WORK FOR US AND NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND, IT IS OUR TAX DOLLARS THAT PAYS FOR YOUR SALARY AND MAYBE WE SHOULD MAKE IT THAT IF YOU DO NOT DO YOUR JOB THEN YOU SHOULD NOT GET PAID. THAT SHOULD START FROM THE TOP ON DOWN THEN MAYBE YOU WOULD BE RUSHING THE RATORS TO GET BUSY. I now have Senator McCain and Congressman Grijalva’s office looking into this and I will not stop until YOUR INCOMPETENCE EMPLOYEES DO THEIR JOB. It has been over a year since I started this and there is no excuse for it to take this long NONE. I work for DoD and I wish I could say that to our customers that they will have to wait until I”m good and ready to HELP THEM.

  233. Tony says:

    I filed my original claim in 1989 for my hearing loss. I have total hearing loss in my right ear and bi-lateral hearing loss in the left ear. I went to the VA hospital last year to get an exam becuase my hearing is getting worse since I have only one ear to hear with and that seems to happen over time. In the letter that I recieved from the Phoenix Regional office was that in my file there was no documentation that I went to the doctor while on active duty for hearing loss. Luckily for me I listened to my sargent that told me to make sure to make copies of ALL of my medical records becuase when I would make my claim that first thing they will say (VA) that there is no medical records to collabarate my hearing loss. And sure as HELL that has happened. So I sent them the copies three times becuase each time I sent them to the VA regional office they would send me a letter that they have not recieved them. Not until I threatened to get an attorney they finally acknowledged recieving them. I originally refiled for the claim in May of 2010 and it has been waiting to be rated for over six months now. I filled out a document for non-employability and they stated that they needed to send a letter to my previous employer and that was done back in March of 2010. I then notified them that the employer went bankrupt and that is probably why they did not respond. I have had my congressman and senator call to ask what the hold is and they stated they do not have the time to rate it since they have priority for Agent Orange vets and that everybody else will have to wait. That there is no time when they will get to it but it will take awhile. There is exceptions and if you qualify for it then you can be placed in front and it would be rated. I qualified and they went to rated it when again the issue of notifing my ex-employer came up again that they need to notify them again even though I told them they filed for BK. They have waited for months and they did not send out another letter for a second request and they are supposed to do and now that I have pressed they give this to me as why they can not rated. So now they have to send a second request (which by the way they still have not sent it). I asked myself what the HELL do you guys think that we just are waiting around until you guys feel or want to finish the claim. YOU MUST REMEMBER YOU WORK FOR US AND NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND, IT IS OUR TAX DOLLARS THAT PAYS FOR YOUR SALARY AND MAYBE WE SHOULD MAKE IT THAT IF YOU DO NOT DO YOUR JOB THEN YOU SHOULD NOT GET PAID. THAT SHOULD START FROM THE TOP ON DOWN THEN MAYBE YOU WOULD BE RUSHING THE RATORS TO GET BUSY. I now have Senator McCain and Congressman Grijalva’s office looking into this and I will not stop until YOUR INCOMPETENCE EMPLOYEES DO THEIR JOB. It has been over a year since I started this and there is no excuse for it to take this long NONE.

  234. arley ash 1014 says:

    i first filed a claim in 1970s. never heard squat from them then re applied in 1997 approved in 6 mos 100% ptsd. filed for back pay i think ive got four denials.no evidence . then my last decision say they have all the evidence to adjucate my cliam. (undisputable evidence) BUT their dening it because of the law????? you know the 1 year law to appeal. and i say when a person hase ptsd the courts should shoe mercy. instead of making up laws to cheat the defender of this great country out of the compansation we were promised when drafted into the service. OH the va lost my records from la jolla vamc. i read about the va destroying records from the 70s something to do with the privacy act?? arims 35-200-2 ??

  235. dana k says:

    I filed my claim back in February 2011 for an increase in my disability level. My original claim was approved back in 1993 for patellofemoral syndrome in both right and left leg. I am now suffering from increased issues that now include my entire spine. (I fell off a rooftop during a training exercise in basic training that initially hurt my legs. It is well within reason to see that a fall of any kind, would cause shock and damage to the spine that was not present at the time of the initial injuries and treatment phases. ie…arthritis forming in the knees years later would relate to the initial claim) As of 06/25/11 my file shows in discovery phase 1, they say they have done an MES (what is that?) and also that I should fill out va form 21-8940 veteran application for increased compensation for unemployability and also to have my employer fill out va form 21-4192 request for employment information. this is on the Benefits website under my pending claim. Are they sending me these forms via mail or must I print them myself? Do I send the employment for to my last employer or are they mailing that form? It is hard because the website doesn’t make for easy communication, nor do they send letters out to advise of where the claim stands….Do I need representation for this whole claim? I have filed all the information I had on file from my doctors showing the many surgeries I have had, altogether 4.75 lbs of paperwork were mailed in to the VA. What more do I need to provide them? My surgeon has sent paperwork to them and is willing to provide whatever else is needed. Do they go back and contact the other doctors involved and request information? At what point do they status me on what they have or haven’t received? I thank you so much for your help and expertise. I also appreciate your service to the country and to the veterans who have defended the country. If not for folks like you, we’d be lost in a sea of paperwork and websites…

    • dana k says:

      received a call today from Veteran’s Evaluation Services about veriying my address. I asked the caller what this concerned, she told me they would be mailing an appt slip for me to see a doctor about my claim that my knee condition prevents me from working. I do have issues with my legs below the knee, but I filed to have my claim reviewed about spinal issues that arose after my service and which I believe are related to my initial claim which overed my knees (patellofemoral syndrome.)
      What is going on with my claim?

    • dana k says:

      my claim is being handled by the Waco VA. Are you going to refer my ?’s to someone there?

  236. w nelson says:

    what percentage of disiability will you get for pseudofolliculitis barba

  237. Dan Nightenglae says:

    I just retired on 01 DEC 10. I completed my VA appointments for BDD in NOV 10. My offical claim date is 1 DEC 10. I received delay letters in April and June. I check eBenefits regularly and it indicates my claim is in the decision phase. It has been in that phase since 1 DEC 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.

    This is pitiful!!

    Thank you for your time.

    Dan Nightengale
    Fort Knox, Kentucky

  238. robert says:

    i am receiving disability for my left knee now and over the years i have put more weight and pressure on my right knee and now my right knee is giving me a lot of problems , can i file for disability fot my right knee nowbecause my left knee has caused this problems and have aritisi on both knees

  239. CHARLES P. LAMONT says:

    I would really like to know if any one is still out there answering the messages above. It seems like since Tom P has retired the rest of the people really do not care. I wish some one would answer my cry and all the other veterans for help. I any one really cares or does not care at least send a message tell me to go jump off a bridge. In closing God Bless all my brother and sister veterans and the United States.

  240. CHARLES P. LAMONT says:

    Mr. Alex Horton, I know you wont remember me but my name is Charles P. Lamont.
    It seems that the only one who will answer my messages is you. I have sent numerous messages asking for help and you are the only one who answered me I am truly greatful. As discussed in my previous messages I had my C&P examination on 31 March 2011 the Va received on 14 April 2011 which is 11 working days. It is now 84 working days and I have not heard anything the the Veterans Administration. Alex, can anyone give me a straight answer on how long it will take be I hear something. My claim has been going on since 25 July 2008 this is the second appeal. I have had many people say that I should use a VSO, well the one that VA gave me was the American Leigon and I have never received any help from them. I have also tried to get help from other service organization and they keep telling me that I need to join their organization before they can help. Alex I will wait for your reply before I try anything else. Any help you can give me will be greatly appricated. Welcome Home and God Bless.

    • Sharon Allen says:

      My husband filed his claim March 17, 2011, and separated from the Marines after 20 yrs on March 31. It has now been greater than 210 days. His VA rep in OKC, OK does not keep in contact and when he calls her, it is the same response “It’s in the development phase.” We found out through the DAV that his claim is sitting on the desk of someone in the Salt Lake City, Utah office. Go figure!!! It’s no wonder their are so many homeless vets. I’m working 60-70 hours a week just to make ends meet. I am just thankful I have a job so I can give back something to my husband whose body, mind, and soul is permanently broken.

  241. brandon Navy says:

    I first Fractured my ankle during pt. then was ordered by doctor to stay off
    the ship for 30 days for rehabilitation. But my captain Went against those
    orders and brought me back to the ship. Then 2 days later I fell down a letter
    well because I was on crutches and was not supposed to be on a ship. I landed on the fractured ankle And hyper extended my knee And twisted my back extremely bad. Sense then there has been 2 surgeries on my ankle And has not been able to fix it and i need a cane to walk. I have not had time to have surgery on my knee yet. And I m and rehab for my back and it also hurts all the time and has made it hard to even get out of bed. Because of the constant pain I am unable to sleep at night. do you think i will get anything out of this

  242. Dear sir,
    Thank you for your service to the VA and welcome home! I wish I knew the proper course of action in the beginning, I only found out by accident that I had to apply for a pension prior to asking for A & A. It’s been 105 days so I hope a decision comes soon.
    Again thank you,

    TRC

  243. charles p. lamont says:

    Dear Alex, Iam sorry about my feelings however I see that know one at the veterans administration is willing to help me. I have numerous messages on different web sights and never received any answers form anyone. I really thought that you were the right person to hel;p me and it seems I was wrong.
    Well in closing I want the Veterans administration for no help to including you. This will be the last time I will bother you. In closing God Bless all my brother and sister veterans and you, until we meet again.

    • Alex Horton says:

      Charles, from what I remember from our discussions, you’re waiting to hear back about your medical appointments for your claim right? I’m not sure what I can do to help with that. There’s no button to push or phone call to make. If you think your case is being mishandled, email me at newmedia @ va dot gov with the name of your regional office and medical center and I’ll see if there’s anything I can do.

  244. shekhar says:

    It is very wonderfull center

  245. Chase says:

    Mr. Pamperin,

    I separated from active duty August 16, 2010. I had filed my quick start claim before separating, and had to wait until December to even be seen by a doctor. It has been 372 days since my date of claim, and I am still awaiting a decision. Thus far, the decision phase has taken 148 days. That is no typo, that is just shy of 5 months in decision phase. This is ridiculous. There is obviously a break in the system. I had put my body through absolute hell as a Marine for 8 years (2002-2010). I don’t want to mooch off of the government; however, one of the things promised to us when we sign up is that we will be taken care of on the back end for what we put into the service on the front end. I willingly beat the heck out of my body for this great nation, believing that I would be taken care of after. This has not happened. This system is broken. I don’t want a handout, and I’m not looking for sympathy. I just want this system to be fixed. Please do what you can to see that this happens. Thank you.

    • Lois says:

      Chase

      Have you or do you know anyone that is receiving replies in response to this sight?

      Who from Mr. Pamperin’s Office or VA is actually monitoring this board?

      Good luck!

      Lois

      • Stephen says:

        Appearantly Mr Pamperin has retired, as of May of this year. Anyone know who is taking his place on this forum?

  246. Will M. says:

    Mr. Pamperin:

    Let me begin by thanking you for your service, guidance and obvious dedication to our nation’s veterans. After reading your post I am compelled to detail my rather disturbing and frustrating experience in hopes of soliciting some guidance.

    I am a 40% service connected Gulf War Veteran. I served in theater (Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait) in direct combat operations with the 1st Armored Division from December 24, 1990 until May 26, 1991. Then returned to Germany. I also served with Company B of 1-184th Infantry Regiment(Air Assault),29th Brigade Combat Team of the Hawaii Army National Guard from 1998-2002.

    In early 2010 I filed a claim for service connection at the St. Petersburg Regional Office related to my Gulf War service for several illnesses consistent with the clusters and symptoms of illnesses outlined in the statutes. Along with my claim I submitted extensive medical documentation and underwent a compensation and pension examination at the request of the regional office. Furthermore, I explained to the examiner I had undergone a Gulf War Registry examination in or about 1994 at the Palo Alto VAMC.

    Disturbingly, in or about early 2011, over a year after filing my claim for service connection and several months after completing my compensation and pension exam, I received an envelope at my address that was signed by the St. Petersburg regional center manager requesting that a,”negative response is requested” by the Palo Alto VAMC on a VA-form 10-7131 in requesting the results of my Gulf War Registry exam.

    Notably, although my address was on the envelope, the Palo Alto VAMC address was also listed above the address line. Undoubtedly, the form was meant to go to Palo Alto VAMC but was delivered to my address instead. Accordingly, I responded to the form and requested an explanation.

    However, instead of an explanation, after several more months of unnecessary delays given the “presumptive” language recently added to the existing statutes for the purposes of facilitating more expeditious adjudicative decisions for the granting of service connection to veterans of the Gulf War, my claim was transferred without my prior knowledge or consent to the Reno Nevada Regional Office where it sat in the development phase for a few more months.

    Recently I received a letter from the Reno regional office stating that the results of my Gulf War registry exam are not,”available” and the custodian of records has indicated,”the records cannot be found”. In addition, the letter requests I should submit any additional information within 10-days from the date indicated on the letter.

    I submitted a timely response by certified mail in support of my claims and in response to the regional office’s request for additional information. Today I checked the status of my claims on ebenefits and saw that my claims have now once again been returned for the third time to the “development phase” and for some unexplained reason the claim has been transferred to the Cleveland Ohio Regional Office. Distressingly, once again my claim has been transferred without my knowledge or consent.

    Mr. Pamperin, why would an obviously favorably adjudicative decision be transferred to three different regional offices and returned to the development phase when by the VA’s own admission all available evidence has been obtained? Moreover, why would a regional center manger request a negative response from a VAMC unless the manager anticipates a favorable response would be adverse for the agency and beneficial to the veteran.

    Any help or assistance with my case would be greatly appreciated Sir. My sincerest gratitude and thanks.

    Respectfully,

    Will M.

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  248. Paul says:

    Hi to all fellow Vets,
    Has anyone had any experience with VA compensation claims related to the Camp Lejeune water contamination studies from the 1970s and 1980s?

  249. Doug Craft says:

    Good Day Mr. Pamperin,

    I’d like to echo the previous notes of frustration and anger towards the VA in regards to disability claims processing. Who is in charge, and why are they not held accountable for the delays? I am a recently retired Vet, and cannot for the life of me figure out why my claim is taking months to process. Here is my situation: I was diagnosed by a VA Doctor as having obstructive sleep apnea and requiring a CPAP machine.. This diagnosis was made after a sleep study was done at a VA Medical Center. This diagnosis was made prior to my retirement, while still on active duty. The VA Medical Center then had me undergo another sleep study where I was fitted for a CPAP machine, all done at the VA Medical Center. Please explain to me what could possibly hold up this claim. It is service connected (diagnosed while on active duty). The VA Medical system made the diagnosis, and is providing the equipment. It meets the requirements under CFR 38, Section 4.97:
    6847 Sleep Apnea Syndromes (Obstructive, Central, Mixed):
    Chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention or cor pulmonale, or; requires tracheostomy 100
    Requires use of breathing assistance device such as continuous airway pressure (CPAP) machine 50
    Persistent day-time hypersomnolence 30
    Asymptomatic but with documented sleep disorder breathing 0

    Is there something I am missing here? A 3rd grader could read the requirements, evaluate the evidence and award my claim for disability! What is the hold up with the VA? How much time is actually required to process this claim? Has that process ever actually been studied?

    Does the VA not realize that by delaying this claim, they are causing undue hardship? Retroactive disability pay will be nice, but it doesn’t pay the bills now! Also, I am denied the opportunity to claim ten point veteran’s preference for many government jobs, and there is no “retroactive” fix for that!

    Thank you for your time, and thank you for your service!

  250. KAYLA says:

    if anyone can help my husband find out about his claim please e-mail back. it is a first time claim after 28 yrs in army . not a retiree had to get out due to being a diabetic this month sept2011 has been a year. at rating board for 5 months what is the deal? what a system! thanks k/

  251. John says:

    During my military service, I made sure that everything that I figured would give me grief later in life was documented in my medical records. When I retired in 2005, I brought my complete medical records to the Boulder County, Colorado VSO who promptly assisted me with my application, made copies of my medical records, and submitted my application. Within a few days, she had a physical scheduled for me at the VA in Denver. Periodically, after the exam, she followed up with me to let me know where the application was in the process, or just made contact with me to let me know that my packet wasn’t lost in the works. I had to go back to the VA for additional tests (which gave me pause for concern), and then within ten months of retiring, I had my disability rating. On this forum, I see a lot of situations where people have difficulties (understatement). I just wanted to put it out there that there are cases in which people have a positive experience with the process as well.

  252. Danny Boatman says:

    In order to confirm “boots on the ground” I had to get a letter from another sailor who sent me ashore in Da Nang on Navy business. Will his letter be enough to establish service connection for an agent orange claim?

  253. Michelle Grimes Mietzner says:

    I wrote a long comment, but the site didn’t capture my code, and I am too tired to rewrite it (va meds). Basically, I finally filed for Fibromyalgia, CFS, IBS, headaches, etc after 20 yrs of fighting with herbs, rest, exercise, sheer will, etc, My C&Ps were 3 monthg ago, the va docs were great, sympathetic and told me I was “textbook” GWi and depression reactive to GWI. The VA received all the documentation in July, but it is still sitting in the Discovery Phase.
    The eBenefits site shows a long list of stuff they said the requested from me and then they all have a “CLOSED” date, which, according to the site, means the legal time limit has expired and they HADN’T received the required info, which is not true. I gave them everything they asked for, and I know CRF38 and the presumptive rules, and I meet all of them. What can I do to speed it up since I am trying desperately to hold on to my 3 day a week job and am on final notice for absences and emotional.psych outbursts. I am deteriorating, especially since the VA gave me meds to make me a zombie most days I take them. I now know why vets are homeless and am scared that it might happen to me. I have been fighting 20 yrs on my own and need the VA to help me now. I am 43 and some days I can barely walk. It has been stalled in Discovery for months now and I don’t know what else to do.

  254. Latina Starling says:

    To Mr. Pamperin or Mr. Horton,
    What is processing time for claims out of San Diego, CA as Sept. 16, 2011?

    Thanks,
    Latina Starling

  255. T.E. Jones says:

    I filed my disability claim back in August of 2010 just a week after my retirement from 28 years of service. The VFW represented me in filing my claim. Initially the VA was prompt in giving me status on my claim. It has now been over a year and I can’t get any information on when my claim will be finished. The when I contact the VA they tell me that my claim has been “ready to rate” since April and that they do not require any additional information. When the VFW quieries the system, they tell me that my claim “award date” keeps getting moved. First July, then August, now November. I understand that there is a backlog but after speaking with someone else who filed within the same month as me, I found that they’re claim was completed in 6 months. Is there anything that I can do to help things along?

  256. ramos hector says:

    steal waiting for help and the abuse is continue in VASJPR

  257. Danette Woodson says:

    could you please explain to me why I just go a reply from Waco regional office telling me to provide more information about my service connected disability claim that was submitted last year for issue now arising from my service to this country.
    Let me explain a few things. I was a 63W Hotel 8. This means heavy wheeled vehicle mechanic (Diesel mechanic) and recovery specialist(tow truck operator). these jobs required me to lift, squat, pull, bend tug, crawl and rotate my wrist and arms in position on a constant basis in order to do my job. I hurt my back will lifting equipment on my HEMMITT.
    Mind you I am and was 5’2 and about 135 lbs at the time. I went thru so called therapy for a few days not weeks and sent back to work. Nothing else was done to help me to resolve the issue of my back. But now I am starting to feel arthritis in my knees and shoulders.
    I did a claim for these issues before in 2003 and received a decision saying these issues( bilateral shoulder and knees) have been deferred. Please explain deferral and denial because the claim review did not read that correctly on my file which I sent a copy with my claim form.
    I received a letter now saying that they have been denied based on that decision. A deferral is something that has to have more proof it exists, correct? It may not have been evident while in service but it is showing its ugly head now as I have aged. MRI (showed arthritis and a bone mass) does lie and my other radiologists either. I am going to have surgery on my right shoulder to remove bone that has grown and causing pain that I have been complaining about for years. The other shoulder later.
    So what can I do to make sure that I am heard when telling doctors what has been going on with me from the time I got out til now? How can we make them listen to our cries for help when they brush us off as complaining VETS? How can you get your records from your old command that shows you reported sexual harassment and sought psychiatric help while on duty but was told it was your fault? This is so hard to prove and why should we have to scrounge up records that we have no access to or the commanders who were in charge at the time. There has to be an solution.

  258. Bruce says:

    Hello,

    I was informed that my claim was sent back to the Development Stage because they want a medical opinion. What does this mean? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

  259. Eric Elder says:

    this is Va pabulum. many claims take years to resolve. My claim is in the foruth year. Many have taken 10 years. My calim is well-documented, but the Va has made many unmistaklble errors with it. the Board of Veterna affairs just retuned my clam for the third time.

    In many cases the VA is a balck hole that used circular staffing to make work.Ttime and management people should study some of the VAROs for streamlining.
    the VA calims process.

    The Social security adminstration has a far more efficient system for processing claims.

    The C&P clinicians were hired to provide medical evaluations for vets that didn’t have private physicians. but vets who have competent medical diagnoses from private physicians must also been seen by these C&P clinicians, most of whom are not doctors.

    the Va has disability questionaires for many conditions called DBQs a vet should use if one is appropriate for his or her claim. Private practice doctors can certify the claim online..

    The Obama administration has improved the VA system which was about 900,000 claims in arrears when Obama took office. President Bush also had the VA review all existing disability awards which probably caused this backlog.

    Be prepared to wait several years to get your claim resolved.

  260. Lyle D says:

    I have one very simple question,,,,how does one get a service connected rating of 0% never understood how this works…if you have a service connectied disability why is it a 0%rating?

    • Wildturkey1 says:

      0% simply means that the VA is acknowlidging your disability but that it is less than 10%. The rating can be anywhere from 0% to 9% and you would not be compensated. VA compensates only for 10% and above. Hope this helps.

  261. keith cook says:

    My rating for my meb was a proposed rating of 90% but a month after my seperation they are telling me it would take up to 200 days to get to the notification process. I have already been through the MEB process and the PEB process while in the military. Also they said that even though my meb/peb rating they got from baltimore regional office that was signed by a rater specialist, for some reason they don’t have a rating on me even though i have paperwork from their hospital with the rating on it. they are refusing to hurry up and they are saying that i have to wait….. I guess i’m just really confused i have been medically retired and have my retiree card to the base, but like I have said they won’t pay me yet cause they don’t supposedly know what my rating is. any answers welcome.
    the va hospital handling my va claim doesn’t know what is going on and yes they have my DD214. is this normal in the process for medical retirement? Oh yeah my VA rep that helped me through this whole thing wont answer his phone, and he told me that after my date of retirement i should receive my dd214 after a week or 2 and to send it to the baltimore regional office which i did 3 times, and then after that i should start getting paid after a month after its processed (which i have not gotten yet)

  262. Susan says:

    Sir, My husband served in Viet Nam on a Destroyer. He did 2 tours in the Boiler Room Now he has been diagnosed with Asbestosis and possibly cancer which all the doctors say was caused from asbestos in the boiler room. He also has heart disease and vascular disease which could have been caused from Agent Orange. I am confused because we listed all illnesses on the original forms we filled out, but so far they have only sat up a test for Agent Orange. No other requests have been made for other examinations, is this normal? We filed the claim in June 2011.

  263. I was denied ans i have not heard anything from Va, no Letters saying still working on it or nothing.Asked for Decision Review Officer No reply form them still it benn since June 2010 and no nothing ! it’s prettty simple Case and they have all the info, cause they haven’t ask for any so I reall wish that it would end soon, last month i filed for SSDI and I am Afraid that they will give me a answer before VA does.

  264. Stephen says:

    To whom it may concern,

    I to was duped into the promise of the BDD program that my claim would be processed within 60 days of my ETS. I was medically retired in Feb 2011 from Robins AFB. I went to all of my appointments, got all of my records copied and personally delivered them to the processing office at Ft Benning before my reitrement date. I received a letter from my regional office, which is Winston-Salem, that stated that my claim/application was received and processed on 18 Feb 2011. I went and set up my account for ebenefits and started to track my progress. My claim sat in the development phase for roughly 54 days. It was finally moved to the decision phase where it is still sitting 150 days later. According to the ebenefits website the decision phase, on most cases, is between 16 and 28 days. This number is based on statistics from May 2010. I was told that my claim was not that complicated as everything was pretty cut and dry and I had provided all of the info the VA needed. I have called the 1-800 number several times a week and most of the time I receive the “this number is unable to process your call, please call back at a later time” message. When I do get thru I usually get the person on the phone that has answered one too many VA phone calls that day and cops attitude when I ask questions concerning my claim. I then receive the pre-programmed Blah, blah, blah we are sorry for your issues, blah, blah, blah please have a nice day. As of my last phone call I have not gotten a solid answer as to what is going on with my claim. I now have a DAV rep, and am writing my congressman a letter weekly. Bottomline: BDD does not work as advertised! I have talked to several personnel I knew that have retired after me and the VA reps are still telling retirees, in TAP, that they will get thier rating within 60 days of thier ETS. If the VA knows that is not true why are they still briefing it? Also the timeline on ebenefits website needs to be taken out of the phase narrative so that people do not get thier hopes up. I am hoping that this post does not fall on deaf ears and that someone from this office can help me with my situation since Mr Pamperin appears to have retired.

    Sidenote: Personnel, at all levels, who work at the VA need to remember that we are human not just a file number and that without us vets they would not have a job.

    Stephen

    • Mary says:

      I retired on 31 Oct 10. I also submitted a pre-discharge claim, which was initiated on 17 May 10. On 01 Nov 10, my claim was sent to the rating board, where it sat until 24 Oct 11. I received my packet with my decision on Friday, almost a full year after my retirement. I agree the website must be updated. It is very frustrating to be told during TAPS that a decision should be made within 45 days of separation, when in fact that is untrue. Good luck with your claim. I know how frustrated you are and how inefficient the system is!

  265. Len says:

    Mike, you’re so typical of those people in this country who claim to be so “patriotic”. You probably wrap yourself in the flag for all to see, so typical of “Sunshine Chicken Hawk Patriotic”. Enjoy your freedom to insult and slander because you wouldn’t be doing in Iran or Communist China ! Kiss my As* !

  266. Trina says:

    To whom responding to these concerns
    I file my claim June 2010, my claim is with the balitmore office. Dec 2010 my claim was in the decision phase, then May 2011 I was push back to development phase, to have C & P exam. As Sept 2011 B-More had all information need. The persons who answer the 1-800 number saying the claim process for B-more is 403 days…as today my claim is at 467. My question is since I was pushed back in delvelopment phase, do that mean I’m at the bottom of the pile again? there are 15K claims over 125 days back log in b-more….base on their report. ….but their report been saying the same amount all year long (to me that number should went down if they doing their work)

  267. Pman5k says:

    I served in ‘covert’ operations that are ongoing and currently classified, and have had hell with my claim. My expedited claim has been going on over 2 years now (filed 29Sep2009). I have had some partial decisions, many of which were totally screwed up and totally erroneous, such as my TBI/Migraine rating of 10%, which the narrative even contradicts itself and states my condition word for word matching the 38CFR criteria for a 50% rating. My PTSD C&P includes all the key words for a 70% rating (at least) as well as stating I cannot be around other people. They have denied conditions that are obviously SC, like when I nearly broke my neck, and some others. My medical records that I have copies of are pretty vague about the incidents themselves, due to the nature of the ops, however they clearly show certain ailments which I was claiming. They also tried to deny one citing I am ‘overweight’ yet I am not by any standards overweight (granted I am in the higher end of the scales of healthy weight) but this is also a big known side effect to the medications they have put me on. I am furious at the utter incompetency that it seems exists with the VA ratings process. I mean my C-file that I FOIA requested was incomplete (missing documents I submitted, and I have a ‘receipt’ from the VA showing I submitted said documents… yet VAOIG won’t do crap about it) and also contained documents from other peoples’ files… and this was just this past July (2011) from the St Louis VARO!!!

    • Pman5k says:

      What also makes it all worse, is that when they utterly and clearly screw up royally, the only real course of action to correct such horrendous errors, is the appeals process, which is even worse in terms of backlog and time it takes to get corrected. The only other option is to try to get it brought out in the media, and embarrass the hell out of the VA by calling them out on such utter incompetency.

      Congressional reps and senators are about useless really. I have had resistance from several VSOs, had seen some bias against OIF/OEF veterans from older VSOs in some areas, especially when the caregiver benefits was a big hot button topic. My state’s veteran’s commission has even ‘stopped’ acting as my POA (have a complaint filed against the official who did this as it is a violation of state law for them to do so, and under state law he will be terminated without benefits) because I dared to submit paperwork to the VA myself (some medical records and my FOIA request) and contacted the state ombudsman because I could never reach the local office by phone.

    • richard lansing says:

      I also was involved in covert operations for several years in combat. I filed a claim for ptsd 5 months ago and was given an examination at the VA by a psychiatrist whom then diagnosed me as having ptsd and then submitted his report to the VA about 2 weeks ago. He told me that what I had was a mental illness. My private physician also diagnosed me with ptsd. And the counselor whom I see at the vet center tells me I am the poster child for ptsd. Given all this info, especially the VA examination 2 weeks ago, does it sound like I may still have a long wait for a final determination or could I be close to the end of this process? After reading many of the comments here, does any of this bode well for a determination in my favor? I would so appreciate a response from anyone to my email if possible. (richardlansing@gmail.com). Thankyou so much in advance.

  268. keith says:

    I recieved VCAA letter and they want me to provide treatment forms . I wouldnt even remember what day of the week it is if it was not for my computer. I worked like 5 jobs in the last thirty years and the last one was over ten years ago . Like i remember. I would rather have them just send me a letter bomb when i open it up case closed .

  269. JV says:

    I was medically retired from the Army in 2004…
    It is now 2011…
    I am still fighting the VA for my back injury (9 herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis)
    I am only asking for 20% more than what I have because that is what their guidelines say warrants my condition…
    7+ years I have been arguing my case, it is now at the US Court of Veteran Appeals.
    Good luck everyone because with the amount of claims they have before them, it could take a long while.
    JV

    • Marty says:

      If you accept a medical retirement, you cannot then go the VA to claim disability for the same medical reasons you were discahrged

      • Dawn says:

        Actually yes you can. Medical Retirement and VA Disabilty are two separate issues. The one thing it effects is how you are paid. You can not get both full medical retirement and full VA benefits but you can be service connected for a Medical Discharge Issue.

  270. Michael says:

    I received a PTSD stress disability from my police dept after shooting a person on duty and getting shot myself.

    The employer requires me to undergo yearly assessments with their Dr. to evaluate me even after my Dr. certifies of my continued disability yearly.

    However, employees with non-mental disabilities do not have to be reevaluated at all. Doesn’t this seem to be a violation of the ADA?

    The re-eval does nothing but extremely aggravate the PTSD. It is a 3 hour in depth psych eval about the situation.

  271. VA doesn't give a Sh1t says:

    blah blah blah!!!

  272. Isaac R says:

    So today i called ol Peggy. She seemed very pissed off. So i like usuall say my yes mams and no mams, And she tells me that my claim is finalized with decision of DENIED ! Due to my discharge (GUH). The whole reason i got the boot was cause my ptsd of an event well documented that happened in Baghdad in 07. From what i hear from my representation is that Peggy is wrong for even speaking about a decision. Well looks like another one for the bad guys.

    • Dawn says:

      You are correct VA personell can not give out rating information on the phone even to the vet. If you have a General Under Honerable you are still eligable for disability claims. If you have a diagnosis of PTSD from a doctor and a stressor and your claim was denied I would suggest you put in a NOD or Notice of Disagreement. Also if you dont have a Service Officer Rep you might want to think about getting one as they will be able to help you figure out the VA speak and get things done for you.

      Dawn

      • Chuck James says:

        Dawn,
        How do I talk to someone at the Indianapolis Regional regarding my claim? I keep getting recordings. It has been a year since I filed and I haven’t gotten any response.

        • Judy says:

          Contact a Veterans Service Organization, on the VA website in the search box enter VA Form 21-22 and a list of organization will be attached on the last page of the form.

  273. jun Narvasa says:

    My father is a Filipino World War II veteran, age 83, and recipient of the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation in the amount of $9,000.00 .He also served in Vietnam and Korean War under 20th BCT Philippine Army. As a recipient of the said benefit the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional office in the Philippines sent him VA Form 21-526 as he might be eligible to some other benefits. The form was accomplished and sent to the VA office in Pasay City, Philippines applying for Non-Service Connected Pension as an 83 year old veteran. The letter was received by the embassy on September 29, 2011 under file number 358/21 C 30 386 405. The application was denied on the basis that the service with the Commonwealth Army, New Philippine Scout in particular, does not meet the military requirements for eligibility to the benefit.The VA sent him again another forms VA Form 4107 and VA Form 21- 526b with instruction to appeal the denied claim. MAY I ASK IF THE NEW PHILIPPINE SCOUT SERVICE DOESNT MEET THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE SAID NON- SERVICE CONNECTED PENSION BENEFIT? What other benefits he may be eligible?

  274. Jamie says:

    Question:

    Can I claim my hysterectomy? it was only partial but I am receiving rehabilitation therapy because really the surgery only solved the ” dysmenorrhea” but the pelvic pains persist so I get shots directly in the pelvic area once a week.

    Thanks

    • Hicks says:

      At my final out brief where the VA gave us what we can and can’t claim Hyserectomy was a clear CLAIM. Definitely claim it!! Good luck!!

  275. Canaat says:

    This site is just like all the other VA sites. No one really monitors them or gives a darn. What a joke.

  276. Sam Wallace says:

    I have a good question regarding The Spine.  According to the 38 CFR Part 4, General Rating Formula for Diseases & Injuries of the Spine (For diagnostic codes {DC}5235-5243 unless 5243 is evaluated under the Formula for Rating Intervertebral Disc Syndrome Based on Incapacitating Episodes):
    – With or without symptoms such as pain (whther or not it radiates), stiffness, or aching in the area of the spine affected by residuals of injury or disease, 
    – Note (6):  Separately evaluate disability of the thoracolumbar and cervical spine segments, except when there is unfavorable ankylosis of both segments, which will be rated as a single disability.
      5235  Vertebral fracture or dislocation   
      5236  Sacroiliac injury & weakness   
      5237  Lumbosacral or cervical strain   
      5238  Spinal stenosis   
      5239  Spondylolisthesis or segmental instability   
      5240  Ankylosing spondylitis   
      5241  Spinal fusion   
      5242  Degenerative arthritis of the spine (see also DC 5003)   
      5243  Intervertebral disc syndrome
    – Evaluate intervertebral disc syndrome (preoperatively or postoperatively) either under the General Rating Formula for Diseases & Injuries of the Spine or under the Formula for Rating Intervertebral Disc Syndrome Based on Incapacitating Episodes, whichever method results in the higher evaluation when all disabilities are combined under §4.25.   
    – Note(2): If intervertebral disc syndrome is present in more than one spinal segment, provided that the effects in each spinal segment are clearly distinct, evaluate each segment on the basis of incapacitating episodes or under the General Rating Formula for Diseases and Injuries of the Spine, whichever method results in a higher evaluation for that segment.
    –Does this mean that they are suppose to give a rating for each DC 5235-5242?  So, I could have a rating of 30% for 5 DC’s(5X30 on rating table) of my Lumbar spine would give a rating of 87%?  Also, rating of 20% for 3 DC’s(2X20 on rating table) of my Cervical spine would give a rating of 59%? And give me a total of 90%+60%=either at 94 or 95%. Have I done the calculations correctly?

  277. Mike M says:

    My father in-law is 94 and needs a hearing aid, (he served in infantry under Patton in WW2). Is that considered a VA disability benefit or just a VA medical benefit? My wife asked me to figure out if he can get one through the VA. I have no idea where to start looking and just happened to stumble on this page.

  278. Tina says:

    I never copied my medical record before I was discharged an was required to hand it in upon signing my dd214. I was never told I could qualify for Va benefits until my husband who went through taps class told me that due to my injuries I was able to qualify. What do I do and will I need my medical record or will the va already have access to that HELP

  279. Everette Harris says:

    If a va claim has been filed with multiple issues, but no decision, can the issues be rated separately to improve processing time?

  280. Big Sarge says:

    I have Served for the past 29 years & 6 mos, 4 of those being active duty 1979 – 1983. Now 1988 to present. The Va will only give me credit for being in the Military for 4 years. The 25 years as far as they are concerned don’t count for any thing. In fact because of the active duty time frame I am considered to be a non-Veteran. I filed a claim in 1998 then an appeal in 2008 and have never heard from them again.

    While on active duty we did everything in combat boots, which damaged my feet. The Va will not except that claim, even though I have had to have surgery twice in 1994 – 1995 and now have a permanent disability. After having the second surgery my Reserve Commander ordered me to training while on Dr’s care even though the Dr said not to be on my feet. I spent the whole time on my feet.

    A Va Rep said that it may have been stupid of The CO to have me put on orders during those times but the Va would not cover me. Mainly because I did not have the surgery while on active duty by Military doctors. The CO represented the Army as commander and I should be covered because of his decision.

    Va did not take in consideration My LOD’s that were given to me to cover the injury even though I got them years later and approved by the ARMY. The Rep said she would have them thrown out. Or statements submitted by other Soldiers on my behave, or any of my Military Physicals taken over the past 20 + years that shows my condition getting worst each time with the first one ever taken showing me in perfect health. Are these things even looked at?

    I do not know what else to do, are there any Lawyers who work Va cases? I went through Veterans Commissions with no luck.

    I am now non-deploy-able with the Military but I have a contract until 2021. If they put me out on a Medical and they are working on it, I will be Medically discharged with no compensation. I really need help with this if there is any, or should I just give up?

    I spent all my Adult life as an Army Soldier so I though, and now am be told that I am a non-Veteran. I have been stripped of my Military Pride.

    Please help if you can.

  281. romeo mutuc says:

    my father in-law is a filipino vietnam veteran,who pass away in 2006,his wife is still living,could u help us if she could have anything to claim, in behalf of her husbund…thanks

  282. Sarah says:

    Hi. I have a question… I am currently rated at 50% for severe depression disorder. I screened positive for PTSD at the VA hospital due to a very traumatic incident that occurred during my service which I have written documentation of. Can I file for PTSD, is that separate from my claim for depression?

  283. Terresa says:

    Although I complained of allergic type symptoms, I did not receive a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT). I did receive a service connection for Allergic Rhinitis (at zero percent). I received a PFT (showed a moderate obstructive lung defect) within the VA system about 10 months after I retired from the military. As a result I was diagnosed with Asthma. When I filed for it, the VA denied the claim (for Asthma). The asthma diagnosis was not in my file while Active Duty. My question is this — Is there a way to get service connected for it since I was diagnosed within a year following my retirement?

    Thanks.

  284. L York says:

    Just asking for any information about the BDD Claims. Any information would be nice. Thanks in advance for any information.

    BDD submit to VA Rep. at Fort Lee, Feb 16, 2011
    Retired Jun 31, 2011
    Decision Phase Sep 14, 2011

  285. Craig says:

    Hello, I’m trying to get some information for my father-in-law and mother-in-law. He served in the Air Force from June of 1963 June of 1967. They were told by a VA rep that he didn’t meet the criteria for disability because he didn’t serve in a combat zone. I am a retired Army Officer and knew better than that. He has been sick for a long time with numerous cancers (prostate cancer about 5 years ago and lung cancer now). What can I do to ensure that he gets the benefits/entitlements that he has earned without getting a lawyer involved to understand the “fine print”?
    Any help or info would be greatly appreciated.

  286. Kevin H. says:

    Dear Tom,

    Thank you for all of your service and assistance to veterans! I would like your advice on a question that I have regarding my circumstances, and any guidance you or your colleagues may be able to offer.

    I retired a year ago from the Navy and was eventually rated at 80% service connected disability. During my initial visit with the VA Primary Care Manager assigned to me once rated, he noted several instances in my medical record where I had been seen for significant chronic sleep disturbances while on active duty, including one visit with a medical provider while aboard ship that strongly recommended I be tested for sleep apnea upon return from deployment. (the provider transferred immediately upon return from deployment and I never ended up with a consult to be tested).

    Since one had never been ordered for me while on A/D, the VA PCM immediately ordered a consult to Pulmonology for a sleep apnea test during our first visit. I just completed all of that testing at the VA, and was found to have sleep apnea and given a CPAP machine.

    Do you think,Tom, even with the multiple notes of documented medical history and the VA’s diagnosis of sleep apnea, that it would be a waste of my time to submit a claim for this? It seems that many similar related posts at different sites seem to imply that if I were diagnosed with sleep apnea while on active duty it would virtually be automatically deemed service connected, and if diagnosed afterwards it would almost always be determined not to be connected.

    Since the process can be extremely lengthy and cumersome, any thoughts, opinions or direction you can provide would greatly be appreciated. Blessings,

    Kevin

  287. Cheryl Flanagan says:

    Mr. Pamprin,

    Thank you for all that you are doing for our Veterans. You are a blessing to us all.
    My husband was discharged from the Army in 2001 after being hospitalized twice. They diagnosed him with “Cronic Reacuring Readjustment Disorder” that diagnosis has been changed to Bipolar Disorder by several civilian doctors. He was approved by Social Security for Disability 7 years ago. 4 years ago he filed with the VA for disability and was denied. Due to frustration it took me untill Feb. of 2011 to convince him to refile. It took less that 6 months to be Denied 4 years ago. His claim this time went into decision faze on September 7th 2011. Today is Jan. 19th 2012 that is 135 days so far just in desision faze. His Rep. At our local VA office wont even return our calls any more. Two months ago she informed us that she has no way of getting any information for us accept what we can get from the 800 number.
    Most of my frustration lies in the fact that we are told by everyone we talk to that there is nothing they can do. How is it that NO ONE can find out an estimated desision date? Is there anything that you can do to help us? My husbands name is Eric Flanagan and his file is in Whiteriver Junction Vermont.
    I thank you do much for you time.

  288. Theresa W says:

    So tired of Due to heavy call volume!!! When i call the VA. My claim was denied because the coding on it was incorrect so 02/2010 I refiled the claim “correctly” and they still have yet to make a decision. And actually when i talked to the VA a few weeks ago no one had touched my case for over 60 days!! Should I call my congressman?! Would it even matter? Please help…

  289. B. Fagans says:

    i got injured in a ied explosion in afghanistan in 2010 and got a purple heart for it. ive also been diagnosed with chronic ptsd and severe depression since that. i dont know if i can make a claim or not, what are your thoughts?

  290. Mr. Tom Pamperin,

    I am a servicemember diagnosed with PTSD/MST/MDD. I filed a disability claim with the VA last year and (like so many others vets here), keep getting the “run around”. I have been very proactive in this claim process; kept all appointments; called for status updates; written my congressman for a “Congressional Inquiry” and am currently participating in the PTSD at the Women’s Trauma Center here in Atlanta. I am currently trying different psychotrphic drugs ( per my VA psychitrist) to see which one will, successfully, keep me from jumping off the nearest building.

    Every 60 days, I get a letter telling me, ” We are still processing your claim for COMPENSATION sorry for the delay.”This has been going on for, at least, 6 months. During the time of my diagnosis, I’ve been homeless, in the psych ward, raped and put on Short Term Disability from my job. In 2 weeks, those job benefits will be gone and I see myself in the same situation as I stated above. Beds at shelters are given first to women with children, drug addicts or other substance abuse vets. Since I am a woman with no kids or substance addiction, help is not readily available to me.

    What can I possibly do to get my claim processed? Why are veterans, who freely and willingly, give their lives to protect this country treated so badly by the one organization we thought we could trust? How many men and women have to die (suicide) before some serious changes are made in the way our claims are being handled? It may not sound serious to some, especially some of the workers at the VA, but the earlier posts show that there is a problem that needs immediate attention. Please help me (us). What must we (vets) do?????

    Kelly McConnal

    P.S. Please forgive any misspelled words.

  291. 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 additional advice it would be appreciated.

  292. Mr. Pamperin, I am currently on chemo therapy for a type of leukimia that I aquired while at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri in 1976 and after researching my old medical records the VA awarded me 40% approximately 2 years ago, over the last 8 months my hemotologist has had to increase my treatment so I had my County VA rep request an increase in my rating as I was forced to close down my business, but for some reason the claims dept. in Oakland, CA stopped working on my claim in November, in the mean time I am dealing with the financial problems like so many other veterans are, could you please check on my claim, this waiting is very hard mentally especially combined with the effects of chemo therapy. Sincerely, David Cavagna

  293. Adrielle says:

    Mr. Pamperin,

    My BDD claim was received 12July2011. It was in the decision phase by August of 2011. I have not received a decision. My claim is at the Winston Salem Office and I was told the average turn around time for a claim once it makes it to the decision phase is approximately 90 days.

    Now I have received a letter from the VA stating that the length has changed to up to 13 months.

    Why has the time frame increased so much? What do you recommend I do? I just want to be proactive with my claim.

    V/R
    Adrielle

  294. Craig B. says:

    What happens when the Doctors at the V.A., over the last several years have neglected to tell me that my kidney function has gone straight into the toilet, as i am now just about one good kidney punch away from having to go on dialysis? Don’t they have a moral, legal or ethical requirement to inform a patient that they have a life threatening problem developing? I just spent two weeks in the V.A. hospital for other reasons, and out of the blue a Doctor mentions that my kidneys are just about shot, and the discharge paperwork mentions renal failure now, as well as why i was there in the first place, so what should happen now, do i contact a lawyer to possibly pursue legal action, or as they seemed to act, chalk it up to a matter of oops, sorry and better luck next time!

  295. Aaron K. says:

    I am now at the end of the first year for my claim… In Boise i am one of the top 5 longest waiting claims…guess that’s actually quick from what I have heard and read. My claim just went back to the discovery phase a 2nd time ( i have been told its for Dr to clarify something). The first time they sent me back was because my rater couldnt find my Military records showing injury relationship from in service. My doctor found my military records in seconds and then had to put orange tabs on each one for the reviewer to be able to find them (like he is in 3rd grade or something?) This has been a stressful and long process and something as simple as not being able to find my military records in a file your supposed to read thru just seems incompetent to me… I feel for everyone out there who has been suffering longer than me… I am well past all the numbers they throw at you for turn around time on everything… I think I will Crap bricks if they ever get to there estimated goal… right now they just continue to screw over veterans who gave everything up to protect a country that now doesn’t want to protect them. I don’t remember being able to have a turn around time for war…you couldn’t just say sorry our workloads to heavy ATM we cant go to Iraq….

  296. The Marine says:

    Thanks to Mr. Pamperin and all the other great members who offered their tips and advice.

    Without going into great detail, I’m having a host of medical issues and have had multiple stays in the hospital over the last few years for clots, heart issues, kidneys.

    I was stationed at Camp Lejeune and was exposed to the contaminated water problem there for several years. I see some people filing for VA Disability and others filing some kind of tort or lump sum lawsuit. What is the best option to pursue compensation in this matter? Thanks.

    I am a veteran of the USMC after serving 14+ years.

    Thanks!

  297. I have just been notified that my disability compensation claim has been granted on some (2) of the claimed conditions, is continuing on 2 , deferred for VA exam on one, and denied on one. My Service Connected rating is raised from 20% to 40%.

    I have several questions:

    What action do I take on those continued claims. Do i need to submit a NOD at this time, or wait. (my claim was submitted 17 1/2 months ago)

    I see on the compensation rate table there is a supplemental amount for “A/A spouse”.
    My wife is disabled due to Tramautic Brain Injury (’89), and rheumatoid arthritis & mixed connective tissue disease since 94. She uses wheelchair for any distance past 100 feet, and has many limitations. I found the term “seriously disabled spouse requiring AA” but cannot find any other information.

    What should I do to apply if the conditions are met by her condition?

    Thanks,
    Bill Loesch

  298. Phillip Snead says:

    Tom,

    I was reading your blod and found one part of it very interesting, concerning the comment that you made about the BDD program, “Normally, decisions are available about two months after you separate or retire.”

    The reason that I found it interesting is that I filed my BDD claim in March 2011, retired from the US Navy after 20 years on 31 Aug 2011. As of the date that I am commenting to your blog 5 Apr 2012, I have still not received a decison back from the VA om my claim. I have spoke with the VA on numberous ociasions. During these phone calls, I recevied the standard speach that I believe they have taped to their monitor’s, “we are back logged and working to get your claim completed ASAP. I have also been lucky enought to get number to my regional office where my claim is at (Winston Salem, NC) and they were more concerned with how I got their number then the fact that my claim has been in processing for over 7 months old with no decision. It is currently sitting in preparation for decison and has been that way since 19 Jan 2012.

    The most that I have gotten out of the regional office was that I needed to just be patient and wait it out. Well I think that maybe we should switch roles and allow them to miss out on jobs due to not having VA disability paperwork. Over $30,000 a year I am lossing by not having my rating letter and that is just from one job that I could have tomorrow if my letter was in the mail, but I should just be patient and wait it out. Thanks for listening to my concerns. I do believe that maybe you should update the blog to include the new waiting times for BDD claims, since the Reional office did tell me on the phone more than once that the VA reps need to stop putting out the wrong time frames for processing the BDD claims.

    Thanks again for the time.

    Phillip Snead

  299. C. Hedrick says:

    Well, at least I don’t feel alone. I have a claim that just went to the review phase at the Roanoke VA Office at somewhere around 440 days since I filed. I sure hope that they rate me for PTSD…it cost me a great Federal Job and my TS/SCI/CI polygraph security clearance. On top of which in the low paying job I have now the boss understands when I hand him the phone or say I have to get away for a few. I’m constantly stressed, snap at people, and fear I might lose this job too. I’m currently rated 30% and have filed for increases due to pain increasing. I didn’t realize the VA gave disability for hearing damage and tinnitus so that’s in this claim too. Maybe with my trying to push away the bad memories I finally got the evidence they need to support the PTSD claim. You all know what nightmares, anxienty, and stress are about…some days it’s all I can do to get out of bed much less go to work. I do because of my family….plus waiting on the VA seems like they just sit there going if we don’t do anything for a long time they will think we really tried to get them the rating they wanted even though we denied it. The constant stress has all but destroyed my marriage and relationship with my kids. Unfortunately they caught the brunt of it all. I’m getting thoroughly frustrated and hope something gives soon.in my favor. MSgt USAF retired

  300. Willie J Scott says:

    I have been placed in the “agent orange class/group” approximately 5/2011. I have submitted all records and as near as I can tell all my Dr’s have responded to the VA.
    I recieved a letter dated 1/11/2012 apologizing for the delay in processing my application.
    It is now 4/25/2012 and I have not heard from the VA since the 1/2012 communication. Is
    there a way to find out where in the claims process I am at present.? Any information would be helpfull. I was not given the annual visit to a VA doctor last year. Was this because of the claim? I did finally get to see a Dr as my prescription had run out and I made several request fro a doctor visit. Thanks for any help or information.

  301. Gerald says:

    I was disabiled in 1983 and been collecting 60% sc for all that time, Now I am filing for my neck that was not claim although I knew my neck was hurt ,I also thought that I filed for drop foot and Thats why I figuire I got 60%. I went and used DAV a little over a year ago for IU one claim ,increase for lower back,Neck injury, and atheritis in lower back secondary to back injury. I got to the Pending Decision Approval phase and a few days ago it went back to review of evedence stage and added loss of use in one foot, and something about fixing car and adapting cars not those words but I think you know what I mean. When I filed 30yrs ago I went with PVA and by doing that I thought It was because of my drop foot cause I had not much feeling up leg and could not pick right foot up and down without really thinking very hard to make that happen. I was confused so I call PVA in Houston were I file the claim in 1983, The officer there said I need to sign the power of attorney over to them, As they would be able to figure out if that was filed or If not there may be a chance that they could have me paid from when the neck and the drop foot should have been claimed in 1983,,, Can someone please help me will that hang up my claim should I go back to the people who should have access to more info. Officer for PVA said it would not hold up my case any long I have been wait sence 1/28/2011 PLEASE HELP .?? I am in severe chronic pain for 30 yrs are so TELL ME WHAT TO DO !!!!!

    Thank you Jerry

  302. Carla says:

    The post made by NISTOR IONEL is obviously a spammer !

  303. Alex Horton says:

    Thanks Carla, I took care of it.

  304. John J. Jamason says:

    Tom Pamperin, I too would like to offer my gratitude to you for your service to our country during the VietNam war games. You deserve some kudo’s for taking the verbal butt whoopin you are receiving from the vets on this forum. As you can readily see, the tone of most vets is that of anger, or rant, if you will. And everyone on this forum must understand that although your here in dialogue, you are but a microscopic cytoplasm in the sea of VA. Your answers are somewhat generic with an appeasing tone. The Vets on this forum should realize that you are but one person, instructed by senior officials to start communicating with vets. While this does offer Veterans a chance to vent, it actually offers little help from your agency. 50 years of lies,deception,delays and denials will not be rectified in any short period of time. Covering up the increasing number of Veterans suicides, lying to the OIG, taking 5 years to ” study ” updating an antiquated computer system, while current technologies would enable same, only displays the Veterans Administration Motto, ” Delay and Deny Until They Die “. Which by the way is the title of my new book which is almost completed. My ” 32 year journey with the VA.” Think about it Tom, VA is still working off the same playbook that was published for VA in 1917. Only a few things have changed since then.

    Lets look at the way VA employees that rate disability claims are paid, so Veterans can fully understand the process. VA employees that rate disability claims are paid on a ” work/credit system “, where each employee that looks at your file, even if for only 15 minutes, is paid for that interaction. My last rating decision, which by the way was denied again, along with the C-file was worked on by 12 employees, and then rejected for compensation, only to overruled by a Decision Review Officer and awarded. The decision Review Officer commented in the file that he could not understand, with all the documentation in my file, what the raters couldn’t see that was apparently overwhelming evidence to him. When raters make a mistake, either small or monumental, there is NO procedure in place to remedy their mistake, and in fact, the Veterans C-file is returned to the raters again, where they read the file again, and get PAID AGAIN for the “work/credit” they performed. And why Tom, are raters with little or NO medical knowledge adjudicating files with complex medical issues for Veterans that will affect the rest of their lives ? With less than 60 RO’s in the country, and all the money that VA wastes on a daily basis, why can’t VA hire a medical professional to work with the raters to help answer some of the complex questions that affect the very outcome of veterans disability claims? Why Tom, Why ? My story is not unlike those of thousands of other Vets. I will share with you my experiences with VA since 1971, but most recently in 2009 and 2010. I am a 60% SC Nam Vet. 50% PTSD, 10% Bi-lateral tinnitus( static), Bi-lateral hearing loss( static)-(hearing aids 24/7)by Dr. order, rated 0%, recently appealed, waiting decision. Been on 100% Social Security Disability for 2 years for PTSD and Dementia, yet denied for IU by VA. Diagnosed by 2 VA psychologists as permanently 100% disabled with no amenable progress predicted in the future and recommending that VA work with me to help me transition future days to be as comfortable as possible. Recently diagnosed on 2 seperate occassions with Severe Depression, secondary to PTSD and filed claim for same. Claim being reviewed since April of 2010. Suffered traumatic Left Shoulder AC seperation while in Marine Corps as well as a documented serious back injury. Recent exams by VA revealed Degenerative joint disease in Left shoulder with Osteo-Arthritis, and degenerative spinal disease with arthritis and bone spurs penetrating the spinal column, filed for compensation in April 2010, still waiting. 32 years of untreated PTSD has caused significant gastro difficulties including gastritis and Gerd. Spent time in Da Nang in 1971, in one of the most heavily sprayed AO areas in the whole country and have now been diagnosed with Intestinal Metaplasia( pre-stomach cancer), have had puesdo-folliculitis for almost 40 years on scalp and arms with scarring and skin pigment loss. Diagnosed with neuropathy of arms and feet just recently, filed for compensation and still waiting.”Delay and Deny Until They Die”. I live in the West Palm Beach area of Florida and am serviced by the new VA Mini-Center attached to the VA Medical Center in WPB. When dropping off my claims paperwork in April of 2010, I was informed by a service center employee that the usual staff of 15 was operating at a 3 person level because of employee shortage. I asked him why and his response was that some female employees were pregnant and not returning, some of that staff had moved away and some of the staff had resigned due to lack of job satisfaction. I inquired why new staff wasn’t being hired to replace the old staff and was informed that VA was in SLOW MOTION in hiring and training new staff to fill those positions. When inquiring as to how long he thought it would take to render a decision on claims submitted almost 9 months ago, I was asked if I was a Viet Nam Vet. I replied I was, and was informed that Viet-Nam Vets files were being placed on the bottom of the heap to make room for OEF-OIF vets. Tom, I find that unacceptable. My VSO is having his permission to represent me through my POA recinded because he NEVER returns phone calls, is utterly arrogant and feels like he is doing me a favor by writing out my claims for submittal. He never lets me see the claim prior to submitting to the RO, in spite of my repeated requests to do so, and routinely misrepresents the facts as pertained to my case. My complicated and deteriorating medical issues were recognized by my Congressman, who wrote 10 letters to the RO in St. Pete, Florida, requesting a timely decision, hoping that death would not come to me prior to their decision, only to fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. Tom, if you want to substanially help your brother Vets in the future, you should aspire to have the R.O’s set aside veterans files for expedited decision making on their claim, if they are facing imminent death in the forseeable future or are faced with numerous documented medical conditions that render the vet incapacitation. I think most vets with less severe medical conditions would be amenable to allowing for the severely compromised vet to be rated. It is the right thing to do. Tom, I would humbly request your help with having St. Pete R.O. adjudicate my case prior to my demise, but I honestly doubt that anyone, including you, can persuade Mr. Smith and the gang at St. Pete to quickly decide anything they don’t want to. With my home in danger of foreclosure, life ending medical issues, significant financial stressor’s, my case is not much different than thousands of other deserving Vets that need an ear and words from someone like you, an advocate if you will. Tom, once again, we Vets thank you for whatever assistance you are offering and hope that you travel the road to change in the future, because VA is desperate to transcend into the 21 century prior to the demise of the very veterans they serve. Thank You Sir.

  305. Tom Pamperin says:

    I have referred you comments to our St. Petersburg Regional Office for followup.

  306. brenda hayes says:

    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

    PS. It posted wrongly the first time; please take my post out that did not go directly to John’s post.

    Thanks, BH

  307. Jeanette says:

    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.

  308. Michelle says:

    I work for a large healthcare system. We file medical claims to the VA for the Veterans who receive services within our healthcare system. We are uncertain of the process for filing these claims and frequently do not receive a response on a claim or are told that the VA did not receive our claim. What is the process? How does the VA respond? Electronically? Fax? Is there a way for providers to check claim statuses online. I see that the patients can check claim statuses, what about the providers who are filing on their behalf? Thanks.

  309. C. Davis says:

    I am currently getting disability for a service connected knee injury. I was currently being treated for a mood disorder/depression due to the pain that I am having due to this injury. The doctor that is treating me told me this. Can I file a secondary claim for this?