The appeals process: Appeals at the regional office level



Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles focusing on appeals.

In my previous post, I wrote about the difference between a claim and an appeal. Most Veterans are aware that claims are rated at the VA regional office (RO), usually in their state. However, a lot of Veterans are not aware that appeals are also reviewed at the regional office before they go to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board).  In this piece I will discuss the RO’s appeal process, your role in the process, and the things you can do to help expedite your appeal.

Appeals at the local regional office level

Once a VA office issues its decision on your claim, you have one year from that date to file an appeal. Read the decision letter closely:  it will tell you why VA made the decision it did.  If you are unsure why or how VA made its decision, ask a Veterans service officer for help.  You can also call VA or go to your regional office.

If you disagree with VA’s decision for any reason – the effective date of your award, the rating percentage you were given or the reason you were denied – you should file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). If VA included VA Form 21-0958, Notice of Disagreement, with its decision, you must use that form to file your NOD – it is mandatory.  The NOD is the start of your appeal.

Appeal Life Cycle

Once you file your NOD, you have several rights: you can submit new evidence, ask for a de novo review where a decision review officer (DRO) takes a “fresh look” at the claim, reviewing the entire claims file and/or ask to testify and present evidence at a telephone or in-person hearing.  VA encourages Veterans who choose to have a hearing to opt for an informal teleconference hearing, since these can be scheduled much faster.  Many appeals are favorably resolved at these early stages.  Make sure you file your NOD on time: your right to appeal ends a year from the date of VA’s decision.

When you file your NOD, you have a choice: either select a traditional review or a de novo review by a DRO.  You can make this choice right on your NOD when you start your appeal. If you don’t make a decision, VA will mail you a notice of this right, and you’ll have 60 days to respond, so answer right away.

I’ve mentioned a couple pro tips, but I want to call them out:

  • If you are dissatisfied with the decision on your claim, file your appeal right away
  • When you file your NOD, submit any new evidence you have; waiting until later on in the process can delay your appeal
  • Also, when you file your NOD, state if you want a DRO review or a traditional review – this will also save you time on your appeal

Traditional Review

If you opt for a traditional review, a member of the RO appeals team reviews the decision on your claim to determine if it was processed correctly; if it was, the RO will issue you a Statement of the Case (SOC). An SOC lists the applicable laws and regulations related to that decision, all the evidence that was considered in making the decision and a detailed explanation of the decision VA made.

De novo Review

A de novo review is your other option. de novo, which means “new,” or “fresh look,” is a Latin term used by lawyers.  In a de novo review, a DRO, who is a senior-level, highly experienced claim processor, looks at all the evidence of record (your entire claims file, including any new evidence you’ve submitted). The DRO can grant your appeal, deny your appeal and issue an SOC, or order additional development (such as a new medical exam or a request for additional medical records), if warranted.

Unless the RO grants the full benefit you are seeking, you will receive an SOC. This means EVEN if the RO grants your claim, you may receive an SOC, allowing you to continue the appeal. For instance:

  • If you were appealing service connection for tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and the RO granted this on appeal at 10 percent, the RO appeals team will ONLY issue a rating decision since 10 percent is the highest rating you can receive for tinnitus. This means the appeal has been granted in full. You will not receive an SOC.
  • If you were appealing VA’s 10-percent rating for arthritis in your lower back because you believe you should be rated higher, but the RO appeals team disagrees and continues your 10-percent rating, you will receive ONLY an SOC.
  • If you were appealing VA’s 10-percent rating for arthritis in your lower back because you believe you should be rated higher, and the RO appeals team agrees and increases your rating to 20 percent, you will receive BOTH a new award decision explaining why VA increased your disability rating AND an SOC detailing how VA arrived at its decision, including why you were not entitled to a rating higher than 20 percent.

You have 60 days from the date the SOC is mailed to you to file a VA Form 9, Appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, if you wish to continue your appeal to the Board.  Any time you submit more evidence after the SOC or before the Form 9, VBA must conduct another review of the case and issue another SOC – this one called a supplemental statement of the case (SSOC) that includes the additional evidence – or a rating decision, if the additional evidence allows VBA to grant the appeal.  This must be done each time you submit new evidence after the SOC. I have seen appeals with four or five SSOCs.  Keep in mind, each time you submit new evidence it triggers a new review. It’s like starting all over again in the appeals process.  Each new SSOC can add up to 400 days to the appeal, so my best advice is, submit all available evidence to support your appeal when you file your NOD.

On the Form 9, you can request an optional hearing before a judge at the Board, who will decide your appeal.  A hearing is not required and will delay a final decision, but if you want a hearing, you can choose a video-teleconference hearing, a travel board hearing at your local RO, or an in-person hearing in Washington, D.C.

If you want a hearing, your best bet is to opt for the video-teleconference hearing, since it can be scheduled much quicker than other types of hearings.  This is because you don’t have to travel to Washington, D.C. and you don’t have to wait for a judge to travel to your RO. You still get the benefit of representation and talking to a judge face-to-face – though virtually, like on Skype or on FaceTime.

Once you submit your Form 9, the RO appeals team reviews your appeal to ensure all actions were completed and that it is ready to go to the Board. Once ready, the local RO will certify and transfer your appeal to the Board in Washington, D.C.

In my next piece, we will discuss the appeals process at the Board. But in the meantime, I am happy to answer questions about the RO appeals process in the comments section.  Please remember, we cannot answer questions on your specific appeal.

 

Author

Catherine Trombley

Comments

  1. Ammovet    

    Very good explanation, Catherine.

    What are your thoughts on the “Fully Developed Appeal” that the Secretary is talking about?

    How will the new process affect the time line, if implemented?

    1. mary jane watkins    

      I have been waiting for a decision for almost 5 years. I am now in an appeal process. My husband was a Vietnam vet 2(ours and died at age 55 from multiple myeloma which his oncologist felt could have been a result of agent orange. I feel also that they hope I give up or die in the meantime. Gotten a lawyer but still no results

      1. Ann Bracey    

        I feel the very same way, waiting on hearing for years. The VA has its way of putting claims off. My theory is the hope of my giving up or dying before just as you said.

        1. Jennifer Perkins    

          My husband also passed away from a rare form of cancer we also believe it was caused from agent orange I was told I had to provide proof the doctors will not confirm I have seen a lot of other people with the same type of cancer just not as bad as his by the time we were informed about the cancer he died 3 months later don’t understand he had blood work done on s regular bases finally he went to s smaller VA hospital they recognized right away there was something really wrong w/his blood work!!?? He risk his life for his country and gets no respect?? He was in the ER all morning they thought he was an alcoholic since his stomach was swollen while his legs were burning and turning into blister he was ready for God to take him home to stop the pain he finally went w/a hell of an Amen God Bless all ❤️

      2. Paige Kosderka    

        Dont give up. Dont die. Im in it over 10 years and hopeless is easy in this system. They may hope we die or give up bbut why would we give a rats patooty what they want or wish for? If you are a veteran or dependant you can qualify for free legal help and your rep should be taking some of this on if not all anyways!

        Its not easy, its designed to be difficult. If it were easy, everyone would make a claim. Thats the thpught process of our government. If its easy, its not worth it and if its worth anything its not easy.

    2. dee smith    

      Do u know how hard it is to get a doctor, including at the va, to fill out a any type of paperwork or forms for any type of a claim. Doctors will not and will just politely pass u on to another doctor. I have never seen the same Dr. twice at va. Private doctors will send u a letter.

    3. ELPATO    

      I WENT THRU THE COURTS OF APPEALS WDC FOR VET CLAIMS BVA ,AND THE OTHER 1 OF LAST RESORT THEY TOLD ME I HAD OVER GONE 120 DAYS TIME TO FILE A REPSONSE ,SO I DIDNT GET ANY DECISION THEN I WAS TOLD TO FILE WITH THE OTHER COURT?ONMYOWN. I DID I WAS TOLD I NEEDED 450 BUCKS FEE AND SAME THING 120 DAYS RAN OUT,I GUESS I WAS INDECISIVE ,BUT ANY WAY THEY ACCEPTED MY FEE AND TOLD I WASNT QUALIFIED TO AGENT ORANGE HOUSE GRANT VEHICLE ADAPTATION under title 36etc. I,DIDN,T HAVE LOSS OF LEGS OR HAND BUT THEY ARE NUMB I HAVE pheripheral NUEROPATHY IN BOTH HAND AND LEGS AND PREDIABETIC .I WAS TOLD I HAD MYOLATING NUEROPATHY FROM SMOKING ,THE VA DALLAS PUT ME IN FOR AN AO RATING SINCE 2005 I SPENT THREE MONTHS INDALLAS VA WITH BALANCE PROBLEMS MALNUTRITION,B12 DEFICIENT PREDIABETES ,,AND OTHER MALADIES ,IWAS TOLD NOT TO PUSH IT ,CAUSE THEY WOULD DOWNGRADE ME INRATING,SO ICALLED AND TOLD THEM TO STOP TRYING TOG ET ME RATED FOR VA AO AND MY KIDS hav/GOT ALL KINDS OF PROBLEMS IN THE 30S ONES A QUADRAPELEGIC BUT FROM AGUN ACCIDENT.SO IT GOES ,mygran sonhas acute spina bifida and sonsteven has aspinal cord defect no insurance his hand and l;egs are numb and other sonchris has tumors inhis elg and has allergies

    4. Mark w Nunez    

      I have tow earing aids caused by 109 howitzer and denied 2 times with no rateing ssn2499

    5. Francisco Valentin    

      my regional office is 8 hours away. why don’t they have a phone number for us vets to call. been waiting on a decision on my appeal since 2008.

    6. Daniel Milburn    

      I went through this first from Jan 1992 to April 2005. It took two trips to BVA first to get the percentage correct the second to get the correct effective date. Why the second is because with every form 9 sent the challenge was the percentage and effective date but the Regional office did not properly develop the effective date so it was sent back to the regional office. It sat there for one year with no body doing any thing and when my congressman called about it. Three days later I receive a denial letter which sent it back to BVA. They did send it back to the board after some one removed a form 9 from the file. I had protected myself by having a good service rep who sent the form9 in for me. I won the case. My current case started in 2005 and is still under appeal. This case has gone all the way to the court of appeals were the Judge was totally pissed off. He through out the lower judges decision remanding it back with strong language for not doing things right. I am still waiting to get a decision from the Regional Office again. The top of VA does not care how we are treated at the regional office. Mr. McDonald is a piece of trash and not doing the job. He has yet to take any kind of action that is worth any thing. This is how OBOMA takes care of Veterans. He lets us suffer and die with no one caring about us just giving lip service to it all. I say get mad as a bull dog with a bone and slam these SOB every day but don’t quit and don’t die. You need to find groups in your area. to fight back by constantly hammering the point home to your congressmen until they all have to do some thing or we through the bums out and get new people in. Fight and fight some more

      1. ed lynde    

        was Obama to blame during 1992-2005? read what he done for vets, funding, choice program, etc. congress (republicans) have and are holding hearings. you want Obama to handle your claim personally? you people will blame him for anything

    7. Dominique Joseph    

      Ammovet,

      Thanks for your question. The fully developed appeal is still in the proposal phase so there’s not much I can tell you specifically. However, the Secretary is working hard in partnership with Congress to put legislation in place to support an initiative like the fully developed appeal. You and other Veterans can help us in our efforts but by asking your representative in Congress to support appeals reform. It’s going to take a collective effort. Take care and thank you for your service.

    8. melodye j. winstom    

      I have a related question. What is special compensation for Veterans who already receive 100%?

    9. Kurt LeRoy Himmenger    

      I recently received a Comp. increase award and settlement. I received my settlement check first, than I received a letter informing me that VA awarded my private attorney’s 20 percent fee and the settlement disbursements. When I crunched the numbers I discovered VA left $5,220.00 of my money on the table. They want me to go thru the entire claims/appeals process to get what the already owe me.
      How do I get my money now?

  2. Michael Gordon    

    I appealed a decision on December 14th 2014 and am still waiting for a answer. I truly believe they want to take this sweet old time hoping that that will die before decisions made !!!!! It’s an absolute joke as to how long it takes for Manchester New Hampshire to make a decision. It’s not bad enough that Manchester has lost my paperwork upload information and sue the website blank now it’s been way over a year and they still have not made a decision The whole system is a joke

    1. Teresa O'Brien    

      I’m in the same boat with Atlanta. You get reamed if you ask for help from AmLegjon, no call back from them, and somehow old vso learned you called..system is designed for people to get fed up and fall through the cracks. It’s a disgrace to us all. My dad had an easier time getting his agent orange exposure sc than I’m having, at that was in the 90s.

      1. Johnnie Holmes    

        I filed a NOD in June 2014. They received it in August 2014 and in December 2015 I got a letter saying it was with a DRO. I am dying here.

        1. Paige Kosderka    

          I know how you feel. Its total bs, but if we dont keep fighting, they win and i aint got time for dat!!

  3. jlgtc    

    If you appeal the effective date of your award, and ask for a review/appeal, can they change their decision? I worry about someone getting upset because you question what they did…

    1. William.M Stubbs    

      I’ve been waiting on my appeal since 2013 of January it’s almost been 3 years it’s a shame

      1. GRK    

        Hey Stubbs,
        Here I thought I was waiting a long time….filed my appeal in June 2013 so I’m not that far behind you.
        So you know you’re not alone in this boat named “Delay, Deny, Hurry up and Die”…. Were gonna need a bigger boat.

        Airborne.

        1. William R. Crowell    

          I have been waiting since March of 2007. I have been denied and under appeal (now appealed with BVA) since 2014. The first several years the VA denied they had any record of the stressor I claim caused my conditions. They also claimed there was no medical records that would also bolster my claim. It took me until 2010 to prove my stressor. It me until 2012 to prove the VA was lying or incompetent as I was able to get my hands on VA Hospital records they had the whole time. Even after the records were located, the record keeper in charge at the VA Cleveland hospital denied they had the records until I threatened to personally sue him . Behind the scenes an individual who shall remain nameless at this point found some of the records that helped to prove I had been treated and had surgery when I said. Though in complete they clearly demonstrate what I had claimed was true. I had it in writing then that the manager of the department denied having the records even though it was a lie. Once I had it in writing and was going to sue him as well as the VA, he agreed to put my records on a CD and send me a copy.

          The VA it seems searches for reasons to deny claims. My original claims go back to 1976. Yet even with the proof in place, they still have continued to fight the claim.

          In the last year and a half, I have begun to pass out and have seizures and to date they have still not been able to come up with a diagnosis and what to do. This is happening as they found 70% blockage in one of my cathartic arteries and the other side at 50% blockage. It is not a stretch for this Vet to think the VA would rather I just die and they can be done with me and pay out nothing.

          As I understand it, my claim will most likely be remanded back to the RO from the BVA. Then it will be a couple more years before the RO issues another finding.

          ***FYI, Bernie Sanders was the Chairman of the committee in Congress of Veterans Affairs. He claims to be so active on helping Vets. When I wrote to him complaining and telling him my Senator was unable to get me relief and would he as the Chairman intervene. He wrote back I should contact my Senator. He runs for the White House and will not get my vote. After all his time as Chairman what has he ever done while being aware of the problems at the VA. Where was he when news broke naming names of Vets who died as they waited for care that never came? He talks a great game and yet fixes nothing that was wrong. Just another babbling fool who does not have my back.

          It is a long road we Vets must travel for justice. Sad. I would love to see this become a campaign issue where the various VSO’s and the VETS are heard.

    2. Mark Ledesma    

      Hi jlgtc,

      I just want to clarify that our employees are not allowed to make malicious changes to your benefits – it is against the law. Claims decisions must be supported by evidence and/or by law.

      Can you please clarify what you mean by “change their decision?”

      Regards,
      Mark

      1. William R. Crowell    

        If the VA Employees followed the law, did not lose and even hide Vets records, perhaps I would not be so critical of the entire claims process.. The VA lies and ignors facts of evidence. So your answer to the Vet here does not pass muster with those of us who know the truth. The laws are routinely broken by the VA.

    3. Fernando    

      I understand your question and here is an answer.

      You are by law entitled to request an appeal for an earlier effective date. If your appeal is reviewed and the VA can grant you an earlier effective date they will do so. If the evidence shows that you are not entitled to an earlier effective date then they can only deny your request for an earlier effective date, but you keep the current effective date.

      The VA employees have no right to question you just because you believe that it should have been an earlier effective date. The VA employees have to follow the law and make sure that you are granted if the evidence shows that you are entitled. Don’t be afraid. Thank you for your service.

  4. Joel Belanger    

    This is very well put out and informative. If only the system were as smooth as your article makes it seem. What is missing is a timeline, and how it takes well over 400 days just to move from an NOD to the next step. I agree with the prior comment about the system waiting for the veteran to pass and truly hope that the VA will relocate the resources away from a social media department and bloggers back into doing their intended job.

    1. Robert Whalen    

      In my area, Oakland, CA, I was told it could take 543 days ! So much paperwork to fill out, copies to be made, and waiting waiting waiting ….it is a daunting task and I feel a lot of veterans just give up. In the mean time, I’m not getting any younger

  5. Teresa O'Brien    

    My appeal has been in the works in Atlanta since 2014. I was told by my old VSO staff tgat they are just now getting to 2011 appeals. Had no idea about the video teleconferencing, etc, of which you spoke. Have tried, unsuccessfully, to get an American Legion rep at tge Regional Office, to set up an appointment for advocacy. After I made the attempt to contact him, my old vso office called me and acted as if I’d done something wrong! I moved to another VSO office when I filed the appeal. I have a primary autoimmune disease and other diseases linked with Gulf War Illness, am now on SSDI. I have to find a new place to live as the family farm is making me sick. VA is taking care of my weekly IgG therapy, Enbrel and I’m truly thankful. But I need money. What I make from sc, SSDI Is not enough after copays, COL expenses, supplemental insurances. I’ve been told by new VSO that if I get my stare reps involved, it could set me back 3 yrs. I just don’t get it…

  6. Dr. David Johnson    

    My Appeals were for Tinnitus , Hearing Loss, and I understand the Max on the Tinnitus, since filing it in 2014, I do not understand why if this is the case the VA has continued it. I also have a Remanded Appeal almost 6 yrs old now, for Shoulder Condition, and Un-employability , as well as a Cervical Issue the VA has now listed as Arthritis due to Trauma.
    The VA has had all the Medical Information since August 2015, I don’t understand why it is taking so long for some form of decision when the VA has everything needed?

    1. John    

      David I have been waiting since 2004 just for a rating decision so just think about it? My best friend just died yesterday waiting since 1986.He died from meso.

  7. Kenneth Kevin Wilson    

    Hello,
    What if it’s been over a year since I received my rating and I’m having more pain than the ratings? Is this a cause for a new claim?

      1. Victor Sellers    

        I was an inpatient, hospitalized a month in Vietnam for a skin disease. The VA denied my claim in 1983, denied me any treatment or health care all through the decades because I made a little too much money, and had my own insurance. I had a P3 PERMANENT PROFILE for “physical capacity and stamina” issued to me the day I was medivaced out of Vietnam, June 7, 1971, which superseded all other records, and was completely denied any care what-so-ever for 44 years. My 1983 claim was denied the day before any medical records were even mailed to the RO for a decision. The RO had NO evidence one way or the other, but denied me anyway, AFTER CONCEEDING EXPOSURE TO HERBICIDES. I was awarded a token disability this last year, and am now at the bottom of the pile again. The VA corrected its decision for Stephen Kelley in 1(one) week, and I am going on 33 years now. Look up 28426325.

    1. Top cat    

      Yes you should file for an increase in service connection. Be sure you use a vso like the DAV so the correct paperwork is used.

    2. Leon Suchorski    

      I originally had a 60% rating, and went to my VSO and told him that I felt that it should be higher. He advised me that they could lower me on a re-exam. I told him that I would risk it, because I felt that much worse. When they were done with the re-exam, I was at 100%. Since then, I have found out that my PTSD would carry a rating of 70%. Also, I have Parkinson’s disease. It is just too bad that we can not get over 100%, with all of the problems that some of us have.

  8. Matthew Michael    

    why does my appeal say that it is complete in Ebenefits but yet I haven’t heard anything on a decision?

  9. js03    

    M21-1 Part 3. General Claims Process
    Subpart II-Chapter 2 – Benefit Programs and Types of Claims
    Section F – Requests for Reconsideration – Updated 7/15/15

    For the purpose of this topic, a request for reconsideration is a request from a claimant for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reconsider one of its decisions that has not yet become final (the one-year appeal period, which begins on the date the claimant was notified of the decision at issue, has not yet expired). A prescribed form is not required for a request for reconsideration.

    This is from the VA web site. Why isn’t it documented in this blog? What are the CFR and USC authorities for this reconsideration?

    1. Dominique Joseph    

      JS,

      The blog is used primarily to share information about VA programs and Veterans issues in an easily digestible way. For more information on federal regulations and US Codes, take a look at http://www.knowva.ebenefits.va.gov/system/templates/selfservice/va_ss/#!portal/554400000001018?LANGUAGE=en&COUNTRY=us and/or http://uscode.house.gov/ and review Title 38.

      1. js    

        Sorry, but my topic on this issue was directly related to the blog post. I am far more familiar with your referral than you are with my question. If you are a VA employee, and I were your supervisor, you would find yourself being counselled about your failure to adequately respond to these posts in this blog. I would put this in your permanent personnel records for future reference.

  10. Donald Stossmeister    

    Appeal filed in Dec 2014. have not had any action or response .

  11. js03    

    From the time an NOD is filed, up to the SOC they give the Veteran, do they do a De Novo review of the case?

    If the De Novo Review is automatic, isn’t it a disadvantage to the Veteran that requests a De Novo Review, instead of filing immediately for an appeal? If the De Novo review takes 9 months, (then the appeal is delayed for 9 months) instead of having been filed originally as an appeal, it just takes that much more time for the RO to process as an appeal. By law, appeals are processed by the date of the actual appeal, so if the separate De Novo Review takes 9 months, it only adds 9 months to the process, when the appeal is actually filed.

    Why do they have this in the claims process to begin with?

  12. Michael Stesen    

    my appeal is still at 362 days old they say they 377 days to make a decision ,if i do not agree with i can re-appeal it right. also i was not told in April of 1973 that i had hepatitis c while i was still in the service but on my dd214 it said not reenlist able but never said why then in 2004 i was at the Miami V A they also did blood work on me found the hep c and still no one told me which is a health risk by it self i am thinking about going to a lawyer and filing a law suit against them have you ever had anyone else with this issue if so please email thank you

    1. William R. Crowell    

      You should google hep C caused by VA negligence. There is at least one lawsuit that has been filed by Vets getting the virus from various medical procedures. I was exposed to hep c due to blood transfusions during surgery at the VA in Cleveland. There is a large body of evidence that demonstrates many instances of Hep C with respect to Veterans. Of course the VA will claim the vet used dirty needles while doing illegal drugs. The VA will lie and claim they have no responsibility as they will blame the Vet for the disease. Now Having been cured of the disease, I have contacted cirrhosis as a result of the Hep C I had since 1976.

      At first they claimed they could find no record of blood transfusions. Having located the Hospital records proving I did in fact have surgery in 1976, they then claimed it was illegal drug use I got the disease from. The records remained lost until an employee who is a family relative actually located what the VA Cleveland claimed they had no knowledge of.

      Google VA missing medical records and you will be shocked at how records were purposely lost, destroyed, let alone denied the records ever existed.

  13. Michael Cranfill    

    I went to the VA right from IRAQ 2004 began the process, seen all the doctors for many different issues, Was seen by CP doctors one at a time got 10% and then 10% then several years 10% went to all the paper work several ties, They lost info, Than said I need more Info, My unit lost all my paper work, The VA said I need Date of each event, I suffer fro PTSD, was committed by the VA, then they said I had to be reevaluated again and again, was denied and appealed , Was not allowed to my hearing, was reevaluated again and was told I got 80% and not to appeal it again, They never finished with all my claims, I did send paper work in to appeal and add the thing not addresses and that was in 2011. I do not have the ability to fight anymore, so they WON !! I That’s what the VA does is wear you down till you can not fight anymore. I am beat, worn out and unable to enjoy life. I got some money but I can not get any good help with many of my Issues my doctors say learn to live with the pain. I just want the VA to admit they cheated me and many of my fellow solders,Give me good medical treatment and treat me with dignity,

    1. Fernando    

      Let’s clarify. Did a VA employee told you in writting NOT TO APPEAL AGAIN. Or was it a rep outside the VA. I just want to make sure that Veterans dont get mislead by your comments. You are provided with a written rating decision to include all the laws which you are entilted if you are not happy with your decision, to include Board of Veterans Appeals.

  14. Kavin Carter    

    I won 70% after 10 years of trying I got the rating for personalality D/O severe depression disorder answer anxiety disorder I have not worked for 3 years should I try for a higher rating.

    1. Mark Ledesma    

      Hi Kavin,

      From what I gathered from your comment, you may be eligible for Individual Unemployability.

      Here’s a great blog by my colleague Dominique about the program http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/17608/individual-unemployability-understanding-basics/

      If you have more questions, please comment below.

      Semper Fi,
      Mark

    2. John slaughter    

      Hey Kavin what personality disorder was you able to get a rating on ?

  15. Coryn Zoe    

    I have recently had to go through this… Well in August. Anyways should I be resubmitig the copy of medical records every time I appeal. Or do they keep them?

    1. Dominique Joseph    

      Coryn,

      You do not need to resubmit medical evidence you’ve already submitted. However, if there is NEW medical evidence (private or VA) that you believe supports your claim and that has not already been considered in your decision, send it in.

  16. David Long    

    My appeal was about 2 1/2 years into the process before someone told me that any time I send additional information, it moves my appeal back to almost the beginning. (Thanks for the timely information) So, I am now pushing FOUR YEARS into my appeal and still nothing in sight. No response or information from the VA, no indication of when I will get an answer. Further, the VA screwed up my original claim and now I had to file all over again. This means that if that claim is denied, I have to start this crap all over again.
    I would like just one person from the VA to explain to me, or convince me that the VA really does give a (redacted) about my claim, about this process, about if the ruling on my claim and appeal is in my favor. I submitted a copy of the VA’s own protocol that shows that I should be rated at about 70-80%. Yet, they ignore it Why are there rules if no one follows them? Why is there a protocol in place if no one follows it? Are they too busy giving each other bonuses? (no, that will never go away and I am pissed beyond belief that they get away with that crap) Where are bonuses for veterans who need the money? Why does the VA continue to brag about what a great job they are doing and continue to pat themselves on the back?
    Conversely, the VA has been good about getting my medications to me in a very timely manner. But, I still sit and wait for an answer. But the longer I wait, the more I am convinced that they are just waiting until I die and then they won’t have to pay anything. I can understand why some vets give up and quit fighting the VA. They know they will probably lose because the VA just doesn’t care.

  17. Billy L. Putman    

    First, when you say 400 days are those business days or calendar days? Or maybe dog days where 365 days are actually 7 years making this 8 years total. This type of inactivity is inexcusable. While I appreciate your attempts at clarity and explanation, the level of frustration we veterans feel is so high it is becoming difficult for us to be gracious. I realize the VA is the largest Federal bureaucracy in the US, but frankly we are sick and tired of these delays.
    The VA has developed a pitiful reputation of delays and impasses. It seems to a lot of us that you do, in fact, hope we will die off before the conclusions of our claims. It is hard to trust the VA. We are losing faith in you.
    But I am serious about the question I have asked about the 400 days. We are watching to see how long it takes to get an answer.

  18. Alan Dwight Strickland    

    VA is dysfunctional organization! How can I be denied for prostate cancer claim for agent orange exposure when 99% are approved. It’s on the presumptive list?? Duh??

    1. Fernando    

      The VA had to of giving a reason on your denial. Why dont you disclose the reason so that Veterans can make up their own mind if the VA made a real mistake. There has to be more tho this story.

  19. Michelle Turner    

    Have put in a CUE/NOD/DRO…initial claim was denied in 1976. They keep telling me to be patient.
    If ever awarded I will be dust in the ground and my sons nor grandchildren will not receive back pay, per the law. They lived all their lives with my disability and picked up the lack in my care and their own care. Only a spouse (might) get the benefits. I am single and 62 years old.

  20. Scott Caldwell    

    I actually have no complaints. I started my process in 9/2015. I was denied but I was directed to the DAV. I was told about the DRO and what I needed for a strong case and that j had 60 days to get it in. Last week I turned all my additional evidence in (Nexus letter, Buddy statements, science articles to support my claim, and pictures of me in uniform doing what I claim caused my disability). The NSO said it looks good. Turned in my claim, got a time stamp back from the VARO San Diego saying they have my evidence. My ebenefits was updated and today (about a week later), I received a letter from the VARO San Diego, saying they have my evidence and I should be contacted by a DRO within 30 days unless they make a descision before. I know I’m a minority, but I’m pretty happy with the process and the work the DAV has done. Thank you DAV and VARO San Diego! I know you guys are doing the best you can…

  21. Josh Horton    

    Where in the appeal process do you have the option to submit supporting documentation?

    1. Fernando    

      You can submit supporting evidence at any point. The VA will not deny you the ability to submit evidence.

    2. Dominique Joseph    

      Josh,

      Submit any supporting documentation as soon as possible. It’s best to submit it all in the beginning.

    3. Adam    

      Josh,

      Submit any and all information to the office handling your claim or to your nearest regional VA center. Make sure you put your social security number on the top of every single sheet, have extra copies of everything you send, and make sure you send all material “Certified” with a “Return Receipt.” I would also keep a log of when you send items in, for future reference. Keep those receipts in a safe.

  22. Harold Coghlan    

    I realize that people may mean well, but the Appeal system appears to be broken. Have been in the Appeal roller coaster since about 2009, which means it has taken about 7 years and I am still waiting for the case to be heard in DC. Sad.

    1. William E Stiefel    

      That’s a load of crap! I filed a claim in Pittsburgh, and went to the exam and tried to show all the paperwork about my lower back condition, and I was told “I’m not allowed to look at anything in that envelope that isn’t related to your bilateral knee condition.” And then a month later I received another letter from the VA telling me they weren’t changing my disability rating. I hurt both my knees and my lower back in the Army, and I haven’t gotten a dime since I got out of the service. And when I was given the disability severance pay, I was told it was non-taxable, but they tax it anyways, and they did… I was told I can get the money back, and I couldn’t! I’ve gotten screwed over ever since my enlistment began. ….

    2. Ronald K. Myers    

      I’m wondering if my claims will qualify for the Guinness World Book of Records.

      My claims began in 1994. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals have remanded my claims back to the Pittsburgh Regional Office five (5) times. In July of 2015, the BVA finally granted an increase. However the RO has not given the increase.
      This is significant: The law, 39 U.S.C, Statute 51098, 71123 (West 2014) tells us that all claims that are remanded by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals or by the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims for additional development or other appropriate action must be handled in an expeditious manner. Many veterans have filed and have had their claims granted years before my claims have been processed. This is not expeditious treatment Congressman and Senators have done nothing to help.
      Even though the BVA granted the increases, Pittsburgh still does not give my claims the expeditious treatment required by law. So… if you thing that after the BVA finally grants your claims, you are going to be compensated, get back in the long line.
      Or… start writing. While disabled and waiting, I have written six books. I’m Gonna Cut Your Ears Off, The Orange turn, Dillinger’s Deception, and Stay On the Blue Grass. The books are available at Amazon.com, just about any eBook site or Double Dragon Publishing.
      Cheers!
      Ronald K. Myers

  23. Maurice Scott    

    This process is more or less the same plaques problems that existed within the claim process. They deny all the way up to the court of veteran apeals, then agree that they made a mistake, years later, then ultimately it goes back to where it started from.

    This is accuracy, it’s just the same old doing the same old, promising change when the upper executives won’t even be there. The secretary promised change by 2018, but his tenure is over the end of this year, it’s just more stalling with no truth!

  24. Jason    

    Appeal filed in Jan 2009. Decided in 2015. Still no back payment. I figure that’ll take another 6 years.

    1. Fernando    

      When in 2015 was your appeal decided. If it was decided as you say it was, did you get the documentation that shows you the decision and if you were granted? I asked because my BVA decision was completed in Dec 2015 from an appeal which the entire process started in 2008, from claim, to appeal, to BVA. I only received the letter from BVA, but it also said they sent my decision back to the RO or Appeals Management Center to process the award. Unless you have a hardship, such as homeless, your are actually dying, you have other type of hardship, you will get your award processed an get your money if that was what you were awarded. If you do have a harship, then contact the VA and tell them you have a hardship and tell them what it is. The VA will attempt to process your award since it has been decided, more quickly. Just a suggestion.

  25. Leah    

    I have an appeal in for things that the VA told me to claim on my original award letter. On my second claim i included the 4 items that the VA advised me to claim and they had the nerve to say they are not service connected. Hello.. The 4 medical conditions were found in my exam at a VA contracted Doctor. And again the VA advised me to claim them. Now two years later my appeal sits.. Pathetic that I have to wait so many years for money due to me

    1. Fernando    

      The award letter advices Veterans that you can submit a claim for conditions found on your medical exam report. What the VA most likely did not say was that they were service connected. That is something that you decided to do. You personally should have known if those conditions existed in service and if you have STRs to show they existed. Additionally, if they did exist in your STRs, did you provided a medical opinion from your doctor that says they are service related?. Furthermore, the VA has the ability to INFER and grant medical conditions that would have been found as you said in your medical report, and that were service related. People need to take the time to read the documents they are provided. It really does provide a lot of details to help the Veterans with their claims.

      1. Leah    

        Furthermore, you obviously doesn’t understand what is included in a VA award letter. Maybe you should take some time to read up a little more before posting inaccurate comments

        1. Fernando    

          You probably ignored all the information provided to you in writing, such as enclosures, links to other resources, and so forth. You need to read them, use the resources, go on the internet, etc etc etc. I can can understand that you might feel that a simple task can be hard for you, so don’t be afraid to ask your friends, family, or even an advocate that can help you. Or you can go http://www.benefits.va.gov where you can find a lot of information. It’s up to you. READ BETWEEN THE LINES. Don’t just read what you want to read.

    2. Dennis Kreish    

      The process from filing a claim, obtaining evidence (that in some case VA already has) or receiving health records with missing information (making it your word against no evidence entered) getting a denial, filing an appeal, requires more evidence from any source you can glean it from, then getting a request for more evidence again, getting a decision (not what you expected or deserve. Filing an NOD and waiting for a BVA hearing is now at 6 years. Meanwhile, understanding the convoluted, horrendous amount of red tape, and additional stress that ultimately results in an exaggerated condion, heart attack and stroke while under VA care is not claimable. The VA is not culpable for the additional conditions, lack of understanding of CFR 38, or the laws that govern them. The senate for veteran affairs and congress is. Contact everyone on the senates list, your congressman and senators to complain about CFR 38 and make a change in the laws to sped up the process, and decide appeals much quicker.

      1. Leah    

        Fernando. Your snide comments are certainly not appreciated. You are making assumptions that simply are not true. You seem to be placing all the blame on veterans for VA errors and mistakes- this certainly doesn’t help!

  26. Pasquale    

    I have to totally agree with all the complains I continue to read. The VA hasn’t proven to me anything. They either need to approve the claims or deny them. Sitting on their thumbs only tells me they don’t care or they don’t have the mentality to do their job and need to be fired and hire anyone that can make a decision. I was told DRO’s are smart and built up as a GOD, knowing everything there is and once it get to the DRO area it’s almost completed. That is again an bunch of Bull. I have lost all my respect for their claims process, which seems to be undecided by the VA. I’m a proud American who gave all I had for my country for them to treat the Vets like crap is crap. My next step is to hire a lawyer, which I hear at least they get more results than the VA has given us.

    1. Joseph Cecil Coleman    

      Pasquale, about the attorneys, no not count on too much from them. I filed my claim in 2008, with the DAV assistinme, it was denied, I appealed and got a attorney, it went to the US Veterans Appeals Court, which remanded it back to BVA in 2011, the Attorney say that there is no way they can do more, the Regional VA says that they cannot give me any information, It is now 2016 and I am 83 years old and apparently I am just left hanging. I will not give up, but I will die sooner than later and then they(the VA) can ake a sweet kiss at my American behind. the Whole system is corrupt.

  27. Michael Frost    

    I filed my NOD and was received by the Regional Office in Dec 2013. In September 2015 I received a letter stating that they received the NOD December 2013 and I will be receiving further instructions soon. Nothing since. All my updated evidence is with my representative.

  28. Dr. Arthur KIirk    

    How old are you? All partial awards move to the 100% level when a person turns 65 years of age.

    1. Hector R. Rodriguez    

      Is that true? Do you have to apply or is it automatic? I’m soon to turn 67 years old and originally received a 10%rating in1982. I currently receive 40%rating. I would appreciate a response please. Thanks

    2. Dean Bartlett    

      Really? I am 69 and none of mine have been changed. The numerical count of my service connected is 140% and I am paid “DUE to regulations” is 80#” that is why I am going strait to my senator with the next denial.

    3. Fernando    

      WAIT ONE SECOND there Mr. Klirk. You need to stop providing FALSE information to Veterans. Unless you can can provide the CONGRESSIONAL FEDERAL REGULATION that supports your comment, I would recommend you STOP posting incorrect and misguided information.

      Are you really a Dr? You need to provide evidence as well. We wouldn’t want Veterans to think that because you have a Dr. in front of your name, that you are legitimate, especially when posting false information.

    4. Howard Howard    

      Nonsense. There is no such provision.

      1. Ronald K. Myers    

        He may be getting non-service pension mixed up with service-connected compensation which isn’t much

  29. Kenny Kaiser    

    Reading through these posts and I have some of the same issues as these other veterans. I filed my appeal in February 2013. (Happy Anniversary to me) It was denied in January 2014. I quickly filed a NOD in February 2014. Today I am waiting on a call from my American Legion representative. I have heard nothing from the VA in over a year. As for going to EBenefits.va.gov one page tells me that my appeal is still pending and another says I have no appeal pending at all. This is totally ridiculous. Yes the system is as broken as Washington, D.C. itself. I truly think they are waiting for me to die and that will be one appeal finished.

  30. Jim Perry    

    My claim was from January 2006. Notice of Disagreement is August 2008. Detroit Regional Office assigned document to BVA 2010. After years of fighting, I have just been notified of my hearing in a letter from the regional office dated 9 Feb 2016. My hearing is Feb 19, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. VA records show I cancelled the hearing in March 2014. Never did nor was I ever notified. VA refuses to fix their error. After waiting more than 10 years from the date of my reopened claim in 2006, the Detroit Regional Office managed to send my notice of hearing on January 7, 2016 to an unknown address in Okemos, Michigan. I have never lived there nor do I know where it is. The copy that should have went to my attorney was set to the American Legion. They have never represented me. THe problem I have at this short notice is as follow: My attorney already has prior commitments to a Social Security Hearing in Mount Pleasant at 2 p.m. same day; one that has already been postponed before. Regional office says they can reschedule to August 2016. I have recently been diagnosed with bladder cancer. I told the VA I don’t even know if I will be alive in August. Request a time change for 8:30 a.m. Was told they can’t do that, but if we show up early he will try to get us in earlier, but could not promise anything. Terrible situation but the VA loves to thank us for our service. Grossly incompetent regional office.

  31. Steven Wilson    

    Thank you for the good articles.

    I was sent for a QTC C&P exam for my nerve damage disability claim. The VA required the QTC examiner to fill out a disability questionnaire for the nerve damage and also a questionnaire for scars during the same exam. When the VA rates my nerve damage are they obligated to rate the scars as well?

    1. Dominique Joseph    

      Steven,

      Yes – both your nerve damage and scars will be examined and determined for service connection.

  32. Marie alice baltzley    

    I filed my claim in 2010. They said I did not respond to the form 9. But they did not send it to me. The VA used this excuse to close my case. The VA has never sent my military medical record to me . I requested 3 times. They also changed the date on my request. The VA said they sent correspondence that they did not sent. I don’t trust the VA. They lie and cheat. They are unfair and liars.

  33. Earl Beard    

    No seizure for in my life before service, and none for 3 years, started again on first job after sEizures started in service, put on meds whengot out of service, 9 grand malls 1 nite, no memory, lost all jobs, since then, uncontrolled seizures now, 27 pills per day to keep it down. Filed and they say no due to alcohol withdrawal, they did brain surgery and say not alcohol at v.a.. Filed and they going with alcohol withdrawal still.
    v.A. Did surgery…they know cause not alcohol, no drinking for 5 years, still seizures every 1-2 times per year minimum.
    Can’t drive, seizure on street walking, fall from ladder, real hard to get a job with slow memory and falling down or no more pills to add, they said and of ways to try to stop seizures.
    And they call it a Non-Continuing problem. 35 years later still seizing.
    Working on refiling.

    1. Mark Burrow    

      Don’t feel bad. Rated me for seizures from documented incident in Iraq in 2005. Was told seizures were psychosomatic from PTSD. Took until 2015 for a doctor that had enough sense to say they were seizures. Put on Lamotrigine with yearly increases for the rest of my life. VA rates it at 70% but will not give it a permanent the rating as condition may decrease. Already rated at 94% with 7 more conditions rated as temporary. Like the peripheral nerve loss from broken back as temporary. They will not give me that permanent status for me to get insurance on my kids. The VA was started to help veterans but make absolutely no mistake it is now an organization to save the government to money it’s supposed to pay. Took me 9 years to get approval for surgery on broken back. It’s a joke. There are people that care at the VA but the many make the few look bad.

  34. Al Atlansky    

    If the vet is over seventy years old and statistically Americans lifespan is seventy-six years old should they have priority? Be it initial request for benefits or appeal? Since waiting period for appeals is 531 days according to the VA. What the VA does not understand is by these long waits prove irresponsibility and disrespect despite their words,” Thank-you for your service”! I always go by deeds NOT talk! Proof of anything human is about what one does NEVER what they say! (Humans lie) I will commit suicide when I’m ready despite their decision. They cannot return what was taken away from me in the Air Force….my mental life. No-matter what they decide financially. The PTSD therapy revealed more horror than anything else. That is to say, more truth came out of my brain due to cognitive therapy. Politicians always say the “right thing” and perform truth….little to improve our lot. There is no real therapy for PTSD. (If therapy starts too late….. many years after the events.) I have always been ashamed of being a vet. Stayed away from Vet benefits for over fifty years. Only my psychiatrist within the system is good when it comes to care. My body is the only thing I will have complete control of. No-one will take that away!

  35. Carlos H. Craig    

    I have filled a service related claim in June 2007, It was denied. A NOD was later submitted with inglés the required time. A DRO review also declines my request and a formal appeal was submitted in 2010. To this date, I have asked VA for the appeal status with no available date after niñez years. My questions is: what is the máximum permiten time to get a final decisión from The Department of Veterans Affairs on theAppeal process? My designated representative is DAV.

  36. Julia Becvar    

    My husband died almost two years ago from Parkinsons Disease (Viet Nam – agent orange), approximately two weeks before the claim made it to a Board judge. The statement from that judge was that, basically, they could not rule for a deceased service man and that I could “ask” to be substituted for my husband in this issue. So far I’ve received the “We have received your claim, but you are at the end of our list…” forms from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and about six from Idaho, where the claims and appeal originated. Meanwhile, shortly after my husband’s death I started receiving DIC because my husband died from causes for which he was seeking restitution. So on the one hand, the VA recognizes his claim as valid; on the other hand, “we” are still in the waiting game. (and, by the way, I am training one of my children on this stuff so she can continue the appeals game after I’m gone.)

  37. Gale petty    

    I have been waiting since 2008 for my appeal it on record just waiting for the judge I don’t think they will every get to me gp

    1. Charles Powell    

      I file my claim in April 2002. I looked forward to letters from the BVA and I have some over the years. I recently received a letter from them about a hearing I requested in 2008. It will be coming up in the future DO NOT GIVE UP!!

  38. Daniel Herald    

    I am going to file an appeal and went to see my vso at the va hospital in brooklyn. After sitting for 1 hour to talk to him he said not to waste my time that’s just the way it is. I have never gotten any help from these people and I’m a member of the chapter of the DAV there. So i told him thanks for nothing I’m going to appeal anyway

  39. Robert E. Hines    

    What is the possible length of time the Washington Appeal Board remans a decision from the RO. Or is it another 400 days.

    1. Dominique Joseph    

      Robert,

      Unfortunately, an appeal remanded (from the Board to VBA) at least once in FY2015 took an average of 6 years to reach a final resolution. There are number of reasons why it takes this long – some of which Catherine has and will touch on in this blog series – but know that we are working with Congress to figure out a way to make the process easier and quicker.

  40. Gary Doak    

    I am waiting on an appeal also….I think that having a VA Dr. do the physical exam (a Dr. who was the bottom of the barrel) I believe is not right. Of course he is going to say that it ‘isn’t’ service connected (like Carpal Tunnel from running a 90lb jack hammer for 6+ yrs and VA doing the surgery and now have more issues). They should have a non bias Dr. to examine you. I believe that is just wrong. I have all my medical records from when the VA did the surgery and then my civilian Dr. over the years…The VA says because I didn’t go to the Dr. ‘while’ in the military for the problem….it’s not their problem. ugh!!!!! And many more issues that seem so obvious and have records while in the military to prove it…..but noooo, they say. I’ve had my civilian Dr.’s write letter (so obvious to them also)….but no one really reads the stuff, I believe.

  41. Terry L. Shea    

    I filed an appeal in December of 2010, it is now at the BOV. Almost 6 years. Why so long?

    Terry Shea
    \

    1. Charles Powell    

      There are many thousands of claims and I hope they doing the best they can.

    2. Dominique Joseph    

      Terry,

      As Catherine explained and will explain in this blog series, there are a number of reasons for why the appeals process takes so long. VA recognizes it’s a huge problem, which is why we are working closely with Congress to figure out how to make the process easier and quicker.

  42. C G    

    What the heck is a “local” regional office. No such thing exists. Local and regional are by definition two very different things. I live 4hrs from my regional office and no that is not local. To look anyone in the eyes I have to take a day off work and with my disabilities spend the night. This type of thinking and generalization is the issue with the VA. You all and your PR people view yourselves as convienient and it really isn’t at all on the benefits side or the healthcare side.

    1. Fernando    

      Well, it depends how frustrated you want to be and how you want to define “local”. You see, you have the right to go to any of the 58 REGIONAL OFFICES around the country. But the VA does not want to burden you more than you already are. So by local Regional Office, they mean the closes one to you. Unfortunately, you are 4 hours away. That is still local, unless there is a different RO that is closest to you, then that would be local. Semantics.

      1. C.G.    

        4 hours away is not local. Thats exactly why they call them regional offices. 4hrs is the closest office to me and it shouldn’t be about how “bad” I want it. It should be about the fact that I and many others served this country honorably and were promised certain benefits that shouldn’t take 5 years to get!!! If they want to be local they could have the smaller clinics like VHA which actually has a local clinic. Was simply pointing out that “local regional office” makes absolutely no sense. That’s The VA spin machine at its best trying to look like its a smooth, simple process but in reality it’s far from it. Nice blog story, horrible reality.

  43. JEFFREY KLEVEN    

    i’m in the first part of a appeal process, ,in the original claim the va claimed they could not access my extensive medical files ,due to the listing of multiple doctors on the medical release forms .which is a dam lie ,they received the medical release forms from me promptly ,and did not want to follow up with information to the fullest extent ,using information from one source only ,a korean doctor that entered false information in my medical file ,, this doctor was released from his employment at glenwood medical clinic ,after complaints where brought to there attention ,GLENWOOD MEDICAL CENTER AND HOSPITAL ,GLENWOOD ,MINNESOTA ,DR..HUNT,WAS HIS NAME!
    ,I WON’T QUIT UNTIL A JUST CLAIM IS APPROVED ,KLEVEN 0701

  44. michael Knipe    

    I am trying to get my appeal from 1963( operation Shad) 400 days is nothing.

  45. Garrick Turner    

    I’ve had a appeal in for at least 2 yrs and it’s with a DAV lawyer and I have not heard anything about it. My name is Garrick Turner ,I have been fighting my case for 12 yrs. I’ve had total knee replacement on both knees. Plus been on pain medication and now suffer from depression from it, plus now unable to work.

  46. Dawn Miller    

    Thank you for the process but none of this seems to apply to what is happening. A DRO review was requested over four yrs ago. Finally in September of 2015 a request for new C&P exam was conducted. Can anyone tell me where on this process the new exam put the DRO review. Does it go all the way back to the beginning or would it be rated with the new information and a decision made? I just think the time it has taken n is crazy. Any info or opinions?

    1. Dominique Joseph    

      Dawn,

      Without knowing the specifics of your case, it’s possible that when the DRO reviewed the evidence of record he/she needed a current examination in order to make a decision.

  47. Phil lewis    

    I filed an appeal in 2013 for a knee injury that happened in the military. They acknowledged that they received my medical records stating I was seen for a knee injury. I was denied because they say they have no records that I saw a dr after getting discharged from the military. I tried to get the claims from the Mailhandlers medical insurance but was unsuccessful because of the time frame . I sent in more medical evidence about a disformation in the same knee and filed an appeal. I got one letter a year ago that they were working on my appeal. I called a few months ago to check and now they say it will take 537 days to get to it. Why so long and they won’t process my dependency claim until they finish the appeal. What does one have to do with the other. This has been going on since 2013.

    1. Dominique Joseph    

      Phil,

      As Catherine explained and will explain in this blog series, there are a number of reasons why the appeals process takes so long. Keep following her posts and I hope it gives you greater insight. To answer your second question regarding dependency, this benefit is only granted if you are rated as 30% or greater for service connection. If you have not yet been rated for service connection or are not currently rated as 30% disabled you will not receive the dependency benefit.

  48. RG    

    Is this the same appeal process if the Veteran has filed an NOD regarding an apportionment?

  49. J.J.ALVAREZ    

    I was discharged from the USMC in 1976 with 10% disability. Three week later I received a letter from the VA stating I was OK and no longer disabled! I never received one penny from them! NOW I’VE BEEN WAITING 3 YEARS ON AN APPEAL.

  50. Edward Townsend    

    More political bs. I have filed for a hearing loss claim that was due to jet engine noise. The examining doctor said I must have had it since birth. How could I enlist in tbe Marines if I had total hearing loss in one ear?

  51. william m flick    

    you are wasting your time with a va appeal, first thing they do is send you to a va doctor that works for the rating board ,mine was a real asshole who told me i did not get raped in the the army that [redacted].

    Editor’s note: Portions of this comment were redacted per VA’s social media policy.

  52. Leon Atkins    

    Why does an appeal take so long the Veteran has already waited a year or more for a decision. Now that they disagree with the decision they have to wait another year for an appeal. This is totally unacceptable. The VA keeps telling Congress and the public that their backlog has drop substantially, but they failed to tell them that they’re pushing claims out with a higher rate of denial. The VA is becoming exactly like Social Security where they just deny a claim then you have to wait years for an appeal then you get approved.

  53. YELONDA STEINHISER    

    I’m a widow. Husband’s death is attached to war time.. He past Dec 23 2011.. I have filed for pension but was denied. 18 years of marriage and he retired at 20 years.. I filed a appeals. Seems the need the same information over and over again.. As a civilian I’m getting the same treatment… I have since lost my home.. My car and my job.. I now have 3 lawyers through legal aid. It took two years to get my late husband’s medical records. Since it proves war attached they accepted my case… I pray for all of us and I THANK EACH ONE OF YOU. GOD BLESS US ALL!!

  54. Louis Morales    

    Great information for Veterans to know, as many do not.

  55. Maria Brosious    

    I was in Desert Shield-Desert Storm
    Well, a lot of us (Soldiers) went to the Board and our packets got lost in SWA. Our Medical records Also got lost in SWA, hmmm, how does that happen? So nobody got promoted and we came home without Med records. How Disappointing. We protect our country and they [redacted] on us.
    I was very disappointed

    Editor’s note: Portions of this comment were redacted by the Vantage Point staff per VA’s social media policy.

  56. Richard L.    

    Really don’t know why I;m writing in that more of the messages are generally the same. I filed an appeal in December 2014. I live in NoVA about 6 miles from the DC hospital where I went for a hearing valuation in May 2014 and yes I have a hearing loss that could be attributed to active duty. The original claim was filed in May 2013. The claim was denied because a “direct” cause could not be attributed. VA says all paper work is in order and correct. However, “they have been/are working on it since 2014 with no idea when review may be finalized.”.

    Dah! What is one to do

  57. Charles Anthony Feltob    

    VA granted me a 10 pct disability rating for Tinnitus but I received no monetary compensation for it. Why is this? I already have a rating forb99 pct hearing loss in right ear and 80 pct loss in left ear. I fail to understand why I receive a rating but no compensation for it?

    1. Fernando    

      Are you 100% service connected? If you are, then the possibility that 10% for tinnitus does not affect your 100% rating. Meaning that you already get paid for it 100%. But at least it will noted in your service connected claims.

    2. Ronald K. Myers    

      If you are already service connected at a certain percent and are awarded an increase you may not get an increase in compensation. Go to the combined ratings chart. It shows how combined ratings are calculated. Percentages are not added. Cheers!.

  58. WILL    

    WHEN TRYING TO RESOLVE A PROBLEM WITH THE VA SIMPLY GET A ADVOCATE AND DO NOT TRY YOURSELF.
    VA HAS CREATED A SYSTEM TO DENY / MAKE VERY DIFFICULT CLAIMS THEY DO THIS VERY WELL WITH MANY YEARS EXPERIENCE… COMPOUNDING AND EXPANDING THE PROBLEMS IS VERY LOW QUALITY DISABILITY ADVOCATES FEW AND FAR BETWEEN. MAYBE, BECAUSE THEY ARE FIXED AT 20% OF BACK PAY BY GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO PAY HARD EARNED BENEFITS TO A ADVOCATE BUT IT IS WELL WORTH IT BECAUSE VA CAN NOT BULL-SHIT A GOOD ADVOCATE.

    MOST ADVOCATES CAN’T SEE THE FOREST FOR THE TREES. THE GOOD ONES WORK WITH VA DAILY AND KNOWN BY THEM BY NAME.
    IT’S THE SAME AS REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN COURT, YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY.
    MANY ARE BACKED BY EXPERIENCED ATTORNEYS. GET A “LAWYER ADVOCATE” AND SAVE YOURSELF A BETTER LIFE. GIVE TO ADVOCATE AND FORGET ABOUT IT AND CONCENTRATE ON BEING HAPPY IN SPITE OF VA.. MAKE THEM WAIT- FRUSTRATE THEM -THEY MUST SIT ON YOUR FILE UNTIL YOU RESPOND AND GET IN TO TROUBLE FOR NOT
    PROCESSING THERE WORK. IN A TIMELY MANNER.
    VA DOES ALLOW DISABLED VETERANS EASY TO GET LOW COST EXCELLENT MEDICAL
    CARE AND MEDICINES MANY FREE WHILE YOU WAIT. VA SHOULD NOT BE LOOKED AT FOR FINANCIAL IF SO EXPECT HEARTACHE HEAVEN. OTHER WAYS TO MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR SPARE TIME ????

    1. Fernando    

      You are 100 percent incorrect about your statement. The VA does NOT have a system to deny anyone, i don’t care what you or others believe. The truth is that VA employees are actually looking for evidence to APPROVE the claim. They spend a lot of time searching for comments, key words that relate your medical conditions that you are claiming, and trying to locate that you do have a current condition and match it up to your military service. If you were to submit medical records that are current and medical opinions from your doctors or medical notes that you have the conditions you say you do, it makes it much easier for the VA and much faster to make a decision. A lot of Veterans submit medical evidence that is not even related to what they are claiming. Veterans submit hundreds of records not related, and then blame the VA. You want faster decisions, then provide the medical evidence that relates to your claim. I have a hard time trying to figure out how it is that VA is looking for evidence to deny. It doesn’t make sense at all. There is no such search function.

      1. William R. Crowell    

        You are either misinformed or a complete liar Fernando. Where there is smoke there is generally fire. There is so much evidence that is contrary to what you are claiming. Lote of smoke and fire. After they claimed to have no evidence proving anything in my claim it was all denied. The VA lied about no records. Then after finally finding the evidence, some which has been in VA hands since 1976, they look for other reasons to deny the claim. There is a legal precedent that speaks to the preponderance of the evidence. The VA denies many facts. They will cherry pick anything from the Vets by way of evidence they then try to use for a basis of denial. They accept anything the VET may say that fits their evaluation. Any evidence the Vet puts forward they do not like, they claim the VET is mistaken or malingering, or lying.

        The VA and it’s representatives lie and deny all the time. They cannot be trusted and they do not look to support the Vet.

      2. Ronald K. Myers    

        Fernando,
        I’m glad you never had a problem with your claims.
        You must go to a completely different VA than others.
        At a hearing, twenty pages of knee evidence sat in front of the Claims Examiner.
        I asked him why I couldn’t get my claim granted. He said that I didn’t have enough evidence.
        I said, “There are twenty pages of evidence right in front of your face.”
        The Examiner looked up at the ceiling and said, ” I don’t see evidence here.”
        That the way it is for some veterans. I hope you never have to go through something like that.
        Cheers!

  59. jack H Scholnick    

    Lets start a class Action contact me Jack H. Scholnick

    1. William R. Crowell    

      I would be more than willing to sign my name for a class action lawsuit.

  60. Dale Todd    

    What happens if you did not appeal a denial in one year? Do you reapply

    1. Fernando    

      Yes, you will have to reapply if you did not appeal within one year. Look carefully at the rating decision. It will tell you the reason or reasons why they denied your claim. It’s very simple, get the evidence you need, such as medical opinions from your private doctor or VA doctor, it doesn’t matter. Provide new and current medical evidence, the VA already has the past evidence you submitted, but if it makes you feel better then send it again, it will just be more duplicate information and more time spent by the rating specialist. Also, if you were denied for a reason that it was not on your STR’s, then obtain buddy statements, commander, platoon leader, squad leader, military buddies, or anyone that was witness to your injury in service. I hope this helps.

    2. Dominique Joseph    

      Dale,

      The one-year deadline is to preserve your effective date (earliest date which you could be service connected for a service-related injury or illness). If you miss that deadline, the earliest your effective date could be is the date we received your new claim. My advice is to appeal sooner rather than later if that is what you wish to do.

  61. Mike    

    I filed an appeal prior to January of 2015. My package included medical records from an Air Force base and an an evaluation from a psychiatrist. I had to get a Congressional staffer to find someone who would identify my package. Every two months I called the number to find out the status and each time a person read a canned response about how it averages one year. I opted for a DRO so it would be done at the Regional office. Still no contact. So I called the staffer again. He’ll try to crack the code of government employee process but he said “the doctors are great but the administrators stink”…I agree wholeheartedly.

  62. William A Patterson    

    I appealed my VA decision back in November 2011, and I am still waiting for them to make a decision. Now they tell me that the Oakland office has faxed my appeal to a judge in Washington DC for further review. I was just diagnosed with possibly having cancer. I think they want me to die so they don’t have to pay benefits.
    Can you tell me, on an average, how long will it take for the judge to make a final decision?
    We Vets join, get drafted, whatever to serve our country, put our lives on the line, but the VA can’t do there job, what a joke!!

    1. Dominique Joseph    

      William,

      I have asked someone from the Board to answer your question. Please be on the lookout for a response here or directly from them in the coming days.

  63. Len Fulco    

    Send you complaints to Robert McDonald, Secretary of Veteran Affairs. “Bob” has been touting how VA will improve their services. I agree with all of you who have had inexuseable delays in the Appeals Process-it’s broken and the bureaucrats don’t really want to fix it..Job security. McDonalds e mail address is robert.a.mcdonald@va.gov. Mail address is Deparment of Veteran Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave NW
    , Wasington DC 20420

  64. Leon Modrowski    

    My original claims were filed in 2010 and denied. After waiting three years in July 2013, I finally was given a hearing date to present oral testimony to a traveling judge of the Board of Veterans Appeals. However my request to record the hearing was denied by a rogue VA attorney who denied me the statutory right to record the proceeding and provide testimony by a former VA adjudicator as to the deficiencies in the agency’s denials. When these statutory rights were brought to the attention of the US Court of Veterans Claims, the VA agreed to provide a second hearing. Then, as so very typical, the agency misplaced my confirmation request for a second hearing, resulting in its delay until April 1, 2015. The court had and continues to have no authority to discipline the VA in any way, shape or form, and was not empowered to order the Board of Veterans Appeals to expedite the processing of my appeals. So veterans like myself, must allow the VA to act irresponsibly, in a helter-skelter fashion, delaying the appeals decision without any regard for fairness and equity. It is not until the agency makes an error in its appeal decision does the US Court of Veterans Claims have any authority to address the serious delay shortcomings within the VA.
    So my fellow veterans, you must endure the endless amount of errors that occur in delaying a decision on your claims. You must hope and pray that you outlive the lives of the agency bureaucrats who are immune to the endless amount of errors which occur routinely in an agency that boasts its concern for our country’s veterans.

  65. William Patrick    

    I have been waiting and filing appeals since 2006, since I had neuro surgery for spinal stenosis which screwed up my neck totally. My head fell out of the bracket during the surgery, had over 40 staples put in my skull, and the VA took over $11,000.00 from a law suit that I won. My next step is my congressman and a attorney that has been recommended. By the way, the surgeon let it slip when he talked to my wife, { I could have died their on the table ]. As a result I developed neuropthy within a week and has only gotten worse.

  66. Vincent F. Neuroth    

    Going to DRO review in March, I have send for DRQ’s after the NOD was sent in will these Dr. reports from outside the VA
    get to my file on time or take copies with me?

    1. Dominique Joseph    

      Vincent,

      To cover yourself, take copies of your records with you. It will also help if those copied records have some kind of signature or stamp showing they were given to you directly from the provider.

  67. Albert M. Anderer    

    Dr. Arthur Klirk:
    All partial claims go to 100% at age 65? I wasn’t rated until I was 73. Where did this info come from?

  68. Gary Sanchez    

    I’m just another Vietnam veteran stuck in the waiting game……….best of luck to all of us!

  69. Donna Locke    

    I filed a claim in Aug 2013 and took them over a year to decide the claim. I submitted the evidence and followed their course of action on how to increase the rating in the explanation package. Now they are back peddling. Anyways I filed my appeal Nov 2014 and supposedly went to the DRO in Feb 2015…still waiting. And every time you call you get the same standard bs about thank you for your service, we are currently backlogged and your claim will be processed as quickly as possible. The average turnaround time is 284 days. I am sorry but this is completely unacceptable and a bunch of crap. I have written my congressional leaders explaining myself and fellow Vets I know believe they are simply denying claims to clear their backlogs. No one is asking about the appeals backlog and what the status is. I am personally tired of hearing thank you and we are backlogged and be patient because honestly what else can we do. If you complain they do nothing so we are basically screwed. Just sad and pitiful business practices.

  70. theodore s fulsom    

    I filed an appeal in September 2011. It is almost five years and my appeal has not been forwarded to the BOV. Not sure what else to do at this point.

    Steve

  71. Joseph Currier    

    I have had mental problems since Viet nam been in mental hospitals talked,to shrinks for years and I’am 68 yrs old and still fighting with the VA,they told my wife on the phone that they were sick of the vets whining and crying about their aches and pains.A doctor at the VA in Syracuse told me she was all excited she was going on vacation to Viet nam because she loved Viet nam.She nearly pushed me over the edge when she said that,I was sick about it for a month.THE SECRETARY OF THE VA WILL NOT DO A THING FOR THE VETS NOR DO ANY OF YOUR STATE POLITIANS THEY DONT CARE ABOUT US.THEY ONLY CARE ABOUT FILLING THEIR OWN POCKETS.

  72. Dale H. Gleason    

    I served in a 105 artillery battery in Vietnam in 1966-67. Filed based on hearing loss. VAMC provided hearing aids. Cleveland VARO denied compensation claim in 12/2012. I appealed 01/2013, Contacted Senator Rob Portman. They told him I should check back “in 120 day increments.” A couple years later, I wrote to Senator Sherrod Brown. He got the same response. US Senators cannot speed up the VA, and serve only as a message forwarding facility. I’ll be 75 in June 2016. Still awaiting a decision on my appeal.

  73. Jim Maher    

    Wichita, KS, is the regional office for my area. How can I find out how long a completed appeal (NOD) that has all of the evidence provided so is awaiting a decision, should take?
    Thanks.

  74. Mary Parmenter    

    The BVA decided my appeal Sept 2015 and sent it to the RO in Seattle. I have not heard a word since. It took eight years for the decision will it take another eight years for me to receive a check?

  75. Tenorzelle Sturtevant    

    I do understand the plight of the vet. I appealed a claim in 2013. Since that time, my condition has worsen. I was homeless for two months, and had to act up before I received any help. The transportation system has stopped coming out to this area of California. I stay in the high desert. It has been a journey for me with our VA. I can not understand why the appeals process takes so long. The last time I called the 800 line, the operator told me that it has been 60 months since I filed my appeal. Why and how is this possible? Why do the vets suffer? There is no reason for vets to have to wait for help on any aspect dealing with our benefits. I go online and log into my ebenefits account, and my information is not available. This has been going on since I first started using ebenefits. There are so many issues with this website, that I believe ebenefits needs to start all over again. This whole process is not working for me at all. I hope that someone will have a heart and really look into this problem. It makes no sense that we have to go through the mud, to get what we need from the VA. All of
    these so called programs that the VA claims to have for us vets, to me, do not exist. Anyway the appeals process for the VA is the slowest and most impersonal organization when it comes to its people and the appeals process. I hope that people will start taken us seriously. There is nothing more aggravating then needing something from the ‘va and you almost have to jump through hoops to get the help one needs.

  76. Rick timmerman    

    I am going on 51 months since I started the process, an just over 24 months since the n.o.d. my appeal has been ready for review since Oct of 2014 so why does it take so long to fix.

  77. Richard Ade    

    My appeal has been in over 3.5 years this is rediculous
    And VA persons handling these claims should be fired. I hope Trump gets in office because what I have seen he will not take any crap. I am a retired Clinical Nurse Speicalist and retired from the VA inCleveland. I know what they do and have done in the past.

  78. Jesse R. Teal, Jr    

    How do you appeal something that was not even part of a decision? I was given a combined rating of 10% after retirement in 1985 for a number of factors. In Oct 1911 I submitted a claim for Tinnitus and was received a decision letter in May 2012 with Bilateral Tinnitus rated at 10%, for a total rating of 10%. The original rating of 10% was not even mentioned in the decision letter. How should I have appealed that and is there any recourse now?

  79. Selma Tarrant    

    Can you help with a civil matter concerning a Veteran such as myself? I have Denver Probate concerns. I would like to have a telephone appointment; this appointment can be done via e-mail.

  80. Glen Reynolds    

    I filled a asbestos lung case in 2013 I am 72 and have been denied like call of you. They are waiting on me to throw up blood or die. So I am all done with in. I am going to put the hassle behind me and life, peace and joy in front of me and find something to enjoy. God will take care of me, so the VA can keep their ______

  81. Robert J Dudzinski    

    This may, or may not, apply to you, but I think the “Choice Program” needs streamlining. In order for me to take advantage of the Choice Program I have to jump through several hoops. It is a very complex system. Let me explain: I came here from South Texas where, if a service was not readily available for a veteran, a voucher was issued & the veteran could go to “ANY” doctor of his/her choice. Now that’s a “real” choice program. Why can you not adapt that type of system? I am a firm believer of the K.I.S.S. principle. I think if the VA would start thinking simple, instead of making things complex, the veteran would benefit & the VA should save money & we all know that the VA needs to save money.

    I live 52 miles, door-to-door to Bay Pines Hospital. That is 12 miles further than the 40 mile limit set by the VA, yet I have such trouble convincing those necessary that I qualify for the Choice Program. Is it so difficult for everyone in the VA to be on the same page. Good grief – send out a memo! If you’re going to have a Choice Program make it a “CHOICE” program. Let the veteran choose the doctor of his/her choice instead of telling the veteran that he/she has to go to a specific doctor. That is not a choice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  82. Joseph Harvey    

    I received notice from the bva that they have reached a decision on my appeals. what and who am I waiting on now to know my new total rating and back pay amount and new monthly payment?
    Any idea of an approximate time frame of waiting now?
    Thanks Joe

  83. Ronald K. Myers    

    The law, 39 U.S.C, Statute 51098, 71123 (West 2014) tells us that all claims that are remanded by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals or by the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims for additional development or other appropriate action must be handled in an expeditious manner.
    Why is this not done?
    Cheers!
    Ronald K. Myers

  84. Edward Webb    

    You might want to check this out.

  85. Curtis king    

    I am currently in a pTsd program I am not rated yet and I have an apeal pendind what should be my next step I am also being treated for back and both knee,s in which am getting shot,s every 4 ,month,s and also being treated for depression , Anxiety, and mental illness

  86. Laura Bickham    

    Hi Catherine – Thank you for sharing this article. Question for you – my husband filed his NOD within the year required, however, we included a letter that mentioned we would be submitted new evidence shortly (clearly, folks need some time to gather it) and submitted the new evidence package about 6 months or so after filing the NOD, which I note you say will delay the process further (a given we’ll all be delayed no matter what!). When you say it delays the process from NOD to providing new evidence, like in our case, several months, if you had to quantify what that “further delay,” would be, what would be your best guess? Our Reg’l office is Roanoke, VA, if that’s helpful. Thank you for your anticipated reply!

  87. Ryan Montgomery    

    I started this process over four years ago and still no answer. Nonsense.

  88. Terry Blue    

    A second attempt to leave a comment, not sure the first attempt got thru. In short my mother filed for the “widows pension”, my father is the veteran. It took a year and she was approved and payments started to her, 24 payments. Several things then occurred but after 24 months her payments were stopped and the VA asked for full repayment. I made the full repayment ($25,000) on her behalf and filed and appeal. The questions are, if the appeal is decided in her favor I assume she will reimbursed. But the big question is if the appeal is decided in her favor after her death, she is 88 and in very poor health, will the VA reimburse her estate? If so what is the process to file for that for her estate? Just a note here if you ever receive this, I have attempted to send this about 10 times, and keep getting the message the CAPTCHA Code is wrong, and I change it every time and use the new CAPTCHA Code and get the same message. This is the kind of crap that drives people crazy when dealing with the VA.

  89. frank enfinger    

    iwent to va for first time last year and my primary dr told me he thought i had ptsd and depression,so i was then sent to a psycholists who agreeed,then sen sent to psychaist who agree also and put me on medication,i have been treated at va clinc for 10 months ,and thestressors that cause my isssue happen while i was in service but the va turn my my claim even tho i have 5 va drs telling me that my stessors that happen to me while i was in service

  90. Richard Capellini    

    I submitted an appeal but it was denied. Now more than 60 days has passed. If I reopen the case with new evidence will my disability start from when I opened the original claim?

  91. Mike fanny    

    Who is this Fernando charCter? Must work for the VA. He is totally defending the most lame and lazy gov. Agency!! Of course they deny the majority of the claims and hope u go away!

    1. Fernando    

      This Fernando character is not a VA employee anymore. And I am not defending the VA. I am helping Veterans who are really looking for help don’t get the wrong information from those of you who keeps talking nonsense about the VBA employees who are working hard to the work done. You have no clue of the structure of the VBA, therefore you have nothing that helps the Vetetans but irrelevant info anf inaccurate.

      1. Fernando    

        This Fernando character is not a VA employee anymore. And I am not defending the VA. I am helping Veterans who are really looking for help and don’t get the wrong information from those of you who keep talking nonsense about the VBA employees, and who are working hard to get the work done. You have no clue of the structure of the VBA, therefore you have nothing that helps the Vetetans but irrelevant info and inaccurate. Those of you continue to cry and complaint need to provide the evidence necessary and read carefully what is needed. You have so many resources that you are provided all over the internet, but yet, you manage to ignore and complain, complain, and talk crap about the wrong people at VBA. The employees who work on your claims are Combat Veterans and non Combat Veterans, also non Veterans. These employees try to approve as much as they can and as fast as possible. Get your facts straight.

      2. John Given    

        Don’t give excuses, we couldn’t give excuses when we served. Face it, the majority of the staff spend too much time at the water cooler

  92. DT    

    Is it work your time and efforts to receive YOUR “JUST” due from the YEARS you spent serving your nation? I say, YES! So until that time comes where they throw the dirt over you — continue your quest to get your just reward ($$$$).

    KEEP FIGHTING! Stick and Stay Until You Get Your Pay.

    1. DT    

      “worth vice work”

  93. Tom Gentle    

    I submitted a x.claim related to TMJ disorder and associated pain but the VA couldn’t locate my records. Without the military records, it wouldn’t do anything to include not taking into account my TMJ Specialist I’ve been seeing for 5 years. Now, that my military dental records have been found after 10 years, will the VA allow me to resubmit even if it’s past the 1 year mark? ,

    1. Dominique Joseph    

      Tom,

      Definitely file a new claim since it sounds like you now have the records you need to support. Good luck to you!

  94. Luther Mc Millian    

    It’s been some six months since I filled my immediate appeal once they approved my initial compensation claim. I added my information for my appeal, and state my reasons for my appeal. Since each day my conditions will agent effects and age continue to deteriorate and pains a movements are exceedingly worst. To this day, I have not heard from the appeals board, and I have written numerous letter and inquiries, as to the level and status of my appeal. I did not want to take any chances of failing to appeal their initial decision, that is why I appealed it right away, and I have my copies of my appeals and dates of the letters I have written for current information. But, all of my letters and questions have been denied, and not even given me the curteousy of sending me a response. It seems, they appeals people are just waiting for more of us to die off, and they can have the money in bonuses for themselves. Which they have already approved for themselves in the last year or so, that is not right,and that is not how the program was set up for Vets who deserve better treatment. Last year in 2015 I have loss six of my comrades, who applied and never did receive a penny that they deserves for the dedication of their services to this country in the war of Viet Nam. Yes, they are waiting for us to die off. Now, in the New Year, I have just loss another friend and comrade in this same circumstance. It’s wrong, it’s outrageous, it’s down right sinful for the decisions makers at the V.A. to treat Vets in such a dispicable manner and way of abandonment for needed compensation. Something has to be done, and it has to be done in a timely manner in the favor of so many deserving veterans for their service compensations. Yes, I would definately be in favor of a class action suit, but, it has to be filed right now before more of us are passed on………………………….Mac

  95. Doug Wise    

    Catherine – Thanks much for the explanation on the claims process. Very helpful!

  96. Stephan Edward Toman    

    The appeals process is a joke. I have had two appeals with the VA since January 2009. Despite numerous requests for the progress of my appeals, I get only the copy-and-paste replies, which usually include some line about appeals taking 560 day. It’s been SEVEN years. At the request of the VA, I have submitted the same medical records three times over that seven years, records which I obtained from the VA Medical Center where I was treated. I have undergone two additional medical exams as well and more recently was requested to see my doctor to complete 11 new forms for the various aspects of my service-connected condition. And I still have no idea if my appeals have moved from the bottom of the too-hard basket. The VA should be ashamed of their failure to resolve my appeals in a timely manner.

  97. Waymon Pence    

    Yep, filed an appeal 4 or 5 years ago. Had to mail it to some where in Oklohoma. Never heard from it again. Probably in one of their trash bins for 4 or 5 years now.

  98. Mike G    

    In 2013 I was given a 10% rating connection w/ a torn labrum-shoulder. I was somehow denied re: PTSD. The VA treated me for above Disorder from 2009-2012. I then found a Psych who isn’t an Useless VA Doc. I see this Private Shrink bi-weekly ever since. He has me diagnosed and believes all my issues are PTSD related. Its been 2.5yrs since I was denied. How should I go about introducing this diagnosis to the VA. I’m way past 1yr mark.
    I also was diagnosed with an Auto-Immune Disorder in 2013. The Dr believed it was contracted while I was in Iraq inhaling all that “sh*t” they burn along with the fumes from a burning Vehicle we were in that got hit. Anyone have any advice for a slightly incompetent Clevelander guy? Much appreciation.

  99. Charles Reaves    

    I’ve been waiting for almost 5 years and I know there are a lot of cases out there worst than mine, but I have to agree with some you it is like their waiting for us to die off. Its like we’re only first when it comes time for dying for our country. As veterans we’ve experience some things that most ordinary Americans could not begin to imagine. We stood in long lines thru out our careers and we come back home hurt and mingled and still have to stand in long lines. There is information that sometimes should be given to veterans after a procedure have been preformed that we have to find out about sitting in a waiting room from other vets. When I question why weren’t we told I was asked did I know what kind of a line that would create at their window. At that time I thought about the lines we stood in just to get our checks.The lines we waited to cash our checks. The months and years we waited to get back to our love ones and we’re still waiting in lines. For someone who is willing to give the ultimate sacrifice Veterans should be treated with a lots more care than what we’re receiving.

  100. Raymond Lowery    

    dlowery58@verizon.net (need someone to explain the process of “speeding up an appeal” i was told last week that my DRO hearing would probably be in about 2 years from now. My wife and I lost our home in January (forclosure) and i am not going to be able to keep this apartment we have moved into unless i get some other form of income, neither my wife nor I am able to work anymore, does anyone know the process for me to ask for a “hardship” appeal with the DRO instead of waiting for 2 more years???? please email me if you can help, thanks Ray Lowery

    1. Dominique Joseph    

      Raymond,

      Be on the lookout for someone from VA contacting you.

  101. Jimmie D. Grimes    

    I have been waiting since Jan 2012 and check monthly on the status (Non-status). What I really find interesting is that when I check through the local office, they tell me that my appeal was placed into a “Special Project” bit the reps cannot access what that means. They are also telling me that I should not expect anything until after 5 years! One thing I would advise anyone appealing the start date of when you receive the rating, immediately check with the Doctor’s who have the records. Now, it is very common for Doctor’s Offices to discard your records if it is over 5 years since the event or procedure!
    The real issue causing the LONG delay in settling Appeals is that we quit dealing with the standard VA “procedures” and start dealing with Lawyers in Washington DC! Supposedly these people are some kind of an Admin Judge and they must only work one case at a time. If the Service advocates MOAA, VFW. American Legion would start looking at the VBA like they have looked at the Clinics I think they will find a cesspool worse than what was found in the Claims area.

  102. Aledia Marie Johnson    

    I have waiting on answer for my appeal since 1998, When do you think I will hear for the board? I haven’t heard for them in almost 4 years.

    1. Dominique Joseph    

      Aledia,

      I have asked someone from the Board to answer your question. Be on the lookout for a response here or direct contact from them in the coming days.

  103. Aledia Marie Johnson    

    I file a appeal in 1998 and it has been nearly 4 years since I last heard for the board of appeals.

  104. Leonard Erickson    

    I have been waiting for an appeal hearing for almost three years on a claim of hypertension. I recently got a letter saying it is still in process. They realized nobody has taken a stress test as of yet, so they said they will schedule me for a stress test prior to the scheduling of the hearing. That was over three months ago, and still no stress test. I will let them take as long as they want, and then I will report this to my congressman. Nobody will ever get fired anyway.

  105. Amelia Vandiver    

    Wow………glad I’m not alone. The VA claims system, SUCKS, is GROSSLY UNJUST and UNFAIR. Is, SLOW, RUDE, and DISRESPECTFUL to the veterans. They hold back promised benefits waiting for the person TO DIE, or give up. So true!! They HANG UP ON VETERANS PHONE CALLS. And over-all, can’t help. They put veterans on hold for UP TO AN HOUR. (Yes, this has all happened to me personally). They LOOSE PAPERWORK. CLOSE CLAIMS BASED ON LACK OF INFORMATION AFTER YOU HAVE PERSONALLY HAND DELIVERED 200 pages to the office. They LIE and say, “THEY NEVER KNEW” when you called them and told them. This is all a form of HARASSMENT towards the veterans. I have already emailed President Obama about this matter at least five times, maybe six. My appeal, IS STILL PENDING. O yeah, let’s not forget they don’t always USE DATES, NAMES, OR CONTACT ADDRESS/TELEPHONE NUMBERS ON THEIR DOCUMENTS. So, who knows when you received it……….or from whom it was sent………..it’s all SCANDALOUS FRAUD, and I can’t wait until it all comes out in the open to the general public. O, you think I am yelling since I have written in capital letters? You think I am mad? Nope………I am neither yelling, nor mad, I just want to make sure someone looks at this, so JUSTICE CAN BE DONE. There are way to many veterans these days who are being abused and getting the shaft by the Crooked VA system. Just look at, and read all the above complaints. Is it just me? Obviously not. Have a nice day. By the way, if your in the mood to look at my appeal, it’s been sitting on someone’s desk for the past three plus years and they want to tell me I never notified them of my marriage on time to receive spouse benefits. When I in fact called them TWICE, and even went personally to the St. Louis office. Then they lost all my paperwork, and had to start over. At least once. Or twice. They denied they were notified which is a big fat LIE. But, whatever, it’s still pending. This sort of thing can’t last forever. Crime doesn’t pay…. All things will be found naked and openly exposed by the eyes of GOD, who will exact punishment in due time.

  106. Kaleb munoz    

    I have 3 appeals since 2011 and still waiting for an answer

  107. Rick Johnston    

    Well like many of you, I too am in the appeal process now going on for almost 2 years. Before getting my decision for disability it took over 2 years. This should not take this long to get a decision. Most of the people to talk to about what happened in 1962 have died or like me don’t remember much about the event. We need the help NOW and many of us will die before getting a decision.
    Rick Johnston
    U.S. Navy 1959 to 1965

  108. Craig Macklin    

    I have written to all of the departments involved in the appeals process, including registered mail that cost me twenty dollars. In a years time I’ve had one unsigned replay that had nothing to do with my question or what I need. My appeals period is over in two weeks. I tried E-Benefits and that was a joke. The response I received said the individual was a technician and didn’t understand my question. I tried to register with E-Benefits and did not understand what their scintillas represented. I am not computer literate nor do I have the ability to retain what I read. Since open heart surgery twenty years ago my ability to learn has been non exist ant. This whole process is designed for the individual veteran to fail at getting the attention and help that he/she needs. This is a shameful way to thank us for our service.

  109. Cindy Hunter    

    Just like everyone else here, I waited and waited for VA to process my claim. It took 7 years for them to give me a C&P exam. My VA psychologist told me 3 days after my C&P exam, the C&P examiner under-rated me on the DBQ form. The C&P examiner asked me questions I did not expect to even matter. The issues that most effect me were never talked about.

    I’ve been rated at 50% for the past 3 years. My lawyer submitted an inch and half legal argument/brief or summary or whatever they call it, to BVA almost 2 years ago. I haven’t heard a peep since.

    One of my claims was remanded back to NY VARO from BVA. I’ll probably be dead by the time that claim is resolved.
    I’m not exaggerating. The claim is for dependent benefits for a helpless adult child, who is my child, but adopted. My son has to be recognized as my son for VA to care for him I suppose. He is my child. I was pregnant with him when I processed out of the military. Anyway, I can only hope my lawyer lives long enough to represent my case for my son’s dependent benefits.

    In the meantime, my anxiety and stress continue to wreak havoc in new ways. SSDI & 50% VA benefits are not really enough to pay rent /bills/groceries, but the benefits make my life easier than in the past. Good luck to everyone.

  110. Timothy    

    I am one of the poster soldiers for delayed claims, I really think there is pockets of people who work for VA that fail to do jobs as they should, If you get caught in this it is a long road. I first filed in 1991, less than a year out of service, I have proven Hemophilia, written in my medical records, I have never seen a dime. It cost me close to $1,000,000 in assets to file the claims so far, all that just for being disabled in service, it has cost me and family so much pain. I am not sure but maybe changing regional offices may help? Whatever I did do opposite. I will publish sometime the full story and follow up paperwork.

  111. Simone Hamilton    

    This was indeed a very good article, but sometimes the process isn’t as easy as it is explaining how the process is SUPPOSE to be. I am 40% disabled, and had my claim for my feet and knees denies, when in fact the documentation was stellar. When I went to the VA orthopedist, he didn’t even look at the MRI I had done. Just took xrays,. When I did attempt to file for an appeal, I have YET to receive any type of acknowledgement that my paperwork was even received! Multiple calls, and nothing. And let us not forget Voc_Rehab. I live 20 minutes away from a Voc-Rehab office, yet I have to go downtown DC to get anything done. Had an appointment with one particular counselor for the “orientation”, and when I went to the office, he wasn’t in there that day, and I had to wait for someone else who took down all my information, and never got back with me AFTER many phone calls and messages left. I understand why many are very frustrated with the system.

  112. D. Nocon    

    I was told by a fellow veteran never appeal. He says use RECONSIDER. Is that term used to expedite your claim quickly.

  113. Carlton T. Gross    

    I just spent 10 minutes typing a statement that “was some error” what a rack of you know what!

  114. Ben Alcala    

    my first claim to the VA was started the very first day of my medical exam. I received compencation 2 months later. this was in 2000 since then a VA doctor along with aVA rep filed an additional claim for me increasing my compensation by 20%.I am an Vietnam Vet with type 2 diabetesand heart issues.I think there are so many claims being filed that the VA is over worked and under staffed by those who just want to collect their pay.

  115. Vernon W Good    

    Typically how long does it take to get an answer on a dro appeal? So far as of today I have been waiting about 476 day. My notice of disagreement was received on 10/31/2014 and I haven’t heard anything. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? can you help me?

  116. frank enfinger    

    i went to va in pensacola ,Fl, iwas told i had ptsd and depression,have been in treatment for 10 months and the stressors we talk about happen while i was in service,but was turned down by the va for disability,did not eve give me a c and p exam they say i have no evdence even though i have 5 va drs telling me that i have ptsd and depression and the stessors happen while in srervice cause it canyou help me,also hacve been trying to get a copy of my meidcal records for 3 years but st louis tells me the va has it and the va says that st louis is where i need to get it please help me

  117. CL Glogau    

    I would like to know what training and credentials the people who decide the claims at the Regional office have, and what training and credentials the ROs have. Do they have any military experience? Shouldn’t someone who makes a decision on a mental health claim have some mental health training? And why is it that so many of the people who do the C&P evaluations have no military experience at all? I know someone who had an evaluator that did not know what a convoy was!!!

  118. Adam    

    I just went through my first DRO appeal. On my initial C&P claim, I claimed finger/joint pain for arthritis. This medical issue was evaluated by the C&P doctor and on my final C&P claim decision they acknowledged my finger/joint pain claim but instead of rating it, they lumped it under Fibromyalgia! I appealed that decision since Fibromyalgia and arthritis are 2 different medical conditions, submitted the VA regulation in the appeal and even submitted what that medical condition should have been rated at, and the DRO person declined my appeal because he/she said I never had a claim for the finger/joint issues even though the VA included the finger/joint pain issue in my final C&P decision! I’m at a loss how this issue is included under the fibromyalgia rating but the reviewer during the appeal says it’s not there. Any suggestions?? Thanks.

  119. james norton    

    VA denied education part of GI bill when I got out.
    Ms. Sikes said many things that was not true. Saw a VA Judge from DC a year ago.
    I have waited 6-1/2 years and have nothing

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