Another Step Toward Making the Claims Process Faster

On Monday, we announced that VA is testing ways to access private medical records more quickly. My two favorite Veterans read the press release and said, “Um, what the heck does this mean?” I figured that if the info was murky to the Vets I know, it might be that way for other Veterans, too.

So, here’s the deal.

Development is the lengthiest part of the claims process, taking around 100 days. Right now, if you were to submit a claim that requires medical records from a doctor outside of the VA network it could take up to 40 days for VA to get the documents. Here’s how it goes: VA requests the records and gives your doctors 30 days to respond. Then, if we don’t hear back from private docs we have to send a reminder and give them another 10 days to get the records to us. And by “get the records to us,” of course I mean that the records are mailed. Up to 40 days to get more paper? Not good.

So, we’re banging our heads on our paper covered desks trying to figure out ways to reduce wait times for claims—a move that will, over time, break the back the of the backlog—and it occurs to us: If insurance companies can get Lauren’s car insurance updated and emailed to her over lunch and the pizza joints let you order and track pizza online, there has to be some company out there that can help us out with private medical record transmission.

And there is.

DOMA, a company that specializes in electronic document management, said they can get medical records from non-VA docs in support of a Veteran’s compensation and pension claim in seven days. This is huge.

So, in new, true VA fashion we’re giving it a test go. We’re piloting the process at the Jackson Regional Office and if it works—if DOMA can get the docs in seven days—we’ll roll it out to six other sites, and sort of make the company walk the walk again. Those six additional pilots will run until March 2011. We’ll know if they’re a success because VBA employees will be able to track and validate the records coming in quickly and DOMA will be giving the Regional Offices weekly reports: How many requests were made, how many requests were fulfilled and how long the fulfillment took. If it’s a success we’ll roll it out the initiative to every Regional Office.

The best part? Veterans won’t have to do anything: No more liaising with your doctors, no more worrying if your records are going to make it in a timely fashion. DOMA will get the records electronically, through a secure transmission from your doctor to VA in seven days flat.

Have you heard about this new initiative? What’s your take?

Tessa Kalman/VA

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187 Comments to “Another Step Toward Making the Claims Process Faster”

  1. ChuckPie says:

    I would like it if the VA doctors could get the results from a C&P exam in done in 30 days. They have 60 days to get the results to the Development team. The point here is if the VA wants the private doctors to get the results back sooner maybe the VA doctors should lead by example!!!!

    • fed says:

      They,we have to work to-gether,(worktogether).

    • Solomon Dominguez jr says:

      Amen and again Amen, I would like it if the doctors would refrain from allowing their desert personal options to override their obligation to serve me and my needs. They should be held accountable for (miss) treatment of the veterans who are claiming to have gulf war syndrome. Contrary to Personal opinion, The illnesses that veterans are suffering from (GWVI) are very real.

  2. Hello,

    Do they travel to the doctors office Do they supply free software? How do they entice the doctor?

    • Chris,

      We don’t incentivize private doctors in any way. The new system will actually take a lot onus away from private doctors. The company that we are working with will be doing all the hard work — the docs just need to supply the information.

  3. Garry McGrath says:

    The VA would do well to use existing resources rather than contracting a company for millions of dollars to do what can now be accomplished by email and fax/scanned documents. I doubt there is a doctor in the world without internet/email capabilities and almost everything they have is stored electronically. Sending an email request is more efficient and easier for doctors to respond to. This isn’t rocket science and shouldn’t cost millions of dollars to develop.

    • brenda hayes says:

      That is true! Anybody thought about going this way?

      What is the cost of the DOMA pilot to the VA/”we the taxpayers”?

      Might pilot that as well. Good thinking Garry!!

      Some of these possibilities–pilots of different sorts to make the system more effective could always be part of interships for PHD/Masters in the various Universities. Even maybe coursework for the Veterans attending some of the colleges and Universities; or volunteers in organizations, or the Federal Volunteer force coming about? We all need to find ways not to spend what we can get otherwise. I am sure many disabled Vets would be willing to help as well as the adult children of Veterans that the VA is paying for their schooling; and with the internet for meetings, etc., this certainly is doable. Again, I like the idea of learning to “think outside the box”; because we’ve been in the box so long; everything is going to H in a handbasket!! Government employees/State and Federal don’t “think outside the box”; they are not rewarded for this. They like the status quo; most don’t work that hard! (this is information from a friend who was a GS 16 and personal observation myself. Let’s be truthful; it will be fresh new blood like you guys and the old guys outside the system to tell you what the kinks are and “who” the kinks are; to fix it and make this VA boat shipshape again because with all the ill and suffering Vets returning; we have not seen anything as far as NEED goes yet.

      • Brenda and Garry,
        I wish it was as simple as sending an email to docs and having them do the same with scanned/faxed documents. VA takes extra measures to ensure that the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of each Veteran is safe guarded to the maximum extent. Therefore, we cannot make e-requests for Veteran’s information over simple email. If we WERE going to set up that kind of encryption (the fancy, techie word for safe email)to make those connections to private doctors it would cost taxpayers a bajillion dollars (technical term). The way we did, by harnessing the technology, expertise and electronic safety measures that already exist, we get a faster end product that is cheaper and safer.
        Please also know that in my 3 years of working at VA I meet more people than I can count that care deeply about Veterans welfare and come to work everyday to try to make the system better by thinking outside the box. We really are working to change our culture and the way we do business.

        • Mr Incredible says:

          I can encrpyt my own email with 128 bit encryption through windows and it does not cost me a dime.

        • Alanna Mejias says:

          Why don’t you use the same system that the Social Security uses? They no longer require you to get your medical records. They send a request to the Dr’s and now they have complete medical information securely sent to them. Why re-invent the wheel? They told me that they receive the records within 5 days from the date they request them. Do to that change, they are now able to process claims much faster.

  4. NITA RIDER says:

    have no confidence in the disability benefit process. My husband bless his heart has been fighting for almost 3 years He has filed all the papers. More than once, he has had a date for the appeal process DAYS before the date, the VA will call, they want to repeat the same tests again. He was in during Viet Nam (he passed physical to get in) After his honorable discharge he decided to join another branch. He failed the physical This was months later
    He can never get a hold of a VA rep that was helping him
    He is so frustrated he just quit

    • brenda hayes says:

      Nita,

      That is quite typical. Go online and find VA WATCHDOG, http://www.hadit.com; Veteranbenefits@ezboard.com.; brothersboundbyhonor.com

      There are people there–Vets and family members that will help ya’ll get the help you need. These are grassroots organizations. I’ve heard your husband’s plight a lot!! Don’t let him quit…that is your job!! They all want to quit…that’s what the VA counts on!! There are some good VSO’s out there and a lot of Vets and family members who know claims that aren’t certified. Check out those sites and persevere. Also, find a support group for you..Lots on the web….Vetwivessupport@yahoo.com and they can tell you others. Very helpful and supportive spouses; I know they helped me and in turn I helped my Veteran and also other Vets.

    • Nita,

      I’d be happy to try to help. Please email me if you need any assistance!

      • Angela Nelson says:

        Nita… I hope that you can assist me with my claim… I have had a claim in since 2/07, I received a disability rating of 40%… at some point in 2008 someone decided to drop/close my claim stating that they needed a signature… however the mapd has it in their database at the same time that my signature was not needed…. after years of finally getting someone to advise of the status of the claim (8/10) additional doc’s had to be forwarded and now every month I receive a letter stating that they are still working on my claim…. this is a mess…. can you help?

      • Just Wondering? says:

        Dear Lauren Bailey,
        If you are offering to assist people considering their VA Claim story as in Nita Ryder’s spouses claim, how about reading the story of my claim and decide for yourself if mine warrants your assistance or perhaps you can refer myself and my wife to individual(s) that can help us? I have not given up after over five years but am about to.
        I filed a claim in July of 2005; I had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2001. My wife and I were very naïve when we filed our original claim, as well we followed the advice of a Disabled American Veteran who had limited experience with exposure claims, as such needless to say after educating ourselves and becoming our own advocate we have filed an appeal as the original claim was denied after twenty-four months of waiting for the initial decision in July of 2007.
        We diligently waited until this March of 2010, we were informed that the DRO would be deciding our appeal once he/she received release of medical records forms that had been enclosed and that I needed to sign and return them, which we did within the thirty days from the date of the VA’s letter. We also enclosed in this package, which was sent via FedEx overnight and signed for by a VA employee all our additional evidence to support and we believe to win our appeal for stomach cancer due to asbestos exposure.
        Here is the real problem Lauren, the DRO issued the Statement of the Case ten days after receiving the signed medical release of information forms that he/she had requested. Therefore, you see this DRO had not even requested the medical records from my private physicians/hospitals, nor did the DRO evaluate one piece of new evidence that was submitted in this same package. This DRO just looked at whatever he/she had in hand in the case file and saw that nothing was new or had changed and just cut and pasted the decision in the Statement of the Case from the original Board’s decision from nearly three years earlier.
        When investigated by my DAV representative the DRO’s supervisor stated to my DAV representative that their clearly had been a “Disconnect”, that my new evidence along with the DRO not requesting the updated medical records, that the VA had written to me to sign the forms for, this information had not been matched up with my case file. This same VA supervisor informed my DAV supervisor that another Statement of the Case would be re-issued in one to four weeks to include the new evidence that we had submitted along with the newly acquired medical records that the VA had requested in the initial letter.
        Lauren it has been over seven months. My wife and I were instructed by the DAV staff weekly that we did not need to submit the VA Form 9 as the Regional Office would be completing the review. Meanwhile as this was going on my wife and I contacted our local Congressional Representative, her staff member said that do to the financial hardship, along with my current medical condition(s), which I will explain later that her aid would contact both the DAV as well as the VA to inquire about my appeal.
        After a couple of months the DAV stated that, they cannot make the VA Regional Office do anything that they are not willing or wanting to do. So I was instructed to fill out the VA Standard Form 9 and submit this to the Regional Office, which we did.
        In October after my wife and I wrote to our Congressional Representative asking exactly what her aid was doing on my behalf, we received a copy of the VA Regional Office’s response to the letter of inquiry that had been issued in July 2010 by our Congressional Representative. In this letter the VA Regional Office stated that new medical records had been received at the VA Regional Office in September of 2010 and that due to this being considered new medical evidence that a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) would be issued.
        In the beginning of November of 2010, my wife and I received an e-mail response from our Congressional Representative’s staff member who had been working with us, she responded to our questions as to what exactly had been accomplished on our behalf. This is where my wife and I confirmed that this staff member like the DAV had been just giving my wife and I “lip service” and placating us saying that she would initiate a Congressional Review about my claim/appeal, that due to our financial hardship(s) and current medical condition(s) that the Congressional Representative would be requesting to have my appeal/claim expedited and on and on. All this woman staff member did on my behalf was issue a letter in September of 2010 asking what was happening with my appeal.
        Furthermore this aid admitted to my wife and I over the phone prior to this that when she was seeking advice about the claims/appeals process or procedures that she would just call the VA’s 800 national phone number, ask whichever VA representative answered the call and ask her question, then the aid would call my wife and I back with what she was informed of. Which Lauren as you might be able to see as we did that this was a complete waste of time for everyone involved.
        So after seven months dealing with this Congressional Representative’s aid we received the e-mail that I previously spoke of above and asked about the “Congressional Review” and the expediting of the appeals due to financial hardship along with current medical condition(s) to which the aid responds: I have just gotten off of the phone with the Congressional Liaison who has just updated me on the status of the SSOC and hearings. Currently all appeals hearings are at two years at this location, which means that the SSOC will be longer than six months which is different than what was first stipulated at the end of September when I was advised by the Congressional Liaison that this SSOC case should be done within the next six months. The SSOC may also determine if your benefits can be issued and approved in full or in part at this time or it may continue the denial until the hearing.
        To expedite this case, I have been advised by the Congressional Liaison that you may submit evidence showing a terminal disease which is not yet on this appeals case before the hearing board. If you can present the pathology report on the asbestosis to this office and any other medical evidence or diagnosis, I will forward this to them and request an expedited hearing.
        In addition, I was advised that by changing anything to a DRO it will only prolong the case.
        Therefore, Lauren here it is now over seven months after the VA Regional issued a Statement of the Case which the supervisor of the DRO said that clearly there was a “Disconnect” in my appeal. This was then followed by my VSO the Disabled American Veterans who threw up their hands by saying that they can’t make the VA do anything, this was then followed by a Congressional Representative’s office who gave us a song and dance for all these months as well with at least completing a letter of inquiry and then informing us that this Regional Office takes at least two years before issuing a SSOC.
        Meanwhile I was forced to wait two entire years before even an initial ruling by the Board was given on my original claim, this was then deemed “my fault” as there was so many items listed on my original claim. Now I am supposed to appeal my original appeal as the DRO and or other VA employee is who admitted that there was a “Disconnect” concerning my appeal and yet issued a SOC. All the while, my wife and I have completed or accomplished whatever the VA Regional Office or the DAV has requested of us.
        This despite that I got stomach cancer in 2001 of which I had a reoccurrence in 2006, to which I have submitted as evidence to the Board medical nexus letters or statements by four different doctor’s from my medical team from four different specialties who believe that the reason that I got cancer in the first place was due to being exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy during the 1980’s while on-board ship. Furthermore, several of these same doctor’s also feel that my new diagnosis of asbestosis is also directly as a direct result of this same exposure while serving in the Navy. I also have submitted letters by two retired Navy Veterans who personally witnessed me and others working with this asbestos on-board ship. Additionally my enlisted performance evaluations substantiate that I worked in the area that I claimed that I was exposed to asbestos in.
        Lauren the odds of my survival after the original diagnosis was that I had a 50% chance of living five years, with a 50% chance of a reoccurrence within two years. I do not even want to relate how low the odds are and the longevity of survival with two bouts of stomach cancer. Furthermore, now add in asbestosis which even with treatment is eventually fatal itself. Now add in the symptoms from the surgeries along with the effects from radiation and chemotherapy, things that I experience such as chronic pain, neuropathy in all my hands and feet, daily vomiting and nausea, hyperglycemia, malnourishment, cachexia, alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation resulting from the medications and surgeries and IBS. I am 6’4” and weighed 225lbs when I had my first cancer surgery, now as of my last doctor’s appointment at the VAMC in October 2010, I was 147lbs with clothes on. I suffer exhaustion due to inability to eat only minimal calories, despite all the doctor’s visits and consultations I have been informed by all my doctor’s that “this is the best that it is going to get”, that having my stomach removed was to “sustain life” and that my quality of life is what it is.
        My wife was laid off during the recession and been available to assist me with things that you Lauren and others take for granted like bathing, preparation of meals and the like. Now by the Grace of God my wife has found recently a part-time position of 35hrs per week, yet I have no one to assist me while she is out of the home. Medicare does not offer this, nor can we afford to pay someone, we were informed that if I was 100% service connected permanently disabled that the VA can arrange for someone to come to our home and assist her and I, yet although we have done nothing wrong here we are supposed to wait at least another two years? We have been informed that yes VA personnel are not supposed to offer time frames for appeals but “unofficially” we’ve been informed by both VA and DAV and other people that appeals before the Board of Veterans Appeals can take between 1-3 years, but that both of these groups have members that have said that it is not uncommon for veterans to wait as long as 7 years!
        So Lauren if I were to live and not succumb from either the cancer or asbestosis or any secondary issue from either disease, that in 2017 I may hear a decision? This despite filing an original claim in July of 2005, so this whole process could take possibly 12 years?!! Moreover, you wonder why people give up after 3 years. I have had my original VA Oncologist write a letter to the Board offering his prognosis as well as my medical condition, this is what the VA employee’s suggested to expedite my claim, yet it still took two years?
        Lauren from my and my wife’s experience it is clear that the VA can care less about veterans, unless a politician who has some good publicity to gain gets involved and pressures the VA to do what is right then all we are is a case file, a claim number. As in my case if I die before my claim is resolved then my claim will be “Dismissed without prejudice” by the Board of Veterans Appeals, then my wife will have to start from square one all over again? However, I am housebound and primarily bed-ridden each day. I rarely leave my home if but to go to a doctor’s appointment or occasionally a store or a family function if it is close by and my immediate health permits.
        Lauren all my wife and I have ever asked is to be treated fairly with dignity and respect and in a timely manner. Yet my original claim was “Outsourced, delayed, misplaced, lost” and then I was blamed because of too many items listed to be investigated? Well Lauren I am not going to ever apologize for getting cancer, or for suffering depression from worrying about dying and leaving my wife alone, of being afraid of dying from cancer and seeking treatment, or for being depressed from being in chronic pain for so many years, or for claiming that my neuropathy is caused by my radiation treatments or any other of the number of secondary issues that VA doctor’s at the VAMC said were caused by my cancer care or treatment(s).
        Lauren I feel that once the VA actually takes the time to read and review my appeal with all the evidence included, that the VA will rule correctly and award myself 100% permanent and total service connected disability, as we were both informed by a VA C&P medical examiner that once I have all the evidence submitted that this is the only outcome that the VA will conclude. Then both my wife and I should be informed by the VA that we are owned an apology. For all of the years of mistreatment by the VA, for this veteran and others doing what they was ordered to do without question while serving his country and then getting ill as a result, for this I owe an apology to no one, I am owed respect from one human being to another and I am owed to be treated in a timely fashion or manner, rather than have the blame placed on me, or acknowledging that there has been a mistake made and yet as this VA Regional Office DRO supervisor was negligent in doing by just throwing my appeal back into the pile, instead of taking immediate corrective action and doing what was morally right.
        But Lauren of course this can be just another example in your eyes of a disgruntled veteran, or you can do what the previous people that my wife and I have asked for assistance by giving us lip service and placating us with protocol or procedures, or perhaps you can really accomplish something and actually help a veteran and his family, as in everyone’s case the choice is yours. I will gladly e-mail you any records or information or specifics if you choose to help.

        • Glenn Murray says:

          If I were you Just Wondering, I would leave my real name so Lauren can possibly help. If there is any assemblence of truth in the Dept of Veterans Affairs wanting to truely help veterans, you would be contacted immeadiately after Lauren read your post. If there is a pecking order, please make sure my bitch is behind Just Wonderings.

          I come from many generations where everyone eligible served in the military. I have 4 grown children and 10 grandchildren, none of which have served in the Armed Forces of the United States. If you wonder why, just read Just Wonderings post!

        • Craig Nystrom Jr. says:

          Dear Lauren Bailey
          As Glenn Murray said about leaving my real name, I apologize as I thought I had left my name, which is Craig Nystrom Jr. Mr. Glenn Murray if I knew now how my life and especially how my health would have turned out after serving nearly eight years of active duty would I do it again? Absolutely not! It’s one thing to be willing to put your life on the line in defense of our country for so many of the freedom’s that we enjoy and so many people take for granted, such as even being able to speak openly even in this forum here. In other countries such as China just by stating anything against the state from my understanding that even if you could gain access to the internet, if you were caught stating anything negative against the state you would be subject to imprisonment or execution.
          As for me, I may have been young and naïve when I volunteered to serve, I did not do it blindly in that I knew that as any service members knows that they may have to give their life in the performance of their duty, or be injured or maimed psychologically or physically. However, as in my case I was ordered to work with insulation or lagging material on-board ship in preparation for a Navy wide award competition. My immediate enlisted supervisors cut corners, had us men ripping out and repairing and replacing this lagging without the benefit of the proper protective equipment, being only provided goggles, knife and dust masks. This as we found out later was very different from the required hazmat suits, separate ventilation, respirators and so on that was already a standard practice in the Navy then. All for what reason? To cut corners, save time, save labor, so that these enlisted supervisors could then inform their bosses what a great job that they had their people complete in preparation for these inspections. Ultimately this benefited this Navy E-6 and E-7 by improving their Enlisted Performance Evaluation(s)., that who benefited.
          When after others and myself had nearly completed this evolution it came out that this insulation or lagging material contained asbestos, which it had to be explained to myself and others what asbestos is and what health issues it may cause. Well let me tell you how informed I am about asbestos now after having two bouts of cancer and recently being diagnosed with asbestosis, now my wife and I are fully aware. So is my Oncologist, Toxicologist, Environmental Health Specialist and Primary Care Physician who all have written to the VA stating in no uncertain terms that both the cancer and the asbestosis is directly caused by my working with the insulation or lagging material while on-board ship all those years ago, period.
          Therefore, would I do it all over again heck no! I thought that when I left the Navy that that chapter in my life was over. I never thought that when my Navy Chief Petty Officer that supervised where I worked and was exposed to asbestos words of “Don’t worry you guys are young and healthy, this stuff won’t hurt you.”, how these words would come back and be so absolutely wrong and would haunt both mine, my wife’s and my families lives! Try to explain or put into words the emotional turmoil that a person goes through when they are told that they have Cancer! Then imagine your state of mind and feelings when you are told that this same cancer is back! Then add to this another diagnosis of asbestosis, which is also an eventual fatal disease, there is no winning here or any compensation in the world that could give me or my wife what has been taken from me.
          Yet the VA and I can only relate my experience is and has been treating me like an outcast, hoping that I would just go away or pass away and give up. Well I have never been a quitter and I am not about to quit now, it boils down to principles which are instilled by your upbringing and instilled in you by our society or culture. The reason that I even filed a claim with the VA was based on science and recommendations from medical professionals who know more than I. I did not file because I am a malingerer, a person that is trying to take advantage of an overwhelmed VA system. Because I got ill and because my doctor’s said that the reason I got ill was from working with asbestos while in the Navy, that had I not worked with this asbestos I wouldn’t have gotten cancer at the age of 36, nor would have been diagnosed with asbestosis at the age of 46.
          I am not looking to find someone or something to blame just because I have fallen on hard times and the government is an easy target. I have fallen on hard times as a direct result of doing the wishes of a few men, so many years ago, and it is based on medical opinions and science that is currently available today, it is as simple as that.
          When I enlisted and asked what happens if something should happen to me as far as my health, well I was informed that the Government or namely the Department Of Veterans Affairs would take care of me and my family, it was an agreement, a contract, a meeting of the minds. However, the sad part is that the VA has stalled, delayed, postponed, lost, suffered a disconnect, outsourced and so on to avoid upholding their end of the agreement. My wife and I have asked our VSO and the VA countless times what else can we or do we need to complete, do, or submit to prove my claim, to have this long drawn out nightmare be another horrible chapter be drawn to a conclusion. Yet the VA’s response continues to be that I am not a valued former service member, that somehow my service to this country is less than other’s that came before me or will come after me. That once you leave active duty you are less than equal to other’s that are currently or have served. That now I am just made to feel and viewed as a member of the long list of veterans that are disgruntled because of the inadequate care and substandard due process for my claim. I have expectations that I and other veterans have of the VA, as the VA has expectations and standards from us veterans, as I have stated I have tried and believe I have upheld my end of the expectations. However, when I am willing to wait three years for an appeal, only to have this appeal not openly and honestly completed and reviewed with the proper effort and diligence, then this is not acceptable to myself nor should it or is it acceptable to any veteran.
          When I am instructed to then appeal an appeal that was acknowledged by a Decision Review Officer’s “Coach” or supervisor that their was an issue with the VA’s procedure(s) and then this same person who is in a position of authority then takes the low road and doesn’t correct what could have and should have been corrected, then I and other veterans have to speak up and have these VA employee’s be held accountable for their actions. Instead as I have stated that this DRO just cut and pasted the denial turning his/her problem of actually honestly reviewing the evidence and then issuing a legal denial or approval for claims sought, to then once again it being my problem in more ways than one by doing me and my wife a disservice. How many other veterans that this DRO had their appeals reviewed by him/her had their appeal just denied and thrown back into the pile? How many veterans did not or could not take the time to read and understand each and every line in the Statement of the Case issued by this DRO said the heck with it, and then gave up because even though perhaps they should or would have been issued additional benefits if this particular DRO had investigated to the best of their ability and saw what his/her supervisor saw that there was a “Disconnect” and therefore a SOC should not or could not be issued yet, that then this vet said “I have had enough” as a result of being ignored once again by the VA? Where’s the accountability, the checks and balances in the Regional Office Lauren Bailey? These are obvious questions that I and other veterans ask after encountering what I and veterans in my situation ask, yet we can’t get an answer.
          So Lauren Bailey, Ma’am if you are willing to assist me and have read both the previous post as “Just Wondering” and now this post, my wife and I await your decision, and your willingness to help? Sincerely, Craig Nystrom Jr.

  5. brenda hayes says:

    Question? What happended to the “VA DIRECTIVE” that told the VAMC’s that their Docs were able to write letters, etc. to support the Veteran’s claim.
    I don’t think a lot of them got the “trickle down” –help the Vet Directive!!

    The Directive was active at one time. I know we had asked and the VAMC Dr. said, “…that’s not in my job description; that why you have the C&P’s!

    I would think if the medical documentation is in the file and if you have a Dr. who has been following the Veteran and knows “the case”; then it would be a lot easier and maybe less prone to “mistakes” either by the CP examiner and/or the rater.

    Might consider Reactivating it!!

    By the way, are the VA Directives listed anywhere on the VA Webpage? If not, it really would be nice…another transparency maker!!

    Also, not sure; but there was an automatic waiting period 30-60 days; and some Vets are not aware if they have all of the data submitted; they can just tell the VARO to waiver that time and to begin adjuticating the claim.

    Lauren, that Pilot sounds like one that makes sense and will work!

    Tell the General…I smell the enchiladas cooking!!!

  6. J. Jones says:

    The email idea wouldn’t be feasible because of the unsecure transmission of PII and HIPAA rurles. It would have to be some trusted source administering and tracking request. I’m assuming that’s the part they are contracting out.

  7. Ray Gill says:

    As a retired VBA employee you must also address the issues and flats within the rating board. The delays here can be just as long. A fix here would have an immediate impact on processing times.

    • Nissi Martin says:

      You are right Mr. Gill the rating process is the hold up; the more claims the longer it’s sat on regardless of how many medical records and other supportive documents are supplied. Here is the department the secretary needs to focus on!

  8. Stan Lukas says:

    I agree with Garry McGrath that medical records should be obtainable using existing technology. Why contract something out at obscene costs if the VA can probably do it themselves cheaper, and just as quickly?
    As a retired federal criminal investigator, I would be willing to retrieve documents for the VA for far less than DOMA – using the telephone, email and fax machines, and I would make personal visits to doctors’ offices in the New England region, if necessary. As long as the necessary permissions are given by the veteran submitting a claim, most doctors will gladly provide the medical records needed.
    Innovation is a good thing, but if it ain’t broke…,and if it is broken, sometimes tried and true methods can be more successful than the innovative ones.

    • Stan,

      AS I mentioned before, because of VA’s commitment to protecting PII of Veterans at all costs volunteers and other seemingly easy technology fixes aren’t the answer. Also unfortunately, hiring people to do that kind of work would cost taxpayer a ton more than a company well versed in technology and security to tackle the issue.

      • Stan Lukas says:

        Lauren,
        When you get a chance, visit the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) website, http://www.fleoa.org/. There are a number of retired criminal investigators from the FBI, Customs, U.S. Marshals, Secret Service and other federal agencies who are quite competent in their work. They are members of FLEOA. These people are well trained; many have advanced degrees; and they are probably more “well versed in technology and security” than DOMA. You’d be surprised at the talent that’s out there being ignored.

        • Solomon p Dominguez jr says:

          If the VA didn’t spend so much time conserning themselves with the possible 10,000 bogus claims, and concerned themselves with the other, over 200,000 claims that are not bogus. I would be amongst the other 200,000 claims that are not bogus. Desert storm 20 years later. I suffer from ptsd, cfs, Ibs, three diseases, 14 symptoms. I am dying. I live with chronic pain every day. Brain damage, inner ear tumors, memory lose, extreme anxiety and depression. I was told that GVWI doesn’t exist. The Doctors Exact words. T L C was the impression given to the media, me, and some pr people I’ve talked to. maybe my doctor did not get the memo.

  9. Jim Beck says:

    I would suggest the time wasted on the claim process could be shortened by simply not requesting the same information from the vet 3 to 4 times. If a vet is presently receiving compensation, his basic information does not change from one claim to another. The only change is the health problem they are filing for.

    I filed on the heart disease just after it was considered presumptive. I had filed previously, prior to the presumptive ruling, as being related to my PTSD because there were studys connecting them. I sent copies of these studys with my claim. It was denighed and when I filed after the presumptive ruling I ask if it would be retro-active to my previous claim. I was told no because I had listed it as being connected to PTSD and not Agent Orange, which was not possible at the time. I had established my exposure to Agent Orange a long time ago and am receiving benifits for Type II Diabetis. So why is it taking so long to process a claim that is presumptive for a vet that has established exposure? Don’t make sense to me.

    • Thomas says:

      I was going to ask the very same question. I also have established my exposure to Agent Orange a long time ago and am receiving benefits for Type II Diabetes. I have been concerned for a long time about why I am asked to submit evidence that has previously been submitted, for my IHD claim. Elimination of asking for evidence that has previously been submitted would defenately decrease the processing time.

      • Thomas and Jim,
        I believe that the snafu is because of Nehmer vs non Nehmer. I’m going to check so I can answer you with 100% accuracy — just wanted to let you know I hear you concern and I’m on it!

        • Robert J. says:

          The “snafu” is the VCAA letter (sometimes known as the “Duty to Assist” letter) the VA is required by law to send out to the veteran every time a claim is submitted. Before the VCAA of 2000 was implemented a claim had to be well-grounded before VA would assist the veteran with the claim. Now, due to the VCAA of 2000, no matter how far out in left field or frivolous the claim is, VA MUST send that letter out to the veteran and use its time and resources in assisting that claimant even though a particular claim has no merit! This isn’t VA’s fault. This was the brain child of the vet organizations.

        • Jim Beck says:

          Thanks for your reply Lauren. Any information will greatly be appreciated.

          Robert J,if a vet has verified exposure to Agent Orange and the vet verified IHD, what makes it a “far out in left field or frivolous” claim?

        • Ron Nesler says:

          Now I understand, it is all the fault of the veterans and the veteran groups. How silly of me to have missed something so obvious. -SARCASM OFF-

          If the VA really wants to improve relations with veterans, consider this: Many, many veterans, me included, resent the fact that the VA will not admit any fault in any matter without Congress or the courts forcing it out of you. And, we resent that VA wrong doers are not fired or punished for harming veterans, but rather protected, transferred and promoted.

          Try this, make a public pledge to tell the truth and root out systemic corruption with firings, prosecutions and changes. And, then stick with the pledge.

          That will soften up veteran opinion quickly.

        • Jim Beck says:

          It’s been a month since I contacted you and received your reply. Any news about our claims?

    • Jim, I to am a veteran of the Vietnam war I served 2 tours and I spent 27 years in the Army. The only thing I can say is that the Veterans administration hopes that all veterans will die off so they do not have to pay us. The only things I wish is that the veterans administration would quit lieing to us a really try to help.

      • Jim Beck says:

        Well, Charles, they almost got their wish. I was between the hospital and nursing home from Sept. 21 to Nov. 24 of last year and my Dr. said he wasn’t expecting me to leave the hospital. But, I did, and I am still waiting on an answer from the VA…

  10. Stan Lukas says:

    If we can bank online securely, I’m sure that we can comply with HIPAA and other privacy concerns using secure email and secure fax machines. Perhaps the only necessary electronic communication with the custodian of medical records would be the request from the VA (or an investigator) to the custodian for the records. An investigator/courier, displaying proper identification, could receive the records (in sealed envelopes) from doctors, and personally transport them to a VA regional office, eliminating the risk of electronic interception.

  11. Roger Howard says:

    Filed for diability for heart disease in maarch 2010 and haven’t heard anything. How long does this process take?

    • James F. Dugan says:

      Roger, don’t feel too bad. I first filed fot IHD with stroke and right side hemiplegia in November of 2009. To date, I don’t know my status either. I’m just hoping it’s the complex nature of the claim that’s holding things up, but I don’t know for sure.

      • Thomas says:

        You can call 1-800=827-1000 then when connected press 1-1-0 and then wait for someone to answer, and ask for your claim status. The rep will tell you and when they do you probably won’t know any more than you did before you called, I have called several times they only state that my claim is still in the development process.

        • Roger Howard says:

          TRied the 800 number and web site but haven’t had much responce

        • Stan Lukas says:

          Using eBenefits doesn’t get us any better information, either. I am OCD, accessing my claim online either every day, or every other day, to see if any progress has been made. I get the same results that you get on the telephone, Thomas – “development phase.”

        • Ron Nesler says:

          The 1-800 number is an expensive “force field” intended and solely used to protect the VA from the calls of veterans. The 1-800 folks know much less that we veterans do about our claims. They are there to stop us from accessing the people who actually HAVE our claim files.

  12. D. Brown says:

    An outside company isn’t going to help. It’s not that records aren’t being sent or received, rather, the records are not being processed in a timely manner by VA employees. I hear over and over about lost records, misplaced records, records waiting for “just one more signature” etc., etc from withing the VA. The physicians are sending them, the VA employees just doesn’t know what to do with them. I have had 2 letters from the same office, dated the same day stating the absolute opposite of each other. The left hand has no clue what the right hand is doing and the VA doesn’t care so long as THIER paychecks keep comming. An outside company just gives the finger a different direction to point.

    • Nissi Martin says:

      D. Brown, your comments are on point! The “rating” division should be ashamed; and Lord help us if it “vets” doing the job because they should know better and have better “intergrity” and commitment to their jobs. Our lives are in the balance on these claims of physical impairments based on our commitment to serve so others do have a “JOB/PAYCHECK!”

  13. Gia Cruz says:

    Why not use the existing VONAPP System for Doctor’s offices to upload the medical records securely?

    The information would be tied into the Veteran’s file automatically via social security number. The VA could get an authorization for this transmission via VONAPP signed by the Veteran with the names, phone numbers, addresses/email/web site of each provider along with dates of treatment.

    This is just an idea based on currently existing technology. Any doctor’s office with internet access would be able to upload medical records securely.

    I was medically discharged (TDRL) for various injuries that were supposed to heal and now that I am looking through my medical records I developed lupus symptoms shortly after a HEP B Vaccination when I went on convalescent leave for a knee injury. I went home to Florida, was in the sun for a few hours and was covered in pustules all of a sudden. The lupus was not diagnosed by the VA until 13 months after discharge…however, I’ve had the symptoms and blood work way before diagnosis. I am losing sleep and in pain 24/7 since before the medical discharge. I was hoping I would heal after a year and was trying to stay in the military and serve, was trying to make it a career but unfortunately my body reacted to the vaccinations in a way that leaves me unable to function due to the pain much of the time. Still, I rather die serving my country than be abandoned like I was, left out to dry and deal with the aftermath on my own. If any Veteran or VSO can help me with this I would really appreciate it. You can find me on fb.

  14. Danny Kelly says:

    I think anything to expedite claims efficiently is a good thing. Although this may reduce processing times, there still isn’t a good “keep veterans in the loop” program for tracking where they are at in the process at any given time. I don’t usually mind waiting, but with a process as long as VA claims, updates that were more specific to a veterans claim would help ease the anxiety induced by uncertainty that occurs while waiting on the claims process. Speeding up the process is important, but I feel keeping veterans well-informed where they are SPECIFICALLY at in the process is equally important. It feels like being left in the dark regarding what I consider the MOST important outcome from a disabled military life.

    • Danny,
      This is the one thing I’ve personally tried to take on! eBenefits, still in it’s technology infant stages, will be that portal for Veterans. Are you currently using eBenefits?

      • Ken says:

        Lauren I know your helping me on an issue but I wanted others to see this question as E-Benefits is your pet project.
        Is the E-Benefits considered the Official word for the Veterans from the VA on their claim?

      • Stan Lukas says:

        Lauren,
        It’s difficult for many of us to be upbeat when we get no feedback at all on our claims. The creeping cynicism and jaded attitudes amongst vets is not without merit. See my comments about eBenefits above. I have been updating my claim(s) in person, by U.S. Postal Service, and by using VONAPP. I communicate with the VA, and then follow through on what they tell me to do by complying with their direction to report for C & P examinations at VAMC. So, again, I communicate with the VA, but they don’t communicate back – except to display “development phase” continually on the eBenefits claims status page.
        It would be a nice touch for the VA to surprise a veteran with a telephone call asking how s/he was doing, and letting the vet know what progress was being made on their claim. What we normally get, however, is either no information at all, or further requests for information from us that make the whole process appear more adverserial then litigation in a court of law.

      • Allen says:

        The Ebenefits site sucks as now if you are a veteran, you have to travel to a Regional Office just to do an in person verification. I already did an in person verification for the Health site, yet the VA wants to make you run around the world just to gain access to your EBenefits claim status. Duh.

        • Ken says:

          Maybe I did something wrong BUT when I went and got the authentication for my health e-vet at the VA it also allowed me entry to E-Benefits.
          I got into E-Benefits via the My Health E-Vet,
          it was easy, except the way they want a password (upper case, lower case, special case).
          Try going to your E-Health and getting into E-Benefits via them.

      • Bill Garrett says:

        e-benefits “could be a great tool, but sorry VA has to do their part, I check it out, went to letter generator on current benefits. It came up with a dollar figure from 1998. I now see that “letter” is no longer available. Under claims check mine it said it was closed and no additional information available call the 800# (lol). I call them and I have to tell them what type of claim it is, a answer of “it pending” pending what I have yet to figure out. It should be tied into part of the MAD program. If VA isn’t going to keep it updated with REAL information, it just a piece of junk that looks good to congress.

      • Lauren, my name is Charles P. Lamont and it doesn’t work. I have tried to access my c file so I could see what is in it and I have no luck. This is the same for MYHEALTH.

  15. It sounds really good, I helped a friend file out a claim form
    15 months ago, he is paralyzed from the neck down due to an
    auto accident on his way to active duty service. He was a fighter
    pilot for 19 years. It is my understanding that you are aloud
    travel time to get to the base that called you to active duty.
    Would someone come out and tell this man we don’t give a shit
    about you, or give him his way over due compensation!!!

    • Michael,
      This sounds like a question for DoD or were you told that VA also pays that type of compensation?

      • Jeannette says:

        He may be entitled to compensation for injuries incurred while travelling to or from Active Duty for Training. The nearly impossible part of a scenario like this is getting DoD to verify that a Veteran was on travel when the accident occured. Depending on the circumstances (summer camp, drill, etc) An LES or orders should be enough to prove this.
        38 CFR 3.6 (e) Travel status—training duty (disability or death from injury or covered disease). Any individual:

        (1) Who, when authorized or required by competent authority, assumes an obligation to perform active duty for training or inactive duty training; and

        (2) Who is disabled or dies from an injury or covered disease incurred while proceeding directly to or returning directly from such active duty for training or inactive duty training shall be deemed to have been on active duty for training or inactive duty training, as the case may be. The Department of Veterans Affairs will determine whether such individual was so authorized or required to perform such duty, and whether the individual was disabled or died from an injury or covered disease so incurred. In making such determinations, there shall be taken into consideration the hour on which the individual began to proceed or return; the hour on which the individual was scheduled to arrive for, or on which the individual ceased to perform, such duty; the method of travel performed; the itinerary; the manner in which the travel was performed; and the immediate cause of disability or death. Whenever any claim is filed alleging that the claimant is entitled to benefits by reason of this paragraph, the burden of proof shall be on the claimant.

  16. Sarah R says:

    I think this is a great idea, anything that speeds up the process is welcomed. I’m sure it’s tough to use new technology while adhering to privacy laws, but something that can be worked out. I love hearing about different parts of the process. As a VHA employee (and veteran!) it’s always great to hear about the work being done by the VBA. Some problems of repetition in tests and information gaps could probably be solved if the VA cross trained it’s employees and opened up the lines of communication.

    Also, I work for in C&P and the goal is always to get exam requests done in 30 days because that’s the standard. I can point out many doctors and employees who lead by example. I breaks my heart to see veterans get discouraged by the claims process.

    • Wil Reed says:

      Sarah,
      I guess there are a few that really do try and help. It does get to you when you are asked to resend paperwork that was signed for. I go through the DAV for help. For example trying to get my son added back on as a dependent. I had to resend the the request to the DAV because the VA lost the initial paperwork that they signed for. I turned it in in Jul-10 and just got a letter not to expect anything befor jan-25-11. And for another claim it was sent to the Fayetteville NC VA C&P. I called last month and was told they are now working on Apr 2011 appts. The request was sent to Fayetteville from Winston-Salem in Aug-2010 and they were to have information sent back to Winston-Salem by Nov-2010. I guess that won’t happen.

  17. Tim Sorrell says:

    Records from outside medical treatment, have never been on the Top 10 list of reasons the claim process is slow. We all know that. Most claims do not have or need documentation of outside treatment, most claims are from Vets who have spent their entire life in the VA System. We know now and have known for 20 years, just as Congress, that the only hold up is in the VA Claims Office. Every other year Congress allocates more money and more money to better train and hire more and more examiners. But it never helps, or they would not have to allocate more and more. But the true hold up, is the appeal process. We all know 90% of claims are denied. So 90% of all claims go into the appeal process. I for one, am at 8 years and 14 days since filing my claim, without a decision. New fellow Vets, and all Vets, do not believe or be brain washed into any talk about days and claims. It will take years. The truth. Bring a lunch, it will always be a long battle.

    • Nissi Martin says:

      Sorrell,
      DITTO…years if you have more than ONE claim…its sad; and we are paying folks who measure success by doing absolutly NOTHING!

  18. BEING A VETERANS SERVICE OFFICER, I HAVE MADE IT POLICY THAT THE VETERAN BRING IN A COPY OF ANY AND ALL PRIVATE TREATMENT RECORDS. THE VA’S TRACK RECORDS OF OBTAINING THE RECORDS IN A TIMLEY MANNER SUCK. SECONDLY, THEN AFTER THE TWO REQUEST DO NOT GET PROCESSED WITHIN THE VA TIME FRAME THEY SEND A LETTER TO THE VETERAN TELLING THEM IT IS THEIR RESPONISBILITY TO GET THEM AND USUSALLY THROW A 60 DAY TIME FROME ON THIS WHICH PANICS THE VETERAN AND ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE. I MAKE IT POLICY THAT THE VETERAN TRY TO OBTAIN ANY AND ALL RECORDS, NOT ONLY FOR THE VA’S SAKE, BUT FOR THE VETERANS SAKE AND THE VSO’S. IF I HAVE THE PRIVATE TREATMENT RECORDS IN MY HANDS, I CAN SEE EXACTLY WHAT THE TREATING PHYSICIAN HAS WRITTEN AND SEE HOW IT WILL HELP OR HINDER THEIR CLAIM FOR BENEFITS. THAT WAY IF ANY CORRECTIONS NEED TO BE MADE TO THE WORDING OF THE REPORTS WE HAVE TIME TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN BEFORE THE VA FINISHES RATING THE CLAIM. IN MY EYES AND EXPERIENCE, WHEN THE VETERN IS PROACTIVE AND SEEKS THESE RECORDS RIGHT OFF THE BAT, THE CLAIM GETS PROCESSED FASTED BECAUSE THEY ARE SUBMITTED ALONG WITH THE ORIGINAL PACKET AND THERE IS PLENTY OF TIME TO MAKE CORRECTIONS OR ADDENDUMS TO THE TREATMENT RECORDS SO THAT THE PRIVATE DOCTOR USES PROPER VA TERMONOLOGY. THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH PRIVATE TREATMENT RECORDS IS THAT THE DOCTOR DOES NOT KNOW THE VA SYSTEM AND DOES NOT KNOW WHAT WORDING TO USE IN ORDER TO HELP THE VETERANS CLAIM. I HAVE MADE UP A FEW SAMPLE PACKETS WITH COMMONLY USED PHRASES BY THE VA, SUCH AS “MORE LIKELY THAN NOT”, “IS RELATED TO”, AND SO ON. I EVEN DRAFTED UP A SAMPLE LETTER OF WHAT A NEXUS STATEMENT IS SO THE DOCTOR KNOWS WHAT TYPE OF INFORMATION THE VA IS LOOKING FOR. BY DOING THIS, MY SUCCESS RATE HAS SKYROCKETED, AND OUR CLIENTS ARE VERY THANKFUL IN THE LONG RUN AS THEIR BENFITS GET GRANTED THE FIRST TIME AROUND AND SEVERAL MONTHS QUICKER. JUST MY THOUGHTS AS A ACTIVE DIRECTOR OF A VSO WITH 15 DIFFERENT ACREDIATIONS THROUGH THE DVA.

    • Nissi Martin says:

      Alls caps….hmmm you were shouting and sound frustated as the VSO officer of your division. I think your process sounds wonderful but is “only” working in your area since it has not been “benchmarked” or adapted throughout VAs across this nation. If, you can develop something that “skyrockets” your claims process why not share with your collegues, so others can do their jobs. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m on the outside looking in, but their is a monumental problem in VA claims, many are dying and never receive a “penny” from war related injuries and illnesses. This is a sad thing on every presidential administration since Vietnam…we NEED to do better, especially when we know better! Thanks for your hard work, I only wished your were the “director” in my area or I wouldn’t be waiting over 18mths for initial OEF/OIF, and MTF medical claims with NO outside medical records are required, retired 23 years plus veteran! So, all the long waiting cannot be blamed on “civilian” doctors; when processes are held up and all you have is military treatment…claims are slow JUST BECAUSE….and appears based on job security…the longer it takes to process, the longer VA employees have jobs is the perception.

    • jason Shattuck says:

      It sounds, good, but that is what I did, I had every thing, forms all the doctors out side the VA, so instead the Seattle Regional Office VA just said, Oh we lost ALL your paper work. Even the paper work that QTC and the American Legion had delivered to them.
      Then, after a yelling match the VA found my missing paper work.
      Now they know where the paper work is, just not what phase my claim is in… Id rather just die then to keep putting up with these games, if it is going to be a “Entailment” to any Veteran, then the get it done
      if it is a game, then just tell the Vets “sorry were just F***ing you over because it is fun to watch you panic, we have no real intention to helping you”
      All I know that if I had a job, and did half as “good” as the VA does id be holding a sign that reads
      “WILL WORK FOR__________(fill in the blank)” I would be embraced to let people know I screw over Vets for a living.

      • jason Shattuck says:

        Mr. Shockley, I am not saying you screw over vets. It looks like you do your best. Thank you!
        Im just very scared read my post that I put up here yesterday and you might see why.

    • Bill Garrett says:

      You sound like a good service rep. problem is even the DAV org. some that cares less. I talked to one and he told me VA is working so hard on claims and he has no way to find out were my claim is. That usset me, so I calle dthe Denver office left message, three weeks now nothing, emailed them, nothing. Email the National told them to removeme from their member ship rolls. Life member for 35 years, nothing form them. I hope you do as you say becasue their are al lot of vet’s that need you.

  19. Rhonda says:

    I faxed 13 pages yesterday to the Pension Maintenance Center for my dad. He had a massive sroke in April and has been bed ridden ever since. I am applying for Home Aid/Homebound assistance due to to fact i brought him home and take care of him 24 hours/day. He has a feeding tube, and is soley dependent of me/help I can get. But, that have him as non-service connected. Will this delay my claim. He was in the Navyfrom 1953-1960 and got an honorable discharge.

    • Rhonda, faxing the info should not delay your claim. Perhaps call the regional office to confirm receipt. If you need any help, please let me know.

      • Rhonda says:

        Thanks Lauren…..Can you tell me the difference between Service Connected and Non-Service Connected? I thought if a war was going on during their service time, but they did not go to combat they were still service-connected.

      • Jeannette says:

        Service connected compensation is granted for disabilities that were incurred or caused by an event while the Veteran is in-service. Non-service connected disability pension is an income based program paid to disabled Veterans that served in a war time period, for disabilities that are not related to service. In a nutshell.

        • Rhonda says:

          Thanks Jeannette…after I asked the question I sort of figured it out. My reasoning for all of this is the fact that my dad(vet)but did not go to combat i now bed ridden from a massive stroke(since April 2010). I have applied for the home aid assistance/homebound pension. I completed all of my paperwork and faxed it on 12/1/10. Will their decision on this take a long time?…I do everything for him…he is paralyzed on both sides and has a feeding tube. I appreciated any information on this.. Thank-you

      • Drew says:

        Lauren: Your initial reply to Rhonda indicates you do not understand Pension claims–they are not handled by the regional offices but by the 3 Pension Management Centers. Further, you suggested to call the RO to confirm receipt. How can Rhonda call the RO?–she doesn’t have the #, only the call center 1800#. ROs do not give out local numbers.

        • Drew, the claims are transferred to the Pension centers. Sometimes Veterans begin at their ROs, so I usually recommend to check with their RO first.

        • Rhonda says:

          I got the news today that my dad has been approved for the Special Pension and Homebound Assistance. That tells me that if you have all your paperwork done correctly and send it in all at the same time, your claim may get processed quicker. They told me they sent a letter out this morning explaining everything so hopefully it will be finalized soon. Also, they said it had gone to a rating board Monday to see exactly what he qualified for. What do they consider when rating a claim?
          Rhonda

      • brandon mcneely says:

        Lauren, I put in for an increase in March of 2010. The VA says it has been in decision phase since Sept 2011. Next month is 2 years. DAV is my POA and since I work for the VA they say my file is sensitive yet only the service manager can look at my file. Then this REP who was not the service manager said I called The NYC VARO 9 times and to stop calling because I was slowing up my claim every time I call.I take offense to this because the NYC VARO TWICE failed to send me letters to let me know I had a CNP exam or call. If I had not called the VA I would have never known about both exam’s. also for this same claim I filed I have been sent to 3 separate CNP exams with no decision still . How would This DAV rep even know this information if he didn’t have access to my file? I’m fed up with the VA and now DAV is acting funny. I work with veterans who filed claims an entire year after me and they are collecting benefits today. When I inquire to the VA they say they are working the claims in the order they get them but I have proof that this is not true. If You or anyone can please direct me to someone who can help I thank you -Brandon McNeely

  20. MaidenAmerica says:

    There is no doubt that additional money invested in the VA, will eventually establish the right amount of people to handle the work load. As far as the paperwork, I am oppose to creating another costly system that some other company may ready have within the system of the Govt. This pilot system concerns me as it may evolve into another system that in 20 years, we Are asking for another upgrade. I am all for advancement, but risk vs reward. I’m eager to see how it will work

    • MaidenAmerica,
      The Secretary himself is leery of pilot projects that last well into the next decade. VBA did a great job of putting a finite time line on this project with clear performance measures. In March we will be able to clearly articulate how successful the pilot was and how we know it!

      • Drew says:

        I seem to recall the last VBA technology pilot project and what happened: millions invested, years spent on the effort, an investigation or two, some senior VA staffers got incredible bonuses for a system that didn’t work and wasn’t implemented. Based on that, a reasonable person could only doubt that additional money invested in the VBA will result in being able to handle the workload. Look at the current situation: VA’s budget is up, but the workload backlog IS NOT decreasing, but has , in fact, grown. Hmmm…..

  21. Sonja Forbes says:

    This sounds great if it works. I’ve worked helping veterans for 25 years and have done a lot of claims and if this is a success, it will be fantastic for the turnaround time, hopefully.

  22. J W says:

    It is a bit frustrating to take the trouble to compile all the evidence necessary to support a claim before you submit it only to have the regional office deny the claim asking for the same evidence.

  23. George Lopez (not the comedian) says:

    as a former VA Regional Office employee, I would like to make a comment on how the VA could improve the claims processing system. First all documents recieved by the VA with reference to claims should be given bar code numbers at the VA regional office intake areas, then they should be scanned into the Vetsnet system,presently many documents get lost in the processing system. Second claims should be identified by how many conditions are being claimed and given a specific code for processing (not EP codes) the ones with less conditions (1-3) should be processed by a specific group of raters and claims with more conditions (4-30) be processed by another group of raters. With reference to the development phase request that all claims come with copies of Medical information to substantiate individual claims, Verify all information with original documents if possible inform Veteran if anything is missing to finalize claim ASAP. I think this would help greatly in Veterans getting their claims processed faster.

  24. SP/5 Juan A Gabriel-Agosto says:

    I wish that those benefits that veterans have all over US, we here in Puerto Rico were able to have them also. Over here we get a lot of hard time from some people when we make our claims that it get’s into your nerves and you wish that you have never apply for them. It sounds good hope it gets implemented everywhere to include us.

    • jason Shattuck says:

      I was thinking about what you said, I live in the main-land if you will. My wife’s side of the family is a very “repuplican-minded” in other words, very against “well fair”, “disability SSI” or “VA benefits”. When I put in for my claim (still waiting on by the way), I had to first beside with in my self if I was “faking it” or if it was “real.” I guess some things could be faked, but other things, like for me;
      when I took the sleep study, I cant really fake, stop breathing in my sleep, and making my heart rate drop to 48 beats a min, I cant really fake having an oxygen level of 70%, or when I had a x-ray and “degeneration” (arthritis) is seen on my lower spine.
      If some one has such control over there body that they could manipulate the spin to trick a x ray, I would like to meet them lol.
      So I guess what I am saying is, if your issues are true, which I am sure they are, don’t worry about what others say or think. People that never served in the military, simply don’t qualify for VA benefits. People, will always hate others that get what they cant, get them selves. Its a human condition. Hang in there Veteran, your not doing any thing wrong by seeking the VA for help, you served the United States Thank you. The VA is suppose to be on your (our) side.

  25. Nissi Martin says:

    Well, thanks to all VA former/employees for your transparency on the process! You all provided insighful feedback, I can see why you retired, reassigned, or now work for other agencies. It seems like you have “thankless” careers and only the “higher ups” are recognized in the VA for making grand speeches and talking, talk! And none have been in the trenches or visit the trenches to grasp the full concept of why such a critical process is bottle necking. In the end, only the Veteran suffers in the “cat & mouse” of the system. Thanks for the update and the next time I write my “public non-gun-carrying servant” I’ll be sure to let them know to get off their butts in Washington/State capitols and spend a “day” assisting to process a claim! Then when consituents write/call them they can put their money (election votes) where their mouth is…Mr VA Secretary here the feedback the move is your next to make/follow-up!

  26. Mike H says:

    So if you’re stepping up claims processing, why is it my claim was sent to Washington for review almost a year ago now. I’ve still not heard anything. Is this what you refer to as “expedited” processing?

  27. jason Shattuck says:

    I am unemployed, I put my self through a apprenticeship program not knowing the VA could have helped me with it. I have been laid off now since 2009. I am not really able to do the work of the construction filed I went into, with out a significant amount of back/shoulder pain from an accident I was injured in 2002 while in the USMC. I do not currently qualify for the Montgomery GI.

    I have been out of the USMC since 2002 suffering form a lot of of issues. I put my fist claim in back in April 2010, I am still waiting. I keep hearing to get an “ebenefits” account which would allow me to check the current status of my claim, I have the basic account already, I can not just go to Seattle Regional Office just to be authenticated in person for what I have already done for my “healtyevet” account. The DSLOGON is still not working, I check it every day for about a month now.

    I call the 800 827 1000, they tell me they lost my paper work. Now they say they have it as of Nov 9 2010 after I raised a lot of hell.

    My unemployment is very very close to running out, (first week of January 2011) I can not utilize the Voc Rehab until I have a service connected rating. And even then, I may not get it. When I called 800 827 1000 tuesday this week they could not tell me where it was at, if it is still in development, review or rating. They don’t know. And probably don’t care

    How can I stay on top of this, when, every avenue that the VA says to go down is a road block? I am very scared that I will run out of unemployment, and thus become homeless, jobless, and possible wifeless.

    I have tried so hard, and I don’t see the help I need now! I just don’t know what to do. I am angry, frightened, and feed up. Please help if you can. call me email whatever i dont care I just need some thing to brake free and it to be sooner then later
    email saultopaul2002@yahoo.com or jshat1@me.com

    • jason Shattuck says:

      I do want to add this,
      I am not trying to get to the front of the line of claims, I just want to get through the line, before every thing I worked hard for goes away.

  28. Jim L says:

    While reading all the comments, I feel very disappointed in the VA system and its procedures of taking care of veterans. When they bury numerous veterans in the same grave at Arlington, freeze retired pay and VA compensation pay as well as active military pay, it makes us veterans feel like all the talk is just that “talk”. The VA Regional Office in Jackson, MS., is a stone’s throw from the VA Hospital in Jackson, and I’ve been waiting over 5 months for an answer on my claim. Why can’t someone just walk accross the street and get what they need from the doctor(s), or have the doctor just fax it to them. This VA hospital is the only one I’ve ever used and where all my medical records are at. On the VA website, the Secretary is shown as giving out millions of dollars to construct, expand or improve VA facilities, yet he cannot take care of the veterans who’ve been waiting for help for a long time.

    • Alex Horton says:

      Jim, the US Army administers Arlington, not VA. The National Cemetery Administration (VA’s burials and cemeteries wing) was brought in to help correct the problems you have been hearing about. Go to any NCA-administered cemetery and you will see how good they are. They really are the rock stars of Veterans Affairs.

      The other issues you brought up are related to the budgets Congress sets. It’s like the military: the Departments of VA, DOD, Education, etc, don’t decide on pay freezes or increases in compensation. Elected officials do. Not much we can do about it.

      Work is being done to reduce the time it takes to decide on a claim – the program described on this post, for instance. Five months is a long time to wait, I understand. It took VA 12 months to decide mine and I felt like it was lost along the way. We’re getting there.

  29. Myron Carr says:

    TO Brenda Hayes:
    There is no civil service rank of GS-16!

  30. Eric says:

    I think this is a great idea in some ways yet if the Army loses your records and refused to give you a copy when ETSing, then what???? That is what happened to me and my claim is going forward without my initial enlistment medical records from 2004-2008. How could they lose these important documents!!!!???? IT IS VERY UNPROFESSIONAL so hopefully they implement this idea with a little more efficiency. Yet they have my 2008 – 2009 records when they called me back to deploy to Iraq. How concenient. Well at least they have something.

  31. Glenn Murray says:

    I appreciate any attempts the VA makes to expidite the process. But I sent an iris request to the VA in Seattle to ask some questions on information the VA received from me three weeks ago and was told amoung other things-

    “However, if you recently submitted the information, this is not unusual, as it generally takes approximately 21 days from the date information is received to be matched to a claims file and updated in our computer system”!

    Before you worry about anything else, don’t you think opening your mail might be of some help in catching up? I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at that response so I did a little of both! As they say on ESPN- Come on Man!

    • Glenn Murray says:

      And by the way, I included all my medical records for the past 10 years with the information I sent. I sent the actual records and even included a CDrom with them converted to PDF.

  32. Dana Marino says:

    When I left the military it took about six months (182 days) to get my initial rating. I have not been able to sustain gainful employment due to my injuries I suffered while serving. To be honest I don’t think I’d hire anyone who lists they can’t lift over 30 pounds either. In August of 2010 I filed for an increase for full disability. It now has been four months (120 days)and I when I called today the VA rep (Jason) told me it is still in the development stage. Ms. Bailey other vets may have tenderfooted around thier concerns, but then there is me. Your a straightout liar, it take far longer then 100 days for someone to get off thier backside at the regional offices and if you think we don’t see this attempt to include a third party for you to pass the blame to your mistaken. However, fear not I have already contacted my city congressman who is just as animated as I am when he found out the family of a vet who received a MSM for actions above and beyond had to settle for peanut butter and jelly on Thanksgiving.

    • Jackson Whitehead says:

      What is wrong with a desk job? I am a disabled Vet with back and respiratory problems. I found gainful employment after I got out the military (though I received unemployment benefits for 5 months). It was frustrating, sure, but I did not give up. Why would you want to rely on the VA for your income? Did the VA injure you? You’re obviously not using all the resources the VA can provide, like a civil service preference letter for a 10 point preference for state and federal jobs.

      The VA was not intended to be the welfare program of Veterans. The military taught you to be strong, persistent, and to fight through adversity. Have you forgotten what you were taught? Has your sense of self-entitlement ballooned to a point beyond turning back? Take care of your family. Do not rely on the VA for more money. If your injuries warranted a 100% and/or unemployable rating, you would have it. If your family ate PB&J for Thanksgiving, then you have failed as a provider. Stop blaming the VA. Is anyone out there actually thankful for their VA benefits?

  33. brenda hayes says:

    Again, I am having CAPTCHA problems!! Please fix it so when you ”
    get” a error Wrong Captcha; it will not delete your message!!

    as I was saying…Myron/Ken, Thanks I stand corrected; I just know he was up there; he was like a second in command (civilian) on a post? I would have called or emailed and asked; but, sadly, he died suddenly last July from his S/C disabilities–heart/diabetes. He was a Viet Nam Vet and an old high school friend; a one of a kind!

  34. Ray Zannetti says:

    I’m for anything that will help speed up the claims process. In 2001, my disability was reduced, from 60% to 20%. I appealed and I was denied. I kept appealing and was denied each time, for insufficient medical evidence. The kicker was they couldn’t get records from other VA’s. Finally in ’05, I filed a Form 9 appeal. In late 09, the BVA said they needed more evidence, again records from the VA, so they ordered another C&P and made their decision based on that. Sure, they gave me an increase, but they still didn’t have the ALL VA medical records. They told me any records over 5 yrs. were not used. WHY? IDK. The majority of all my VA medical evidence and all my privare doctor’s reports for this claim were from prior to the Form 9 appeal. Maybe they think I’ll get fed up with all of this and give up. NO WAY JOSE!!!ERGO, this decision is under appeal also.

  35. Ray Zannetti says:

    I forgot to mention, in ’84, they reduced me from 40% to 10%. After 5yrs of appeals and denials, I finally had a hearing in D.C. A family friend notified our congressman, and he got me the hearing. They gave me an immediate increase to 60%. When I asked why there was so much trouble w/my appeals,the BVA told me that once a VARO turns down an appeal, there was a 95% chance they would deny all subsequent appeals, unless you submitted significant medical evidence. My Veterans Service Officer (VSO) was irate that I went over his head. When the reduction happened in ’01, I called my Veterans Service Organization and the same guy was handling my case. I signed the Notice of Disagreement(NOD) form and he said he would file it. I thought everything was ok, but 6 months later, the checks quit coming. When I called and asked why, they told me that he no longer worked there and no NOD was filed. So, instead of an appeal, I had to file for an increase in disability. I went to the VA every week for consults w/psychologists, neuropsychologists and psychiatrists til the form 9, and twice a month since. I basicaly had to start from scratch.

    • Thomas says:

      I live in North Carolina, and our Veterans Service Officers are not VA employees, they are NC state employees.

    • Thomas says:

      I live in North Carolina, and our Veterans Service Officers are not VA employees, they are county employees.

  36. Roger Howard says:

    Personaly,I don’t think they intend to make good on the disablility benefits.theyseen to be jerking us around hoping we will go away

    • Jackson Whitehead says:

      Sad, very sad that you feel that way. So disturbing to feel the sense of entitlement and utter lack of appreciation of Veteran’s now-a-days. It is sickening. The VA is not perfect but they are overworked, understaffed, and just as frustrated as the Veterans with the resources and timelines they have to deal with. My life would be awful were it not for the VA. I sometimes feel like the only disabled Vet out there who is grateful for the VA and the disability pay and resources it provides me as a result of my incurred service-connected disability.

      • Ken says:

        I fully agree with you.
        The VA, health portion, has been nothing short of terrific.
        They bend over backwards to help you and never obce was I ever treated nothing short or total respect.
        The claims section of the VA on the other hand is a completly differrnt animal.

      • Drew says:

        VA health are works. The VA benefits sysme is completely broken and latest performance data indicates it is not getting better–initial claims backlog is actually increasing (see Monday Morning Workload). VA is the 2nd largest cabinet agency in the US Gov’t, so to say its understaffed is silly–don’t stand in from of the local RO at quitting time; you’ll get trampled. VA submits its budget needs to the Congress and has actually grown in the last years, so that flies in the face of calling it understaffed or underresourced–VA itself makes the iinitial budget request. The issue is work ethic and the systems the VA has to work with. Now, Social Security administers benefits as well and has a national footprint–their performance date (from GAO reports to the Congress) shows they are more responsive and effective than VA at benefits awards and administration. So, why not just let Social Security do for veterans what they so ably do for the rest of the Nation?

  37. Ken says:

    How about the VA re-names the 1-800 call system “Hello..this is Peggy”

    OK Lauren that should get you going, HA HA HA

    • Roger Howard says:

      that is pretty much the responce we gat from them now,we’ve benn getting it for 40 years

      • jason Shattuck says:

        Transfer…Transfer…Transfer…Transfer…”Hello this is Peggy, how can I help you, Hold Please.” And don’t for get the oops we hung up on you now you have to spend four more hours trying to get someone back on the phone, only to hear “The Office is Now Closed-Good Bye”

        • Dana Marino says:

          My personal favorite is “We are sorry, but do to a large number of calls we are unable to process your request at this time. Try calling at a less busy time like after 2:30p.m.” That’s funny? My clock says it’s 4:00p.m. They must be on Zulu time is the only thing I can figure. Hey the recorded man never said what time zone…right?

  38. Jeannette says:

    Lauren, I think this is fantastic news! 1) eliminating the paper requests and crossed mail, 2)Taking the burden of HIPPA out of the VA’s development process, 3)Electronic responses will associate the records with the claim so much faster! I am a VSR at one of the larger Regional Offices… sounds great. Now if STR were totally electronic…

  39. Joie Giles says:

    It would be great if the outside doctors were able to log on and get our test results and talk with primary care physicians instead of waiting three months and 8 calls to the patient advocacy to get the doctors off their butts and the records sent to them. I have RA and get infusions have to have blood work done every three months but it takes 5 to get the results sent even though i do numerous phone calls and ROI paperwork why not put a system into place where select doctors that are getting paid by the VA to treat the veteran can get the results and send prescriptions to the primary care doctor the day of the appointment?

    I am still waiting on my Primary doctor to put in blood test request and put the new update prescription in.

    Why can’t this happen?

  40. edward castillo says:

    Pilot sounds like one that makes sense and hope it will work.
    I have claims since 2007 and nothing. We need help.

  41. Jim L says:

    I read where they are conducting this pilot program at the Jackson Mississippi Va Office. Are they suspending all pending claims to conduct this program or just how are they conducting the pilot program?

  42. Bob says:

    Lauren,
    I’m not so sure all the problems will be fixed with this new system. I filed my claim for IHD, Diabetes Mellitus Type II, Bilateral Hearing loss and Tinnitus in Jan. 2010. I received a 10% rating for the Diabetes, and Tinnitus in May of 2010. My claim for Bilateral Hearing Loss was denied and I was told a decision on entitlement on a presumptive basis will be considered when the new additons to 38CFS have been finalized.

    In July 2010 I file for SSDI because of my IHD and rated complications and received full disability in November 2011.

    Today, I received a letter from my DAV Rep. stating I will receive a 10% rating on my IHD. Which when combined with the previous 20% equalls nothing.

    There appears to be a major problem with the VA assessment process. From the other messages I read, the seems to be a unproportional amount of 10% rating for IHD claims. Are all these 10% IHD ratings being granted, knowing that to appeal the decision will take “2 to 3 year at the Regional Office level”

    My question is why is the VA so much slower them Social Security and why the major difference in the assesment of the same IHD medical information?. I’m sure other would also be interested in the answers to the above also.

    thanks

    • Jackson Whitehead says:

      Bob,

      If you were granted 10% for IHD, then that is what you evaluated at. Per 38 CFR Part IV, after review of your C&P exam and/or other medical evidence, you were evaluated at 10%. Live with it. Be thankful for it. Move on. You should not disagree (appeal) just because you disagree. It is people like you that make the appeals process take so long. The VA does not (though it should) filter appeals and immediately throw out those disagreements that are just for the sake of disagreeing. If there were not thousands of other Veterans like yourself who are only looking for money (the fact that your are service connected for IHD now entitles you to free health care for it), than the process would be much quicker for everybody. The VA has to process each claim equally. Your pal across town can file for IHD just because he wants to, whether he has heart problems or not. The VA employees will still take the time and effort to try to grant the claim—”Grant if we can, deny if we must.”

      For once in your life, be grateful. Does free health-care not mean anything to you? Tell someone you know who is unemployed that you are now service connected for your heart and you can receive all treatment and medications free for the rest of your life. Than tell them that isn’t enough and you want to be paid in addition. See what kind of reaction you get. Then take a look in the mirror, realize how much of a selfish pig you are, and think of the Veteran who will file an appeal the day after you do because his claim was denied due to an error/omission he made. All he wants to do is have another look taken at his claim with the new evidence/document etc. he forgot to submit the first time. Then think that he will wait longer for a legitimate appeal because your bulls**t one was filed first.

      • Glenn Murray says:

        Words can’t express what an idiot you are appearing to be. Did you miss the part where Bob stated that Social Security rated his IHD at 100% disabling all by itself? Do you know Bob, or anything about his medical conditions other than what was written in his post? Amazing you can jump to such conclusions?

        I am confident you aren’t veteran because that attitude wouldn’t have made it out of boot camp so I am really afraid that you may be a VA employee reading this blog? If so, great illustration of how you help Veterans.

        • Jackson Whitehead says:

          Glenn,

          The way VA rates disability claims has nothing to do with SSA disability ratings. The VA is nothing like the SSA; it does not grant a claim with very weak medical evidence as SSA does. Disabilities have to be proven on a far more intensive scale than from what SSA requires. Bob made the implication that he was granted only 10% because it “will take 2 to 3 years to appeal” the decision. Why appeal the decision? Why would VA want Bob to appeal? Is 10% not good enough? As stated before, if he was awarded 10%, that is what was warranted.

          Glenn, I am a Veteran and a “disabled” Veteran at that. I made it through boot camp, served honorably, and incurred service-connected disabilities along the way. I am an advocate for Veterans Glenn, though for obvious reasons, I will not state what organization I am affiliated with. Obviously my views may differ from yours and do not seem to fit the typical VSO. Rest assured Glenn, I do not work for the VA as you implied (do you really think VA employees have bad intentions, hate Veterans, and deny claims just because they want to? That is so sad you would think that way. The VA is a phenomenal organization that pays out billions of dollars per month to thousands of Veterans who have lost appreciation for those benefits.) In no other country are Veterans as cherished, cared for, and compensated as in our great country. It is awful that our Veterans have become so selfish and do not realize how good they have it.

          I defend and assist other Veterans every day but refuse to assist those who try to scam the system, file fake claims for increase, and intend to scheme their way to higher ratings. I can see though the b.s. like nobody’s business. From the start Bob had the wrong idea. Appealing a decision just because one disagrees does nothing to help one’s self or other Veterans. It bogs down the system and creates a domino effect of delays. This is the point I was trying to make. One less pointless appeal means that the legitimate ones can be completed that much quicker. I hope Bob realizes this and realizes what he needs to be grateful for with that measly 10% he was recently awarded.

      • RN says:

        Whitehead
        So you “made it through boot camp, served honorable, and incurred service connected disabilities along the way”. . I noticed you didn’t mention what you ” disability” is?
        Did you trip on your stupidly somewhere “along the way”.

        Furthermore, your ignorance of SSD and the claim process difficulties is just another indication of your idiocy.

        You claim to be a VSO, for some not mentioned organization. The thought of you to determining what claims or appeals are valid is appalling. You should do all veterans a favor and find other employment. We don’t want or need you.

        Man-up boy. If you’re so intelligent about the claims process that you can make the determination of what bs be proud, tell all of us veterans who would employee an idiot like yourself.

  43. Allen says:

    I happen to be a disabled veteran & for 2 years have been awaiting a resolve to my case. The VA says they requested records 2 times, now going on a 3rd time from Social Security, even though I did my duty to send the VA ALL my records from the SSA & all other Doctors. The VA talks alot of trash on fast tracking, which is just that. A bunch of hot air always.
    You serve this country then get slapped around by the same agency that claims they will help.

  44. susan says:

    i understand that there are alot of claims filed, and i also agree there has been a number of times we have had to fill out the same papers within a 9mth period. not only is that costing to send the same forms several times over and over again, its very annoying to fill them out, when 2mths ago we just filled them out. what a waste of money and time. we are also getting very angry about the whole process and the run around that you get. they keep telling us once u file a aclaim it should take about 2mths, now thats a right out lie. it should not have to be this way, if they would make some simple changes or at least thats how it seems to most of us filing these claims. one year max. is all these claims should take.(truthfully it could and should be done within 6mths.) waiting for years is absolutely crazy, not even a huge law suit takes that long to resolve. maybe thats what it takes is for a disabled veteran to just hire an attorney and be done with it all. i bet it wouldnt take years for answers. has anyone hired an attorney?

    • Alex Horton says:

      Is this the comment you wanted someone to reply to? The claims process is undoubtedly the issue we hear about most on this blog. The current leadership has made the elimination of the claims backlog one of its key missions, so there are several things being done to solve the issue. That doesn’t mean processing time and efficiency is not a problem – it’s completely unacceptable. The Department is still transitioning from the old way of doing things, which includes a change to how claims are handled. That’s not a small task for an organization as large as VA. Sadly it takes time; my claim took 12 months to be decided on, after many appointments and stacks of paperwork. I understand the frustration but realize there are hundreds of thousands of Veterans ahead of me, who fought in earlier wars and served in peacetime well before me. Those claims are still coming in. 21.9 million Veterans have the ability to file a claim. The key is to decide on them faster than they come in. I don’t think that has happened yet, but that’s the plan.

      I’m glad to hear that you’re apply due diligence to the process by certifying your documents. Make sure to make copies of original records too. It’s something I learned in the Army and it has served me well in the VA system.

  45. Justin Strachan says:

    Who are they kidding? If the average time it takes to compile the iformation is 100 days, Why does it take over a year to finalize a decision?
    Has the VA truely asked and listened to the people who are filing a claim?

  46. Kevin says:

    I need help on my records — I have asked and asked about records from 1977-1982 that are lost ?? LOST .. lets’ make a Movie .. No replies any suggestions ?? The Archive center said Contact VA, VA says Call the Arcive center.. I kid you not.. I have the letters — they the archive center is telling me they transfereed all OLD documents .. I dont think the 70′s and 80′s is that old compared to others but where are my records from that era ?? I need them .. I am inured and am going through an MEB and want to claim more.. I was told I could claim my mental, and my headaches, and more.. I was treated so may times in 1977-1982 when I was active — Know one calls, no one says anything.. Can I ask Congress .. again for help .. but the VA did help me on my current LOD and I may need a knee replacement and curenty they do good, it is somehow when my MEB came up to claim more my records got lost ?? , The Army at is asking for my 1977-1981 Who can I call, not the 800 # that goes round and round and round.. I just want ALLL MY MEDICAL from that time frame any thoughts anyone.

    • susan says:

      why are you saying they got lost? who told you they are lost? we got our medical records from calling the VA and filling out a form to release the medical records. it did take about 4mths to recieve them but we expected it would take that long.

  47. susan says:

    it doesnt appear to me that most of these comments submitted get many replies, that should tell you alot right there. thats because we are all in the same boat, lots of duplicate papers to fill out and lots of duplicate medicals records to submit and still waiting for years to get resolved. dah, yah think just maybe that might have something to do with why it takes years to finalize these claims. i was told its best to certify every document that you send, which i did not do and should not have to do but from this day forward i am. that is a pain to certify every single thing but the way things are going for us,its a bigger pain to keep sending them. maybe that way u wont have to send it several times. we have sent them private medical records every single time they ask for them, what more can we do. i am a very open minded person but i really truely am starting to believe that they just want us all to give up and go away.BTW, if anyone out there could respond to my original comment i would greatly appreciate it.

  48. John Birch says:

    I find humor in the fact that the VA wants to help get private medical records. I can’t even get VA medical records. I was an in patient at the Marion, Indiana VA hospital for 2 months in 1973. I was being treated for PTSS (fore runner to PTSD). After 2 months I was kicke dto the curb because I was “cured”. I have tried getting my records from them to support my claim. As of today I have sent 4 requests to the VA hospital and 3 to the Indianapolis RO. Guess what no response. I guess they are afraid I may try to get comp. dated back to then when they screwed up.

  49. big will says:

    hello veterans…

  50. big will says:

    hello veterans….jackson whitehead, what type of veterans are you talking to other vets like that. No, i don’t think you ever served in the military with attitude. you would have never made it out of basic. You have no idea
    commenting on Social Security. it is just as complex as getting VA benefits. the claim proces with social security is just as long as the VA (if not longer) to get your benefits. and people get lawyers most of the time with SSA because of frustrations with the sysytem(declining your social benefits). the VA system does prompt you to get a lawyer , but you have to play the waiting game just the same. white head , i don’t think you really know what you’re talking about & GOD help me & any other Vets if you really work within any gov’t agency. i think personally , you’re just blowing steam behind a keyboard (HATING) on veterans & putting down other people, because you have insecurities about yourself. every vet deserves his/her benefits if they’ve served their country. who are you to cast doubt/put down any of us. if you can’t talk right to / or / truly want to blog and help other (REAL VETERANS)…STAY THE HELL OUT THE VA BLOG._Out Here

    • susan says:

      ty Big Will for responding. i agree with your comment about this person not being a vet because if he was , he would know exactly what we’re going through. people have no clue , unless they are actually living it. its worse then a nightmare. my whole dining room table, 2tables in the basement and a huge binder filled with all paperwork, most not even necessary stuff. but i hang on to every single piece of paper they send. yesterday i did some research and spoke to a couple of retired vets. and they both got lawyers involved and they said once they did, the whole process was like in over drive. awarded within 90days. so im not sure if things have changed over the years or what. your statement was , you would still have to play the waiting game. do you know someone who did get a lawyer and it still took years? you would think the system would have improved, not gotten worse over the years. its hard enough to deal with all the medical problems, the meds. but then to add all this unnessary stuff, it really gets over whelming. it will be 1year since our original claim was filed in Jan and these comments about waiting YEARS is scarey. my favorite saying is : ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT.. i sure hope that saying comes true for all vets because we sure have been Waiting. god bless and happy holidays to all vets.

  51. Thomas says:

    Lauren, I was awarded a 60% non service connected rating for coronary artery disease in 2005, and my VA cardiologist confirms that I do have ischemia. I am also a boots on ground in Viet Nam veteran. I currently take heart meds, and the results of my most recent stress test (2010) indicate that my METS were 5.0 and my ejection fraction was 45%. When my current claim for IHD/agent Orange is finalized should my rating more than likely be 60%?

  52. Stan Lukas says:

    Now either this is a strange coincidence, or if not, my paranoia is flaring up. This is what I saw on eBenefits tonight when I tried to access my C&P status. Comment on VantagePoint again? I guess not. Any responses? Lauren? Alex?
    Error
    Detailed information surrounding the claims you have filed with VA is not available at this time. If you would like more information, please call us at 1-800-827-1000.

  53. rod says:

    I was diagnosed with heart disease in 1999 while being treated for pneunomonia. Iwas told I”d had a heart attack.Since then I’v had three angioplasties,7 stents,and quaddruple bypass surgery.Iam unable to do the job I held for 26 years and have been unable to find another because of age and my health problems.
    My va heath expert(DR.AKELA) at the va in des moines will not help with an ssi claim because he says I’ve been cured.I take seven diffenant pills for my heart and blood preasure including a daily nitrate pill for angina.But I am CURED?

  54. rod says:

    BY the way,none of the heart surgery was paid for by the VA,it was all before i lost my insurance.

  55. I attempted to get my medical records from a doctors office where 2 brothers have their practice. Through letters to them, through HIPPA paperwork sent to them, through HIPPA paperwork walked in and handed to them, and through VA requests to them, it took at least a year for them to respond and a check for $40.00 for copying fees.
    Even then it took me three months to decipher 9 years of doctors’ notes and identify conditions that pertained t5o my “Service Connected” claims. Some of the documentation is worthless because of the manual notes.

    NOTE: some medical doctors and/or firms do not keep your records for more than the 7 years that the IRS advises to keep records in case of an audit. I am lacking information critical to my claims appeal from 3 sources as a result of this. It varies by state, by affiliation with medical associations, and by whether the physician retires, dies, or the hospital is merged with another organization and is held not responsible to archive the previous hospital records.

    Whatever you can do to enforce compliance by non-VA doctors in responses in a timely, legible, and complete manner will certainly help.

  56. MAURICE SCOTT says:

    This sounds great, but let me fill you in on the truth, not fiction peddling. My case started January 16, 2009, Now they said they were developing it, till December 2009. In December 2009, they sent it to rating, it was immediately sent back for further development, ordered a c and p examination. Now we are well over 300 days for so called development, right. The C and P examination was in May 2010, but they decided to omit all the records from the VA hospital to the examiner, so the examiner had no idea what I had been already diagnosed, and being treated for, mistake or intent. So it was finished, and sent back to development from May to September 2010. now we are at about so 605 days developing. From September 1 to September 13 2010 my claim denied on 13 issues, and decision released. Now it may seem strange that it was so complex to take 605 days to develop, and so easy to rate in 12 days, but there is a twist to it all. THERE WASNT A DAMN THING IN THE FILE TO RELATE TO EVIDENCE, IT WASNT A DAMN THING DEVELOPED.

    What really happened, is they stalled delayed, and did absolutely nothing for that 605 days, in my file were letters from everyone saying they couldn’t find any information concerning the incident, or accident, or event. While I had been and current go in to the VA hospital, there wasn’t any records from the VA hospital in there either, while they are mandated to inform the Veteran if information can not be obtained, they didn’t and just wasted time doing absolutely nothing.

    But I’m a reasonable sick man, so while sick, I decided to see just what they had done, and how much trouble it actually was. I picked up the Phone called GSA, told the approximate period of my accidents, and unit I was assigned to, in (5) minutes, and a email I had three accident reports in my hands, but remember this Regional Office had a letter saying they couldn’t find any records; I looked over all the decision information, denied three service connected mental disabilities (PTSD, Dissociative Identity Behavior Disorder, and depression), they said i wasn’t diagnosed with either, no service connection for either, well again a lie, a lie by omission of evidence, VA Hospital Psychiatrist, diagnosed for all, National Center for PTSD, a VA initiative, supports the one of the primary causes for long term mental issues, is accidents, I had three in the service, and as for what service medical records they hadn’t already destroyed in this conspiracy, yes i said conspiracy, 1988, prescribed Zoloft, now I’m no genius, but I don’t think thats for a headache. Plus a witness statement, which I proved by her SF form as a civilian working at the unit I was assigned, but still denied all, saying no proof. Now I thing the standard is service connection, diagnosed by a physician, and currently suffering is pretty clear. Then we go to Stage Three Kidney dysfunction, eczema, and others, hospitalized in the Army for a week, blood in urine, reason, kind of clear after that, currently stage three, with complication of gout, kind of clear isn’t but not to this regional office.

    Now I’ve suffered four head injuries, while on active duty, I was hospitalized while on active duty, I was in three vehicle accidents in government vehicles while on active duty, I was prescribed Zoloft while on active duty, isn’t this kind of clear to the average idiot, but not to the Columbia Regional Office, nothing in South Carolina is clear.

    So I originally appealed to the DRO, but thought, no this is clear and unmistakable error, someone just didnt do their jobs, they didnt develop a thing, but took 605 days to do nothing, now in the real world, outside of government employment, someone should be fired, but not at this vA, because it was intent, they just got caught. So now its being process as clear and unmistakable error, and you will never guess where it is again? Thats right folks, its in development once again, the ultimate South Carolina stall tank, where employees just do nothing but store files in a cabinet, and keep on moving.

    Now to the average Joe, I have now submitted a fully developed claim, no evidence to get, not that they tried anyway, no questions to be answered, I am diagnosed by their hospital organization, VHA, and I haven’t worked since 2004, proof that I am unemployable, and disabled, so where are the questions at, now. SO WHY IN THE HELL CAN’T I GET MY FILE RATED AS IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALL THE TIME? Here is the answer I received from the Columbia Regional Office, “Well we are averaging 300 days to develop claims, and somewhere around 24 months to get claims fully rated”, A proof ridden, fully developed, diagnosed for each, a fully supported by accident reports, and studies commissioned and supported by the VA, three accidents, and somehow I wasn’t suppose to have long term back injuries, four head trauma injuries, which my diagnosis I have traumatic brain injury by a VA psychiatrist.

    But the VA knows South Carolina Regional office is broken, they know that South Carolina Regional Office is unfairly deciding and delaying claims, they know that South Carolina Regional Office has destroyed records of veterans, they know because they are good at it, and have performed this way for years. Much like the Senate, South Carolina is where claims go to die, to denial, and to appeal until you eventually give up. These are the facts, and the truth, but you could dispute me, but you won’t because it is the truth. South Carolina Regional Office, and South Carolina politicians are the worst thing for our Veterans, and the worst thing for America. I long for the days of Senator Strom Thurmond, if you were a veteran you had rights with him, but when he left, veterans left as well.

  57. My va heath expert(DR.AKELA) at the va in des moines will not help with an ssi claim because he says I’ve been cured.I take seven diffenant pills for my heart and blood preasure including a daily nitrate pill for angina.But I am CURED?

  58. Kelvin says:

    Nice! VA is moving forward by using the technology!

  59. Rod says:

    it’s great they are moving forward,it’s a little late for some of us. by the time they get to my claim they won’t be able to find me.seems i’ll be homeless in a matter of days

  60. Casey W. says:

    Dear V.A,

    Thank you for not giving me an education and instead ruining my life. I gave up a 15+ dollar an hour tech job to go back to school and you people have all but ruined it.
    Due to your accounting errors, my life is falling apart. When I ask for help you do nothing to fix it. You should all be fired and until the whole system overhauled.

    -I have no idea what I am getting for education benefits, no idea who to speak with, the people I try to contact are inept and argumentative.
    -Every term some error in accounting is made and its taken out on me financially, not you. So I am constantly docked money I already can’t afford to lose and bare the brunt of your failures.
    -I am always behind in my bills and can’t afford to live on my own while going to school. I have no one to lean on for resources, every time you fail it hurts me and no one else. If your paycheck got docked for no reason, you would revolt…what should I do?
    -I am a veteran with PTSD and cannot deal with the extra anxiety you are putting on me, the system should not be this hard to use or navigate. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
    -You should not be allowed to take money out of my check without first consulting with me, because you have no idea the damage you are doing to my life when you do this.
    -I haven’t received word from you in months about anything having to do with my education other than photo copied forms that have no pertinent data in them.

    I am going to keep finding public forums to decry you until you start really helping veterans.

    Casey W.

    Soon to be homeless, failed out student.

    • Alex Horton says:

      Casey, let’s try to sort this out. What do you mean by accounting errors? You were not properly certified, or did you get the $3000 emergency payment check and VA is asking for reimbursement? Have you checked with your certifying official at the school to make sure your classes and benefits award letter were filed correctly?

      I know this is just another VA call number, but I used this to answer questions about my GI Bill benefits (how many months I had left and all that). They answered pretty quick and were fairly helpful, and I didn’t identify myself as a VA employee. Give them a shot: 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551). If you can’t get through or they haven’t been able to help, let me know and I’ll see what else I can do for you. I know what it’s like to depend on the housing allowance to live; I was very close to dropping out of school because my Post-9/11 stipend didn’t come through last year like everyone else, and I was facing eviction. So I will try to help you the best I can.

  61. DANIEL BRACKER says:

    Isn’t there some kind of regulation that requires paperwork to be processed in a timely manner. step#1 30 days, step#2 60 days, ect…. Of course there will always be exceptions. I just can’t believe, that there is no guidance, on acceptable times to process paperwork, through each stage.

  62. Danny says:

    I submitted a claim in June to increase my rating on one of my disabilities. I had a third surgery to try and fix the problems in my ankle. Two years ago they aproved me for a condition that they consider secondary to my ankle. I tried this claim last year was denied reason they say they see improvements but they say my ankle caused my knee to get jacked up but my ankle is getting better, oh wait I did say my surgery was this May. I was told by the wonderful people at the call center 1-800-827-1000 that the regional office had requested my in patient and out patient records from 2 VA hospitals this was in Sept. I called number again in Nov. no change. I recieved a letter dated Nov 18, 2010 saying they were requesting my records.Still no change I have called both hospitals only one will return phone calls. They say no request for records have been submitted. Dec 27Th I made a call to a man that works in regional office with the VVA asking for his help. Dec. 29Th I get another letter dated Dec. 27Th saying they were requesting records again. Called the hospital that will talk to me, they said they got the request on Dec 28 sent records to RO on the 28Th of Dec. If the regional office can’t get records from VA hospitals in a timely manner what makes us think they could get it faster somewhere else. I just think that there are problems all over the place but these problems are getting way to bad with the VA. I’m not trying to bad mouth anybody but come on this claim should not be taking this long. If a veteran has to have surgery that is to help with a condition that is all ready established as a disability and are being compensated for why should the 100% come 6 months to a year later. Now because of these and other great judgement calls from the VA I have had two vehicles repossessed and falling farther and farther behind. I hope someone here can give me a reason why this is happening

    • roger says:

      I know how you feel.I’ve lost my vehicle,they have foclosed on our home,and i’m barly able to pay for a cheap apartment.I have been unable to work for about 18 months and am about at my end.
      the va tells me they are working on my claim but thats been going on for a year now.

  63. Bill says:

    I have a terminal disease “Low Gehrig” ALS, and life expectancy is 2-3 years until I choke to death from this condition. I was granted SS disability after submitting my medical record, in 7 weeks, YES, 49 days. Now, I filed for my VA {service connected Recognized condition ALS)6-1-2010 with exactly same paperwork as was submitted in 2009 to SS administration, plus May 2010 Nurology report from my Neuro, stating I could barely walk, or speak with understandability.
    The VA grants 30% which is mandatory ALS %rating and scheduled a prompt C&P review. 5 Months latter, wk. of Nov12th I had a C&P (Prompt, 20 weeks) Now over two months have elapsed and still no word on rating. Now I cannot walk or speak, and choke on food bout once a day, clearly no one would even want me in their place of business, let along hire me for work.(unemployable)
    If SS approved a claim 2 years ago, in 49 days, my PHD Neuro states I have a terminal disease, why a C&P to begin with?
    If ever was a case of disbelief that the VA claims people are DA’s,this is it.
    I have been trying to get my wife to drive me to their office building
    and plant me in my wheel chair there until arrested, or until I freeze to death, to call attention to this disgrace.
    Freezing to death, is better than choking to death, believe me!
    And what is a few months left to live in this condition.

    Perhaps, maybe this will get someones attention, maybe NewsMedia, to bring a light to their inefficiency.
    Is anyone available (N.C.) to get me out of this house and over to VA,
    2 hrs. away, to drop me off, wheel me onto the lawn, I won’t need you to hang around, don’t need to know you or your name, just get me there.
    My e-mail i27557@yahoo.com …you can’t phone me, as I can’t speak!
    Thanks…

  64. 1. My name is Charles P. Lamont, my file number is ********* and I am a retired Vietnam Veteran. The reason I am requesting your assistance is I feel that I am being given the run around by the Los Angeles Veterans Administration office.

    2. In July 2008, I filed a request for disability for PTSD which was caused by an incident along with other things that happened back in Vietnam the 2 years that I was serving my country. I filed this claim because I was diagnosed by the Loma Linda VA Hospital as testing positive for PTSD. In June or July 2009, I received a letter from VA stating that my request was denied because my records did not show that I was stationed in Vietnam at the time of SPC Charles R. Leonard’s death. Upon receiving this letter I gathered documents showing that I was in Vietnam at the time of SPC Leonard’s death I resubmitted the documentation. I especially re-submitted copies of my DD 214′s along with copies of my orders indicating that I was stationed in Vietnam at the times stated. In August 2009 I received a call from the LA office that my case was being forwarded to the state of Washington to a review board for a relook. I was informed by the individual that I spoke with that this could take about 2 months and that I could call back around 15 October to find out what the status was on my request. On 20 October I called the LA office and I was informed that my packet was returned on 30 September 2009 and that it was at the review board. Since my records were returned on 30 September 2009, I have called the number provided requesting information on the status of my request and each time I was told that the request was up for review. On 8 February 2010 I received a letter from the VA office requesting that I submit a form outlining what my stressor was. On 9 February 2010 I send another copy of the same document along with copies of my orders and DA 214s, this was the third time I have submitted these documents. As noted above, this request was originally submitted in July 2008, and the resubmission was in July 2009. It seems like every time I call I am always told the same thing that my request is at the review board for approval board and once it is completed at the review board, it will be sent to the classification board for approval. It is now over a month and I am still getting the same message that my request is at the review board and when completed it will be forwarded to the rating board. Once again I have received a letter from the LA VA office dated 13 April 2010 stating that my request was denied due to the fact that I could not prove that my friend SPC Charles R. Leonard and I were stationed together in the same unit at the time of his death. In the letter from the VA office it stated that SPC Charles R. Leonard was not in the 86th Signal Battalion but was with the 86th Engineer Battalion stationed at Phu Loi Vietnam. I have attempted to obtain orders or any other documents showing that SPC Charles R. Leonard in fact was with the 86th Signal Battalion and not the 86th Engineer Battalion. The only proof that I could find was on the web site Virtual Wall, which showed SPC Leonard as being with the 86th Signal Battalion at the time of his death. I have contacted the Virtual Wall Organization to find out where they get the information on the soldiers who’s names are entered on the wall and I was told that the information is obtained from official military records. Again I requested an appeal for the above action on 20 April 2010. Again or about 25 April I received another letter from the VA office requesting more information. I resubmitted the document the following day. It has now been over one month and I still have not received any information from the LA VA office. One other thing, in the letter dated 13 April 2010, the LA VA office stated that I did not show for a appointment on 7 April 2010 with the Loma Linda VA hospital, I must admit that this is correct, however on or about 1 April I called the number provided and requested that the appointment date be changed to 19 April 2010 due to the fact that I would be on leave from 2 April 2010 to 18 April 2010 in Philadelphia. The individual I spoke with said that this would not be enough time for him to complete my case and that they would cancel this appointment and that I would have to call the LA VA office to make a new appointment. On 2 April 2010 I called the number provided and the individual who I spoke with said they would send a message forward to request a new appointment. It seems that every time I submit documentation the LA VA office comes back with other items that I need. If needed I can provide all the documentation to substantiate this complaint. One last note, it has been almost 23 months since I submitted my disability request. In December 2010 I received a letter from the Los Angeles VA stating that they are responding to a letter from the president and that my case is with the RO. It is now 7 Feberuary 2011 and I have not heard anything else about my case. During the time that I filed my original request for PTSD compinsation and the 2 appeals that I have filed every time I call the `1-800-827-1000 number I always get the same answer. Finally I really feel that the Veterans administration hopes that all the Vietnam Veterans will die off befor they have to pay them. I have also wrote Mr. Shiseki and I have not received any reply. I really feel that I need to go to another country were they really care for the Veterans. I do not know if you can do anything for me and if you cannot please try to help my other Vietnam Veterans.

    A PROUD VETERAN

    CHARLES P. LAMONT
    WORK NUMBER 760-380-3153
    HOME NUMBER 760-955-1528

  65. Well I have finally came to the conclusion that this great country of ours really does not care about the men and women who put their lines on the line to help protectect. In July 2010 they put out that there is action being taken to improve the process of disability claims. I guess the big question is what year, I guess it is after we all die. To my brother and sister veterans God bless you all.

  66. Tobey Thatcher says:

    I am wondering why certain states take longer to process claims than others. I live in KS, and was told that my Sept 2010 filing would take another 6 weeks to process (as of 8 Feb 2011). Yet, I have friends in Nebraska, Missouri, and Mississippi that have filed claims about the same time or after mine that already have a decision.

    Also, why appeal anything if they (regional office – Wichita) do not give a crap about the evidence given. I provided 3 letters specifically stating that I have failed interviews (have PTSD) and the appeals folks could give a crap less and denied it. Like I gave them nothing. Cannot imagine why veterans are so discouraged – ha ha!

  67. Dear Alex Horton and Lauren Baily, my name is Charles Lamont and I am really looking for some one to listen to me. I have read a lot of the messages in this WEB site and both of your names came up maney times. I will attach a copy on my sittuation that I am going thru at this time. I have written many people to includeing the President and the secretery of the Veterans affairs with no response. In april of this year it will be one year since I have submitted my appeal for the second time for my PTSD claim which I have been diagnosed 5 different time with having PTSD. The last time I was diagnosed the person who talked to me rated me with a GAF score of 48. I do not know if you will reply to this email, however try and help my other brother and sister veterans both young and old. One last thing, I am still working for the army only because I have to servive. As always I do and will always love my country and I am still willing to give my life for this great nation.

    . My name is Charles P. Lamont, my file number is ********* and I am a retired Vietnam Veteran. The reason I am requesting your assistance is I feel that I am being given the run around by the Los Angeles Veterans Administration office.

    2. In July 2008, I filed a request for disability for PTSD which was caused by an incident along with other things that happened back in Vietnam the 2 years that I was serving my country. I filed this claim because I was diagnosed by the Loma Linda VA Hospital as testing positive for PTSD. In June or July 2009, I received a letter from VA stating that my request was denied because my records did not show that I was stationed in Vietnam at the time of SPC Charles R. Leonard’s death. Upon receiving this letter I gathered documents showing that I was in Vietnam at the time of SPC Leonard’s death I resubmitted the documentation. I especially re-submitted copies of my DD 214′s along with copies of my orders indicating that I was stationed in Vietnam at the times stated. In August 2009 I received a call from the LA office that my case was being forwarded to the state of Washington to a review board for a relook. I was informed by the individual that I spoke with that this could take about 2 months and that I could call back around 15 October to find out what the status was on my request. On 20 October I called the LA office and I was informed that my packet was returned on 30 September 2009 and that it was at the review board. Since my records were returned on 30 September 2009, I have called the number provided requesting information on the status of my request and each time I was told that the request was up for review. On 8 February 2010 I received a letter from the VA office requesting that I submit a form outlining what my stressor was. On 9 February 2010 I send another copy of the same document along with copies of my orders and DA 214s, this was the third time I have submitted these documents. As noted above, this request was originally submitted in July 2008, and the resubmission was in July 2009. It seems like every time I call I am always told the same thing that my request is at the review board for approval board and once it is completed at the review board, it will be sent to the classification board for approval. It is now over a month and I am still getting the same message that my request is at the review board and when completed it will be forwarded to the rating board. Once again I have received a letter from the LA VA office dated 13 April 2010 stating that my request was denied due to the fact that I could not prove that my friend SPC Charles R. Leonard and I were stationed together in the same unit at the time of his death. In the letter from the VA office it stated that SPC Charles R. Leonard was not in the 86th Signal Battalion but was with the 86th Engineer Battalion stationed at Phu Loi Vietnam. I have attempted to obtain orders or any other documents showing that SPC Charles R. Leonard in fact was with the 86th Signal Battalion and not the 86th Engineer Battalion. The only proof that I could find was on the web site Virtual Wall, which showed SPC Leonard as being with the 86th Signal Battalion at the time of his death. I have contacted the Virtual Wall Organization to find out where they get the information on the soldiers who’s names are entered on the wall and I was told that the information is obtained from official military records. Again I requested an appeal for the above action on 20 April 2010. Again or about 25 April I received another letter from the VA office requesting more information. I resubmitted the document the following day. It has now been over one month and I still have not received any information from the LA VA office. One other thing, in the letter dated 13 April 2010, the LA VA office stated that I did not show for a appointment on 7 April 2010 with the Loma Linda VA hospital, I must admit that this is correct, however on or about 1 April I called the number provided and requested that the appointment date be changed to 19 April 2010 due to the fact that I would be on leave from 2 April 2010 to 18 April 2010 in Philadelphia. The individual I spoke with said that this would not be enough time for him to complete my case and that they would cancel this appointment and that I would have to call the LA VA office to make a new appointment. On 2 April 2010 I called the number provided and the individual who I spoke with said they would send a message forward to request a new appointment. It seems that every time I submit documentation the LA VA office comes back with other items that I need. If needed I can provide all the documentation to substantiate this complaint. One last note, it has been almost 23 months since I submitted my disability request. In December 2010 I received a letter from the Los Angeles VA stating that they are responding to a letter from the president and that my case is with the RO. It is now 7 Feberuary 2011 and I have not heard anything else about my case. During the time that I filed my original request for PTSD compinsation and the 2 appeals that I have filed every time I call the `1-800-827-1000 number I always get the same answer. Finally I really feel that the Veterans administration hopes that all the Vietnam Veterans will die off befor they have to pay them. I have also wrote Mr. Shiseki and I have not received any reply. I really feel that I need to go to another country were they really care for the Veterans. I do not know if you can do anything for me and if you cannot please try to help my other Vietnam Veterans.

    A PROUD VETERAN

    CHARLES P. LAMONT
    WORK NUMBER 760-380-3153
    HOME NUMBER 760-955-1528

  68. To all my brother and sister veterans who have received help from this web site God Bless you and I have that they continue to help you. This is the fourth message that I have sent and have not received one reply so to those who manage it God Bless, I will not be bothering you again.

    • Alex Horton says:

      Charles, I’m sorry you had difficulties filing an appeal. We had to hide some of your comments since they contained your social security number. Please don’t post it in the future, as it can be used to steal your identity.

      What is your current situation now? You’re waiting to hear back from VA on your appeal after submitting some requested documents?

      • Sir, first off thank you for answering my message. Referance your email, it has been almost 1 year since I submitted the second request for appeal for my PTSD. I will not go thru the long story because it is all in my previous messages. Since I filed my appeal I have only received one letter from the Los Angeles Vetersans Administration and it was a request to obtain mental evaluation from a private physcolgist, the big problem with that was the request was not mine it belonged to another individual. I have tried contacting the California Veterans administration and the only thing they do is say that I have to be paietent. I am presently in weekly group sessions for my PTSD problem which I have been diagnosed with more then 4 times. Since I have started my goup sessions I have attended at least 45 weeks. I will admitt that the treatment is helping the biggest thing is I really do not know how much longer I will be able to work due to my PTSD. In closing I wish to thank you for hearing me complain, the big thing is if you can not help me please continue to help my brothers and sisters. God bless them all and the United states of America.

        • Alex Horton says:

          That’s no good Charles. I’ll see if I can give them a call tomorrow and see if they need anything else, and make sure they aren’t confusing you with someone else either.

  69. charles p. lamont says:

    Mr. Horton I really appreciatwe what you are doing for me, however if you can not help please continue to help my brother and sister veterans. God bless all my brother and sister veterans. It is people like you that make this such a great nation God bless you to

  70. Good morning Mr. Horton. I hope that I am not being a pain in the neck I just wanted to see if you heard anything. Like I said in my othe messages any help will be greatly appreciated. Once agin thank you for helping me.

  71. Mr. Horton, I was really hopeing that my emails would be answered, however I guess I was wrong. I realize that you have other people to help, however it would be nice to get an answer. Have a pleasent day and God Bless all my fellow veterans and the USA.

  72. Good afternoon Alex, here I am once again. It seems like they are doing the same thing to you as they do to me. I really do not know what to do I have tried all resources with no luck. I guess as the rumor goes is the VA hopes that we will die or go away befor they do anything. In closing I want to thank you for your atempt to help me. God Bless you my brother and sister veterans and the United states of America.

  73. Jessica Richman says:

    I would like to know more about how the VA will interact with outside Doctors and hospitals. In accordance with the HITECH Act, most hospitals are just starting to roll out their new EHR systems. I’d imagine that would make these types of transactions more efficient, but I imagine they could also get much more complicated if the systems are not compatible. Is there a way to establish compatibility between the VA’s EMR systems and outside hospital’s new EHR systems? Thank you in advance for your help.

  74. Alex, I am just checking back to see if you have heard anything reference my case. If you get a chance please answer my message.

  75. Alex, in reference to your email the statement I have sent more than once is the problem I am having. On 9 March 2011 I received a letter from QTC Medical Services stateing that I have a C&P examination on 31 March 2011 at 8:00 AM to support my claim for PTSD. The only thing I am asking is that the VA stops lieing to me and my fellow veterans and start really helping them. My last 4 are ****.

    In July 2008, I filed a request for disability for PTSD which was caused by an incident along with other things that happened back in Vietnam the 2 years that I was serving my country. I filed this claim because I was diagnosed by the Loma Linda VA Hospital as testing positive for PTSD. In June or July 2009, I received a letter from VA stating that my request was denied because my records did not show that I was stationed in Vietnam at the time of SPC Charles R. Leonard’s death. Upon receiving this letter I gathered documents showing that I was in Vietnam at the time of SPC Leonard’s death I resubmitted the documentation. I especially re-submitted copies of my DD 214′s along with copies of my orders indicating that I was stationed in Vietnam at the times stated. In August 2009 I received a call from the LA office that my case was being forwarded to the state of Washington to a review board for a relook. I was informed by the individual that I spoke with that this could take about 2 months and that I could call back around 15 October to find out what the status was on my request. On 20 October I called the LA office and I was informed that my packet was returned on 30 September 2009 and that it was at the review board. Since my records were returned on 30 September 2009, I have called the number provided requesting information on the status of my request and each time I was told that the request was up for review. On 8 February 2010 I received a letter from the VA office requesting that I submit a form outlining what my stressor was. On 9 February 2010 I send another copy of the same document along with copies of my orders and DA 214s, this was the third time I have submitted these documents. As noted above, this request was originally submitted in July 2008, and the resubmission was in July 2009. It seems like every time I call I am always told the same thing that my request is at the review board for approval board and once it is completed at the review board, it will be sent to the classification board for approval. It is now over a month and I am still getting the same message that my request is at the review board and when completed it will be forwarded to the rating board. Once again I have received a letter from the LA VA office dated 13 April 2010 stating that my request was denied due to the fact that I could not prove that my friend SPC Charles R. Leonard and I were stationed together in the same unit at the time of his death. In the letter from the VA office it stated that SPC Charles R. Leonard was not in the 86th Signal Battalion but was with the 86th Engineer Battalion stationed at Phu Loi Vietnam. I have attempted to obtain orders or any other documents showing that SPC Charles R. Leonard in fact was with the 86th Signal Battalion and not the 86th Engineer Battalion. The only proof that I could find was on the web site Virtual Wall, which showed SPC Leonard as being with the 86th Signal Battalion at the time of his death. I have contacted the Virtual Wall Organization to find out where they get the information on the soldiers who’s names are entered on the wall and I was told that the information is obtained from official military records. Again I requested an appeal for the above action on 20 April 2010. Again or about 25 April I received another letter from the VA office requesting more information. I resubmitted the document the following day. It has now been over one month and I still have not received any information from the LA VA office. One other thing, in the letter dated 13 April 2010, the LA VA office stated that I did not show for a appointment on 7 April 2010 with the Loma Linda VA hospital, I must admit that this is correct, however on or about 1 April I called the number provided and requested that the appointment date be changed to 19 April 2010 due to the fact that I would be on leave from 2 April 2010 to 18 April 2010 in Philadelphia. The individual I spoke with said that this would not be enough time for him to complete my case and that they would cancel this appointment and that I would have to call the LA VA office to make a new appointment. On 2 April 2010 I called the number provided and the individual who I spoke with said they would send a message forward to request a new appointment. It seems that every time I submit documentation the LA VA office comes back with other items that I need. If needed I can provide all the documentation to substantiate this complaint. One last note, it has been almost 23 months since I submitted my disability request. In December 2010 I received a letter from the Los Angeles VA stating that they are responding to a letter from the president and that my case is with the RO. It is now 7 Feberuary 2011 and I have not heard anything else about my case. During the time that I filed my original request for PTSD compinsation and the 2 appeals that I have filed every time I call the `1-800-827-1000 number I always get the same answer. Finally I really feel that the Veterans administration hopes that all the Vietnam Veterans will die off befor they have to pay them. I have also wrote Mr. Shiseki and I have not received any reply. I really feel that I need to go to another country were they really care for the Veterans. I do not know if you can do anything for me and if you cannot please try to help my other Vietnam Veterans.

    Charles P. Lamont

    • Alex Horton says:

      Hey Charles,

      I talked to some of the benefits people about PTSD claims and they gave me the following information. Let me know if you need any more help. Good luck with your upcoming exam, and let me know how it went.

      From the benefits folks:

      The claims process for PTSD has been streamlined by removing the need to provide corroborating evidence in support of the claim when both of the following conditions are met.

      First, the claimed stressor must be consistent with the places, types and circumstances of the Veteran’s service. This simplifies the process for those Veterans who did not serve in combat units, but whose support units witness actions similar to those of combat units.

      Second, a VA or VA contracted psychiatrist or psychologist confirms the claimed stressor supports a diagnosis of PTSD as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV).

      Reading your post it appears the issue that needs to be resolved is verifying the unit SPC Charles R. Leonard was assigned to. You can request this information from the National Personnel Records Center under the Freedom of Information Act. Information on how to make the request is available here.

  76. Alex, this is a follow up message. The medical facility that I am being treated at this time is Victorville Medical Center in California. For major treatment I go to Loma Linda Veterans Hospital.

  77. charles p. lamont says:

    Alex just writing to see if you received my message. If so and you do not want to answer have a great life and GFod Bless.

  78. Good morning Alex, once again somebody is feeding somebody a line of bull. In my packet I have provided proof that my stressor supports my PTSD claim, this has been done not only by the VA medical staff but also by a independent doctor, which I have provided written proof of my disability which I have sent copies more than three times. In both my VA and independent doctor statements I have been diagnosed with chronic PTSD, which includes panic attacks, sleeping disorder, anxiety attacks and other items. As for the proof that I was in the same unit as my best friend was when he died I provided a copy of the profile from the Vietnam virtual wall which showed SPC Charles R. Leonard was assigned to the same unit I was and at the same time. As I have explained in my appeals to the VA I have checked with the Virtual Wall Organization to insure that the information on the wall is obtained from military records, I was informed by the staff that all the information has been obtained from the military records. If this was the only thing holding up my completion of my claim how come I have to go to the C&P examination, when I have been diagnosed 5 different times with PTSD. I personally fell that the Vietnam War Veterans are being crapped on by the VA and they really hope that we will go away or die off before they have to pay us disability. For over 26 years I have put my life on the line for my country 2 of which was in Vietnam and this is the way all veterans are being treated because VA does not care. I appologize for the way I feel but I am tired of being treated like a piece of crap. Good by and God Bless.

  79. Alex Horton says:

    I’m sorry that you’ve had such much trouble Charles, but I believe you don’t have to prove individual stressors (like your friend dying) to have your claim accepted. The rules have changed since you last filed. Ask your examiner about the process when you go in at the end of the month. If you’d rather continue your appeal, the link I sent you in the email (and above) will help you obtain official records of your friend’s unit information. Even though the Virtual Wall used official records, it isn’t official itself. It likely doesn’t qualify as supporting information, unfortunately.

  80. Charles P. Lamont says:

    Good afternoon Alex. First off welcome home brother and thank God you made it back. Just because I am a Vietnam veterian I love and honor my fellow veterans on putting their lives on the line for their country know matter what war they were in. I do thank you for trying to help me. In your email that you sent me you said to let you know how my C&P examination went. Well to be honest it was hard because they asked a lot of questions about my time in Vietnam, however I made it thru. My examination was on 31 March 2011, and the doctor I spoke with said that my information would be at the Los Angeles Veterans on Monday 4 April. It is now 17 days later and I have called the 1-800-827-1000 number almost every day and the only answer I get is that they have not received the documents. Alex, I realize that the number I called is only a middle person, however I would really like to know how long it will be before my claim is completed. This transaction is really plain havoc on my PTSD problems. I do not know what you can do for me, what ever you can do will be greatly appreciated. Is there any way I can get a telephone number for the Los Angeles Veterans Admistration claims departmen? In closing I want to thank you for the help you have and are giving to my fellow veterans.

    • Alex Horton says:

      Hey Charles, sorry to hear about your issues. The only number I can dig up is the same one you provided. But I don’t think I can get more information beyond “we’re working on it.” Claims go faster if they have accurate and complete information, but a good portion of the wait is simply the amount of claims being processed. Wish we had a faster way, but that’s how it is now. I know it’s not ideal. Please let me know if anything changes, good or bad.

  81. Rich Young-Guncarver says:

    i am terminally ill -end stage of a few diseases from us navy-i served in vietnam 67-68-but was exposed to asbestos while in inport fire party-all areas of the ship-then exposed to agent orange on the flight deck while a member of repair 8 crash and salvage crew/tractor driver( we had the last squadron of ad-ww2 prop job airplanes used for the intitial sprayings of agent orange—crop dusters in civilian life-so now i am diagnosed with asbestosis-no cure-ismatatic heart and many other heart problems such as chf-chronic heart fatigue from the lungs working so hard -the heart fails-oh and renal carcinoma which seattle checked and said -lets wait 5 years and if no more movement we will remove it 5 years-lol- i wont survive 5 years with the lungs or the heart so the va wins-my problem is still the same — somehow the navy or the st louis records or the va lost my military records and with their silliness they base all claims now on our discharge physical-no vietnam vet from 64-70 ever got a physical upon discharge from active duty——it was are u alive? ok u are discharged-the va now is sending me to a civilian hospital and my care has been fantastic-no va hospit5al near me–the problem is tho the civilian hospital sends the records to the district for bill purposes only and the distict va does not send the records back to my va provider-he says_oh they did that to u? can i have your copy? –silly silly wabbits get the act together-i had a cardiac arrest at the district va while undergoing an endoscopy and shoved out the door 5 minutes later-hmmm and they did not even call my outreach doctor—-sighs –total lack of communication between branches and even between departments

  82. William Hatcher says:

    When we call for assistance we get a message to check status of claim on eBenefits. Why do we have to go to the regional office to get a pin number. It is a four hou drive for me just to get a number. Why can’t they just email us the number?

  83. Derick Wade Grover says:

    I can certainly understand and relate to much of the frustration being expressed in this forum, but I also can’t help but feel bad for poor Lauren who must read each diatribe of dissatisfaction and then respond in a professional manner. Some of these posts are understandably hostile and born of intense frustration. Yes, the System needs a major overhaul. Yes claims very often languish for years. But is that Lauren’s fault? Perhaps if she wasn’t forced to spend an inordinate amount of time reading through each of these posts (And I realize some of you are angry, and rightly so, but a few minutes spent editing your questions and comments might make them more comprehensible and alot shorter.) If Lauren wasn’t tasked with calmly and politely responding to so many attacks against the VA, but aimed at her, perhaps her time could be utilized to assist with pushing our claims through. Feel your frustration and anger, but don’t let it control you. And make sure you are doing as much research and work as you can to help speed your claim along. We are our own best advocates. We shouldn’t expect the VA to hold our hands the whole way. Let’s educate ourselves to the best of our ability and stop feeling so damn entitled.

    • Solomon p Dominguez jr says:

      Derek, meet me anywhere anytime, and tell that to my face.( Entitled) respect dignity compassion professional courtesy the past medical care,oh and a monthly check since I am 100 percent disabled, and dying. Go ahead Tell me to my face I am not intitled. I’m going to hell soon,I am don’t mind adding bitch slapping you to my list .

  84. Art says:

    Today, I went to the E-Benefits and found that my claim went from the Decision Phase (11 months) back to the Developmental Phase. I checked the letter generator on E-benefits and found that my disability rating went from 10% to 100% (combined evaluation). The letter states the effective date June 1, 2011. I have not receive any official notification. Could this be a mistake?

    Art

  85. william white says:

    If I filed a clam with VA in the past will they need to have to get them from me or my medical provider for a new clam all over again, or will they keep my medical records for a period of time?

  86. John says:

    Hello there, I hope someone has some info that might help me. I filed my claim back in 2005 and was denied the first time. After appealing I was given 20%, appealed again and was denied. Appealed once again and in April of 2011 all 5 of my secondary conditions were found to be service connected. In that letter they stated that it was ‘going to the rating dept”. My question is, how long does the rating normally take? Its been 9 months and its still in the rating stage. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  87. Frederick Bower says:

    I helped my 93 year old father file for disability on 5/16/11, for IHD under the Agent Orange Fast Track System, another “streamlined program.” To date, he has never received a letter or phone call from the VA. In October, I was able to get his local VA representative to call DC, and ask if there was a problem that needed to be corrected in order to proceed. She was told everything was fine. Three months later, there has still been no communication. Since I applied in August 2010 for the same benefit, and was awarded a 60% disability in March 2011, why is it taking so long to review my father. Is it because I’m a retired Lt Col, and he is only a MGySgt? He is convinced the VA is just waiting for him to die. The least someone can do is send him, and all these other applicants that have been waiting forever, a status letter.

  88. Karl says:

    I have my appeal under the fastrack. Fastrack???? BWAHAHA. They scheduled my appeal hearing for Sunday December 25,2011 Christmas Day! Now I suppose I went to the bottom of the pile again. It’s only been 6 years since I fled a claim so what’s another year? If I get 100% thats about $190,000.00 and maybe I can buy my wife a new dress then and put plumbing in our outhouse. The VA is just another Government run boondoggle that needs to be put into civilian contractors hands and run like acompany. About 75% of the people would get fired the first day. My best friend Larry Burns died of Brain Cancer and he said in 1975, “Agent Orange caused this, Never give up.” The Fight goes on because the Seabees motto is the difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a bit longer. …

  89. Karl says:

    William Hatcher:
    I believe you can get that number at the hospital also. Check it out.

  90. Rodney says:

    on july 18 2011 i submitted a claim for right arm pain shoulder condition (secondary) to cervical spine condition i e-mailed veterans affairs to check the status of my claim i was notified by e-mail that my claim was (ready to rate) 23 jan 2012 i then went to my e-benefit account and my staus was (gathering of edvidece phase) with my claim put together with a claim (new) jan 23 2012 for depression/anxiety for heart condition cervical spine, knee condition. i feel i’m being punished set back another 6 month this would make me wait a year for a claim submitted july 18 2011 these claim have nothing to do with each other, and are 6 months apart. what can i do?

  91. Jerri says:

    I know this is an old post, but stumbled upon it. My husband retired from active duty Feb 1 2011, a little over a year ago. NO word, so nothing has changed. And this was all service related. Just a little reminder that nothing from a waiting perspective has changed. I don’t know the issue, but there is definitely one.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Jerri,

      My husband and I have been dealing with the VA for over 20 years and nothings changed if anything I believe their system for processing Veterans disability claims is at best poor. My husband has had other patients information in his chart you name it. We’ve been proactive when it pertains to making sure that the VA gets the necessary medical information needed to ensure that his claim inquiries are handled in a timely manner. We opened a claim Jan 2010 and the claim is still pending and it’s Feb 2012. The VA made it so that you can’t go into your local office or call to get information if you have family members that work in the same city so they set up this site to get the most up to date information. This site isn’t the fix because it’s not updated like it should be. You’ll call and get one answer and go to the website and it says something else and it will say it for weeks and months.

      The VA needs to go back to the drawing board.

  92. Willie J Scott says:

    I have been placed in the agent orange group. Filed with the VA approximately 5/2011.
    Recieved a letter dated 1/11/2012 stating that my application was still being processed,
    appologizing for the delay. Have not heard from the VA since this letter. I wish I could be informed of the status of my application. Is there a way to get more information about my
    application and where in the process I am?