VA Expediting Claims Decisions for Veterans Waiting a Year or More

Too many Veterans have waited too long for a decision on their benefits claims. We at VA, many of us Veterans ourselves, know that has never been acceptable. That is why we are implementing an aggressive plan to end the backlog of disability claims in 2015. Today we are announcing another decision to do right by Veterans.

Effective today, every regional office will begin implementing an initiative to ensure that those who have been waiting a year or more for their compensation claim receive a decision quickly. VA raters will make provisional decisions on the oldest claims in inventory, which will allow Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly, if eligible.

I want to be clear about what Veterans and their families can expect in a provisional decision. It will provide them with applicable benefits much more quickly. It will provide an additional one-year window to submit further evidence should it become available. Should a Veteran submit additional evidence, their case will be fast tracked. Should a medical examination be needed to decide the claim, it will be ordered and expedited by VA’s health administration. And should any increase be determined over that year, benefits will be retroactive to the date the claim was initially filed.  More information on provisional decisions is available here.

As we focus on the oldest claims in our inventory, we will continue to prioritize claims for homeless Veterans and those with extreme financial hardship, the terminally ill, former Prisoners of War, Medal of Honor recipients, and Veterans filing Fully Developed Claims. Also, those who can no longer serve in the military because of combat wounds, or other non-combat injuries or illnesses, will continue to have their disability compensation processed through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), which is separate and distinct from the inventory of claims impacted by this initiative.  Wounded, ill and injured Service members on average receive their disability compensation within two months of leaving the military.

It is important to understand up front that as a result of this initiative, metrics that VA posts on its website, those used to track benefits claims, will experience significant fluctuations.  The focus on processing the oldest claims will cause the overall measure of the average length of time to complete a claim—currently 286 days— to skew, rising significantly in the near term because of the number of old claims that will be completed. Often our oldest claims are our most complex claims.  Also, what we call the Average Days Pending or the average age of claims in the inventory—will begin to decrease because the oldest claims will no longer be part of the inventory.

By making decisions on the oldest claims, VA will become more efficient. Simultaneously, more of our regional offices will come online and begin processing claims electronically with our Veterans Benefits Management System. Currently 36 of 56 of our regional offices have transitioned to this paperless system which too will reduce the time it takes for Veterans and their families to receive a high quality decision.

Last month, as I laid out some of the challenges we face in reducing the backlog, I outlined several of the other initiatives in place to end the backlog, among them  among them: eBenefits, a joint VA-DoD client services portal that allows users to file benefits claims online, Disability Benefits Questionnaires, documents designed to capture all the needed medical information relevant to a specific condition, and information on how to file a Fully Developed Claim which allows claims to be processed through our express lane.

Over the last three years, VA has solicited and evaluated thousands of ideas from our employees and stakeholders. We have identified the best and they have formed the basis of today’s VBA Transformation Plan.

VA has completed over 4.1 million claims since 2009 and provided over $58 billion in disability compensation to 4.3 million Veterans and their survivors in 2012 alone – about $150 million every day. At no time in our history have our Veterans received more direct compensation payments. Still, more work remains.

The compensation claims backlog is a decades old problem. We have studied it carefully and engaged with Veterans Service Organizations and others to determine the right approach—one that we’re working hard to implement right now.

Allison Hickey, a retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General, is VA’s Under Secretary for Benefits.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

135 Comments to “VA Expediting Claims Decisions for Veterans Waiting a Year or More”

  1. Demetries says:

    I was wondering if this new initiative for BVA appeals as well or is just for new claims that are being submitted?

    • Margaret Byrd says:

      I have been waiting on a new rating since being diagnosed with RA in March 2011. Have had my CDL license cancelled, lost my job, and have been refused voc rehab or any type of job training. I have had 2 eval appointments and am still waiting for notice that something is being done. The VA has been my only medical provider so they have access to all of my medical records including my monthly rhuematologist appointments. I When might I expect a decision to be made?

    • larry carter says:

      Will this new regulation apply to remanded claims from the BVA. My remand and my
      (NOD) has been at the regional office since Feb.2010. Iam awaiting a SSOC from the
      regional office so I can have it forwarded back to BVA so they can make a decision
      on my claim. 1140 days and or 38months!.

      • Joe Doe says:

        My case has been in their hands 970 days without an initial decision. I’m from the Baltimore VA office area. A week ago, I got a call from a contractor in Waco, Texas where all the records for Baltimore were shipped informing me that they were moving fast on my case and would be deciding it soon. Since the entire record had been moved to Texas, I asked specific questions about letters of support from witnesses and other key pieces in my file. They WERE NOT in the Waco, Texas contractor’s file. Without those pieces, I cannot prove my injury was service related. I asked for time to re-submit those pieces, and the contractor replied that I only had the 30 days from the date of the letter (5 days left on the clock from that call). I have proof that the Baltimore office received those records (with my name and SSN on EVERY SINGLE PAGE), but they are conveniently not there. I am scrambling now to get those pieces re-submitted, even after that deadline. The hardest are the witness statements that were sent in directly to the VA by the witnesses. The cynic in me sees how the VA is going to make this impossible goal of cleaning up all the backlog of cases in 60 days –just don’t use key pieces of evidence, rule it as not service related, and then force it to be appealed.

        • Sean C Higgins says:

          Deny Delay and hope you die before they pay! This is their motto and creed! I say do away with the VA System completely and either start a new or let us veterans go outside to the private sector for the best possible care.

        • Geno says:

          I don’t understand why they would send your Claim from one failing VARO to another failing VARO Waco Texas has to be tops for not looking at the evident and denying 90% of the claims with big bonus payments going to that VARO for years I understand they also tell the Doc’s at the VA C&P Exam in Dallas Tx what to do That’s Texas that VARO should of been closed 10 yrs ago already they even were caught destroying evidents in Veterans claims files should been moved years ago to the Midwest. You need to get your claim out of there the” Black Hole” Waco office,

    • i wonder the same thing. i went to a fix it event on april l9. the northern ca director of the va couldn’t answer that questions. we are the claims that are probably are the oldest. first you are denied, denied then give a small rating. appeal given a little more then appeal. then told going to bva. wait years to be certified. five if from 2008, three if froml larry’s death. so if you get an answer, please post it.

    • Best guess is no. While technically VBA appeals are still within the VA’s “inventory” they are treated differently than claims still at the VARO and I wouldn’t expect that to change.

    • Lawrence Kelley III says:

      I can tell you right now that unless Mrs. Hickey qualifies her announcement about expedited the oldest claims first, it would be dishonest to limit it to claims still at VAROs. I won at the court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, No. 10-597, Kelley v. Shinseki. BVA decision of 11-5-09, Vacated & Remanded. But I just had my motion for expedited review denied by BVA judge Michelle Kane who says my mere meager 60% or $1,026 per month is not “severe financial hardship,” under 38 USC 7107 & 7112. But she is dead wrong. And since she & other BVA judges make well over $100,000 per year in VA pay, you can’t really expect folks like her who live in the lap of luxury to have a concept of what severe financial hardship is for a veteran. In fact, she stated in her “ruling” that I had to once again become homeless or further destitute by having a pending bankruptcy. 38 USC section 7112 says not a single thing about any such criterion. But this is how the VA plays the games. They tell you one thing and do another until caught by Congress.

      The very fact that Mrs. Hickey fails to make a clear distinction that those veterans who have been in the BVA & CAVC pipeline for years will get absolute prioritization is to me suspicious & disingenuous at best. It certainly leaves her off the hook of saying so specifically. But most of the BVA judges are very “politically” connected and there is little Mrs. Hickey can do to fire bad BVA judges like mine. Its really just a pleading sport with BVA judges & support staff. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts even asked the VA attorneys at oral argument why they always raise “unsubstantiated claims” to the Courts. That’s a heavy-duty insult coming frim the mouth of the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. But none of them even blushed with embarassment; in fact once outside court they laughed about it.

    • David Davis says:

      My idea of a real initiative to the claims process is simply do not pay our congress and president and cabinet until this problem is brought under control. They give millions of tax dollars to foreign aid but turn their backs on veterans and their families. I say hit em where it hurts them take their money until the problem is fixed.

    • John says:

      To whom it may concern I’ve been in the va system since 2006 and January 2011 I finally had an appeal to the BVA which I had four issues the VLJ remanded 2 issues and denied the other two issues the remands were sent to the AMC or appeals management center that was in April 2011 For development and I was given another C&P pension exam in the judge said to use the terminology was at least as likely as not of course both of doctors basically stated most likely due to military service I haven’t heard anything in the last over two years from the them issues .The other issues will remand after sent to the CAVC they were Remand by the GC and my lawyer . After the joint motion for remand claim was sent back to the BVA it was denied again by the same judge making the same errors this was in May 2012 after that remand again it went back to the court of appeals veteran claims for the second time again by both the General Counsel and my lawyers it was again joint remand back to the BVA since Dec 2012 The veteran law judge that was the judge in my case no longer works for the VA most likely retire my question is the other two issues that were remand over two years ago what happen to them issue you can not get any info from the AMC I had never heard anything on them 2 issues or letters or soc so will be almost 7yrs soon.

  2. james mathews says:

    J am in the stage of losing my home. I have been trying to get help a long time.

    • Alex Horton says:

      James, try these resources if you’re in danger of losing your home. Call 1-877-4AID-VET.

      • Juan says:

        I am unable to work since January 2012 due to My service connected disabilities, I was paying my mortgage with my savings until I ran out, I call that number and they just gave me another number and another number until I gave up, I called the bank to make some kind of arrangement but they want the balance they can’t help me according to them, I have VA disability check and SSA benefit check too and the wont take any payment unless is the entire balance, suck ah? the Boston bombings terrorists had studies pay and a place to stay paying by the goverment, also illegal immigrants have 3 kids and one on the way and they got everything, We the Veterans have to beg to the VA and BVA to work on our claims and appeals, ashame? yes. I am not mad anymore just disapointed no one will take in consideration what we suffer, benefits that We earn, deserve and fought!

        • t. says:

          Totally agree, with you! I have gotten to mistrust the VA, because I have been constantly lied, cheated, and stolen from. I contacted my Congressional Representative and said the the FBI needs to be involved, because the VA “claims” I have been receiving my disability & compensation. I have not received one cent! I feel there are people, with a lot of very deep pockets, and embezzlement going on! During all of this mess, I received “three” different decisions, from the same office…yet no compensation!

          If these employees worked in a civilian hospital, they all would have been fired and/or in prison! SMH how they treat Veterans! Every chance I get, I tell young people do not go into the military! When they hear my story, they rather work and pay for college that way! What a shame…SMH!

    • Lawrence Kelley III says:

      File a motion for “Expedited Review and/or Advancment on the BVA Docket” under 38 US Code sections 7107 (for BVA remands to VARO & post SSOC VARO decisions to BVA) & 7112 (for CAVC remands). The criterion listed in 7107 Does Not apply to CAVC remanded claims. Congress passed section 7112 in response to the BVA’s illegal practice of trying to super-impose the criterion of 7107 onto CAVC remands. See Dailey v. Principi, 17 Veterans Appeal Reporter page 61 (April 2003). Section 7112 was passed in December 2003 since BVA kept trying to assert section 7107′s applicability, thru 38 CFR 20.900, onto CAVC remands. They are supposed to know better now. But that’s always the game being played by BVA.

      • Bob says:

        It’s almost an us against them situation. Lawrence, you are very familiar with the VA’s own code, policies and case law. I would venture to say that’s because you HAD to become your own advocate because the VA dropped that ball. You probably know more than your Power of Attorney, most of whom can’t even use email.

        Fortunately I am still healthy enough to work full time. I take pride in my work and the level of service I provide. Frankly I would be embarrassed to work for an organization that is the butt of late night comedy jokes. I would be embarrassed if someone if one of my customers knew more about my job than me, simply because I left them to help themselves.

        State Bureau of Motor Vehicle bureaucracies step aside! There’s a new Sheriff in town that goes by the name VA!

  3. Richard A. King says:

    What about the leukemia claims and Agent Orange? I am a Vietnam Veteran that has gone through chemotherapy, full body radiation, remissions, more chemotherapy, BMT, and STILL nothing about my claim. Is VA waiting for me to die?? I served my country—-

    • Richard,

      If you’re claim has been pending for more than a year it will be included in this expedited process.

      • Lillian S. Lepping says:

        I applied for benefits Sept 10, 2010, in March of 2012, I received a letter stating basically the check is in the mil.. I received a letter in Dec, 2012, Jan and March of 2013 that it is still being looked at. I looked on ebenefits it says that it should be finalized somewhere between July and Dec of 2013 which will be over 3 years.

      • how the heck do you know that. the director for the northern area couldn’t answer the question at a fix it event. if the director of the va for the northern region can give an answer, who are you

    • Catherine Trombley says:

      Richard King,

      Richard A. Smith is correct. However, if you have a terminal illness, please ensure your RO knows. They will expedite you claim ahead of the one and two year cases. Call 1800-827-1000 and let the service representative know your condition and ask for expedition. If you are not terminal, but have financial hardship, you can call the same number and inform them of your hardship. They will expedite those claims as well.

      • me again. larry had over a dozen illnesses that could kill him. Terminal gets to the head of the line. don’t hold your breath. larry, before he died in 2010 had high blood pressure, heart attack, primary scheloring chongalititis, chronnic hepatitis, chirrosis of the liver, ostomyelitis, lumbar spine, renal failure with urosepis and a few more. couldn’t even get the aid and attendance when he was on bedrest for over a year. because of the lack of action, lost out on the adapted housing which would have put life insurance on the loan. but the va is going to expediate the claims. sure they are. just not the ones that are in the bva drawers. we will wait another ten years.

  4. ST Woods says:

    My claim is 611 days and counting. It has already been rated by the regional office as of March 8th of this year. I also received a decision from the PDBR granting me retirement due to errors. How does this affect me? The last word I have received is that my claim has been put on hold but have not been told why!

    • Catherine Trombley says:

      If you are medically retired those ratings are binding on VA. That may mean that VA has to go back and ensure it’s rating is on par with your medical retirement. Example, if the PDBR gave you 50 percent for migraines, VA must give you at least 50 percent. Hope that helps clarify.

      • catherine trombley says:

        ST Woods,
        Sorry, I misspoke. VA actually assigns the disability ratings and DoD applies the evaluations to the unfitting condition(s) — assuming you went through the IDES process. It could be that VA is trying to reconcile your payment with DFAS, but without seeing the claim file its hard to tell. Try calling our service reps, they may be able to tell you what is going on (1-800-827-1000). Sorry for any confusion my previous comment may have caused!

      • t. says:

        A lot of those medical professionals, will not for the life of their children “claim” you have a problem! Apparently, their job is to ensure Veterans do not receive what they are due! My injuries are so obviously, that Stevie Wonder, can see them. Yet, I am always being told that “nothing” is wrong! Just cannot stand a pathological lier! I have no idea, how they can sleep! So, in order for us Veterans to be heard, we have to air our dirty laundry & tell the world about the injustice the VA is doing to Veterans!

  5. Jeff says:

    I got a partial decision today, My claim was 11 months old and processed quickly because of my homeless status.

    • Raisa says:

      Hello, i am in the same situation with children waiting for claim to be expidited due to homelessness. Any suggestions on who i can try that would help me out.

  6. vwilson says:

    The va is denying claims faster. I am a gulf war veteran with gulf war listed injuries. The last denial stated although your service treatment records reflect complaints treatments or a diagnosis similar to that claimed the medical evidence supports the conclusion that a persistent disability was not present in service. The va medical opinion found no link between yr diagnosed medical condition and military service. Denied. Shoul havebeen presumptive. I was in saudi arabia.

  7. Virginia Lee says:

    What about the appeal claims….I have waited for my claim to move to the BVA since June 2010….are those being included?

    • Catherine Trombley says:

      Virginia,

      No, appeals are not being included in this program. There are special teams in the RO who do appeals. Our teams that do claims are working oldest first. The regional office conducts a final review with a senior rater prior to sending to BVA. Once you recieve a Statement of the Case, you have 60 days to file a Form 9. Once that is complete, the RO will send your claim to the Board.

      • J.H. says:

        Does this go for DRO request? I have been waiting 14 months for someone at the RO to take a second look and make a decision and have not heard anything yet.

  8. While I applaud the DVA for this step I do have some concerns.
    This statement, “If any increase is determined to be warranted based on the additional evidence received, benefits will be retroactive to the date the claim was initially filed.” brings to mind, If the preliminary rate is too high and the final decision comes in lower, what is the policy? Will the Veteran be required to repay the overpayment? How about retro pay? The same hold true? Or, is the DVA finally going to use common sense and use a lower number for that preliminary rating so the Veteran does not suffer further financial hardship trying to make ends meet while the DVA deducts payments from his/her compensation?
    The DVA has thousands upon thousands of rating percentages they can pull from so they could provide a very concise preliminary decision based on the history of Veterans already in their system. As one example, DMll has a particular rating when certain conditions are met and another when those conditions are exceeded and so on. With the records they have at their disposal and the treatment any particular Veteran is undergoing it would be a relatively simple process to match the scenarios up and then provide a rating that would not really have to be revisited unless the Veteran requires additional treatment.
    The DVA will use the old BS about every case being different and bearing it’s own weight. Sorry, that ain’t so. If a Veteran is in some situation where he/she is involved in something that causes a service connected health issue all other Veterans in the same situation should be weighed the same. What’s the difference? Oh, yeah, Veteran #1′s service connection occurred on a Monday and Veteran #2′s was on a Friday and #1 weighed 150 lbs while #2 weight 185 and, you know, they were in different camps or on different ships.

    Riddle me this DVA, why is it that decisions that are positive for a Veteran’s claim approval do not set precedence but the negative decisions seemingly do.
    All one has to do is look at the DVA’s interpretation of why Danang Harbor is not considered brown water though there are more than one or two decisions that are approved with a statement that Danang Harbor is inland waters. The DVA keeps to their determination made from a single statement by one particular ship’s captain.
    In the ships history of the USS CLEVELAND during 1967 there is the statement, “Early on the morning of 13 November, Cleveland entered Da Nang Hrabor (spelling as in the history) to relieve the USS Duluth (LPD-6) of TG 76.4 duties. Da-Nang Harbor is easy to enter due…

    • Catherine Trombley says:

      Bill,

      As current law dictates with all decisions VA makes, if evidence is received at a later date that counters the benefits rating that was awarded, VA will provide the Veteran with notice of the proposed change to the disability rating. The Veteran then has an opportunity to submit evidence that supports his or her current level of benefits. When a decision is made, the Veteran has the right to appeal that decision. In the rare case the decision is made to reduce a Veteran’s benefits, the reduction is from that point forward.

    • Lawrence Kelley III says:

      Dear Bill: You are NOT required to repay the VA for overpayments they made through some fault of their own in setting your disability rating or otherwise.

      Title 38 US Code section 5302(a-c) governs this issue exclusively. It was passed & amended several times by Congress to stop the VA abuses in trying to claim overpayment indebtedness by reducing a veterans disability or pension payments, or any payments to a veterans spouse, widow, surviving children, etc.

      In fact, if you can show VA Secretary good cause by claiming the recovery of overpayments “would be against equity (fundamental unfairness) or good conscience”, Congress has said the “waiver of indebtedness by the VA is MANDATORY, Not discretionary by VA.”

      The leading case on this is Reyes v. Nicholson, 21 Veterans Appeal Reporter page 370 (2007). It explains the whole Congressional intent in creating and enacting section 5302 of title 38. You can get a copy of this case from any local law library such as university law school, or your county courthouse law library, or any attorney who has a WESTLAW or LEXIS account can easily print it out for you.

      Read it and you’ll se you do not owe the VA a penny if it was their fault in overpaying you. In fact, VA has to counter-claim against you that you committed “fraud, misrepresentation, or Bad Faith” which caused the overpayment. With that obstacle in place, Congress has pretty much cut off VA’s right to collect overpayments. Read the statute and Reyes and you’ll understand it clearly.

  9. Earl Ray Barnett says:

    I filed for compensation on 10 April, 2012. At that time I turned in a DD-214 and all of the records from when I was in the hospital in Iloilo, Philippines, I was released from the hospital there on or about 25 Feb. 2012. At that time I was told I had Ischemic heart disease. It was later when talking to my brother that he told me that is a condition caused by Agent Orange so I came in to the clinic for an Agent Orange screening. I did an Agent Orange worksheet and filed for compensation and treatment. I was told in December of 2012 or January of this year that it was not filed as an Agent Orange claim?? It was put into the AO filing at that time.

    When I went in for an appointment on April 8th of this year at the Manila Philippines clinic I was told that my service in Vietnam was only verified on April 5 of this year. How can that be? It takes 11 months and 25 days to verify that a soldier was stationed in Vietnam? I served 19 months but the tour of duty was only 12 months.

    Twice we sent them the information from the hospital in Iloilo which we had given them when we came in for the screening. They claimed they did not receive it until an employee, I think his name is George, checked my file and found it was there but not entered in the computer.

    I can only hope that things do improve and that I and others will be treated fairly. Your personnel could start by realizing it is their duty to know the system and not the duty of the vet to know the system they have in the office. I don’t know how many times I was told “You should have—– ” or you should not have”. I was there filling out the paperwork they directed me to fill out, how about giving me the right paperwork and telling me what I need to do. How about the people there knowing to file it as an Agent Orange claim when I have come in for an Agent Orange screening and filled out an Agent Orange worksheet?

    I will say this about the Filipinos that work at the Manila clinic, they are always polite and always eager to help when I talk to them. I wish I could say the same for the Americans that work there.

    Earl Barnett

  10. Afi G. Osakwe says:

    This is great news to all veterans caught in the nightmare of filing a claim. Especially egregious is the well-known process by vets fo the VA phasing in “service-connected” disabilities at 10, 30, 70 and then !00 percent.

    A better process is to just award 100 percent and become more efficient and effective on both sides of the equation–vets and VA. Vets won’t have to keep filing for higher percentages and the VA won’t have to deal with processing the same Vets over and over again. Currently, this paticular aspect is a significant contributor to veterans’ continued stress while attempting to overcome the various maladies of service-connected disabilities.

    In my case, I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2005 and didn’t know it. I finally was told this year that I have it and had already filed a claim in 2012, which was denied. I have not been treated for PTSD for all of that time–8 years. Actually, I have not been treated for it since 1972 when I first was discharged from service. I should be awarded for all the chaos in my life since 1972.

    That being said, kudos to the VA’s Under Secretary for Benefits, Allison Hickey, for this tremendous development in helping us. Thank you.

  11. Arnaldo J. Gratacos says:

    In order to purchases my apt., I need my update certificate of eligibility for loan guaranty benefits. Branch of service; Army. I never use my benefits, since 1976. Thank’s

  12. rick says:

    Allison Hickey is a retired Air National Guard general, that served on active duty. She was promoted through the Air National Guard system of promotions – not the same as the regular Air Force!!!

  13. Thank you my claim has been out for three months and me and my family have been patiently awaiting our claim to be finished. We appreciate this we are waiting to purchse a home and three years worth of benefits would really help.Thank you you for finally getting it together.

  14. Thank you finally putting an end to this situation me and my family have been waiting for three years and plan on purchasing a home we are eternally grateful.

  15. Ted Engelbart says:

    I have been waiting for a reply from the DRO since October 3, 2011 and as of today I still haven’t heard anything. All the rehtoric about the lack of jobs, well why dosen’t the government make it a priortiy to give VA the claims adjusters/reviewers they need to help reduce the huge back log of claims. I’ll be 70 in June and I’ll probably die before my claim is ever settled. Unfortunately, there are far to many other veterans in my same position. I have no doubt that this is just more false information. Talk is alway easy and often insincere, its the action that reveals the true sincereity.

    • Ted Engelbart says:

      I have been waiting for a reply from the DRO since October 3, 2011 and as of today I still haven’t heard anything. All the rehtoric about the lack of jobs, well why dosen’t the government make it a priortiy to give VA the claims adjusters/reviewers they need to help reduce the huge back log of claims. I’ll be 70 in June and I’ll probably die before my claim is ever settled. Unfortunately, there are far to many other veterans in my same position. I have no doubt that this is just more false information. Talk is alway easy and often insincere, its the action that reveals the true sincereity

  16. I opened a claim for PTSD in 2008, denied and appealed in 2010. Nothing since then.????

  17. Tom Yasko says:

    Thank you writing this article and thank you, VA, for this kind of effort. It should help quite a few Veterans, I think.

    Unfortunately- with respect to my own claim, although I trust that it is indeed being worked on and will come to a resolution some day, reading this leaves me with the thought “This is fantastic news… maybe.”

    My claim for VA Disability Benefits turned three years old in March. I’m sure there are many of my Veteran brothers and sisters who are in worse situations than I am and whom have been waiting even longer- so I’m often quite reluctant to even say boo about any of it!

    Approaching my three year anniversary, I contacted the VA- via email and in person (if I remember correctly) and have yet to receive a response. The behavior of the first line workers at my local VA Benefits section has actually become quite humorous as they panic when they access my case and then seek out the advice of their supervisor- typically returning with an unfortunately sad and empty response. Still, I realize it shouldn’t be this way.

    I really don’t understand why my claim is taking so long. I initially applied while still on Active Duty (Army) and was in the early stages of a medical evaluation board- which ultimately took a full year to complete. Feedback from the VA since March 2010 has included responses such as “We’re working on it”, “Watch for a letter in the mail soon” and my favorite, “We apologize for your claim taking so long.”

    I’ll admit, I just skimmed your article just now. I’ll definitely read through it at least a few more times and act on any tips which you may have provided. I also really appreciate your efforts as without them, though I am fortunate enough to be living in sunny Hawaii- the darkness of waiting for my claim would be quite unbearable.

    A sincere thank you for your efforts and I look forward to future posts!

    -tom yasko

    • Hey Tom,

      You can check the status of your claim through eBenefits: http://www.ebenefits.va.gov

      You can also submit an inquiry regarding your claim using this secure form: https://iris.custhelp.com/app/ask

      • I'm Done says:

        eBenefits information is NEVER ACCURATE. Claims start dates constantly changing. VSOs fail to call to inquire about easily verifiable information (DEERS or claimant). Rather “close” cases to clear backlog. This actually adds to backlog, because it forces veteran to appeal or reapply. Veterans do not know procedures, you do. As for me, the claims process has pushed me further into depression. VA doctors need sensitivity training. They automatically, assume every veteran is working on a disability claim, and treat us as second class. More harm than help is why so many veterans give up

        • Tracie says:

          Concur. I was assigned to the Director of the GYN Dept at the VA Clinic in Hampton Roads, Va. I was there for a Hysterectomy Screening. I was told I needed an exam to verify I did not have ovaries. I have seven friends who all had the same screening at other VA Facilities or MTFs and not one of them was required to have a “verification exam” of loss of ovaries. I provided this Director/Dr. five exam surgical reports discussing the loss of ovaries/uterus and numerous other issues. He could have cared less interested if I was a piece of gum on the ground. By the time that appointment was over, I told the Nurse Practioner who conducted my C&P exam that I felt like I just live through the movie “Born on the 4th of July.”

        • David Davis says:

          You can’t ever rely on the crooks that are in control to ever ever do the right thing. But never surrender to the bas****s either. Everyone in the US must realize now that this congress has lied, cheated, and stolen from veterans in some way or another. They have lost their lives, jobs, homes, families, friends, and given their souls to people and corporations here at home that could care less about their problems or plights. Cause if half of Congress gave to shits about veterans then we couldn’t be in this position. They let their mouths overload their asses and we as veterans feel the result of their deniability and procrastination.

      • Tom Yasko says:

        Richard-

        Thank you. I check my status daily (via eBenefits) and try to send an inquiry at least once every three to six months. However, since I have yet to receive an even marginally cogent response, I’m starting to think that the VA may actually be a little embarrassed to say anything!

        Again- thank you for reinforcing information about eBenefits and IRIS. Though my experiences have been perhaps beyond words, I would and do still encourage other Veterans and survivors to use both services to at least maintain a day-to-day awareness of their claim.

    • Catherine Trombley says:

      Tom,

      Did you go through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System with DOD (your MEB/PEB)?

      • Lawrence Kelley III says:

        Catherine Trombley, OMG, at least give the poor veteran a hyperlink in your reply that at least helps him find out what the “Integrated Evaluation System” with DoD is, for pete’ sake. And explain to him (or her as the case may be) exactly what “MEB/PEB” is. See, the problem with you VA staff is these complicated acronyms are all very familiar to you, but they are Greek to most veterans. Or tell him how to access WARMS and get to the M21-1MR manual to see if VA followed its procedures? Why not?

        Or why not tell him about how he can go to any local law library (or buy for himself) a copy of the “Veterans Benefit Manual” published by the National Veterans Legal Services Program (available thru Lexis.com/store). Or even contact the National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA) to get help from a lawyer or Gen. Counsel certified agent for disability claims.

        You apparently have no clue what people at NVLSP or NOVA or the many other veterans advocates & VSOs think of you VA people. Even more, how we are very well-versed in all of your abuses and negligence or deliberate misinterpretations or misapplications of long-standing VA laws (read Title 38 US Code & 38 CFRs & CAVC case law). Or how about telling them how they can access WARMS and go to the M21-1MR manual, or any of the Other manuals in the M-series in WARMS?? Why is that?

        You can’t even tell them where on VA’s own website they can see for themselves whether VA has obeyed the procedures for processing their claims. And you are really trying to help them? If so, give much more precise, potent legal information which they can use to Fight the VA Fairly. Until then, its all Public Relations blather, and we heard it all before, too many times, ad nauseum.

  18. John Tilson says:

    Which 36 Regional Offices have completed the transition?

    • Lawrence Kelley III says:

      They are not sure yet, it is being “studied”, just like the suicide statistics from the other 29 states which they have not yet analyzed to tell us the true total suicide rate for veterans. It’s 22 now, up from VA’s previous “estimate” of 16, an increase of 25% mind you. When the data from the other 29 states is finally revealed, VA is going to have a major, major crisis on their hands. And they know it all too well. That’s why they are ‘staging” out the data, since they know the suicide rate is much higher from several other statistical data they have, such as uncashed checks mailed out, complete absence from VA for services, etc. They know what’s up, but will never honestly Admit it. That’s the core issue here: Honesty. And then an apology for how they misled so many, for so so long. They could change everything by open apologies; but that demonstrates true sincerity & remorse. In a government that repudiates God and all His teachings, honesty & sincerity are also repudiated.

  19. Domingo Aguilar says:

    My claim is going on three years as of July of this year. March 2012 I was awarded a partial decision of 90% with 6 contentions deferred. My regional office is the Los Angeles office, and I just recently learned that my claim was sent to the Nashville regional office to be rated. Why? One of my most severe conditions that was deferred was my blind left eye which only has light perception and IU, due to not being able to work due to my service connected disabilities. I really can’t understand why my eye was deferred, because I was treated and continue to be treated for my eye through the VA, plus they have all the treatment records, so what do they need from me, to go completely blind from both eyes? I have been more then patient and continue to make all my appointments that are made for me by the VA. I just don’t understand why someone like me with a clear claim and well documented has to wait for almost 3 years. I just don’t understand. This is a time waster, that should have been decided on a long time ago. Sorry, just had to let some hot air out.

    Respectfully Submitted.

    Domingo Aguilar

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Hi Domingo,

      Its really hard for me to say why your claim was held up — with out the file I can only speculate. However, VA typically brokers files to other ROs when an RO gets too many claims. It may seem like a delay with shipping — but brokering actually gets claims done quicker, because someone at the receiving RO has capacity to work on it.

  20. Tom Garvey says:

    I’m a Vietnam Veteran (1967-68) that has been waiting almost ten years to resolve my service-connected disability claims with the VA. Will this new VA Initiative – “VA Expediting Claims Decisions for Veterans Waiting a Year or More” apply to my claims?

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Tom,

      I am assuming your claim is on appeal since you have been working it for 10 years. This program only applies to claims where the Veteran has not received a decision at all on the claim. Good luck with your appeal.

  21. john colt says:

    Have been waiting since Dec 2011 for agent orange benefit. When can I expect a determination since it will now be expidated ??

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Hi John,

      Your claim — since it is over two years old — is being worked first. Once we finish the two year claims, we will work the claims pending longer than one year. We hope to have all claims a year complete by Oct. 1st (our fiscal year).

  22. Juan says:

    The Veterans are feeding with hopes, Hopes that most of Us dying before see any benefits, We are having Legit Service Connected Disabilities and continue to deny our claims that are ending at the Board Of Veterans Appeals and is unfair that our claims goes to BVA, and that’s another wait time, We are begging for benefits that We earn, deserve and fought for, 13 years between claims and appeal, the only thing I have was Hopes but no anymore, January 2012 not able to work due to Service Connected Disabilities, I was in need to apply for SSA benefits and I approved in less than 10 months, is very dissapointed,,,,

  23. Mike says:

    It only took them 120 months (10 years) to approve my claim. Pays to get right up in their faces at the regional office.

  24. Claimed in since 02/27 2011. Va waiting on response from there own agency? North Carolina waiting on information from Atlanta, all one system???

  25. dee says:

    i have been waiting since april 2011 for a decision been in hospital twice during this period still no response. I hope I will hear something soon

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Dee,

      You fall in the bucket of two year old claims, which means we are working your claim first. Also, If VA service connects you for a condition that you were hospitalized for while the claim was pending, you should received a temporary total disability for the time you were hospitalized.

  26. Michael Rodgers says:

    7 years and counting. We’ll see…….

  27. I'm Done says:

    HIRE UNEMPLOYED VETS FOR CLAIMS PROCESS!

    • Cat Trombley says:

      more than 50 percent of claims processors are Veterans and many more are closely related to Veterans. In 2012, 88 percent of new hires for claims processors were Veterans.

      It takes two years for new claims processors to become fully trained. So hiring a bunch of people is not a solution. Hiring, changing the way we train employees, new technologies and changing our internal processes are the way to end long wait times.

  28. PAMELA DAUGHERTY says:

    my late husband filed a claim for ischemic heart diease in 2011 in july 2012 he got a 10 percent rating we immedially ask for a increase my husband had a massive stroke on dec 17 2013 from clots moving from heart to brain and died feb 23 2013 still no word on increase i have lost half my income from his death i have allied for spouses benefits and i am diable from heart condition wonder if i will be dead before i get anything

  29. Alan says:

    This is a step in the right direction. I applaud the VA.

    However, why not extend this initiative to all backlogged claims over 125 days? It doesn’t make since to apply a provisional decision only to those over 1 year. In the period of time to develop those claims newer ones will age and also become backlogged, creating the same problem.

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Hi Alan,

      Are numbers people accounted for those that will flow over the one year and two year mark while we implement this program. Those that flow over will be included. We believe once we have cleared the oldest claims, we can focus on the rest of the backlog and get down to 125 in 2015. Thanks for the support!

  30. Carol says:

    I have been waiting and waiting. Just got denied and I have to provide the information, that only the VA can get, very helpful..File more paperwork and see that the evidence I submitted was not even used, of course the VA did not acknowledge that they even received it..So here we go again resubmitting the information for a third time. It would be nice to have some accountability.

    • Joe Doe says:

      Carol, one of my healthcare providers submitted the records to the Baltimore VA **FOUR** times without them “receiving it.” It is possible that she did not have my maiden name on every page as the service record is in my unmarried name. It is also possible that she didn’t have my service number on every page (SSN). But, they were definitely on the first page. I finally had that provider send me the record and I wrote the name and SSN on every page and sent it in via fax, registered mail, and a hand-carry up to the office (that won’t validate parking in the federal building lot and makes you sit there for 6 hours to hand them a file). That set of records is **STILL** missing from my file.

  31. Derek says:

    I’m close to 2 years om my claim. I recieved a partial decision, however the rest of my claim looks to be pushed out until next year. I received a letter saying they need more evidence due to a change in my claim(?), and that I would need to see a QTC contrator again(strip-mall doctors). The VA in the greater Los Angeles area has been a nightmare to deal with when it comes to claims. Where is the oversight and recourse in this system?

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Hi Derek,

      Our LA RO went through intensive training recently to help increase their productivity and accuracy. Your claim should be part of this program and we are working claims older than 2 years first. If you added a new condition while your claim is pending, that may be why they issued a partial. Also, they may see a secondary condition that needs to be worked. (A secondary condition is one that is caused or aggravated by a service connected condition).

  32. Jerry says:

    1. I am unable to get out of bed on my home as my legs become so stiff and rigid that it is impossible to just jump out of bed. My back has increased in pain to the point I am unable to ambulate in a proper stature. Neither of my knees extends fully nor do they bend properly. I have an extremely bad shuffle which is worsened by the inability to walk correctly without limps and such.

    2. The issue with depression needs to be thoroughly discussed. I began having separation anxiety and depression the day I received notification that I was deploying. My daughter was just born, and later as a result of my Naval Service, I went through a divorce. Dr. Farr willingly left notes out of my medical record because entries made in medical records discussing depression and suicide ideation’s would block my entrance to the Officer Candidate School and the flight surgeon made it very evident that it would block my entrance to the program. Dr. Farr (USNR Lt. Commander) believed with therapy I would eventually be able to maintain the issues discussed. Since my departure from the Navy I have attempted suicide approximately 5 times. The medical conditions such as my continual leg problems, my back, my asthma, multicentric castlemans disease, lymphoma, Thyroid issues, Kidney Lesions, and Parkinson’s disease leave a very depressing future. I am unable to teach which was the love of my life after the Navy. I have to ambulate with a cane if I am walking for short distances on very flat surfaces. I use a wheelchair when I have a lot of appointments, and I will use my VA supplied scooter for longer distances and just to get out and away from the house. I feel at the least if these issues do not prove depression, they should provide proof of unemployability.

    3. In closing, I want you to understand that every day of my life will be spent in pain from my back, knees, and other arthritic joints. My body has had enough. In addition I have uncontrollable depression and anxiety attacks. I must realize that I will have to deal with these issues for the remainder of my life. Please agree with me that I am and will remain unemployable.

    4. 3/25/2013 My military service included the Grenada invasion and duty revolving around Beirut which I received the Navy/Marine Expedition Medal which according to Congress and the American Legion, I have fulfilled any wartime required obligation.

    5. I am currently unable to repeat the PFT for asthma due to my teeth being extracted five at a time. I am unable to breathe in in and out at a rapid pace to avoid a dry socket according to my…

  33. Mike Moore says:

    Dear General Hickey,
    I greet your announcement with ambivalence at best. Your expressed attitude of commitment to solving the problem, while admirable, stands in stark contrast to the reality that we Vets face every day. Let me give you one example from your letter where you say “Should a Veteran submit additional evidence …………..” Can’t you and your agency understand that routinely and arbitrarily placing the “burden of proof” for claims on the Vet is just a bureaucratic dodge. My case is a simple example – I served in Thailand as a combat airman and missions often took me into Vietnam for refueling and loading more ordinance on my airplane. While I was in Vietnam many times, the first question I was asked upon submitting my claim was whether I could “prove” that I was in Vietnam. I haven’t the vaguest idea how I would prove it. I would happily swear to it, but, by shifting that burden of proof to me, your agency can sit on my application for as long as you want. If you really want to clear up your backlog, please take a look at how many of your cases are sitting idle because someone has arbitrarily asked one of us to prove something that, while true, can’t be proven. I took the same officer’s oath you did and swear on that oath that I was in Vietnam on multiple missions and trips. You (the government) sent me over there and should accept the burden of proving that I wasn’t. This issue, while specific to my case, affects many other vets and your Agency’s long history of creating restrictions around who did and didn’t serve in Vietnam and arbitrarily placing the burden of proof on Vets are both a disgrace and contrary to your mission of helping Vets deal with the aftermath of combat.

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Hi Mike,

      The requirement that you have “boot on the ground” in Vietnam for the presumption was ratified by the Federal Circuit. I know this make it seems as if the burden of proof is on you and its difficult for Airmen and Sailors, but VA gives benefit of doubt to the Veteran, meaning that if the evidence is 50/50 for and against, VA sides with the Vet. When I worked as a claims advocate, I helped a lot of Vets prove they had boots on the ground. Once we did it with a program from Church dated the day, the sailors ship was docked. You can provide flight journals or if you remember a tail number and time of flight (general — think seasons, like winter 1968) you can request VA to research that tail number and where it landed, refueled etc. These records are hard for VA to get, so it may take time, but could make the difference. Letters home with post marks are another way — ask your siblings, parents if they hung on to them. These are just ideas but a good VSO can help you brainstorm a little more. Good luck.

  34. How about appeals that were denied, does this apply to video conferences?

    • David Davis says:

      Walter,

      Appeals are big problems for little minded men in charge. So usually big problems get swept under the rug cause that way nobody can see the mess that has been created and left unattended for years.

  35. Homer Yates says:

    The VA should on the world funniest videos. Will be 2 years the 30 of may 2012. I sent in all of my doctors report and both hospital stay reports. Had my C&P exam last August. My claim for ischemic heart disease, have been in decision for over 97 days. E-Benefits does not even have this claim listed, my previous 2 claims are. Maybe if the VA doesn’t see them listed you don’t have a claim. This I believe is just another BS story from VA.

    • David Davis says:

      Blame it on training Homer!!! They spent your compensation on watching Patton movies and probably a little VA P*** at the last training sessions. The government lets them get away with this crap all the time. The RO’s are run like NAZI SS prison camps and our lop-sided Congress are the ones that wrote the laws and claim they can’t do anything about the VA problems. The president is a joke as he does little to help change it. Good luck cause we all need help.

  36. sharon says:

    Having worked for 8 years with the Social Security Administration and now with the Department of Veterans Affaris, it is my personal opinion those who file for VBA, VHA or SSA compensation, disability benefits should be awarded benefits as early as possible given proper eligiblity. There are veterans who file for their VA disability, compensation/pension claims yet do not file for their SSA disability benefits to which they are entitled. I believe claims could be expedited much quicker if the VA and SSA would get together on the same page when a veteran files a claim; i.e., if SSA approves a fully favorable disability, the VA should honor that and vise versa; I have talked with many veterans who had filed for their SSA disability benefits but would not file for their VA benefits because they said it took too long and that the rating process took too long. As far as payment awards are concerned, I’m not a management analyst; just a claims examiner and past legal assistant to 8 administrative law judges with SSA. It would be easier and more cost effective to award benefits under one federal check per month which could be a prorated amount based on eligibility, entitlement, consideration for spouse, dependents, survivors, etc. and call it “Social VA.” just my two cents worth!

    • David Davis says:

      Sharon,

      It’s a good thing you didn’t write your last name. Hopefully Sharon is an alia too. The VA is probably doing a cross-check on employees now that have worked for both the SSA and the VA and will ultimately find you and get rid of you. I am glad to see that someone with a head on their shoulders has given this some insight. Your bosses will fire you as soon as they discover your logic.

  37. Derrick says:

    How does this affect dependency claims processing? Received a rating decision over a year ago, but still being paid at “veteran only” rate. Submitted appropriate VA form and still waiting for spouse and children to be added.

  38. smc says:

    I been waiting 6 years because NPRC admnittently misplace my records , they admitted in wrting. This BS above about moving faster , what a crock of more LIP SERVICE. Because of there loss, I had to go find old commaders bosses, for buddy letters and even after that I have to wait for a hearing no one know will take place its a dog and pony show of lies. The polticians dont care, they just want your kids to go because the elite and the polticians dont want to send theres. I wouldn’t send my kids, these polticians need to send there kids and just maybe things might get fixed instead of lip service

  39. smc says:

    Im still waiting and the VA has no idea when a board will be it just the hurry up and wait and they hope you die philosphy. The polticians know the injustice going on with veterans and all they do is the song from movie -the BEST LITTLE WHORE HOUSE IN TEXAS- OOOH I DO THE SIDE STEP

  40. Cathy says:

    Submitted claim on 1/31/12. Received partial rating 3/1/13 with two items deferred Completed scheduled QTC appt. on 3/5/13. On 3/28/13 I received a development letter asking for records submitted with the first claim. I dutifully sent them by express mail on 3/29/13. When I access E-Benefits, it still shows that they are “gathering evidence”. Leads me to believe that instead of thoroughly working these old claims they are just doing a slapdash effort on them, placing the remainder of the claim back into the limbo of gathering evidence to buy more time, likely another year or so while still being able to report that they have resolved old claims. nice eyewash, VA.

  41. CLM says:

    Hey Ms. Hickey;

    How about prioritizing the appeals that are back logged as well. I originally filed in ’96 and have been fighting the VA’s errors in adjudication since then. Recently my local office told me that It will take time to rework my case because of its complexity. No veteran should have to wait to have their claim properly adjudicated due to the errors and complexity that the VA created.

    This initiative may help those who are stuck in the initial development phase of the claims, only if the VA properly adjudicates their claims. A couple years ago I witnessed one regional office deny about 85% of its initial claims to boost their numbers, I fear this initiative will create the same kind of scenario.

    As for the veterans such as myself who have managed to keep their initial claims alive through the appeals systems for many years, the VA offers no apparent hope. Hell I am only 41 this year and still am more likely to die this year then have my claim completed properly. Better chance of being attacked by a shark in the sahara at that rate.

    So Ms. Hickey what do you plan to do to take care of Veterans like me??

    Thanks,

    Intinal Claim is 16 years and still being appealed

    • David Davis says:

      CLM,

      They probably plan on locking your claim in a cage with double or triple padlocks. Then putting it back on the hamster wheel with maximum yearly spin count before it is maybe selected for a review. However with over 250,000 appeals now and Congress throwing some popcorn at veterans with their usual smoke and mirrors act your appeal will be going on 20 or 30 years so that their motto of Delay, Deny, and not wait anymore but kill em off attitudes and mottos will be reinforced again. My claim is 46 years old this year and they only found my SMR’s in 2010 so hopefully yours you’ve made a couple of copies of. Good luck

  42. rob mack says:

    there are conflicting reports out dated 19 APR 2013 to weather claims more than a year or claims more then two years old start to get worked first so which is it???? here is the link to the conflicting info http://www.scribd.com/doc/136979587/20-13-05-Special-Project-FL-to-Eliminate-2yr-Old-Cases-WH-GC-Approved-Final

    • David Davis says:

      It doesn’t matter veterans should not count on this it is another smoke and mirrors trick to deny claims.

  43. Joseph Simpson says:

    My claim has been on going since May 2004 with Philadelphia Regional, one of the worst by OIG reports and even VA employees I have spoken to. I have a BVA Remand since 2009 that has never been addressed. My doctors are all VA Medical and they concur with my claims as well as pension and comp doctors reports in my favor. The BVA ordered my claim expedited due to sever violations of due process. the VA attempted to lie to my Congressional Representative but she had the evidence to prove them wrong in front of her. However, despite claims from the VA that they are investigating this issue by the new manager I have still not heard anything from them. Needless to say I am more then a little fed up with the games the VA plays and the lies they tell the American public. I may lose everything due to the Direct Negligence of the VA and VA officials.

  44. Orlando Miller says:

    Although this is a step in the right direction, let’s not forget that few, if any, of VBA’s 56 regional offices has a VA aspirational ratings claims accuracy of 98.0%. Unless you couple this initiative with increased staffing, training, and bonuses, I’m afraid ratings claims accuracy will continue to miss the mark. The VA’s transition to paperless system and allowing claims to be filed as FDC’s with acceptable DBQ’s is a start in the right direction. Yet, I caution you when allowing provisional decisions on the oldest claims in inventory at the cost of accuracy. In the end, many of us will be back in the same boat
    having to appeal. Lastly, the VA projected that it will take up to six months to complete the 250,000 claims being targeted. That means my 500 day old INITIAL claim will take another 180 days to complete. Still hanging in there……

  45. Orlando Miller says:

    I challenge all the VSO’s (DAV, VVA, IAVA, AL, VFW, etc.) to come together and
    schedule a march on Washington. I can assure you, when a million plus angry veterans converge on D.C. and demand and end to the claims backlog, we’ll see change.

  46. 3,165 days or 452 weeks and 1 day,still waiting by the grace of god.

    • David Davis says:

      Wll Alex I have been waiting for 46 years this year!!!! So I guess you have a few more days, weeks, and years to fight these crooks.

  47. claim for liver denied in 1972. reapplied in 2002. denied. reapplied, received 10% for liver, 10 for right knee (had already been partially replaced). appealed 20% or liver, 10%. social security said he was disabled from april 2002. va no. was in the process of another appeal in 2007 when larry when into liver failure, kidney failure and had osteomylelitis with lumbar spine involvement. Denied-told larry hadn’t keep his doctor appointment. va was told he was in critical condition in our hmo hospital. Reapplied. On Jan 4,2008 larry’s dav worker called, told him he won. Went to dr. on Jan 7,2008. Still not healing from surgery, another three months of full bedrest. bedpan, bedbaths, home health and shots of blood thinners give my my wife. Jan 8, 2008 called by Charity and told that if he would give up earlier start date and chroncicity for the chirossis of liver would get 100%. he did and appealed. case was finally certified for bva on April 17, 2013. will i the substiture claimant case be in this over two year case. larry died on 3/15/2010. it a shame he died with the rating board telling him no aid and attendance. You went to bed voluntary. I am so angry about the disrespect the rating board showed him. And the representative who claimed to help him in oakland should all be fired

  48. Why can’t the president, with a stroke of pen, give us the benefits we have waited for. with the stroke of a pen he gave millions of illegals that right to stay in our country, over the objects of the voters. We, as the widows, widowers of veterans, along with the veterans who served this country with honor deserve better. The elected representatives in washington, dc should be taking care of the millions of veterans and the families of veterans instead of millions of illegals who sneak into the country. Give us a “dream Act’ so we can pay our bills, educate our children and thrive, instead of having to stand in line with a beggars cup held out.

    • David Davis says:

      The reason is because illegals have been given rights and veterans have been given BS for years and our rights are written in the USC which should probably be burnt up and rewritten. They throw us off of government lands. They imprison veterans. They make their wives and children suffer. This is the reward a soldier has when he has served. This is American JUSTICE. Take our guns and give the illegals our fought for rights. The illegals that fought along side of us are the ones that deserve our respect and citizenship. Get rid of this crappy Congress and presidency. Put Veterans to work.

  49. Stephen says:

    One reason our legitimate claims are taking so long is due to the crap the VA has to sort through. Take these two for instance. A Navy ship docks at DaNang for the night and leaves the next day, and there are men who were on the ship claiming Agent Orange compensation. Second, a Navy ship off the coast of Lebanon supporting the Marines onshore, and a sailor claims PTSD compensation. This is nuts, and holding up valid claims. JMHO.

    • Oh really? Just what do you consider a valid claim?
      The fact of the matter is, if a claim meets the VA requirements it is valid.
      To respond to your comment regarding a ship tied to a pier in Danang.
      If a sailor went ashore he met the same criterion others who stepped foot in Vietnam proper met, including those who were stationed in Vietnam proper, ie; “boots on ground’. The sad reality is Secretary Shinseki blew off the recommendations of the IOM: “Given the available evidence, the committee recommends that members of the Blue Water Navy should not be excluded from the set of Vietnam-era veterans with presumed herbicide exposure.”
      Concerning your remark about a ship off the coast of Lebanon. First, if it wasn’t for those ships providing support your ground pounding butts would have had much more trouble and suffered heavier casualties than you did. It’s also obvious that you were never on board any vessel when General Quarters sounded. How’d you like to be stuck in a hot stuffy gun turret or a hot noisy engine room, boiler room or other area for hours on end not only provided gun fire and other support but waiting, waiting, waiting, and wondering when your ship was going to be hit with enemy gunfire. PTSD? Damn straight! Any and all sailors who stood watch at GQ more likely than not has some form of PTSD and should be compensated.
      I suggest you get yourself educated on the subject before making such inane statements as you did.

  50. Julie Shapiro says:

    I started my claim 12/2011 in NV but had to move to FL 10/2012 due to parents’ illness to assist them. I was just called in for some C&P exams (04/2013). The list showed illnesses I never had or applied for, and I was assessed for illnesses I do have from the 1st Gulf War, diagnosed by the VA. I have seen lists stating auto approval for certain diseases if you were in combat zone. It was obvious one doctor was doing all he could to not approve the ones assigned to him, even though it is on the list. Other illnesses and the unemployability issue wasn’t on there at all, yet my state 100% disabled me within 2 months and according to the state’s rules, I cannot work in my 30 yr profession or any other job without their approval, or they take away my disability retirement income (from a state pension plan). I am not eligible for SSI because of this disability pension plan, yet my income dropped below poverty level while I wait for the VA to do something. They moved my file from NV to FL without telling me, so I hope they count all the time this claim has been in, not just since it moved. It’s been 16 mths already and by the way, nothing they tell me matches what I see on ebenefits. So it’s a mystery what they really have, despite my numerous efforts to correct all the information. I was even listed as post-Vietnam and it took me a year to get them to change that to wartime status, even though I was active duty 1985-1994. I’m seeing you guys are supposed to be finally be moving things along, but it truly scares me what I will see if it happens. There are so many errors now, if things are rushed the errors may also increase dramatically. Another thing to fight.

  51. Warren Mangnall says:

    Well another claim to speed the prosses, think we have heard all of the claims before, my claim for unemployablity was turned down, lets see you find a job when you can’t hear at the job interview, or you are in so much pain you can’t sit thru the entire interview. i have appealed the finding but hold little hope of getting benifit, i only served 22 years on active duty before i was medicaly discharged, yes i know the findings of my med board don’t make it service connected. yes i have been unimployed since dec. of 2011, and only had job that long because i owned the co.. now to deaf to communicate with anyone over phone so had to sell co. in nov. 2011. by the way the spelling is due to alzhimers that the va says i don’t have.

  52. jason m says:

    I am a 70% disable Vet at present and am waiting for a hearing for my sleep apnea claim. I provided. Letters from my VA Respitory Dr.,Letters from Soldiers I have served with on active duty,letters from my wife to whom I was married too and am still married to ,scientific studies from Tufts and Harvard medical and CNN .My original claim for this was in May will a decision be made on mine in thus expedited process? I have given then plenty of evidence that my problem began while in the desert and ever since. The VA is the one who diagnosed my apnea with a sleep study and issued my a Bipap breathing machine.

  53. DANIEL says:

    You read the comments and you can see the frustration with the VA. I have been waiting over a year for a decision on my PTSD which I have gone through therapy and am currently seeing a psychiatrist and taking about 8 or 9 different medications. Both are through the VA and just recently was examined by the head psychiatrist at the VA Hospital. That was the last step before final decision is made. All three were in agreement with the diagnosis and the GAF score. I called the 800 number to see if the input from the the doctor from the hospital was received by the regional claims office and the person said she didn’t see anything. I mentioned to her about the expediting of claims over a year old and she said the memo she received said claims that are older than July 2010 she knew nothing about the one year push.

  54. Nadine says:

    My case is a basically a simple case. Yet I am coming up on a year. They had lost the paper work on it for 6 months. Sent me a letter appologizing and asking me to re-submit everything.

  55. Whistle Blower says:

    DVA not having jurisdictional authority to modify, issue or correct discharge certificates (DD-214) under Title 38 USC or 38 CFR 20.101, VA raters are modifying discharge certificates certifying honorable period of service by the military service department to dishonorable under the Department of Veteran Affairs.

  56. DANIEL says:

    Is anyone from your office going to respond to these or is it an exercise in futility

  57. I'm Done says:

    I wish I could take ALL the comments I read in Blogs and sites such as these and send them directly to President Obama, because I know he gets sanitized versions in the reports he receives. The time and it takes for our politicians to gather information, create reports, meet, create new laws and regulations to “improve the claims process” is time lost to the many veterans the new laws will not help. Please can we all get real and admit this system is extremely flawed and is not getting better.

  58. David Davis says:

    In my opinion this appears to be a one time lop-sided approach to the disability claims process. There are more brilliant minds out there in the public sector that can be utilized more effectively in deciding claims. First of all Congress should address Veterans concerns about a deceitful, lying, corrupt organization. Get rid of the current claims process and ensure uniformity of decisions and compensation for all. Veterans fighting an antiquated guess what poorly compounded compensation formulas that should by all rights made illegal. Pro-claimant and adversarial for veterans is a bunch of BS. If it isn’t then why do we have to have 3 or more doctors opinions and c&p exams and wait years through remands and court decisions to get any disability starting at 0%. What is this 0% anyway??? Veterans need to unite and we can make a change that is permanent and in a lasting way. Congress you need to get off your lazy rear-ends and change the laws to reflect current times. Your compensation isn’t peanuts or 0% because you appear to be disabled when it comes to real justice and change.

  59. 3,170 days or 452 weeks and 6 days, God is good,he is keeping me, while I wait for va. to do right.

    • David Davis says:

      Alex you have 3 more decades to catch up to me 46 years 6 months and not even counting anymore but I will never give in to these morons and blood suckers!!!!!

  60. Donna White says:

    Last October, I helped file a claim (internet) for my father-in-law, who lives in south Florida. He has significant hearing loss from his service in Artillery. He had hearing evaluations through the VA, as well as by a civilian source for a hearing aid. He is 91 years old, his wife is 90 and blind. That claim isn’t over a year old, but I wonder if there is anything in place to expedite his claim?

  61. Alex says:

    THIS VET NEEDS HELP!!!! I am an Army Vet. I served from 1971 to 1978. While stationed in Germany with the 5/56 ADA at Spangdahlem AFB, I injured my back. I had a permanent profile on my back. Due to my dependent wife leaving me in Germany I had to return to the states to take care of my 3 small children under the age of 6 that were left with me in Germany. While back in the states the Army gave me a Hardship Discharge(Sole Parenthood). I went on with life till I ended up in the hospital in1988 with Spinal Menningitis. (had this condition 2 more time in the next 2 years.) The Doctors said this was caused from an old injury. I filed a claim in 1988 with the VA at that time. The claim was denied because there were no records from my unit in Germany showing anything!!! Not even a sick call!! I was told that I could get this disability claim approved when I found the records from Germany which would be considered new evidence by the VA. I have been looking for these records for the past 25 years. Over the past 25 years I have had to have major back surgery, and have now got arthritis in just about every joint in my body. I even had another bout of the Spinal Menni. in 2011. I have to walk with a cane, and have to live on pain meds. I have refiled several times over the last 25 years thinking that I had new evidence. The last time was Feb of 2009. I have exhausted all avenues to find the records from Germany. The National Records Center Claims they don’t have them. They have been saying this for the last 25 years. I cannot hold a job and I am homeless living in an old school bus at a flea market. This is no quality of life. Please Help!

  62. Outside observer says:

    In the civilian world backlogs in some respects are illegal. So why is this not illegal in the military??!! The gov would sue the private sector for conducting business this way.
    So many vets looking for jobs, it is obvious you need more competent staff hired and others fired. Professionals and only professionals need apply.

  63. DMRo says:

    I’d like to know why the elected officials give themselves enormous increases in their salaries and forget about us? The only logical answer that I come up with is simple. They don’t care.

  64. Benard Luff says:

    I wrote a long, but well structured letter to this blog. I thought for sure they would have posted the problems I have experienced with the VA here in Hawaii. So much for the 1st amendment.
    But of course…they did not. So I forwarded the letter to my congresswoman, senator, Mr. Bernie Sanders, the chair of the VA, and to the Vice President.

    I am sorry to interfere with your propaganda.

  65. Benard Luff says:

    Subject: Incompetence and Indifference
    To: newmedia@va.gov
    Date: Wed, 1 May 2013 00:25:01 +0000
    From: benluff1@outlook.com

    I have been receiving care from the VA, since 1999. I started receiving care at the VA in Portland, Oregon and never had any problem with the services that I received including mental health care. I have also received care from other VA facilities to include Spokane Washington and Wilmington Delaware when I had injuries, without any problems. I moved to Hawaii in 2009,I was suffering from a very deep depression because of a divorce and ended up in the psychiatric ward at Tripler Army Medical Center in December of that year. I went through the program at US vets Barbers Point on the island. This was a program for people with drug addictions or alcoholism, they didn’t really have a program for people with severe depression. I met quite a few veterans there who were depressed but were forced to claim that they were alcoholics or drug addicts in order to get care. I completed the program in April 2010.

    I had already started complaining about shoulder pain in February 2010, and was being seen by the orthopedic doctor for the VA. They only had one assigned for the VA there at the clinic. I started work in May 2010 for a environmental company which is my background, I was a Nuclear Biological and Chemical warfare specialist in the Marine Corps, and had worked at numerous TSDF’s throughout the country including a few sites that were shut down as emergency Superfund sites because of the bad materials that were there. Still complaining about shoulder pain which was I was told was just bursitis, I finally got in front of the orthopedic surgeon at Tripler Army Medical Center, a Lt. Col.Orchowsky, who finally asked me if I’d ever had an MRI done and of course I said no. During the course of being treated at TAMC, it was found that my C567 had deteriorated, my L345S1, had deteriorated and in my shoulder, three tendons that were 80 to 90% high-grade tears that needed repair. I lost my job as a Project Manager for the environmental company as soon as I told them that I had to have surgery and I was placed on temporary disability insurance through the state of Hawaii.

    The cervical fusion was performed in May 2011, the lumbar fusion was performed in July 2011, and I finally got in front of the Orthopedic Surgeon from the VA for my shoulder in October 2011. When my TDI ran out in August 2011, I decided to file for SSDI, my VA Pension and Disability rating. I had my medical records from the Marine Corps and was able to show…

  66. Dana Amick says:

    I can understand some of the compensation claims for disability and pension and the time frame for these as they can be quite complex but to have an 11 month wait time for getting my dependents their health particularly and their education benefits is ridiculous. It is a matter of looking at a form verifying the marriagne license, the birth certificates that match up with both sets of forms and on top of that, I sent in all of my dependent children’s transcripts from college both previous andcurrent classes. How in God’s name should this be over a month at the most. and why not when your comp claim was finished, just verify the dependents and send the entire retro and allow dependents to get in my case maybe life threatening health care. My wife retired from Southwest airlines to take care of me and lost her health bene so effectively my comp claim affected my whole family and they shouldn’t be still waiting after almost four years to verify their dependency. A monkey could do this and they keep telling me that icould take 11 months to process. Houston needs to get it together. You don’t prioritize an already approved comp claim that’s unfinished because of dependents and then stack it under other comnpensation claims when all they had to do was spend 15-30 minutes to see and approve these dependents. They deserve their opportunities for health care and education as well. We have waited 4 years why another just to check over marriage license and birth certificates.????
    Please someone give me a logical answer to this?????

  67. Bob E says:

    Memo to VA: If you want to clean up the backlog of claims, copy the Social Security Disability claims process. I submitted my claims to both VA & SS the exact same time. SS settled my claim which included one denial and an appeal with a trial judge 16 months ago. VA still dragging their feet. SS based their decision on VA medical records. I was told by a lawyer taking my SS claim this would happen and he was 100% correct.

  68. Orlando Miller says:

    As I previously stated, I appeal to every veteran to join me and march on Washington to deman an end to the VA’s smoke screen tactics and excuses. When a million plus angry vets converge on D.C. and demand changes at the VA, we’ll see change.

  69. Orlando Miller says:

    Mrs. Hickey,
    On March 20, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, called on you, the Veterans Affairs Department’s undersecretary for benefits, to resign due to the growing backlog of disability claims. Do you plan on resigning?
    Regards,
    Orlando Miller

  70. Get Real says:

    Get real people if you read this article it is political double speak. We are going to help our veterans when and if we can. By speeding up the old claims we can deny quicker with absurd excuses that have nothing to do with injury or caused the injury. I have had a claim I have been fighting with the VA for 6 years and have received excuses from it is a childhood injury a bone was not broken and 7000 pounds rolling over a joint will not cause long term injury. This is just the VA saying we can deny quicker save a few bucks and make congress and the president happy.

  71. CDR Robert Dutton says:

    The VA has stated since 1987 that I can’t claim my shoulder injury occurred on active duty despite five separate written references to the injury in my active duty medical record. Never mind that my 1986 resignation letter from active duty cited my shoulder injury as one reasons I couldn’t stay on active duty. The VA misdiagnosed my injury in 1987 as sub-deltoid bursitis, but ACL surgery in 2011 showed no bursitis, but rather two torn tendons, one which was removed because it was so shredded. The VA still claims “it’s impossible for the 1987 VA doctor to have misdiagnosed it because it was his ‘opinion’ at the time.”

    The VA is BROKEN.

  72. Robert Wilson says:

    I have been waiting for the review board to make a ruling on my claim for 14 years now so I am happy to hear that the VA has switched to a new system, I hope that they will make a change on allowing dependents to receive your award monies in the event the veteran should pass away before finding out if he/she was granted the increase.

  73. Ben Luff says:

    Here is the rest of my story that was cut off…

    was able to show some of the documentation of injuries while in the Marine Corps along with the PTSD, or as they called it back then, latent schizophrenia.

    Playing it smart I decided to find an attorney before I filed for the Social Security and VA benefits to make sure that the paperwork was filled out properly and submitted properly. Anyway after the surgery in October 2011, for my shoulder which of course was misdiagnosed to start with by the VA, when giving a nerve block to me after the surgery I basically broke my left hand and injured my right foot while these guys were holding me down and given me the shot. The follow-up visit right after the surgery for my shoulder in October I told the intern from the Army of the injury to my hand in my foot. The VA surgeon of course was not there for the follow-up. I made sure that the injuries were documented. Two weeks later I got in front of the VA surgeon who told me I had tendinitis in my foot and that my left hand was just sore. He recommended I go to pain management through the Army and during that period the massage therapist at TAMC said that I really had a problem in my foot he wasn’t sure what to do with it, he thought I had Morten’s Neuroma.

    I was sent to the podiatrist at the VA clinic. I tell him what’s going on and he tells me that I have permanent nerve damage from the lumbar surgery, no x-rays or anything. I tell him I really think something’s wrong on a follow-up visit he does an x-ray he says he doesn’t see anything. He thinks there is a fracture, and he wants to do an exploratory surgery on my foot to see if I have a Morten’s Neuroma. I went for surgery in February 2012, he sends me a picture of a Morten’s Neuroma in the email and it looks like he took it straight out of a book. At the same time they send me to a Neurologist at the VA about the hand pain. He tells me that basically I have a pulled muscle in my left elbow. I tell him that the left fingers on my left hand are numb. I tell him that I fractured the Hamet bone on that hand in 2007, and it feels like it’s broken again, he disregards that statement. He decides to give me a splint, he also wanted me to have a test designed to test the nerves in my left arm, which proved negative.

    So since I was going back and forth to who is now in charge of the orthopedic section at TAMC, I tell him what’s going on and he takes a look at the x-ray that was performed before my surgery on my foot and discovers that I have a tumor in the navicular bone in my left foot,…

  74. Ben Luff says:

    Amazing…cut off again….

    …. and discovers that I have a tumor in the navicular bone in my left foot, automatically I am upset at the VA doctor because he misdiagnosed it. His job there at the VA is, Podiatry. At the same time I get an x-ray done on my left hand. I had broken the Hamet again, and the bone has got in itself lodged in the tendon going down to my fingers. By this time I don’t want to see the Orthopedic Surgeon, the Neurologist, or the Podiatrist again at the VA. I lived with the shoulder pain for 18 months before the first surgery, and then another 11 months before the corrective surgery, about 6 months before they took the broken bone from my left wrist, and the tumor was removed finally after 18 months and 3 surgeries.

    So you can see have had quite a bit of exposure to the VA system and the Army medical system over a short period of time. I have had eight surgeries in the last 22 months, three of them basically were surgeries because of misdiagnosis. I had the TAMC Orthopedic section take another look at my shoulder and found that there were five things that the VA surgeon missed so I had to have surgery again on my shoulder. About a month ago I had the tumor removed from my right foot and I’m still in recovery for that.

    This story is long because I’ve had so much exposure to the VA system and the Army system. My VA claim for Pension and Disability went in, August 2010. It has jumped from the Honolulu VA to the VA in DC and now apparently since I’m also a Camp Lejeune veteran, it’s in Louisville, Kentucky. It has not been approved at this time.

    When I read the article about how claims are going to be expedited, I just have my doubts. My attorney tells me that her contact at the VA in Oahu, was basically told that all long-term claims were to be denied to give them more time to handle the claims backlog. Of course this does not shock me. It took me a year to the day, to have the SSDI to kick in. I had no funds, I had no money coming in whatsoever not a dime during the time I was laid up with all these surgeries.

    Going through the government system has just been extremely difficult to deal with. I am back seeing a Psychiatrist at the VA because of my PTSD and of course the Psychiatrist is an intern who’s there for a year, he transfers out after his internship is done and you end up with a new Psychiatrist and you have to start from the beginning and go through everything all over again. My frustration with the VA is to the point where I I’m not exactly sure how to handle it. I’m thinking of writing…

  75. Elaine Etter, Maynard says:

    I know of someone who had served his country during the Vietnam War era in 1968; this person had been waiting since 1970 to have his claim processed. On the other hand while I was watching the news, I heard this quote from the news anchor, “It’s chaos at the Veterans Administration”. Now, I know why the news anchor quoted that statement!

  76. Russell says:

    Just read what was probably 100+ posts here of Vets ranting and raving over this claims issue, many wanting to tell their entire life story (guy cut off 3 times) and it seems it’s all ME ME ME. As a leader of troops it is also about taking care of those around you as well. I have personally seen service members get out, bring their medical records to a Veteran Service Office, and drop it on the desk saying “I want this or that” when their records show absolutely nothing to do with an injury they want money for. Here goes ME – I provided EVERY possible piece of medical documentation conceiveable in a DBQ / FDC and low and behold all my claims were processed and granted accordingly.
    Not everyone has these brutal stories of plight to complain about as mine worked flawlessly in the system. yes I see that there are crazy stories about claims being backed up over years but I would not go as far to say there are “crooks” and “liars” in VA out to get you! That is paranoia and btw what the heck does General Hickey’s military status have to do with anything? Whether she was Air National Guard or regular Air Force, what does that matter? She earned her stars in uniform just as I earned my stripes on both active duty and reserves!
    Ruck up and take it upon yourself to read all the fine print, provide EVERYTHING that is asked of you (and more) and use a good service organization like DAV to route your file through on your behalf instead of trying to do it yourself. Would you represent yourself in a criminal or civil trial where your life was on the line? NOT!

  77. Geno says:

    I been in the VA system for almost 7yrs from 2006 to current May 2013 ,Before that I was being treated at the VA hospital lakeside in Chicago 1978-1982 for back injury could never get my record from the VA Chicago because record were moved to the Jessie Brown VA south Chicago years ago and the VA stated many record were lost or damaged in the move was in the system for years but no records.

    So in 2006 I file 4 issues after being denied this seems to be a genral pratice for the VA just to process the claim.I waited 5yrs for my claim to make it up to the BVA so in Jan 2011 I went to Washington in front of this so call VLJ seems was out of touch on what I was saying.She remand 2 issues to the AMC and denied theother 2 issues.The 2 issues that were remand for more devlopment though the AMC were sent April of 2011 I again had two more C&P Exam at the VA the VLJ want them to state if it was a least as likely that mu injury was from when i was in the USMC.They both stated most likely or related to my military service it’s been over 2yrs and have never heard anything from this AMC.I the same time frame .I appeal the other 2 issues that were denied at my BVA hearing in Jan 2011 to the CAVC so in NOV 2011 it was Joint motion for remand from both the VA lawyer or GC and my Lawyer back to the BVA so the denied issues were remand and the VLJ desion was vacated.Their were many errors mande and by denying me my entitlement many of the VA own laws were broken or not followed according to law.So in NOV 2011 case went back to the BVA and in May 2012 the VLJ denied my claim for the 2 issues again making the same errors once again so for the 2nd time claim was appeal to the CAVC and again on a JMR both the VA’s GC and my Lawyer agree the same errors were make so claims been sitting back at the BVA since Dec 2012 .And to make things more confusing the VLJ VA Judge that heard and rule on my claim twice is no longer working for the VA ,And still nothing on the 2 issue that were remanded in April 2011.