VA’s First Media Roundtable: Breaking the Backlog

On Friday, we started something new at VA: A monthly media roundtable where reporters are invited to call in or show up in person to grill VA leaders on the day’s topic. The idea is to become more transparent and, by virtue of that, to increase Veterans’ awareness of what’s going on. Yesterday’s topic was the disability claims backlog.

According to Leo Shane at Stars and Stripes:

Veterans Affairs officials on Friday vowed to eliminate the backlog in veterans benefits claims by the end of 2015, ensuring that all those seeking payment from the department will have to wait no longer than three months.

The department’s current backlog, claims that have taken more than 125 days to process, sit around 250,000. John Gingrich, chief of staff for the department, said recent improvements in procedures and technology have made leaders there confident that they can steadily shrink that number over the next five years.

Currently, we’re taking in around 100,000 new disability claims per month—so this is no easy task. At NextGov, Bob Brewin added:

Gingrich said VA plans to adopt the same kind of technology used in the new system for processing claims from Vietnam veterans exposed to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange to handle a wider range of disability cases. IBM developed the Agent Orange system, which went live this November.

The new approach features rules-based software to help automate the ratings process, and takes advantage of online medical examination forms from private physicians, eliminating the need for veterans to have an exam in a VA hospital, which could delay the claims process.

The roundtable was also covered by CNN, American Forces Press Service, and the Salt Lake Tribune. Next month’s roundtable will focus on the Post-9/11 GI Bill and we’ll be sure to get the word out to reporters and bloggers sooner this time. So let us know what you think.

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52 Comments to “VA’s First Media Roundtable: Breaking the Backlog”

  1. Larry Denman says:

    Why 2015? Why not by the end of 2011 or January 2012. The VA could start with a clean slate. The claims process is in the state it is because of the MAKE WORK policy VA has had in place for years. It can be cleaned up by fundemantally applying a policy that VA says it has adhered too over the years. Claims should be resolved applying the Principle of REASONABLE DOUBT.

    The VA says they applied this principle and have always favored the veteran. NOT TRUE. REASONABLE DOUBT has in the past, and now in the present, been resolved in favor of the VA.

    TOUCHE Secretary Waldolf

    • SH says:

      In a previous life, I worked as a rating specialist and can attest whole heartedly that reasonable doubt is given, and the attitude of ‘grant when you can, deny only if you must’ is widespread. I can also say that a large percentage, perhaps even a majority of claims that take over 6 months to process are largely due to the claimant’s actions.

      signed,

      A disabled Vet who’s been on both sides of the fence.

      • Tim Sorrell says:

        Come on. Are you trying to convince yourself? You certainly do not expect those of us on the “waiting list” to believe you. I only wish I knew why people make up, and randomly pick, fictitious numbers out of the air. 6 months….. 8 months….. 12 months….. Why does everyone have different and incorrect numbers? Is it because no one knows the numbers? Or could it be that no one had the fortitude to tell the truth? Who wants to answer?? Come on, ANSWERS!! I am living proof, my claim celebrates it’s 8 YEAR ANNIVERSARY this coming February. Can anyone explain that number?

    • Tom says:

      The VA always stated “resonable Doubt” but never applied it… Hence the need of “Buddy Letters” documentation and outside reports to even closely get near a claim… Deny, Deny Deny till the Veteran DIES!!! The 2015 date is business as ussual… Hurry up and WAIT!!!

    • Tim Baugh says:

      My claim has been in for 10 months now. They have everything they could possably need to settle it, but they just keep asking for more, sometime asking for the same thing two and three times, doesn’t make sense.

  2. TIM HERENDEEN says:

    So where is the actual Q&A from this meeting ! What reporters attended ? So as I see it, the money that has been spent to pay the new media group that created this blog and in fact get paid to do so, simply used all the legitimate sources to cover this event ? That’s a typical “Brandon Friedman” S.O.P. ! Do as little as possible, use everyone else’s work for your own, get all the credit, blow your own horn so that the real horn players make you sound good, and get paid ! So posting a link to other reporting agencies was the only thing that VAntage point was capable of doing ! I can’t wait to get you shut down !

    TIM HERENDEEN
    I copied this entire page For your information ! I do keep records and I am good at it !

  3. Dinkiedow says:

    So,many different stories.They all most likely went to the Obama school of spin.
    I was told by a V.A. Agent Thursday only two Ischemic Heart Agent Orange cases have been completed out of 93,000 then Friday V,A. releases 28,000 completed,What’s up really.Probably with Obama’s records!

  4. Let me tell you a little story about a man named David. His country called on him and he went to Vietnam to do his ‘duty’. While there he was injured when a piece of shrapnel entered in under his helmet. It bled badly, as most head wounds do, and he was unconcious for a time. He was treated by a Field Medic who did not document what happened, as some of them did not have time to do since they were all basically trying to stay alive. Flash forward to the time he left the military. When he comes home he has rotten food, urine, feces thrown at him and he is called a baby killer. He wants nothing whatsoever to do with anything relating to Vietnam or what happened to him there. No sooner does he leave the service and he begins to have blackouts’ of some kind. Fearing no one would give him a job he hides them as best he can and moves thru life with numerous problems that relate directly to his Service. It would be 24 yrs after his Service before he finds out that the ‘problems’ should be addressed thru the VA. The very same VA who has denied him benefits over and over for his ‘blackouts’ that he never had before Vietnam, but still have 37 yrs later. He carries the shrapnel scar to this day on his head. It shows up very plainly on MRI’s. VA refused to recognize this though. The very government that called on him to do his ‘duty’ is to this day refusing to do theirs! This is what is imprinted onto the VA Facility near us: TO CARE FOR HIM WHO SHALL HAVE BORNE THE BATTLE AND FOR HIS WIDOW, AND HIS CHILDREN. REALLY???
    I think NOT!!! VA has done good things for him in some ways, but when it comes to backing up what they say…they fall way short of the finish line.

    • Did he receive a Purple Heart?

      • Not all wounds were recorded in the corps. I had two corpsmen who treated flesh wounds that healed in the bush that were killed in the same action that I was wounded in. Not all wounds got recorded or mentioned. Most of the battle for hill 154 by Lima 3/3 went unrecorded and some of the guys who got infections did not get Purple hearts until later. If you didn’t catch the chopper off the hill and didn’t get an infection nobody cared if you had a little extra metal in your shorts.

        • That’s true. I’m just asking because a Purple Heart makes it easier to document.

        • Tim Sorrell says:

          Come on Brandon. How does black and white on paper, or a medal compare to visible scar and MRI. Benefit of the doubt???

        • utefan65 says:

          In the end it is not the corpsman’s responsibility to document your field injury. It is your chain of command that “should” be aware of which of their people are injured, they put the soldier in for the PH award and do not need a corpsman’s medical note to put the award forward. If you didn’t get a PH, it’s not your corpsman’s fault. No i am not a corpsman. There are millions of veterans in our country with millions more service connected ratings so VA must be doing something right.

  5. Veterans are outraged VA narrowed the definition of veterans waiting for a VA claim decision. With VA’s propaganda, the number of veterans waiting for a claim decision was reduced from more than 1,000,000 to “around 250,000.” VA lowered the number by creating an arbitrary 125-day timeline. If this was football, VA would have their team score when reaching the opponent’s 30-yard line. VA needs to stop the nonsense and focus on real problems.

    VA’s claim decision error rate is 25 percent, as reported in 10 VA Inspector General reports. This means VA must work very hard to improve quality. VA needs to make the correct decisions, because an approved claim often opens the door to urgently needed medical care. Currently, VA too often makes incorrect decisions that needlessly force veterans to appeal and wait, on average, another four years for a VA decision. VA has more than 200,000 veterans waiting, on average four years for an appealed claim decision.

    VA needs greater transparency. The first step VA Secretary Shinseki should take is revealing the full number of veterans with any type of claim waiting any amount of time. The second step VA Secretary Shinseki should take is revealing the accuracy rate for every office so veterans, Congress, and the public know the facts, and not VA’s public relations spin.

    There are a lot of angry veterans out there who contact veterans groups outraged at VA’s inability to process claims quickly or accurately. Once VA becomes more transparent about the real problems, and once VA begins focusing solutions to address both time and quality, then veterans will know VA is serious about ending the backlog catastrophe at the Veterans Benefits Administration.

    Until then, VA should stop moving the goal posts and trying to hide the problem.

    • utefan65 says:

      It’s really easy for those outside the system to think they can do a better job or that VA is a sleep at the switch. Take a trip to your local regional office sometime and look at the sheer volume of claims they must deal with every day, with more coming in, every day. There are only so many people, with so many hours in the day, and Americans are screaming for smaller government, except of course where it might negatively impact them. I am a veteran and I am still awating a rating after a year since applying but I seen the workload VBA employees are dealing with. Final note, do you ever wonder how many bogus claims VBA has to wade through while wading through the legit ones. Soldiers with bogus claims need to think about their fellow soldiers with true claims before submitting; it only slows down the process for all.

      • L Brown says:

        I had to never wait 3,4 years etc for a claim. I never got an accurate rating like most of us but 3,4 years is ridiculus. This should be telling u you that maybe it is not military related and u keep getting denied and appealing is what is happening. Stop filing frivilous claims so those with military related injuries can get theirs done a lil quicker. My claim always took 4 to 6 months to complete and each time I got an increase but not what I want but hopefully this time I will.

      • utefan65, I was just at a regional office and I can’t wait to tell their story! Thanks for the suggestion.

    • Ron Nesler says:

      I loved the Army. I want to love the VA. But, like a lying, cheating girlfriend, they won’t let me love them. If the VA would treat me with the respect to tell me the truth, they would win me over despite any honest short comings. But, I am afraid, that like many a lying, cheating girlfriend, they are so far entangled in their deceits that they can’t figure out how to come clean with the truth without creating huge liabilities for themselves. So, we war veterans are held hostage to the VA’s need to limit liability.

  6. Transcripts? says:

    Where are the transcripts from this so called media roundtable?

  7. Bill Jakins says:

    Just for arguments sake, lets say a vet has a neurological condition that was caused by daily exposure to neurotoxin in Navy. Lets say that condition is progressive and moving fast. Lets say the vet is 59. 2015 might not be attainable to this vet.
    I also would like to reply to the vet that sat on both ends of the fence. You would surely be biased and your reply is indicative of such, as claims are not not moving faster and it is not the vet thats causing the logjam.
    It is people making decisions based on regulations that they do not understand. Why do you think the legal profession is making a killing on taking our money when and if rewarded.
    Congress can drop 59 billion to people that cant find a job and most of them are playing the system.
    The VA will always be the VA as they hire their own statisticians and their numbers always look good.

  8. I can not complain. Every claim has been settled within six months. I have not seen the check from my last stint in the hospital but I am sure it is on the way.

  9. Tim Sorrell says:

    It truly seems the VA has paid some people to talk to communicate. But the only communication taking place is between the very people paid to communicate. They are ONLY communicating between themselves. As I see it the VA has talked since 1930. Brandon has been trying by radio and TV interviews. But until he learns what he is suppose to talk about, he is being paid to smile. He has yet to mention one specific address, phone number, or web site, for Veterans to contact. Time for talk to stop. Time for action.

    Instead of this ’round table’, how about a field trip, unannounced, to a different VA Medical Facility each time a roundtable is scheduled, and REALLY communicate. Get out from an office and put your boots on the ground, where the other boots are located. Providing internet space for Vets to vent, is not communicating. And it is easy to see, twitter, facebook, or VAntage has not yet been accomplished anything. There is no communication. These sources have only served to anger and frustrate Vets even more. It has back fired. So far all this is a failure. You can not quote a success story, yet. In fact you could even be responsible for for increasing the Vet Suicide rate, from what I see on facebook. I am sure that is not one of your goals.

    I have a project, personally. I would love to see eBenefits become a success. Except someone has messed it up so bad, it will take a very long time to straighten out. Example……My Congressman says the VA Home Page is the rule of thumb. He read to me from the VA Home Page that Level 2 proofing can be done at VA Regional Office, VA Benefit Office, VA Medical Facility, or VA Clinic. Yet when I directed him to the eBenefits web site he read, level 2 proofing can only be done at a VA Regional Office. He thought, ‘something is wrong’. So he is investigating. And I have gone to several VA facilities to document process on that level. It is very sad indeed, the level of this communication you guys say is happening.

    One clinic’s MyhealtheVet Proofing clerk called the Regional Office, I was standing there, and she was told “We have never heard of eBenefits, call you Health Care System headquarters. She did. Got the same answer. Communication?

    Next clinic, MyhealtheVet Proofing clerk, showed me an email, FROM…MyhealtheVet in Detroit, saying she would receive instructions about eBenefits within the next month. (I thought eBenefits is a separate program, and would only be Working with My healtheVet.

    I continue to point to problems and offer suggestions. Yet receive no response from Brandon or any one else. receiving NO response is not exactly the definition of communication, is it???????

    So why don’t you people, instead of round tables and square tables and etc., try to teach communication and straighten out things like this? Isn’t this what you are getting paid to do? Having a Congressional investigation will only point out the LACK of communication.

    • utefan65 says:

      Where is your proof before just spouting that all these people are paid by VA? I fought for people’s right to free speech too but sometimes stuff like this makes me wonder…

  10. Ed Ball says:

    Some have doubts that the backlog issue would ever be resolved, but the VA Secretary has been extremely instrumental in making a difference with the latest additions to the Presumptive exposure listing of Agent Orange.

    As a County Veterans Service Officer, the questioneers provided for IHD, Parkison’s and Leukemia Hairy Cell, signed by a medical professional, are meeting the 125 days or less claims process.

    My beef as a CVSO is with the C&P examiner that fails to provide the proper medical opinions needed by law for the VARO to satisfactorily adjudicate the claim based on medical evidence. Most of which are not veterans, never experienced howitzers going off, or experienced the stress of military life period. It’s these same individuals that are attempting to determine if a current day disability was indeed caused by military service.

    Primary Care physicians have diagnosed and treated the veterans for their illness, and concur verbally that “more likely than not as a result of military service”, but C&P examiners more times than not, totally disagree. Hence the denial letters in Rating Decisions by the VARO. During appeals, many of these decisions are overturned with new and material evidence. Very time consuming, and frustrating for those of us sitting across the desk from a veteran that we know personally, unlike a C&P examiner.

    • L Brown says:

      Mr. Ball I wish I know where u was located because u need to be commented. U hit the nail on the coffing with this. This is exactly what happening and when they read this (WOW). Thank u Mr. Ball for being an excellent point because veterans opinions dont count but yours do. Again thank u for putting a statement out like this to help me and the other veterans going through this.HAPPY HOLIDAYS

  11. L Brown says:

    The problem I see as a disabled veteran myself is pretty much explanatory. These RO and DRO are not going to sit there and go through all these medical files. They are looking straight at what the doctor said at the C&P exam avoiding all medical evidence. Look at this if u have a serious leg injury and everything is in your medical record verifying this but when u go for an exam and the doctor says on the final report yeah he have but it not gonna effect is daily life or keep him from working (bingo). Even though you have all the overwhelming medical evidence the doctor said u will be fine in the years to come. So that why it is taking so long with claims because they wanna make it look like they are looking at your files but it is just sitting on the desk 8 months or 1 year etc. As soon as they get to your file then they can deny you because the exam doctor said u was fine. This is what causing the backlog because once they do this here more and more claims are piling up on there desks. This been going on for so long and know the media is involved and I love it. Since Oprah had that show regarding homelesses everything is starting to backfire against VA and somebody on the facebook said one of the VA officials committed suicide. VA officals look at these RO and DRO because these are the people in my opinion are not doing their jobs correctly and costing the government money just to get a paycheck and go home. VA start using qualified inspectors and have them go to each regional office at random to see how these people are coming up with decisions when all the medical evidence is their. Every time I go to a Va regional office employees always on long breaks because I know u cant sit at a desk all they long but how can anything get done when everybody on break all the time what going on with this.

  12. maurice wyman scott says:

    Brandon, I unlike many of the people on here believe that you are actually trying, and that for all good efforts that you are trying to put forth, seemingly none of them really catch hold. I similarly believe that our president believes this is a problem, and has directed it be resolved, I believe it all.
    What I don’t believe is that the local offices are of the same mindset. Christmas brings a present to everyone, mine was having a VA rater attend a christmas party I was priviledged to be in attendance. While it would be inappropriate to mention his name, but I will relate his comments to me, concerning the games that my Regional Office plays. My case started 01/09, denied all issues 09/10. Appealled 09/10. Slipped some evidence, which showed that the RO didn’t develop my claim at all, but just held it, and at a given time, scheduled it to be denied, game one. So I complained with evidence that they both violated the CFR, and didn’t really seek the evidence, but only collected letters that said they did, game number two. So after I complained they took my claim out of Appeal and sent it back to the regular procedure, under clear and unmistakable error, sounded great initially, but here we go to the game number three.
    So this time, I sent all the accident reports, all of the diagnosis, all of the military medical records with highlighted illnesses, and diagnosis, so with 950 pages, and all what they tried to surpress, and hide under the umbrella of I couldnt find it, but I will tell you we had it, so guessing that this would be simple. Game number four, Now my file sent to the development department, or remember this is the same department that they said couldnt find evidence that i found in 15 mins, and a email response, my file sent back to a storage cabinet, is the truth.
    This senior VA employee, unfortunately drinking so he told the truth, said its a game, one designed to make you give up. While you caught the VA is their lies, and misinformation, they are now just going to wait you out, another two years, and this game starts over and over again.
    Brandon, first save yourself some money, the office of the Inspector General isn’t useful, because they are not investigating what is wrong, but only that which gets media attention, i.e. only when you get caught. Secondly stop telling opposite what you believe, you and the VA know where the problems are listen, call investigate, and then show the door to those who damage our vets, and destroy your reputation. It isnt easy dealing with so many, but when you cover up the wrongs that are committed from those who should work here anymore, then you ultimately stop the progress of fixing the problem.
    So Brandon, while I realize its better to have a leak, because you find the truth, and the truth is what we all want.
    So in this response, on this Blog, make a section, where vets can report what should amount to criminal but at least civil violations, and you by the great wisdom of a master computer who can see it all, and you respond to these veterans, saying you are telling the truth, you were the result of games, and now your claim is with a senior rater, and within 30 days you will have a answer. Brandon will you do this for me, and all of the many veterans who are caught in folks games, Regional Office gamesmenship?

  13. MAURICE SCOTT says:

    Anyone wonder why the Va never answers a real question on here, just only response to nonsense.

    • Thomas says:

      Yes I have wondered too. Of the posting on this site, I find some are comments that don’t require a answer, and some are questions that should receive an answer, however many questions never get answered. That’s very disappointing. I have asked several that have not been answered.

      • Alex Horton says:

        Many of these comments are personal, like “What is going on with my claim/appeal/doctor’s appointment?” Many have the notion that anyone at VA can fix a hangup or push a claim through, but that isn’t the case for us in public affairs. If I had a problem, I couldn’t even look into my own file. We urge Vets that have personal issues to use IRIS to submit a specific question. Other than that, we try to answer general questions the best we can. The longer the blog is up, the more employees that are experts in their particular field will be comfortable with jumping on and answering directly. I’m not an expert in any field, so anything beyond a general question takes research and time. I’m happy to do it, but usually the answer can be found somewhere on the VA website.

  14. I find all of this very typical of bureaucracy. And as long as we have wars on back log so will the benefits due to those who fight, become wounded and die. There is no real answer to this ever increasing problem. If we throw money at it, more money will be required. We spend more money on fraud detection than we do paying out benefits. If you are on the receiving end of the claim applications, unless you are robot everything is the same. Personally, I am rather apprehensive about going through the exhaustive process of following up on a claim once I submit it, if in fact do submit one. I am a rather empathetic person. But, I believe that working in that department may just taint those feelings. I would not be willing to ignore my humanity. Perhaps this is the very reason those in this business need frequent “freshen up” periods.

    Now that we understand that we are dealing with a human bound bureaucracy I believe the best thing is to get a good book or find another way to fill in the time while waiting. The best thing that could happen is that we die in waiting. The most significant aspect of this is what you do for you before death. Did you live your last days resenting your very existence or find a way to make the very best of what you have, today.

    By all means continue to fight. It is good exercise, but be aware of losing yourself in it.

    Peace out.

  15. FJ says:

    For claims, be the squeaky wheel: When you call, if you’re getting the runaround, ask to speak to a person’s supervisor. Keep calling. Send a letter to VBA HQ in DC. Contact your Congress-person. Be proactive. And remember to: *squeak*.

  16. L Brown says:

    Also to I noticed with VA is that if you miss a C&P exam you will get a denied letter back in less than a month, but if u make the appt it takes six months or more to get a answer. I will never understand VA regulations.

  17. steven smith says:

    I left the army in 2005 after being medically discharged due to “wounds suffered during combat operations” according to my DD214. here we are at the end of 2010 and not only was i initially denied my claim but have had my case at the DRO for quite some time. Which means all the medical services i have received and all the medication I receive a bill for and will continue since these are things i need. Thats NYC for you since they’re useless to say the least. I have called all the 1800 numbers and spoken to the VFW and all everyone is telling me is that the DRO received it. They cant even tell me my place in line. Like maybe i have 100 in front of me still or only 10 other case in front of mine still. Its a constant run around with the VA which is beyond insulting at this point. I wake up every morning and see the scars plainly in the mirror that i received for my country. Just to come home and get mistreated and feel insulted by the VA which is supposed to be there to benefit the veterans. Even my local congressmen gives me the run around. I was once so proud of what I did for my country and still am but thats fleeting as i see now that no matter how much I or any other soldier suffered, there is still services that are more then lacking here, and we rest on our own and with only each other to trust and rely on.

  18. Solving the backlog is simple. I’ve published numerous articles on how to get there at a very rapid pace. VA isn’t paying attention to the one solution that will work. Dr. Edwards Deming proved it with his historic work after WWII in Japan. His principle is now followed at all successful businesses around the world.

    Do it right the first time. Eliminate rework and dissatisfied customers by giving them a consistently perfect product every time.

    I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but even I figured this out.

    http://tinyurl.com/l3h2c6

    My friends at DAV understand.

    http://tinyurl.com/2ezfl5s

    I’ve published so much about this it embarrasses me.

    http://tinyurl.com/yzc2r7g

    In any industry rework of flawed end products will always result in higher costs, dissatisfied customers and frustrated employees. In any industry but the federal government, such expenses would result in the doors being shuttered in short time. At VA we just shovel more taxpayer dollars over the problem of rework.

    When GAO offers a low estimate of some 20% of casework as flawed and my own personal estimate is that some 70% of first round adjudications are so wrong that an appeal is required, why is it so hard to grasp the fact that to eliminate the backlog you must first eliminate the majority of the non- and counter-productive workload.

    Get 95% plus of initial decisions right the first time and VA will have employees wondering what to do with themselves.

    • Ron Nesler says:

      The VA doesn’t want itself to work efficiently for veterans. You have to understand that in the eyes of the VA administrators the whole thing is about supporting politicians and bureaucrats, the war veterans are just a troublesome nuisance to be worked around. If you doubt that try g4etting a phone call through to the VA, it is impossible, and they spend millions on the 1-800 system specifically to prevent veterans from communicating with them.

    • Bill Garrett says:

      Deming’s project in Japan, did work well fro the most part. The federal government, tried TQM in the 90’s. Deming did not have a union to contend with, VA does. TQM works great if you are building widgets, it does not when the process requires an analysis of information. The VA need to use the process on thing that will work. I think the new Fast Tract is one of the things it would work on very well, Example the new IHD form, there is no reason that a claim using that form should be processed in less then an hour. VA needs to help the vet’s put together their claim (make the vet do their part in getting information and doctors reports, etc… Don’t t me wrong I am NOT a fan of VA, they have lost my medical record from 1971-1999, I am still waiting for any information on my claim for IHD. I am not happy with them, but I do have to give credit to this Secutary he is trying hard, problem is he has to many of the old staffer set in their ways.

  19. William Higgins says:

    IF you go to Googel.com and type in “Terry Higgins How the VA gets away with it”. IT will give you the legal history of the VA and its nature, which by the way will not change by the current VA changes.
    Every thing will still have to go through the ajudicators. In how the VA gets way with it. The ajudicators is protected from congress and from the court. The middel manigment over the ajudicators are the ones who are violating the claims proces. They are stil runing the show, Not the computer processing.

  20. mikem says:

    We have had several veterans in the past work in our office and they can’t say enough good things about their treatment by the VA. Great people doing a tough job

  21. Drew says:

    Quit the self-deception. Whatever the claims backlog is, it is unsatisfactory, period. So, making up arbitrary new “standards” to look like something is being done is not the right approach–Jim Strickland has the right approach–you take on the problem and reduce it, by effective and efficient use of resources. Right now, VA’s claims backlog ia actually growing, despite the hype and despite the fact that the VA’s budget has been growing. So, more resources have not been solving the problem. Hold VA employees accountable for performance and accuracy with claims processing or simply transfer those functions to another US Gov’t Agency that has a proven, better track record at disability benefits processing and appeals: the Social Security Administration. Given Social Security’s existing nationwide footprint and their skillsets, I am willing to say they can assume those functions and do so at less cost than VBA. If VBA employees begin to understand their jobs are not sacrosanct, then the veterans community will be better served.

  22. Ron Nesler says:

    I am curious to know if Jim Strickland from http://WWW.VAWatchDogToday.org is invited to these little gatherings?

  23. Van says:

    I agree with Jim to a point but I think many cases have become more complex. I don’t think the average DVA employee can comprehend many of these cases. Bluewater veterans and exposure to AO outside of Viet Nam are these types of cases where it takes a lot of knowledge and research to understand what a veteran has presented. These types of cases are most often denied, simply because the DVA person had no understanding of what was being presented. But the DVA has an out for many of these cases. Prove exposure. Then the only proof they allow is that which denies, there is no record of exposure to the veteran because there is no record. So no record is evidence against the veteran. It shouldn’t be, and I believe this is why we have combee v brown and a direct basis. To allow the veteran to supply the record by direct evidence to either prove sc for an illness or to show exposure by an alternative record that can be verified. But benefit of doubt is given to the DVA who has no evidence other than lack of records.

    This just hamster wheels these cases and they go on for years. Mine went of for 16 years before I made a mistake. There was no record in my case because the DoD purged my records.

    With the same evidence I presented in the AO part of my case, a number of veterans have won their cases for exposure to AO outside of Viet Nam. Why doesn’t the DVA stop this insane practice of doing the same groundwork over and over for the same type of case.

  24. Casey W. says:

    Dear V.A,

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

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

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

    Casey W.

    Soon to be homeless, failed out student.

  25. David Hykes says:

    I would like to know how long we should expect it to take to process these claims? I understand not all of them are cut and dried cases, that the complications of proving themselves can in fact take more time then say a case that proves itself. But why then are the cases that should be able to be processed quickly not going through faster then they are doing?
    What is the purpose of the examiner? Mine had no doubt that I was 100% disabled,yet now his findings have to be sitting on the ratings teams desk for months?
    I don’t understand why when the examiner did his job the job of the ratings team is so difficult?
    Never in my life would I have thought that the military would drag butt as they have with claims for agent orange.
    All claims should be processed by 2015 they are saying with pride? They should be hanging their heads with shame that they are making so many Veterans stand in the wings in wait, for an entitlement they are due. Our government did this to us, it was no different then if they intentionally ran us down with a car. They sprayed those chemicals on us not thinking in terms of the damage control that we would suffer down the road. All they were thinking of was clearing the area and finding the enemy, thus, winning the war. Now many years later the war continues for the veteran, who can no longer care for their families, or in many cases for themselves because of repercussions due to the after effects of agent orange.
    Now they want us or expect us to be patient… and wait.
    For what? I’ve already been told by doctors that my Parkinsons’ tremors will not respond to medications, so I continue to shake.
    I cannot cut my own meat, butter my own bread, or even enjoy fishing without catching myself with hooks off my line.
    I want to get things in order while I still have my witts about me enough to do so, and until this case is settled I cannot.
    If anyone is reading this who cares?? Help me and my fellow veterans finalize this last chapter in our lives, and pick up the pace on these claims.

  26. SCOTT PRATER says:

    utefan65, If you do not know what you are talking about or can not be of assistance to these service members who have proven their pride in their country, please do no comment. In Korea a Commander of any level in the 2ID will be relieved of command if one of their soldiers get frost bite. I had 2 medic during 2 winter field exercises tell me I had 1st and near 2nd degree frost bite during 2 winters in the 3 years I was stationed there my second time around, but could not document it if it did not require removal of fingers, toes, or limbs because that was there orders. The Command will gladly sacrifice their own personnel to save their own careers. I recently had to stop working due to heart attacks and constant reoccurring chest pains. Having your doctor tell you that you will not see your daughters finish there current school year will definitely make you decide to quit. But, I ask all kinds of questions of the staff, from medics to doctors, and they all stated it was all medical personnel of all levels responsibility to document all injuries they have knowledge of related to service members, they also said the regulation support that the soldiers command at all level also are responsible to document it even if it is in a counseling or progress report. There is no excuse for these wounds not being documented, even if it is because someone wants to cover their butt and lost their pride in country and fellow Americans. This is why I also do not get compensated for frost bite.

  27. Fred says:

    A lot of the VA’s backlog is caused by the VA.

    WHY???

    Because of the “need”for veterans to file appeals.

    If you would Rate claims correctly in the 1ST place, Veterans would not be forced into a 2 year process of appeals, which adds to the backlog.

    There were multiple mistakes on my claim, the VA claims my service treatment records are silent for many things that are clearly in my service treatment records.

    I don’t know if It’s incompetent raters and GS civilians or the VA’s sad attempts to screw veterans, either way, the backlog is due to the VA’s failure to properly rate claims.

    Stop BSing, rate the claims correctly the 1ST time and the backlog will be gone.

  28. charles hubbard says:

    I think I have the longest running va clam. I applied in Jan.1980,I have appealed my disablity,it has been active for 31 yrs,I’ve had 5 or 6 rating exams by va dr’s I think this the 4 times a judge has made a decision on it. What I wonder is how many people retired,while working on my clam.

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