Choice, Control, Clarity: Appeals Modernization


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The Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) of 2017 gave Veterans a greater choice in how to disagree with a VA claim decision. Giving Veterans more choice has been a top priority for VA.

Cheryl Mason, the Chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, joined Ashleigh Barry on a special edition of VA News to take a deeper look at the modernized appeals process, discuss some early positive signs from the implementation of AMA, and to announce that Veterans can expect to see telehealth technology incorporated into the appeals process in 2020.

“The Appeals Modernization system was designed to give Vets primarily three things: choice, control and clarity of their claim’s appeals process. And so that choice means they have options, they’re no longer stuck in a situation,” said Mason.

Under AMA, Veterans can choose from one of three lanes to have their decision reviewed: (1) supplemental claim; (2) higher-level review; or (3) appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. If a Veteran chooses to appeal to the Board, he/she can choose from one of three dockets: (1) direct review; (2) evidence submission; or (3) hearing request.

Which lane should Veterans choose? “We always advise Veterans to work with their representative…,” Mason said. “While we have made it easier, it’s still a little confusing to Veterans because it is different. Veterans representatives can really advise them on what they need to do.”

Going virtual

Nationwide availability of virtual hearing technology is on the horizon, too. Mason discussed how virtual hearings provide Veterans with increased access and improved customer service.

“Much like you see with the telehealth process right now, where you see Veterans use their phones, their computers, their iPad to talk to a doctor, you’ll be able to talk to a judge–and that’s actually happening right now,” said Mason.

The Board started testing virtual hearings in July. Its positive results showcase its need for 2020 and beyond. “You won’t have to travel 4-6 hours across the state to come to a hearing, or, if you’re not in a situation where it’s healthy for you to travel you don’t have to do that, you can do it at home,” Mason added.

Virtual hearings may also have an impact on the Veteran’s well-being, as it may take away some of the stress Veterans face when going through the appeals process. “It’s something that is very important to me personally. I’m very engaged in the mental wellness and suicide prevention process with PREVENTS… if [a virtual hearing] means making the hearing process comfortable for them, that’s what we want to do,” Mason added.

For more information about the Board and its progress on appeals modernization:

VA News, and other engaging content, is available on televisions at select VA medical centers across the country and via simulcast on the Veterans News Network.


Ron Haskell is a communications specialist with the Veterans Health Administration.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Ora C Evitt    

    Well let me tell you at the other end of the state our VA sucks bad.Memphis va hospital and system is denied denied DIE.
    I AM ASHAMED,embarrassed,disappointed and frustrated with how the VA not only treats me but all my sons are vets too.
    I probaly have 1-5 years left on this earth and despite my letters.evidence .support letters.files.im told so sorry .nope no way .
    They ask WHY do so many vets kill them self’s.ill answer that for them.because its better to die by our own hands than die on pain and misery because some person says I’m sorry depleted uranium wasnt dangerous then or direct exsposure to lead and asbestos ,wasnt harmful then like it is today.
    I’ve been told that because TBI didn’t exist in 85 ,can’t have it despite the 6 inch scare crack in my skull the write up from the medics.
    No sir Thats why we choose to die.
    C

  2. Tim Moss    

    Who can help me to determine which “lane” I should use??

  3. Peter N Hellstrom    

    I must disagree with the position presented in this article.
    My normal method is to submit the bill through the appropriate agency that did the medical work. That bill is normally ignored by VA until the agency that I’m working with, in frustration, submits the bill to Medicare. Medicare then process the bill. When I find that VA has not paid I asked the appropriate agency to rebuilt the amount due and payable by VA. That process normally takes for 3 to 4 months. When paid in previously by Medicare the VA turns around and says there cannot be duplicate payment and they refused to pay. This system of non-payment by VA has been ongoing since I have worked with them I am frustrated by the lack of payment by VA for veterans claims.
    Please tell me how I can stop this non-payment merry-go-round that VA has established.
    Pete

  4. Ronnie M Hall    

    I’m not sure where all these veterans are been treated, but I will tell you I go to a va hospital in Johnson City , Tn and I am so grateful how good I have been treated at this va hospital, I had rather get treated at this hospital then any of the hospitals in this area. I absolutely have no complaints, also after 28 years of army service , I went to this va and put in for the disabilities I had while serving, this was back in 1988, I got my disability in a timely manner due to the doctors that did my paperwork, I have to thank them for the help they gave me, also I my primary care Dr I have is a col in the reserve, and could not ask for anyone better taking care of my medical needs, thanks Col Harden.

  5. Donald Lombard    

    My spell check is b roken the date should be 2005 not 2025

  6. Donald Lombard    

    I filed in 2025 for service related PTSD, head , face and back injury’s and was denied so seeing 8 different dr’s and seeing a vso and filling a hard copy along with one on line . as well as seeing a vso and county v a rep I was told that I over loaded the pea brains in the va .so I waited around 6 mo. and re submited 1 request at a time and lo and behold I got 60 % from doing it that way. now I am trying to get back pay lol

    [Editor: Please do not submit multiple claims for the same medical conditions at the same time.]

  7. John Howard    

    My appeal took 5-years to get to the BVA. For several years, the eBenefits website said that my Appeal couldn’t be decided because my appeal was at the Service Organization in DC representing me. My local VSO would not follow-up with the Service Organization in Washington DC because she didn’t believe me. After confronting her with documentation, she called the DC Service Organization office, confirmed my case had been in their office for several years, and asked them to send my case to the BVA Judge. After my case was sent to the BVA Judge, it took two months to get a favorable decision. Later, I found out that the Service Organization office in DC had three staff members to handle thousands of cases sent to them from across the country. So part of the bottle neck in the appeals process could be that the Service Organization representing you in Washington DC is understaffed to handle all their cases. I’m sure my Service Organization representatives in DC did a good job of presenting my case to the BVA Judge, but it was disappointing to learn that they are part of the bottle neck too.

  8. Greggory Pearson    

    I am a 10 point, 10% rated cold war Vet. I also did 30 years as a GS Fed. I paid for federal health care my entire federal career. the last five years. forward assigned, permanent party GS12 to ARCENT in Kuwait. all my medical care those five years was covered by the US Army as an official decoy. None of those records made it out alive. in part because the Army never billed my federal health care. I retire as a GS12 in 2012. after paying for federal health care with my Vet disability for six years and VA billing that every chance they got. on 1 JAN 2020, I did the only option allowed at OPM. I CANX’d for life my federal health care, the same plan my US congresswoman has the postal person has and you the tax payer pay for. So just 18 days later. the VA 3rd party contractor CANX;s a medical procedure that I call a life or death procedure, because I no longer have health care… Worse my ONLY option was CANX for life my federal plan. If I was a Peace Corp Vet, or married my VA doc. I had other options… but according to OPM, whom runs ALL federal health care. The VA does NOT meet the Affordable Care Act and is NOT an acceptable health care plan for any active duty or retired US Fed or member of Congress. Really…

  9. Dan Parfait    

    I hate all you frackers! I try to keep up to date. I meet all my appointments. Gone to a shrink, etc. Nothing helps!!! I appealed my status and waited FOREVER for a meeting and the SOB I met had his mind made up before I got there. I spent almost an hour in my car after that meeting just calming down before driving.
    I sent in a DETAILED letter after that and somehow, the VA “lost” it, with no record. In other words, I’m still fracked. I have nightmares, have anger difficulties, and worse. I am no longer working but when I was I went out of my way to find jobs that put me in dangerous positions, always hoping for an accident. Now, my wife harps to suffer with me and I am not sure how much she can last. She helps me maintain but I am exhausting to her and sometimes she cries, says she hates me or goes shopping with a daughter. Anyway, they have not helped me, they DON’T WANT TO HELP ME and I hate them.

  10. Tom Kester    

    Been forced to live off of family and friends and 60% disability for 10+ years because of unemployability due to a service connected disability that is denied over and over and over. Finally, hired a lawyer which will cost 33% if I get anything, I’m mentally preparing to be homeless sooner or later.

  11. William Ratke    

    Add me to the list of denials……My Neuropathyy surfaced in 1990, 20 years after my Vietnam service…..The standard response is that it must be declared within 2 years of separation….Hell, the government didn’t even acknowledge Agent Orange by then. I have no feeling from my toes to above my knees. My brother died in 1982 of rare cancers that are now approved from Agent Orange exposure, but back then…..all denials……..a lot of good that did him or his family.

    5th try at posting

  12. David A Bovee    

    Everyone cites their own experience. Your comment just makess you seem fatuous and malicious. Enjoy you 3rd rate medical care. May it stay good enough as you age or weaken.

  13. Todd Heflin    

    I’m not going to leave my story here. This entire process from start to no end in sight, has been a nightmare. I’m at the point I fight tears when I go to a blood test at the VA. I’m absolutely sick of it all. Stop telling us what you want to do or going to do and just fcking do it.

  14. stover, jack l.    

    try chisholm chisholm and kirkpatric

  15. A. Squadrito    

    What a cluster #$@@#. I applied last year for compensation due to tinnitus , loss of hearing in one ear and sleep disorder. I went for testing 90 miles away. I spent 2 hours and was recently denied for all three. I went to my VA office and they submitted a 2095 to appeal it. According to my local office, I fall into the decibel range for compensation. They also recommended, I take a sleep disorder test and submit those results. Fingers crossed. I agree the VA is overwhelmed but, we are the guys who put our life on the line and afterwards, we feel like we were used and cast off to the side.

  16. Skeeter Flannigan Stath    

    Wow! As a World War 11 Vet and reading the lengthy complaints of todays veterans, I am sympathetic and terrified at the prospect of asking for any consideration of my years under the Pacific in the old diesel submarines. I think I’ll just remain silent and wait for the inevitable end. At least that’s certain.

    1. Mark Kelley    

      Sir, while you were in the silent service; I don’t believe remaining silent is your best option. Yes, it is a lengthy process and the Good Lord willing you’ll be around to see the results. I have been working a number of issues with the VA with the majority being successful; but my appeal which would have been a considerable back pay I am being told by my VSO to “…suck it up and drive on as it won’t happen. It is your word against theirs that you didn’t receive the notices.” I just wish that the personnel in the VA would process the claims paperwork as if their name was on it instead of someone that they probably would never meet. I have however give kudos to the personnel whom I’ve met and been treated by in the four VA Hospitals and three VA Clinics as they have always been top notch.

  17. Me    

    B—-!b—-!b—-! that’s all I here I haven’t a complaint about free money none taxed that is and free medical try that in the real working world my first claim took awhile agreed but second one touch 3mouths vast improvement The health care is really improving The VA has done me right over the years I think you all just want to bitch! “be proactive.

    1. Scott Williams    

      Yup they still need to do one more operation on you don’t they, It must be hard to go around needing cosmetic surgery with a mouth that looks like …

    2. Bradley Scheffler    

      We aren’t looking for “free” money, Me! We’re looking for financial help and care from the government and country for the disabilities and injuries we incurred while we served. It seems that you got yours and you think everyone else are just complainers. I find your opinion pretty disgusting. You’re a self serving a–! You could be acclaims reviewer for the VA! Try thinking about others not as fortunate as you have been!

  18. Douglas Dale Keiderling    

    I have a “Presumptive Disease”, CML Leukemia. I have met all of the criteria for a preumptive disease in accordance with Title 38 USC and my health continues to fail. They have discontinued my chemo due to liver and kidney issues. My case has been denied and appealed multiple times. I got to the BVA level and had a hearing in front of a Federal BVA Judge who agreed, recommended approval, and due to my declining health, expediting of my case. It has been nine years total and over three years since my hearing. Since then I have even recieved a letter from the VA requesting documentation from all of my doctors supporting the idea that my incureable and eventually fatal disease is a “Serious Disease”! At this point I must agree with most of the other comments. The VA either tries to wear you down and get you to give up, OR they stall and wait for us to die so they can close the case. So, every time I read one of these arcticles or see one of your commercials about how much better the VA is getting at simplifying and expediting any claims I can’t help but wonder HOW!

  19. Lori Chambers    

    I am in desperate need of a specialty spinal surgery, I am service-connected for my spinal issues. The VA decided to deny my request for surgery (no other treatment that is offered can help with my nerve damage, & can actually make it worse). The only neurosurgeons who will even touch this issue is out of state in Texas. As time goes on, my spinal issue is progressing, which I have expressed to them, and they just keep trying to push opioids on me. The kicker is: It’s a two-part surgery, and they approved the first one (after a horrendous battle, increasing my anxiety/depression 10-fold), which I had the first successful surgery two years ago. Even though the surgery improved my quality of life greatly, the second surgery is needed so I can try to go back to work. HOW CAN THEY DENY A SURGERY AFTER ALREADY APPROVING THE FIRST ONE, AND I’M SERVICE-CONNECTED FOR THE ISSUE!!!!!!!!!!
    I AM BEYOND ANGRY. If I am left without surgery, my condition will continue to progress and leave me in a wheelchair with bowel/bladder issues forever, in addition to the nerve damage. Thanks for YOUR non-service, VA. How disappointing.

  20. Henry Harvey    

    I am just so disappointed in our VA system. They do anything to keep from compensating the veterans for the injuries they sustained while serving in the military. I was a jet engine mechanic. Due my type, I suffered partial hearing loss. That hearing loss was confirmed at Robins air Force Base and Carl Vinson VA hospital. The VA denied my claims, stating that there was no proof that the hearing loss happened while I was in the military. I appealed, and the VA sent to take a audio test 100 miles away. They said I had not suffered any hearing loss. Based on that test, the VA denied my claims and close the case.

  21. Tom Nordengren    

    My father was an Army cryptographer in Korea in the early 1950’s and, about 5 years ago, due to age, became totally dependent. At that time we (my brother, sisters and I) applied for “Aide and Attendance” for our parents with the help of the local VSO (Benton, Arkansas)…now, 5 (FIVE !) years later the VA is still asking for the same totally irrelevant information. “Tell us about your rental and business properties” and “Tell us about your farm and ranch holdings” (including “livestock and acres planted”) seem to be two of their personal favorites as they ask for this same information every six months or so, just to “update” their records. My parents have NEVER owned more than one house at a time (and that was always their primary residence) and, as natives of Chicago, have NEVER been closer to a farm or ranch than a farmers market or a petting zoo.

    These have been the answers we’ve provided to the VA on each occasion but, even though both of my parents are (or would be) wheelchair bound they keep expecting that these octo and nonagenarians are going to become real estate speculators…or, perhaps, plant soybeans and raise goats. Anyway, they’ve been expecting their lot in life to change. It did…the VA’s wet dream came true: MY FATHER DIED LAST EASTER without ANY resolution, or even the hint of one on the horizon. You can imagine how much “back pay” there is…but ONLY if we don’t fail to respond to ANY ONE of the totally redundant “30-days to respond to” mailings. We now have a pro-bono lawyer working on A&A survivor benefits for my mother, but guess what I found in my mailbox after burying my father…yup!…”Tell us about their farm and ranch holdings…yadayadayada”.

    In my considered opinion the behavior of the VA, as a whole, goes WAY beyond incompetence and negligence; behavior this pervasive and consistent, so cold and calculated, can only emanate from nastiness, evil and upper-echelon psychopathy.

    Think about it: the military has an over abundance of high ranking career officers, many of them entering military retirement at a fairly young age and looking for a new path forward. Then a select few are offered a new “campaign” to wage: veterans with disabilities are “siphoning-off” the resources needed to wage new and even better and bigger wars and, thus, create even more veterans with disabilities… Their new job: FIX IT BY MAKING THOSE PESKY, EXPENSIVE CRIPPLES GO AWAY, and damn, they sure are good at it. This isn’t a surprise seeing as how they were trained not only in armed combat (theory), but also in psychological warfare and political manipulation.

    As a disabled Navy vet myself, I know in my heart that they are just waiting for us ALL to die, or to just go away…attrition appears to work very well for them, or they would change tactics just like their training would indicate they do.

    WE WILL NOT ACCOMMODATE THIS DESIRE!
    ((( DON’T FORGET TO VOTE ! ! ! )))

  22. Randy M. Thompson    

    About 30 years ago I filed for disability due to a blood disorder. I was denied. They said that the Navy didn’t have the chemicals that I was exposed to. Then they said they did, but they weren’t on my ship. Then the chemicals did not contain enough benzine to cause my problem. 30 years later, I applied again and got my disability. Of course there was no back pay because I did not keep appealing. You would think that they would have seen their error and have agreed to pay me back – but of course not. DAV says that I have to prove they were in error. A CUE claim – which they say is difficult to win. Why not just do what is right by the Vet? 30 years ago I felt like it was – what can we do to keep from paying this guy. Now, it is more like – let’s examine the evidence and see if it is true. Looking back on a case that is approved that was filed long ago, whether a sick veteran had the strength and fortitude at the time to keep fighting, seems to be a fair, honest, and appropriate thing to do. In addition, so many vets who used PD-680 have had issues, you would think that the VA would recognize this.

  23. Corey J Spencer    

    Dear Cheryl Mason,

    I’m an Army veteran that is an Army Airborne Paratrooper, with several health issues connected to service and complaints about the VA’s joke of a healthcare system! I have an open remand VA disability case that has been open for 8 years now! I have been blown off by the VA’s disability claim process, and my health issues are NOT being addressed accurately and thoroughly by the VA. I have called the Whitehouse VA Complaint line, and I have also done a congressional inquiry for both issues.

    According to “Godsey v. Wilkie (No. 17-4361), any VA disability claim that has been open longer than 18 months is in violation of the veteran’s rights of due process , pertaining to the Constitution, and the VA will be held liable for it’s actions.

    Also, the VA has to consider a veteran’s time in service and MOS to determain VA disability claims, under law 38 USC $ 1154, and the VA is NOT doing it’s job when these VBA judges are determining these claims, such as mine.

    I’m ashamed and disgusted by our government, and it’s processes that are biased and prejudice towards myself and my fellow veterans! The VA has caused me so much distress with the poor healthcare system in play, and the biased VA disability claims process should NOT be so difficult! Our fellow veterans sign our damn lives away to support our once great country, known as America, and in return we let corrupt corporations and politicians dictate what’s best for us! This is corruption at it’s finest, and it’s illegal and uncalled for! The VA system is still broke, rigged, and the reset button needs to be pushed! Have someone from your chain of command contact me ASAP!

    Sincerely,
    Corey J. Spencer “ALL RIGHTS RESERVED without PREJUDICE”

  24. Raymond Coburn    

    I filed an appeal back in May 2019 and the VA has YET to get back to me. I’m claiming Educational Benefits for my son and the VA just loves pissing people off by not responding! Very sad of the VA not to engage in today world of electronics. Every time I call I get the RUN AROUND and it truly pisses me off…

  25. Mike Epperson    

    The VA appeals process is the worse in the world. The RAMP program is no faster than the old process. I love he VA but not the appeals process.
    Come on Trump, do something.

  26. Patrick -Bryan    

    The lies continue to flow from the VA, the discrimination runs abound. This AMA is a joke, an only helps post911 Vets. 10 years 2 BVA hearings and 2 REMANDS, an my appealed claim is still undecided. STOP THE LIES AN DO YOUR JOB VA!!!!

  27. Edward Vano    

    I filed an appeal in Oct. 2012 through an attorney and am still waiting for my “hearing”. You get no responses from them and Veterans-Hot-Line does not resolve their delay! But you always hear/read about their improvement in appeals process. Money well spent!!!! Totally disgusted.

  28. Bernard Smith    

    any references to a good civilian law firm for veteran representation ?

    1. Tracey Moss    

      Like previous comment from @DonaldTaylor, if a law firm takes your case, your chances are greatly enhanced. Maybe ask him who he’s with or just do an internet search. They don’t need to be from your area.

      1. Robert VanDyke    

        I have Aaron Drake out of SLC, Utah
        He Was a JAG officer in the US Army Knows the system and laws. He does Discharge upgrades, and VA disability. He has Certified doctors on hand to review your disabilities. My discharge was upgraded and we are now appealing disability. USMC Vietnam vet.

  29. David Cole Grey    

    All anyone needs to know about the appeals process is contained on the status of appeals page. It states it can take from 10 TO 26 MONTHS TO PROCESS AN APPEAL! Over 2 years!

    By any reasonable standard of customer service, this is unacceptable.

    And, even more maddening, the event the appeal is denied by a review officer, you can add another undetermined amount of time to take the decision to the Board.

    Candidly, I tire of the VA’s constant barrage of media releases bragging about how much they are improving processes, when they believe making vets wait up to 2 years to hear back on an appeal is reasonable and appropriate.

  30. Kathleen Wilson    

    My husband was declared 100% permanent and total due to medical conditions and becoming unemployable in 2012. He passed away three months later. I applied for DIC in August of 2012. Claim got lost, finally had a video conference with a judge, after my mail advising me of the conference got” sent to wrong address.” This was in February 2018, where the judge put claim 22-315-555 In REMAND. Feb 2020 it will be “ still re-examined “ for two years! I had my Congressman call- didn’t do any good.The whole system sucks. I suppose the VA is waiting for me to die, too.

  31. Donald Taylor    

    I applied for an increase that I was granted in a rating of 20% back condition, and given 10% for tinnitus, I was also granted a 0% rating for bilateral hearing loss. I applied for an increase after multiple procedures and therapy sessions in June 2013. I was denied and I appealed with the help of the DAV organization. After 5 years of nothing I was granted another C&P exam. After the board reviewed those findings, I was denied again. However, I was given a new diagnosis of 10% sciatic nerve radiculopathy. I order to keep the claim going from the onset date of June 2013, I consulted with attorneys out of Rhode Island who handles on denials on VA Appeals.
    I was told by a DAV Rep that if they decide to take your case, your chances of being successful are greatly enhanced. I will keep you posted on the progress.

  32. Frank Scurio    

    I was denied my claim for unemployability becasue the interview I had with the psychologist was not in person but was a skype type interview. You would think there would be an SOP that we could all follow that spells out what types of examinations are acceptable. If I and my attorney would have known this was the case we could have done an in person exam. It sure does look like the general impression of the VA is correct – they are super disorganized. My advice is get an attorney that has experience in veteran’s law.

  33. Randy Garcia    

    Why not help the V.A. and the Veterans by firing those ass wipe attorneys at the Board of Appeals since they are more interested in clearing their cases than doing actual work by getting veterans rated per the medical evidence!
    If you wish too respond then by all means you can explain why the BVA has refused too resolve my case and tell them too honor the court order!
    I made contact with the court in August last year and the court told me that the BVA not only lied to me but also the court and they want them back in court, I expressed this to a Denise Fleming and she was not happy that I told her too tell the jackass lawyer working my claim that this should go back to court because they are refusing too comply with the March 2013 agreed upon settlement and this is getting ridiculous!

  34. Steven Coutrier    

    I totally agree I feel the main way to say thanks for your service would be to listen to the veterans and what we are going through. I joined the service a healthy young man and now have multiple illnesses and repeatedly keep getting denied. The GWI category doesn’t work either supposing if you can show you was in that area you should be able to get connected, but it’s still a battle and at what 10 percent nice way of saying thanks for your service. Who is making decisions? bet they haven’t been expose like we have the red tape is too much there should be more listening to the vets rather than what in your charts what about missed diagnose or details from doctor’s. Yes have a symptomatic ear and listen for understanding not just proof we’re coming home sick

  35. Rodney W Roscoe    

    13 years ago the VA Medical Center in Atlanta, Decatur performed what was suppose to be a Minor Surgery. I was to wear a soft collar for 4 days and I could go back to Work.
    Later on something went wrong and I was rushed into Emergency Surgery. Later again I was rushed into another Emergency Surgery.
    Everything that could go wrong did. I was Transferred to the VA Augusta SPINAL CORD INJURY department , 3 hours from my home, to begin Rehab to Walk and use my Hands because I lost sensation. I was informed that I would not be able to return to my Landscape Profession. It took a total of 12 months or for the neck brace to be removed.
    I attended Truck Driving School and got a CDL. I completed all the qualifications for 2 Companies. During my Physical the Doctor needed a release from the VA before I could get the Job. The VA wouldn’t release me to go to Work.
    I applied for Service Connected Disability because I was under the code for a 1151 for unforeseen circumstances during my Surgery. I also included Unemployability because the VA wouldn’t release me to go to any Job due to the Severity of my VA Hospital Surgery.
    I was DENIED everything. I got an Attorney to assist me after 6 years of Denial after Denial. Since 2013 my Attorney has Appealed their Decisions. I was Threatened with Foreclosure on my home, Disconnects of Utilities and Repossession of my only Vehicle to get back and forth from my Appointments.
    I submitted all this information to the VA to be moved to the front according to VA Regulations for DIRE STRAITS.
    Thinking that finally the Struggle was over, they DENIED US once again. I was sent to non VA Doctors and each agreed that my Additional Disabilities was due to the 2nd and 3rd Emergency Surgeries.
    We were given a Video Conference with a Judge, and guess what, the Transcript wasn’t Legible so we had to schedule a new hearing 4-5 months later.
    Me and my Attorney are not believing that the VA could be so…
    We are once again holding our breath because we have no idea what to expect. I am being Threatened once again because my Mortgage Company can’t wait much longer, I have used all the support agencies for Electricity and Water. I was approved for 200.00 Food Stamps a month. There is so much Maintenance needed to my home.
    THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE MY BUTTOCKS!!!

    1. James Pugh    

      Contact your congressman ASAP!

  36. John Thomas McQuillen    

    John McQuillen

    I was told by a VA doctor I would have to have a total knee replacement. She said that it would take about six months to schedule the operation. I ask about the choice program. After several weeks of not hearing when my knee replacement surgery would take place.my pain management therapist had me talk with the scheduling nurse in orthopedics. I explained to the scheduling nurse that I’m receiving disability for my left knee and I was told that I had to have a knee replacement. I explained the circumstances and she looked up my information she stated actually you’ve been approved for the choice program. she asked me is that service-connected I said yes.She said you’re already drawing disability for it they scheduled you for knee replacement and you haven’t been contacted.She said its here in your records. It’s been approved but no action has been taken on it. After a couple of weeks I was contacted by the VA. I was told the name of my surgeon. I contacted the surgeon and made an appointment and went to see him. A few days later I called my surgeon and ask him, have they scheduled anything yet. No he was still waiting on the VA to send the approval for him to schedule the surgery. I called the VA hospital and asked if they had sent the approval to my surgeon. He said he he had sent a fax to the surgeon. I called my surgeon and asked if he had received a fax from the VA. He stated no. I called ortho back and said that the doctor had not received a fax. I was told they had the wrong fax number. Days later I called the surgeon to check on the progress. He stated that he received so many documents and not one was what he needed.a few days later my surgeon called me and said he had the right information and schedule my surgery. Ironically my surgery was scheduled two weeks from being 6 months from the time that I was approved for the knee replacement. After four months after surgery I contacted the DAV. A VA rep stated before the surgery, that after the surgery I would receive 100% disability for 13 months. My VA rep. got online made some statements and sent to the VA. I asked how could they approve me for surgery that was service-connected and paid the surgeon for the surgery. My rep said that most likely since I originally apply for disability with a law firm that had a commercial stating that they would help disabled vets get their benefits then later switched to the DAV. A few days later I receive in the mail that I was denied benefits for my left knee. Again I contacted my DAV rep told him about the letter that I received and asked how could they take away my disability benefits. The rep said no that’s not what is happening. You would not lose any benefits that I already have. I think that was around December it is now January 30th I still haven’t received any information.

  37. Phillip Nicholson Weary    

    This a prime example of the problems at the VA! 5 Veterans have left a comment and not one response from anyone at the VA. Why set up a way to provide feedback and fail to monitor it? Even more disturbing is Howard Shanker comment, a veteran suffering from PTSD asking or begging for help and no response. Yet, the VA swears it’s doing all it can to stop suicides. Here you have a chance to prove you care for those in need and is failing again on a public forum!!!

  38. Justin Pettit    

    I have had multiple C&P exams where the doc had all the items spelled out for a rateable disability, only to have the rater completely ignore the notes and deny the claim. I have also had C&P doctors who rushed the exam and wrote down information incorrectly, which made my request for increase reduce my rating down to 0%. I was also denied for claims without even receiving a C&P exam.

    This system is broken and is designed to wear down claimants to discourage giving benefits. As one who is struggling from depression, anxiety, and SI…I can see why many feel as if there is no support for us.

  39. Devonja Turner    

    My advocate fill out my disability paperwork and she fill it out for pension instead of regular disability. I just out two years ago I was approved for 30% pension but I don’t qualify for pension. Can my pension be switched to regular disability and I can get my back pay for disability.

  40. Michael TImothy Hamilton    

    now you can get denied over and over to your face

  41. Fred Rodgers    

    Appeal it to the U S Court of Veterans Appeals. Real Judges.

  42. James Frederick    

    I retired in 2000, I filed for VA disabilities through the Waco office. After six months I had an evaluation in OKC. I was denied most of my claims because no body could find the main volume of my medical records and the Military destroys in patient records after one year of being discharged from the hospital. I contacted the Waco office and sent them copies of what I had. They said they could not use it because it was old information. Ten years of fighting I finally got 40 percent. Not bad for a broken back, fractured neck, lose of 60 percent of the use of my leg. They did give me disability for lose of hearing, head injury, and PTSD. Eight more years of fighting I got 90 percent and 100 unemployable. Too bad I lost my house, because I couldn’t pass employment physical. But they did say sorry, documents were misplaced.

  43. David A Bovee    

    My “provider” accused me of being daily doped up on pills that I haven’t recieved in 14 months. I still have 6 out of 30 of those pills. They are temazepam for sleeping. Whaen I told her that I stopped taking them, she just said, “I don’t believe you” several times and told me to give another specimen. She said if it came back positive she would cut me off or something, illegally deny my benefits by canceling my prescriptions. This happened 20 years ago after I refused to stop using Regular insulin. It was 4 months before my medications were restored to me. In this current problem, a few minutes online showed me that NSAIDs, which I take, can give false positives in lab tests. My “provider diismissed that idea when mentioned during her threats. Also, she threatened to illegally cut me off because I manage my own diaabetes, something VA authoritarians can’t stand. I’m 100% service connected for MDR tuberculosis contracted in Thailand in 1975. I went through the entire claim system twice, all the way to the Court of Veteran’s Appeals. Make no mistake: nobody hates vets more than the VA.

  44. Cheryl Bennett    

    My late husband passed in May 2015 having been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in Dec. 2014. He’d been in a downward spiral with his health since a hospitalization in June 2011, yet his claim status was constantly denied beyond 70% UNTIL HE RECEIVED HIS DEATH SENTENCE that December. VA constantly insisted he provide proof of individual unemployability, all while he was tethered to Oxygen for breathing and had reached retirement age! We begged for his status to be granted at 100%, to no avail. Had he not been terminal for those 5 months, I wouldn’t have survivor benefits enough to live on. 🙁 I wish there was a way to appeal for retroactive benefits for the years he suffered and begged for benefits. I won’t even go into the malpractice aspects of his care.

  45. JR Rose    

    After TWELVE YEARS of fighting the most incredible incompetence you could imagine at the Detroit Regional Office, I will finally get my BVA hearing next month. Two hundred twenty three pages of evidence and documents, dating back to the day I separated from the service when I filed a claim for “anxiety”, as PTSD hadn’t been identified back then. A VA doc said he’d never seen someone with so many symptoms, and that’s what he used to deny my PTSD claim. Three other docs examined me, and FINALLY VA gave in and awarded me 100%. After 45+ years of having a claim for anxiety/PTSD left open and undecided and unprocessed, I think the US Government owes me a sizable amount of back benefit. That’s just the PTSD….there’s a lot more. CANCER. An ISCHEMIC STROKE. DIABETES. PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY. HYPERTENSION. HIGH CHOLESTEROL. HIGH TRIGLYCERIDES. The list goes on, and on. All I can say is, DO NOT EVER GIVE UP. Make the bastards pay up. Fight like hell until you win.

  46. Joyce Davidson    

    I have a case with the Va as A former spouse. The claim is an Apportimate Claim retiree failure to pay Court Order Alimony. They cant even give me a name of the representative.

  47. Christian Caggiano    

    I have fought the VA for 10yrs who wouldn’t provide the surgery on my left shoulder because it wasn’t “service connected” or so they said. After fighting for years and now having advanced degenerative joints in my neck from my shoulder not being fixed with a simple SLAP repair, I got power of attorney through DAV and found that due to “a clerical error” my records were never entered into the system. Tack on a botched excision to my head in 2015 and now I have numbness in the left part of my face due to a kicked nerve that they also denied.
    I kept fighting and went from 10% to 90%. They then only compensated me from the first change from 60% to 90% about 4 months, but not from the date of the original claim which went back to 2009. Because of bad information and a lot of running around, I had to file a notice of disagreement, which they then sat on for an additional 1.5yrs, because yet again, clerical error and they never attached a VA code. Now they’re trying to send me through the comp and pen process again.

    All of this after spending years and thousands of my own money, going back and forth to get the surgery and care I so badly needed in the first place, just for the VA to say, well sorry don’t think we can help you how do you feel about PT and some drugs?

    Have to say, I have zero faith in the VA, talk all you want boys, doesn’t change the fact that there is no good government system in this country anymore, VA operates the same as in insurance company, deny deny deny until you either give up or die.

  48. Thomas Hoyt Martin    

    AS I STATED IN MY LAST APPEAL TWO VOCATIONS THE VA
    SHOULD NEVER ENTER INTO AND THAT IS LAW ENFORCEMENT OR LABOR RELATIONS, BASED ON THIS, THEY SEND YOU TO A CNP EXAM , DO THEY PROVIDE THE EXAMINER ALL THE FACTS OF CASE, TEST THAT HAS BEEN RUN WITH RESULTS,,, NO,,SO THERE IS APPEAL GIVES THE VA MORE DELAY WITH HOPES THE OLD VET WILL DIE OFF AND BECOME ONE LESS TO DEAL WITH. THIS IS WHAT OUR FAMILY,GRANDCHILDREN, AND NEIGHBORS HEAR FROM THE VIETNAM ERA VETERANS

  49. Willie L. Taylor    

    I have been dealing with the appeals system for quite some time. Been denied for increased rating for lower back strain, r knee pellectemy /w non union and atrophy of r calf and thigh over 6 times. Got a lawyer and a n outside doctor. However, my appeals have been going on for 10 years this year. It is sad that we give our all for this nation only to have to fight the VA for the benefits we deserve.

  50. William Reed MacGregor    

    I am a Desert Storm Veteran. While stationed at Walter Reed Hospital, I developed a chest problem and cough. I went for x-rays and found out that I had bilateral positive hilar lymph node enlargement. I was told to get it checked out when I returned to Syracuse. I did and found out thru chest box that I had sarcoidosis. I found out that I had exposure to agent orange while training at Gagetown Canada. It was all over You tube and still is. I sent my orders and reports from Walter Reed. I called the VA in Canada and the explained to me that they had admitted the spraying at our training sites. They covered their Veterans, We deny, and will not cover ours!!! This disease will kill me. I am on my second defibrillator and have had over 85 shocks to date. I also have cardiac sarcoidosis and have had two cardiac ablations at HUP in Philidelphia. I now have neuropathy in my arms and legs. My joints all hurt and my muscles ache constantly. pls help!!! William MacGregor SSGT Retired USMC

  51. Steven baty    

    Hahaha vso??? What’s that? O right the person that calls u back after 3 months and says “sorry I can’t help you”. Here’s a thought how about u make it to were I can summit a form online to appeal a decision???? Instead of mailing me a letter and saying “if we don’t hear from you in 30 days you will be denied”. I’ve had that happen 3 times on 8 different issues. Why? Bc just like every other government ran program usps lost my mail or the people at the VA never mailed it.
    Another point I’m not a doctor, I’m a mechanic. why can’t we just go to a va doc and say this is what’s wrong how does this apply to va dis/comp claim/ med treatment?

    [Editor: VA is required to mail claim decisions. With that decision, VA is also required to explain what you can do if you disagree with the decision VA made. That’s why VA provides appeals information with the claim decision. Yes, you can see a VA or private doctor for your medical condition and then also use that diagnosis or treatment as evidence with your compensation claim.]

  52. Maryann P. Mabe    

    I don’t know if anyone reads this, or even cares, that has certainly been my experience. My husband and I are both 100% disabled. He has now passed from agent orange, of course, I’m supposed to be the one who proves it even though they know he was sprayed twice a day every day. Can’t even tell you how long it’s been. And I have my own claim, but have the same experience. So I have waited years, and I think they are just waiting for me to die and resolve 2 claims at once. I could go on and on, but I think you get it. So a husband and wife team, both 100% disabled and I don’t know why it takes so long to reject the claims

  53. Dawn A Raymond    

    I am a daughter caring for my 91 yr old WW2 era Marine dad. He was diagnosed with TBI and Parkinsonisms by the VA neurologist. After review of his stacks of VA medical history/records he diagnosed my dad. I was encouraged by VA to apply for service related injuries as he suffered 3 major concussions in 3 years as a Marine (under age 26 the age the brain is finally developed). 2 violent attacks, 1 a car crash on leave. I just received the denial. TBI wasn’t even understood or diagnosed until more recently. Evidently, not enough evidence? I am thankful to get the diagnosis, to understand what is wrong. But, it obvious this is service connected. The VA should have access to all these records. I wasn’t even born when all this occurred to my then 17yr old dad, yet I’m the one dealing with his very complicated health issues at his advanced age. It’s odd I have the burden of proof, have to seek legal advice now, while being his sole caretaker. He’s 91, may need institutional specialized full time care very soon. The financial burden will be great to our family. I don’t understand how these denials can happen in good conscience? There has to be a better way to handle service related injury claims for the serviceman, caregivers and families.

  54. Kelly Streckfus    

    I’ve been appealing my claim denials since 2008. Conveniently, I was told that my appeal paperwork was “lost in the shuffle” before records went electronic. Needless to say, I’m still appealing the denials 12 years later. I have yet to speak to an actual person regarding any of my claims. I only receive vague letters in the mail or vague updates when I call the 1-800 number. My appeal went before the Veterans Board for a judge to review in 2015. I was told that the judge didn’t actually get my appeal until July of 2019. There is no ETA of how long it will take them to make a decision despite the website saying I would have an answer in 1-2 months. I also have to keep providing copies of my medical records to them because they claim not to have them yet they reference specific doctors that I saw. This clearly shows they have my records but fail to read them completely. I’ve learned my lesson to write down names, dates, and get signatures for everything I sent to them. One day I will be reimbursed … I hope. I feel bad for the older vets that simply give up fighting for their rights because it is mentally exhausting and draining.

    1. Melissa Girona    

      Same here and they are recouping the $$ for a second time. I had an appeal hearing and they said I didn’t provide documentation for the hearing after sending a huge envelope. I also had a representative that was looking at my documents during the hearing on the other side of the state. Old records lost in the shuffle before records went electronic. I think that is what they are told to say to everyone. I’ve very disappointed hearing this has happened to a lot of people, having recoupment start over after it completed years earlier.

  55. Presley Cousins    

    I filed in 2004 my claim was closed because I did not answer a phone call got it reopened in 2014 was granted 10% for tinnitus PTSD was denied because although I spent 2 tours in Nam they said I was never in a place where I had to fear for my life!! Finally in 2018 got my NOD and review by psychiatrists was granted 50% for PTSD but was given 1 year back pay filed a NOD requesting back pay to original date of claim that was over a year ago!! Tried for 3 years to get my medical records and when I finally got them none of my treatment records pertaining to any of my claims was in there !! 8 years in the army and I have 8 pages of records 4 of which are dental and 2 ETS physical !! If you live in Alabama do not expect any help from the VA they are determined to deny until we die !!!

  56. Thomas Hansen    

    I started the claims process in 2004 for injuries received in motor vehicle accidents on active duty in 1979 and 1987. Denied. Denied. Denied. I was awarded SSDI when finally I could no longer walk. The VA hospital managed to get me a few visits a year at a community chiropractic clinic that barely keeps me out of a wheelchair. This blatant disregard for a veterans’ service and disrespect for the man that proudly wore the uniform and volunteered to put himself in harm’s way at the behest of his country is at best a slap in the face. To disregard and disrespect thousands of veterans who were there to be used as necessary is a shameful atrocity.

  57. Kenneth Klein    

    I have 44 year’s of military and federal VA. Service but the VA has repeatedly lost my claim and I now have them threatening me with charging me for my care because I made too much money in my retirement. I was diagnosed with significant hearing loss during one c&p exam but they say it wasn’t related to my being a truck driver and drill Sgt candidate! Also agent orange exposure in Okinawa but they lost my medical records from Okinawa where I was exposed. I’m diabetic but still am denied. Also they knocked my tooth out in surgery but have given me some money for that but not service connected. They have lost my claims at least twice now so I think they are waiting for me to die. Please help me.

  58. David Manus    

    Have your doctor/civilian medical professional put in writing on their practice letterhead a statement similar to the following: “(service members name and rank) condition is more likely than not a result from…”:

    (to link prior injuries sustained/ exposure while performing their duties)

    exposure to __________ (environmental exposure; blast injuries; hazardous chemical exposure; activities of war, areas of active burn pits, transportation/use of hazardous materials, agent orange exposure (including offshore [wind exposure] and ground water contamination), ionizing radiation, while performing their duties, participation of hazardous duty (protocols if you can name them)…

    If you have copies of duty assignments, evaluations/fit reps naming dates of activities/duties performed or training records- even correspondence from former duty station personnel attesting to your claim of exposure is helpful to establish your exposure resulting in your claim for disability. Be creative- search Facebook groups and web/social media sites for your former commands/rate/MOS/era/country of service and ask if anyone remembers or has/had experience with claim.

    Per a VA employee, the inclusion of the words “more likely than not” from a medical professional is profoundly key to a decision in favor of the veteran.

    I repeat, per a VA employee, the inclusion of the words “more likely than not” from a medical professional is profoundly key to a decision in favor of the veteran.

    Congressional investigations are a nightmare for organizations/businesses including the VA. Perhaps as a last resort, instead of giving up, contact your congressman for assistance and request they look into your case and reason for delay.

    I understand (told by VA) every time a request is made (by you, vet rep) and your record is pulled from the processing pile/line for status information (why is my claim taking so long?), it is not returned to previous place in the adjudication process line, it is placed on the bottom to start all over again. Don’t know if this is true, but why would they lie?

  59. Peter Seely    

    I appealed my claims, yes claims, and my VCAN Lawyer was able to assist me pro bono. Once the VA found out I had gone the VCAN route, it was pissed! My Lawyer and I had rattled the VA cage and made it get off their ass and assist me! I believe my case made me a poster child per say. As Service Officer, I recommend filing your claim with VCAN (VETERANS CLAIMS ADMINISTRATION NETWORK).VETs have the opportunity to choose a Lawyer to handle their claims, usually on a pro bono basis…check it out…

  60. Dennis Odonnell    

    I submitted my case under the judicial review option seven months ago! Not a word from the VA. In a recent phone call I discovered that a case submitted in this option will not even be sent to a judge for approximately 256 days! Many of us will die in the 10 or eleven months the “new option” takes! The most disappointing aspect of this approach was after submittal I checked the status every week and for three months what I saw was the message that the system was down, try later. That message didn’t change until 90 dad had gone by, the the message said “your appeal time to change your submission has elapsed, the case will now move to a judge”. The problem with that was neither I or my DAV counselor, who prepared the case ever received a notice the case was on hold for us to make changes. Just BS.

  61. Richard W Bowen    

    First claim denied. Second claim denied. Third claim lost records. Sent photos and new claim form and representitive in Washington just filed my appeal by parroting my claim form. I’m on anxiety meds because of this travesty and the VA 4 year run around. Korea 1968. The second meeting I was told by my rep “it’s people like you that makes it hard for the rest”. I might add on the first meeting when I said I was in Korea the three reps in the room rolled their eyes and one said “a Korean vet”. I have to hold my tongue. What I want to say about the VA AO claims process should not be printed. My symptoms speak for me.

  62. Jim Buckley    

    I initially began my appeal in August of 2019 with an interview with a consulting psychologist and she actually let me hit the ‘send’ button. Apparently, due to some kind of change made in early 2019, they did not accept this attempt to raise my disability. After going through a two and a half month depression in which I was almost totally incapacitated I attempted to send the appeal with the applicable forms filled out.

    Before continuing, I would like to state that the whole VA website dealing with disability should be shut down and remain so until it is a workable solution for filing claims. It is completely FUBAR! In the beginning I had issues just trying to file the claim. After a few hours on the phone I was able to find one representative who helped me initiate the claim. After uploading the necessary forms I attempted to submit them and got the error message that the forms could not be submitted at the present time. Thinking that perhaps the were working on the site at the time so I decided to wait and try again the next day. This is when the real frustration began. I spent a better part of two weeks and between 20 to 30 hours on the phone and that much time or more on the website attempting to find some kind of work around. All to no avail. During the period I was on the phone I was hung up on, misdirected, and spoke with representatives who confessed they did not know how to correct the situation. Most of the representatives did their level best to help but they did not have the knowledge to get the problem resolved.

    After becoming completely frustrated and angry I decided to fax the forms at a cost of about $30 out of pocket. That was three weeks ago and the when I check the website to find the status of my claim there is nothing there that says the claim has been received or what the status of the claim is. For all I know it went into someone’s garbage can rather than process my claim.

    This system needs to be made straight forward and accessible to those of us that need the benefits. This seems to be a top down problem with cronyism at its core. Please help.

  63. Leslie Nicholson    

    I was denied twice for Neuropathy. I was told that I had to have reported it within 1 year after discharge from service. VA did not add PN to AO list until 1990!
    So I take Neurton 3600 mg day and now VA has me on Duloxetine . My balance is gone and my feet kill me. I take Zolpidem in order to sleep. So now I am nothing but a junkie.!

  64. Johnnie Melissa Burmeister    

    My appeal has been sitting and waiting since July 2019…they say a lawyer and or judge has to review it…i was granted my PTSD and mst.

    But I have claims in on both since 2008….really…documents are fairly fresh and yet a decision cannot be made???

  65. Robert Schoch    

    My appeal has been in a remand status since 2014. The VA made a decision on 50% of my remand and left 50% hanging. I attended all my examinations and the medical reports were written and received by the VA. Now, I worked in the court system for 25 years and I know that judges like to rule on their cases, keeping their case loads moving to keep their cases minimized. Therefore, I can’t for the life why the BVA judges don’t do status reviews to see why the VA is sitting on appeal issues that growing old. It seems a better case management and open communication between the CA and the BVA needs to be overhauled. If one has all the evidence and all the IMEs to decide, then decide. It’s preposterous when one has an expert pulmonologist in burn pits and the Chief of a Staff at Orlando Veterans’ Hospital deem me to be burn pit victim for the VA to drag out this matter. Also, independent IMEs confirmed my Pulminary issues and submitted to the VA. To say this process of a remand could 10 years is ludicrous and unconscionable. It’s not appropriate, morale or ethical to hope that these medical issues and case are best resolved by the death of the veterans that are waiting for their cases to be determined.

  66. John Macalaster    

    I applied 6 months ago for a simple low income pension, Iisted my wife as a dependant. This was denied in July because they denied my wife as dependent because of a lack of marital history. I opened up a supplemental claim with the complete information and have heard nothing in over 3 months. It took me a day to get married with proof but the VA can’t take the time to look at simple facts about her marital history to award my pension. Maybe a couple phone calls would solve the issue but these deccision makers are phantoms that no one can talk to. In the mean time my wife suffers.

  67. Ronnie Bradley    

    I was discharge in DEC 1970 for hearing loss. Was told by VA in CALIF before discharge [which I was required to meet with before being discharge 19 early because of permanent hearing disability] I would receive compensation the rest of my life. I was denied after filing in 1971 and again in 1988 and finally after appeal again in 2012 I was given 10% but only back to 2012. I am now appealing for back pay because of unmistakable error. I requested an appeal hearing in person. After waiting 18 months they sent me another denial. When I ask why did I not have a hearing in person they said I did not request one because they could not find the request. Now I have to go back to the back of the line. They have been bad for a long time,

  68. David Clement    

    I have been fighting appeals since 1987. Worse fight I have ever been in for service connected disabilities. The VA keep telling me nothing was wrong with my knee and I have been through 10 surgeries with civilian doctors who tell me they do not understand why the VA was telling me that when they had documented proof, these were Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeons, which gave me copy’s that the VA refused to accept as evidence. Only after I submitted evidence that I had exhausted all forms of treatment and had my knee replaced did they rate me more than 20%, even though I had to miss work because I could not walk or stand. The VA keeps asking for evidence, but every time I submit reports, mri’s or xrays they deny the evidence from board certified orthopedic surgeons. I was forced into early retirement because I could no longer work. Still waiting on my decision from VA

  69. NYLE LAGRANGE    

    Going on 4 years waiting for the appeal to be adjudicated. I spent months putting all the facts on record and was denied because I didn’t make the ship I was on, or my shipmates. I WAS IN THE U.S. AIR FORCE!!

  70. Robert Carroll    

    THE UGLY HIDDEN TRUTH

    HOW THE VA AND CONGRESS REALLY TREAT VIETNAM VETS

    50 years ago I fought the Vietnam war on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS America operating in the Tonkin Gulf in 1968. I was an Aviation Electronics Petty Officer.

    I lost most of my hearing working among the jet engines.
    After two trips to the VA in Albany, NY I received my benefit letter.
    They determined I was suffering from “ACOUSTIC TRAUMA”  “SERVICE CONNECTED”
    My award was calculated as 0 percent. That’s right, ZERO. I don’t get a benefit.

    Next abomination. Suffering from Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2) my doctor prescribed Invokana 100mg.
    After submitting the prescription I never got the medicine or heard from the VA medical facility.
    I called them and asked “where is my medicine”? Their response, “too expensive, we will not fill
    prescriptions for Invokana”. I have to go private and pay a $179.00 co-pay.

    The final blow. We fought for years trying to get the VA to admit that Agent Orange wafted into the gulf and affected the sailors on these ships. Also we were desalinating the contaminated water for drinking, cooking, and showering, etc. .
    Ten years ago we started a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court. January of this year the Court of Appeals found in our favor, classified Tonkin Gulf sailors as the “Blue Water Navy”. Congress passed the BLUE WATER NAVY ACT of 2019 and demanded the VA approve our claims and start paying long overdue benefits.
    I have two of the conditions covered. Diabetes Type 2 and cancer.
    The VA dragged it’s feet and eventually had to be forced by Congress to start processing our benefits.
    This was the happiest day of my life. Benefits were to start being paid starting January 2020.
    The VA destroyed my hopes. They figured out a way to get around paying us.
    They determined that the aircraft carriers were operating outside the 12 mile limit from shore.
    This is a lie. We could see the shore and beaches from the ship. And who made up this 12 mile trick?
    And how far out was the contaminated water? More than 12 miles I bet.
    And so the VA has determined that the thousands of men on the aircraft carriers will be excluded
    from the benefits of the Blue Water Navy Act and will not be awarded compensation. I am devastated. We appealed to Congress and they refused to allow the carriers to be included.

    Robert Carroll
    Aviation Electronics Technician
    Attack Squadron 82

  71. Stanley Bos Jr.    

    I was denied on my claim. My VSO rep told me she couldn’t file an appeal because of new rules that states I must have a Doctor state in writing that my medical problems were caused by my severe lead poisoning. I told her I was in the VA system and probably couldn’t get my Doctor to say that. Of course I was right. She said that she couldn’t and had to get the Doctor that examined me for my claim. What can I do now?

    [Editor: All claims need three pieces of evidence included: a current medical diagnosis; evidence of an event or injury or medical condition that occurred to you in active service; a nexus (VA doctor or private doctor) linking the former to the latter.]

  72. Donald F. Hall    

    Have had claim for bladder cancer AGENT ORANGE
    Since 2011.
    Appeal after appeal

    1. Bradley Scheffler    

      Donald, Sadly, these bureaucrats are just hoping we Viet vets die soon. Keep plugging and all my best to you. Brad

      1. Garrett H Brummer    

        It has taken me 28+ years to get a 100%, unemployable rating. I have never had the original claim approved and have had several appeals denied wrongly. I still have three claims (one is at BVA for years) pending. One that is still pending is bladder cancer, the same as Donald. Only difference is I claimed mine as
        part of prostrate cancer associated with Agent Orange. Both were removed due to cancel in Apr 2000. I didn’t apply for both until prostrate cancer became part of AGENT ORANGE. In my case Bladder Cancer should have been approved based on Title 38 U>S>C> 1151 claims pertaining to Compensation that states “Injuries incurred or aggravated while receiving VA sponsored medical treatment”. Starting in 1998 I had seven blood in urine lab reports. After the eighth lab when the same treatment for a urinary tract infection still didn’t solve the problem, I consulted a private physician. That day he suspected it wasn’t a UTI, sent me for a CT scan. To make a very long story short, it turned out that it wasn’t a UTI, but cancer. Because of the two year delay I lost both my prostrate and bladder. Fourteen years later my kidneys followed. The loss of the kidneys was diagnosed by my private physician as being related to my diabetes. This was in 2014. I applied for disability using this diagnoses. Compensation and Pension recommended disapproval based on a VA doctor that said it was due to a history of UTI’s. This appeal went to BVA, they remanded it and the remand went back to BVA with documentation support for my private physician. I don’t know where the other two appeals are. I agree with the other veterans that the system is to deny, deny, and then deny again in hopes you will give up and even better die. I did contact one advocacy law firm, but since I am at 100% and none of the appeals are for PTSD they declined to help. I am in the process of asking my Senator for assistance. I also agree with the veterans that question all the articles that the VA puts out on how they are doing all these things that improved the appeals process. This is simply not true.

  73. Everett S. Pugh    

    it took me three years from filing to get anywhere. Was recently told to go to vets helping vets to get anything done about increasing disability..

  74. Abdel Torres    

    I myself, have been in the system of appeals after appeals going on 13 years on March 2020. Again, my appeal is being sent to the Board in Washington D.C. for the 5th time. My lawyers said the decision should be made by the Saint Petersburg, FL. office by now. But no, just got a letter indicating that it was sent back to the Board. Do I have to wait another 10 or more years or they are hoping I die so they can drop the case. This is a disgrace to the country on how we are being treated like a ping pong ball.

  75. Mark Harold Stevens    

    “[Which lane should Veterans choose? “We always advise Veterans to work with their representative…,” Mason said. “While we have made it easier, it’s still a little confusing to Veterans because it is different. Veterans representatives can really advise them on what they need to do.”]”

    This quote from the article sounds fine.
    Except in my case – I have a review hearing next Tuesday in Milwaukee WI.
    After three or four tries, I finally contacted my representative yesterday.
    He did NOT once try to reach out to me.
    Within a 20 – 30 minute phone call he had so upset and disappointed me, that I told him I would attend my appeal hearing without him.
    He was so rude, callous, and out-of-line.

    Not what I was hoping for as I tried to prepare for my hearing.

  76. Wayne L Brightman    

    How can a Air Force veteran that had an MOS of 43250 (jet engine mechanic) that worked in close proximity to B 52 and KC 135 engines being tested on aircraft and test cell as well as an occasional J 93 engine and those with 3 stage afterburner be denied service connection for hearing when the science says that there is a strong possibility of impairment caused by repeated exposure to high frequency noise. My appeal is still dragging since June 2019. Why? To me it is plain BS.

  77. Robert L Foster    

    I re-opened a claim and opened new claims in July 2019 on eBenefits (unbeknownst to me) as they were transferring the claims process to va.gov.

    1) On eBenefits, there was an option to choose a representative, I chose VFW in Atlanta.

    2) The process failed on eBenefits, so I called some numbers and they told me about the transition and that I had to open claims on va.gov, so I did. The va.gov process was faster and easier fyi.

    3) Apparently, someone at va.gov closed my re-opened claim from eBenefits, and combined all of my claims into one.

    4) My claim decision has been pushed back twice, once in October to January, then from January to June.

    5) I am now getting letters about the eBenefits re-opened/closed claim saying I need to fill out some form. So, do I need to respond to this letter? Is this one claim holding back my other claim decisions since they combined them all? Since they combined them all, do my new claims (most were actually reported twice on my Gulf War Review, and were originally filed in 2012 but I opened new claims due to new evidence) get the same Intent to file date as my re-opened one?

    6) I have yet to hear from anyone from the VFW.

  78. Michael    

    Don’t believe the hype. My appeal was filed August 2018 for a DRO review and my status on VA.gov has stated a DRO is reviewing your appeal since October 2018. I was outsourced to a non VA provider from my C&P exam and it was an awful experience and was sent for a VA C&P exam October 2018. I contact the regional office quarterly to see if there has been a change of status or any additional documentation are needed. I get the response of ok, appeals takes approximately (insert random amount of days) and you will be notified if you need any additional documents or if your claim has been denied or approved. When I called last week, I was told DRO reviews are currently taking 314 days; so I’m well past the average mark.
    I did contact my congressman November 2019. I hand delivered the form for an inquiry, and have yet to hear back from his office. I’ve also keep in contact with my VSO representative quarterly as well.
    Maybe, just maybe, one day we will no longer compartmentalize exams and appeals to look like they are moving forward and making progress for a PowerPoint presentation and actually have a system that produces results. But hey, we’re adding more things when we cannot complete what we already have.

  79. Patrick Emanuele    

    I have asked for assistance for years now and get nothing. FDVA take what I have and fax it, no guide on what is needed just a fax machine. DAV same thing. I have written to Washington, I can send you the emails of there response. Since October I couldn’t see my claid stage or what was needed, it said it had no information. It delayed thing it said they needed that were already in my file.

    [Editor: PLEASE DO NOT PUBLISH YOUR SENSITIVE INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET. I have deleted your file number from this comment. If you need assistance, please call 800-827-1000.]

  80. Cobra Commander    

    VA sent me a claim decision on November 30, 2011 from claim filed in 2009.

    VA received my Notice of Disagreement on December 01, 2011

    VA sent me a Statement of the Case on January 09, 2012

    VA received my Form 9 January 13, 2012

    VA sent me a Supplemental Statement of the Case on April 24, 2012

    My appeal was sent to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals on March 20, 2015.
    *****Almost 3 years for Milwaukee to send Claim to Board of Appeals.

    VA granted one or more issues on April 05, 2017

    Board of Veterans’ Appeals made a decision on August 31, 2017

    Appeal “accidentally” closed for over 6 months in the BVA computer system in 2019.
    ***** Took 6 months to convince them something was wrong.

    VA granted one or more issues on October 29, 2019

    Your appeal was returned to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals on November 25, 2019

    Just a little over 10 years and still waiting……………

  81. Bradley Scheffler    

    I’m a Vietnam vet and I’ve been fighting leukemia for over 2 yrs. I couldn’t file a claim until after my inpatient Chemo Therapy was completed. I filed through a local county veterans rep. I enclosed a statement from my Hematologist stating my exposure to agent orange was as likely a cause as not for my disease. I went through a bone marrow transplant at Moffitt cancer center in Tamp, fl. I was fortunate to beat the odds and was in full remission thanks to the outstanding care I received at Moffitt and my sons bone marrow donation. They are my saviors. All VA did was make me wait months only to state that I had the wrong type of Leukemia and I couldn’t receive benefits because I’m in remission. They ignored my hematologists recommendation and others have been granted benefits with the same strain I had. Desk jockeys making life changing decisions and the worst they’ve seen is a paper cut! The only thing VA wants for Vietnam vets is for us to die and everyone to forget about dumping poison on their own soldiers in an unpopular war! I’m left with medical bills hanging over my head for as long as I have left. All this propaganda VA is putting out is bull. They want make it sound like all is well, but for those that need and deserve help its all empty doubletalk about all they do for us! They denied me because I’m in remission, but that can go south anytime. Denied because I lived! That’s the VA way! I’m sure those con artists are proud of themselves..

  82. Scott Williams    

    How about you FIX the front end of VA claims fist so that when a sprained ankle is denied coverage as osteoarthritis by the incompetence by a VA Nurse Practioner somebody catches it BEFORE a decision is made and the whole thing then has to go to appeals to straighten it out.

    Or how about fixing things when a US Senator’s office asks for updates on a claim every quarter for 4 years you tell them in the beginning that you LOST the claim paperwork not at the end claiming you don’t have it because the service member “canceled the claim”, even though the service member has been after his Senator to get an update.

    Or, how about you start taking the word of an orthopedic surgeon over that of a VA flunky physician assistant when it comes to whether or not one condition was a cause for another.

    You play with veterans’ lives and couldn’t care less about the veteran or their families.

    Until you can PROVE otherwise the Delay, Deny, and Die program is still in full swing.

    I don’t care how much lipstick you put on this pig, it’s still a pig.

  83. Theodore Gielarowski    

    I’ve been on appeal over 10 years and still number 14,014 in line. Seems like only 5-10 get cleared a day so it’ll prob be another couple of years

  84. vic miller    

    Bogus, empty rhetoric is my opinion of Cheryl Mason and the VBA and Dr. Lawrence. Why? After three remands from the BVA, and one CAVC remand since my claim began 8/19/2002, eighteen years later, without required Expeditious Treatment statutorily mandated, processing of my Legacy appeal remains undecided. My congressional delegation does not and cannot expedite VA processing of the claim. Chairmen of the Veterans Affairs Committees in the House and Senate (Congressman Phil Roe and Senator Johnny Isakson) do not respond to letters mailed them. Contacting the White House, and calling their VA Complaint Hotline accomplishes nothing. The American Legion is my representative but nothing changes concerning Additional Development ordered by the Court and BVA. VA Regional Offices and Decision Review Officers operate lackadaisically.

    I have not and will not switch to alleged Modernization.

  85. William Cordle    

    You can change the name of this a hundred times and change what is “suppose” to be done, but the fact still remains! VA disability and the appeals is a bunch of garbage!

    I’ve proven to the VA during my last appeal that me AND 3 other case appeals I saw where all 4 of us had the exact medical issues, diagnosis and surgeries.
    I can’t get more than 10%, yet the other 3 individuals are getting 50+%!

    And my current appeal has been sent almost a year ago and I STILL have NOT got any letters or ANYTHING!

    So change the name all you want, but the fact remains AND EVERY VETERAN THAT IS BEING SCREWED OVER will tell you the same thing. The VA is NEVER going to fix anything, and all they ever do is have meetings and videos about oh look…this new system again, while at the same time you have the same lame people and procedures that decide WHO gets disability with NO RHYME OR REASON as to why 3 persons gets higher disability than the fourth when THEY ALL HAVE THE EXACT SAME MEDICAL CONDITION and THE EXACT SAME DIAGNOSIS and THE EXACT SAME SURGERIES and EVERYTHING ELSE.

    VA is comparable to Social Security Disability. Where they have judges DECIDING whether or not someone deserves disability! The dumbest thing I think I’ve ever been through. I guess when my AC breaks I’ll call the butcher at the local grocery store to come tell me what’s wrong with it!

  86. Barbara Bowers    

    Do you
    Allow a Widow of a veteran that put in a tort that was denied. I feel the decision was wrong.

  87. M Smith    

    Mr. Shanker, please don’t give up. First, I’m not a Doctor, or expert on ANYTHING. Next, I’ve struggled with the meds. that are typically given for stress, anxiety, panic etc. and I don’t like them. The best thing I can tell you is request a NEW primary care Doctor, and/or Psychiatrist and be patient. Unfortunately most of us don’t have time to wait. You need relief now. I have tried Zoloft and I like how it makes me feel. Again, I’m not an expert. I’m only offering my opinion.

  88. Jerry Middleton    

    Under AMA I have filed three appeals this started January 2019. I’m not going into what happened before AMA (Major Charlie Foxtrot).

    The first appeal was conveniently lost. I filed a new one which was denied in less than a month (record time). I refilled with new information. The new information specifically stated that I was housebound and needed the aid of another because I couldn’t walk farther than three steps without falling (balance issues).

    After the appeal was left open for more than three months it was inexplicably closed. No letter was sent no reason was ever given. Three days after the third appeal was closed the VA opened a new case for the same appeal that was closed. When I ask a VA employee he stated that late flowing information was received. When i asked the employee when the late flowing information had been received, he states it was “logged in” two months prior. When I ask how does information that was received two months ago come up as late information? The answer i received was “no one really understands what goes on”.

    I ask a VSO and am told that the VA opened a new case because they received late flowing information (even though that’s what I asked them about). They couldn’t answer why the case was closed and then reopened. Because of the closure and reopening the 120 day goal is reset. Even though the initial submission was over 2 years ago, the DAV VSO told me that the case is only at the 90 day mark.

    So I ask, is this what is considered a better system?
    Why can’t a veteran talk directly to the person reviewing their case? This would make decisions and cases flow more quickly.

    1. James D Hawkins    

      I got mine reopened after several years including this or inexplicable loss of paperwork and again denied and appealed to a lay judge in Washington who granted one point and remanded the other and flat told the VARO TO USE APPROVED GUIDELINES.

  89. Matthew    

    The VA is such a broken system, combat medic here fought the VA for seven years for benefits, took a civilian doctor to tell me the treatment I was receiving was borderline abuse. I sought outside legal help with claims and support and magically when the VA has to answer to any outside authority on its treatment practices it cannot explain the lack of support for veterans. It is disgusting to me that you can blow me up, shoot me, make me treat my fellow soldiers under the most extreme conditions. When I return home and finally asked for help we are treated like a burden, the whole system needs privatized at least then those lazy govt employees may have to actually answer to someone instead of just being given a different job. Our VA system in this country is an absolute disgrace and the fact that everyone like to say thank you for your service, do something. I don’t need your forced statement of thank you for your service, help us change the culture.

    1. Aaron Kurtzhals    

      Took me 14 yrs of lost records, appeals, divorce, and stress for me to get first initial exam. Another six more yrs of stonewalling before getting benefits. They did same to my unit till I was last one left alive. Wait more wait.

    2. Bubbalicious    

      Wouldn’t privatizing the VA especially for claims be a bad thing? Privatization would mean the company would likely have shareholders, in return they have an obligation to make (save) as much money as possible for the shareholders/CEO’s… That would leave a conflict of wanting to save money(make money for shareholders (which publicly owned company’s are bound to do) or grant a lot of money for disability..

    3. Greg Marsh, Disabeled VET    

      Such systemic problems frequently result from the untimely removal of those with solutions as Dr. Sulkin, M.D. – probably the finest VA Administrator we’ve ever had. He was fired by Pvt. Bone Spurs – don’t let such a thing happen ever again.

    4. James White    

      I agree the review process is broke and it does not seem to be getting any better. All we Vets hear is how over burdened the reviewers are with back logs. We Vets are required to prove our cases with information that government already has in most cases. The VA has admitted that AO has many medical issues associated with exposure yet still they deny our exposure and illness. I like so many Vets would much rather be healthy and cancer free instead of having to beg for assistance and pittance they give us what an insult. Its all about the money until the percentage of us have died off then and only then will the system provide a better service.

  90. James A Gordon    

    There are an overwhelming percent of claims that are denied to begin with. Work the problem from the front not back door. The VA has to a better job at looking into claims that are repeatedly denied when they should have been granted.

    1. Cobra Commander    

      Completely agree, when over 50% of the claims are remanded at least once, a better job needs to be done on the Regional Level to prevent so many remands and delays

    2. Christopher Cienki    

      Absolutely right! Giving more “choices” in the Appeals process only speeds up the same bad decision. Claims need to be adjudicated properly the first time. The VA dening claims is a good way for them to reduce the backlog of new claims. The trade off is the backlog is being reduced but the appeals are balloning.

    3. JOSEPH D KEMLAGE    

      YOUR RIGHT MATHEW I PUT IN FOR SLEEP APNEA AND WAS GIVEN A MACHINE TO HELP ME SLEEP BUT WHEN I PUT IN A CLAIM TO THE VA THEY TOLD ME IT WASN’T SERVICE RELATED … I TOLD THEM THAT IN 1964 THEY DID NOT KNOW WHAT THAT WAS BUT I STILL GOT REJECTED WHAT A JOKE…

  91. Aniceto Garcia    

    I switched And files have been misplaced

    1. Robert Henry    

      Control,Choice and Clarity…Are you kidding me! I have had a Appeal opened since 2013 through the St Petersburg,Fl Regional Office. The appeal was denied at the St Petersburg, Fl office and I disagreed with the decision and filed the appeal to go to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals. January 7 2019 the Board of Veterans Appeals formally placed my appeal on the Boards docket. In August of 2019 the Board of Veterans Appeals Law Judge REMANDED the case back to the St Petersburg,Fl Office to assist me in my case and schedule examinations to each service connected claims. I went to all the exams within a month and as of January 29, 2020 I am still where I was back in 2013. The case is still with the St Petersburg,Fl office and each time I call they tell me they are working on it…REALLY. This case has been a Dog and Pony show from the beginning of 2013 until the case was presented to the Board of Appeals in Washington,D.C. I have enclosed stacks of official medical documents, signed and sworn statements from family including Military unit members and Unit Commander Lt colonel sworn statements….and I do not even think they ever looked at any of the evidence I sent for them to review at the St Petersburg, Fl Regional Office. If anyone thinks they have fixed the system or made it better….PLEASE CONTACT ME I would really like to tell you my story.
      7 years and still waiting!!!

  92. Howard Shanker    

    My phychiatrist. Dr. Simmons increased my medication. Duloxetine in November due to increased anxiety and depression, and I am currently on the increased dosage at this time. I have been denied an increase in my Ptsd rating twice. Please assist…

    1. J.A    

      In order to be granted an increase, you need to meet the criteria for a higher level award. You need to read your rating decision. All the information is spelled out in the decision.

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