Borne the Battle #180: Benefits Breakdown: Appeals Modernization Part II

Board of Veterans Appeals with Chairman Cheryl Mason


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This week’s Borne the Battle begins where episode #169 left off, featuring guest Cheryl Mason, Chairman of the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA).

In this Benefits Breakdown, Chairman Mason talks about the third lane of Appeals Modernization. Where the first two lanes allow Veterans to appeal their compensation claim decision to a claims adjudicator, the third lane allows Veterans to appeal a compensation claim decision directly to the Board.

More importantly, Chairman Mason addresses many questions Veterans ask:

  • Which lane is right for you?
  • What are the differences between each lane?
  • How long will each take?
  • Should you work with a VSO?
  • How do you monitor the progress?

Chairman Mason oversees the Board’s 1100 personnel, its budget, and ensures the Board conducts hearings, decides appeals for Veterans and their families, and ensures a Veteran’s voice is heard.


#BtBattle Veteran of the Week: Army Veteran Roy N. Scow

Additional Links:

Hayoung Oh is a podcast intern with the VA’s Digital Media Engagement Team. He is currently an undergraduate at UC Berkeley studying Public Health.

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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. Terrence Shannon    

    It was disheartening to read the above blogs knowing the ignorance I face is endemic. I was diagnosed with Ischemic Heart Disease by my VA cardiologists. My doctors entered the terms Coronary heart disease; Microvascular Ischemia, Microvascular disease and angina. VA claims just turned me down stating “no evidence of Ischemic heart disease”. All of the above are synonymous with each other. I wrote a question to the VA asking do my doctors need to express my diagnosis exactly as Ischemic heart disease before claims would recognize it. After weeks waiting for a reply the VA sent me a profoundly ignorant response that did not come close to answering my question. A blog above stated he sued the VA for negligence and received attention almost immediately. Why the hell do I have to sue the organization that is mandated to assist me. The VA’s conduct is not negligence. …that supposes an ooops. This is no oooops, this is calculated and willful.
    I sincerely believe a class action case of FRAUD needs to be brought. When someone makes a false statement knowing it is false at the time they make it and it injures the Vet…that is a fraud.
    No sense bringing this to the directors attention, I’m sure, they are well aware of the practice. It’s simply good math. Some will give up and not appeal and some will die waiting for an appeal. Terrence Shannon, Viet Nam 1967 – 1969.

  2. Edward B. Hernandez    

    I filled my claim when I turned 60 because I thought I had to be retired. The local County VA office (AL?) helped me file a claim for injuries suffered when I fell from a C-141 on to the concrete ramp below. I was knocked,etc out and taken by Base EMS to Womacks Army Hospital. I visited my local VA office on Main St. every two to three months. One day I was sorta upset and wanted to know how my claim was doing! After digging up my file a guy said: “It had been over two years and my file could not be reopened.”
    He said that I had not completed a FORM-9! A request to be notified of the results of the Board decision. Who in Hell would want to file a claim and not be notified??? The guy said it and been over tw0 years and my claim could not be appealed or reopened. I was so depressed and disappointed. He did not tell me I could file another claim!!
    One night I was watching TV and saw an ad for “Reps for VETS”. I called about reopening my claim because I had been told it could be REOPENED!!! I guessed the just filed a new claim for 25% of my settlement. I wrote to them about fifty times to call or write to me. I never got a response
    My claim was settled thirty-four years after my injury. I don’t know at what cost to me and what was in the settlement It has left a very bad taste in my mouth for the VA system. I think Reps4VETS might have extended my case to collect more or the VA would not try to settle it sooner.
    Please evaluate the need for a FORM-9 and maybe it should be “You will be Notified unless you sign to opted out and not be informed.”
    The Cheif Orthopedic Surgeon Consult for the AF signed my Injury documentation so it should have gone through the first time???
    WHAT was the screw up that I had to wait for thirty-four years??? Three vertebrae fused all my molars broken, pinched nerves, TBI.!!!
    Thanks for your attempt to help President Trump fix the VA System!!

    [Editor: A Form 9 was used by the Veteran to appeal a claim decision to the Board of Veterans Appeals. It is the last step in the process, meaning the claim had already been decided, appealed by the Veteran, a statement of the case sent to the Veteran, the Veteran disagreed with the SOC. This is the old, broken appeals process. This blog discusses the new process, which is much quicker. However, once VA makes a decision on a claim or appeal, the Veteran has 365 days from the date of the decision to appeal. If VA doesn’t receive an appeal within that time, the claim or appeal decision is legally complete and cannot be reopened.]

  3. Diana L Guyton    

    Claim goes back to 10/11 appeal to 03/13. Years of no word at all. Fix the system……..please

  4. Kevin Lamar Carter    

    I agree, my migraine appeal been open for 2 years, the system is so screwed up and backlogged….all VA gives is lip service and is very slow, i see why veterans give up.

  5. Ronnie Cork    

    Just rec’d an initial determination from the VA on a MS claim that met all legal requirements. Evidence included nexus letter from my treating neurologist, MS DBQ, service medical records, civilian medical records. In the written determination, ALL of their reasons were wrong legally and almost like they did not even look at my records.

    Rating specialists are obviously incompetent from a legal perspective….or intentionally deny claims for whatever reason.

    The VA should put ALJ’s into these positions…..it would remove the backlog at the Board level.

    Disclosure…..my claim was submitted by an attorney that formerly worked for the Board.

  6. Keith Timberlake    

    My appeal was “remanded”, what does this mean and where do I go from here? I am on a 60 percent disability and feel I am entitled to 80 percent. I am a .boots on the ground Vietnam vet, and have tried to make sense of that war for 50 years. It truly changed and impacted my life forever

    [Editor: A remand usually means that the BVA could not come up with a decision and so sent the appeal back to the regional office for more work. It is not a grant or a denial. If you feel that your medical condition is worthy of a higher rating, check out the rating criteria for the next higher percentage: https://www.benefits.va.gov/WARMS/bookc.asp

    Additionally, once you receive a statement of the case or supplementary statement of the case, you can opt your “legacy” appeal into the new appeals system. Two of the new lanes are much quicker, and one allows you to work with VA to better develop your case: https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/64856/appeals-modernization-opting-soc-ssoc/ ]

  7. Wille    

    I am on a limited internet access, which means if I go over the speed is greatly reduced. So, I NEVER review podcasts or the like.
    Why don’t you put out the information in the written word for people like us Vets that need this regarding appeals?

    1. Tanner Iskra    

      Hey Willie,

      I share what I can find man. For me, it’s easier to ask questions and then share the answers. If you’re in to reading. There’s plenty to go through at https://www.bva.va.gov.

  8. Judy L Burleson    

    I enjoyed the information from Cheryl Mason
    It did take 8 years to get me in front of a video Judge in another town
    last Jan 10, 2020
    I am now waiting on the Judge to find the other records
    for proof that my late husband was at a place with Ionize Radiation
    It is a know fact it causes a certain kind of Leukemia, which he died with
    after 4 years of me caring for him with no help from anyone. I would sure do
    again if I could have him back. I miss him terribly.
    I have always believe this claim will be approved, he was WWII Veteran
    I am his widow. I pray for a positive ending.

    Thank you for the information from your site

  9. Stephen McCartney, M.D.    

    I read SFC Watson’s comments above and concur.
    The inept written opinions that I have received twice regarding my issues with cancer reveal no one, so far, gets it.
    The first one revealed such a poor understanding of the disease process I thought he had me confused with another veteran. The second one addressed two other stable issues I am already rated for and were never in question as a primary concern..
    I am a 30 yr retired USN physician so the inept written comments and administrative “hot air” is obvious to me on first pass.
    If I didn’t like retirement so much I would feel obliged to hire on to VA Medical Appeals and try to improve it for other vets.

  10. Arthur Francis murano    

    my appeal has been in the circuit for 2 1/2 years and there are still 80,000 appeals in front of me quit giving us lip service and do something to fix this totally unfair system

  11. jmac jmac    

    Been waiting almost 5 years for my appeal to go in front of the board. Clearly this “stream lined” process is still broke…

  12. James Watson    

    The VA appeals process is complete rubbish, their determination officers are as smart as rocks. I am in the process of a VA Title 38 U.S.C. 1151 negligence against the VA. When the VA was able to be sued, after that law was passed, suddenly two portions of my case were resolved in days. Unfortunately for the VA, I do not let things go nor am I political in any way. I don’t care if you loved by some mythical deity, if you deserve to lose your job, you will. I do not care what position you are in.

    The noise that comes out of the mouths of these VA suits in what they say verse what they do in practice are totally different things. The case replies these VA suits send back to the Vets in the form of statements of case and replies to letters sent are amazing in their ineptitude, and these replies are in hard copy print that cannot be disputed by them. It is similar to telling someone one thing and then letting that one thing go around the room and when it get’s back to the Vet, it is nothing like the original. This is something that needs to be stopped. To have it happen one time would not be bad, but several times? This is systemic of pushing paperwork through by workers that have zero clue or simply do not want to take the time to do things correctly. This problem can be wholly attributed in part to the lack of trained personal and clueless, moronic suits in the VA that make useless noise act like they are in the business of saving money and make their job position look good instead of helping the Vets as they should be doing.

    That and the VA acting with the conditions the Vet is wrong and the VA must ensure the Vet is held to standards the VA does not have to meet. The VA uses opinions, not facts in it’s medical determinations. The VA will not use actual doctors that are familiar with patients and instead use hired subcontractors to supply medical “opinions” at which point determination officers follow flow charts to decide whether or not to give benefits based on chart criteria in that flowchart. This garbage must stop. When a determination officer calls and states they have no medical training or expertise, that they cannot read the thousands of medical pages supplied (obviously) and they have to go by the “most recent opinion” of hired subcontractors that spend 15 to 30 minutes or less to write a report to give to the determination officer and then decide via the flow chart what the Vet gets is total BS.

    Nothing but noise comes out of the mouths of VA suits. The VA chairman makes a great speech and I am quite sure that chairman has never sat next to a hired VA subcontractor “doctor” that says differing medical conditions are the same and then gets upset because a Vet asked if they looked at that vets medical records and then states they did not need to as they are asking the questions and then goes through the VA medical number reference flowchart and says what sounds familiar? I am sure that VA appeals chairman thinks this is simply OK. Business as usual for the great VA. This chairman has more to fix than they realize, or they do realize this and simply do not give a pile of fecal matter except to look good in their position and make noise that is pleasant for their senior noise makers to hear.

    SFC
    James Watson
    USA Army Retired

  13. Martin allison    

    Nice video, totally untrue. this chairman is clueless.

  14. Jon Hulverson    

    What about the problems with the toxic water? My body is disintegrating!

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