Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Report: Too many vets wait a year for claim

VA OIG Report

Report: Too many vets wait a year for claim

By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press Writer – Wed Sep 23, 4:10 pm ET
WASHINGTON – Too many veterans' disability claims take more than a year to process, the Veterans Affairs Department's inspector general said Wednesday.

An audit released by the VA showed that a year ago, 11,000 veterans had claims pending more than a year. It says the agency awarded retroactive payments totaling about $43 million for about a third of them. Of that total, it says about $14 million was unnecessarily delayed because of deficient claims processing.

Among the worst cases, one veteran was owed nearly $65,000 for a delayed claim, and another veteran waited more than two years for payment, the IG said.

"These delayed benefit payments have the potential to adversely affect the economic status and quality of life for veterans who are eligible for benefits," the IG said.

The report said the VA has made progress in reducing lingering claims, but it's still creating too much of a financial burden for veterans. The VA has hired more claims processors but is struggling with a growing number of claims approaching one million as more veterans file claims who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

It recommended changes such as improving its workload management.

The VA agreed with most of the IG findings and recommendations, the IG said.


On the Net: IG audit on veterans claims: http://www.va.gov/oig/52/reports/2009/VAOIG-08-03156-227.pdf


While this article addresses the fact that most veterans wait up to one year for their claims to be decided, it does not get into the fact that most claims are not settled at any reasonable limit and that most of the veterans are then forced to file a "Notice of Disgreement" otherwise known as a "NOD" and then the appeals process can take up to another year for a a Decision Review Officer to either make a award decision or another denial, which then the veterans then files an appeal to the Board of veteran Appeals, which this can lead from a 12-24 month wait, now add all of these waiting times up and you can have the average veteran and their families waiting up to five years before they can get a BVA Judge to make a decision which in my experience is where the veterangets a fair shake and the Judge allows the evidence that the local VA regional Office has been ignoring to be heard, he also looks at the medical credentials of the VA doctors that have been rendering "specialists opinions, when the personnel making the VA exams are sometimes no more than Nurse Practitioners, or regular MDs, or radiologists" who then have the audacity to make "cardiac opinions as specialists" and the Judge will look at the states medical office's listings as to their credentials, versus the credentials of the specialists the veterans have hired that are board certified in their specialties and have the experience to make an Independent Medical Opinion (IMO) and things that have been able to slide under the radar in the Regional Office, gets seen by a BVA Judge that takes all of this into account, and then calls it "the benefit of doubt" and awards the claim back to date the claim was filed five years previously.

While the veteran and their family finally gets the benefits they are entitled to or the "PROMISE" as military members are told when they enlist, what no one told them that they would have to go to war with the VA to make them keep the PROMISE. They are not told they can not get a lawyer until after they are denied by the Regional Office and still many are told by Veterans Service Organizations that they will represent them for free yes they do, they also are only as good as the training they have, which in my past 7 years has been less than fulfilling, I am glad the rules were changed in July 2007 allowing veterans to hire attornies after the first denial, there are a group of well educated lawyers that handle Veterans Claims and I will recommend them to any veteran, to have quality representation as soon as possible can cut short the time it takes for the claim to be settled properly and paying them 20% of your award is better than waiting 5-7 years to either still be denied or lowballed or to even get the proper award, 20% of something is better than a 100% of all of nothing. http://www.vetadvocates.com/ NOVA NOVA MEMBERSHIP DIRECTORY you can go there and select any lawyer on their list they meet several times a year and they all can call each other when ever they run into an issue they need help with, I fully recommend them to all veterans.

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