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VA (Department of Veterans Affairs)

The United States has the most comprehensive system of assistance for veterans of any nation in the world. This benefits system traces its roots back to 1636, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were at war with the Pequot Indians. The Pilgrims passed a law which stated that disabled soldiers would be supported by the colony. The establishment of the Veterans Administration came in 1930 when Congress authorized the President to "consolidate and coordinate Government activities affecting war veterans." (Source: www4.va.gov/about_va/vahistory.asp)

This forum also includes the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

Perhaps you are working for the VA or interested in working for the VA. Here is a forum to share your experience with the VA.

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TheGigIsUp!  
#1 Posted : Monday, October 01, 2012 1:12:18 PM(UTC)
TheGigIsUp!

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Hi all,
 
I'm one of those person whom hates to complain but I feel the need to do so out of frustration alone.  I have a pending VA claim since 04/2011.  The original estimated completion dates in eBenefits was 06/2012 but it has changed several times from 03/2013, 10/29/2012 and finally 10/08/12.  Now it only states the original 06/2012 estimated completion date again.  It's been stuck at the "Preparation for Decision" phase since well over a year ago.  I don't think my claims are that outrageous and are pretty open and shut cases with all the necessary documentation in my medical record (which the VA has).  I claimed severe Sleep Apnea (had the CPAP machine prior to retiring), surgically repaired broken ankle sustained from PT session while on active duty, torn ACL also as a result from the PT session and arthritis of both knees (Sailor climbing up and down ladders for over 20 years).
 
My frustration actually kicks in because I don't mind waiting...knowing that there are Vets out there that really do need to be put forward and foremost due to loss of limbs, PTSD and only God knows what else they are ailing from and to top it all off financial hardship.  But when I see one of my life long friends whom have not even seen a VA approved doctor,  get his claim pushed through and compensated at 50 percent (Sleep Apnea) after filing well after I did and procrastinating getting an appointment with the VA doctors for his other claims then I have to throw up the BS flag.
 
My question is:  Is the VA looking to push those simple cases through which are easier for them to adjudicate rather than to follow the order of receipt to help boost their numbers?  Or should they follow the order which the claims were received in (as I was told was the case when I called)?
Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks for reading and sorry for length.
Medion  
#2 Posted : Monday, October 01, 2012 2:30:15 PM(UTC)
Medion

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There could be various issues causing this. The first (and big one) is the fact that the VBA has taken on a lot of special projects recently. One such project meant pulling up EVERY claim filed by a Vietnam vet and re-adjudicating them based on recent changes to some laws. Yes, EVERY one, and it was a top priority. That is now coming to a close. For one specific regional office, this caused their average "queue" time to go from 180days to nearly 400 days on existing claims. The whole process slowed down.

On a personal note, a friend of mine and I both filed our claims at the same time, but I used the quickstart process and he didn't. Mine was done in about 7 months, but I was denied. His took about 18 months, but he got 60%. So faster isn't always better :)

I know you're tired of hearing this, but please be patient. The VBA is winding down numerous special projects and hiring MANY new VSR/rVSRs to help speed this up for you and many other veterans. Hopefully we can get you the benefits that you deserve in a more timely manner.
Knight  
#3 Posted : Monday, October 01, 2012 11:44:35 PM(UTC)
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First in first out should be the rule but if they followed that then some Vietnam era vets would be put back in the front of the line. Sadly Congress likes getting involved and at times they decide what  is the priority.
 
Did you retire or just get out? Do you need the money or just want an answer? My decision came months after I retired and didn't change much for me. Anything under 50% for a retired mil person will just move some of your retirement pay to untaxed.
YaFace  
#4 Posted : Tuesday, October 02, 2012 7:48:01 AM(UTC)
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It's a question with no one specific answer.  Basically to make it simple: too much work, not enough workers, and some clueless managers who don't realize there is no easy fix. It is not going to better for at least five years by my estimation, so don't base major life decisions on VA compensation. 
Go government!
usmc0341  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, October 02, 2012 11:28:06 AM(UTC)
usmc0341

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eBenefits is a joke. I have coworkers with claims over 2 years old, and even that doesn't really shock anyone around here.

And with over a million claims processed this last fiscal year, you really think there wouldn't be any exceptions to what our stated goals are?

I've gone over this a couple of threads before, but never EVER expect VA comp as "money in the bank." It's never a guarantee, and you should always look at it as something that may or may not be in your future.

If you retired after a lengthy time in the service and not due to disability severance, etc., then you should be well, well aware of the red tape you should expect from our bureaucracy.

TheGigIsUp!  
#6 Posted : Tuesday, October 02, 2012 11:53:49 AM(UTC)
TheGigIsUp!

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usmc0341, Thank you for the Post Reply and inside info.  I'm a military retiree, working for the Federal Government.  It would be nice to have the supplemental VA compensation income but I would never depend on it.  I think that most of the folks that work for the VA at the end of the day do a pretty awesome job.   I've been in enough positions to realize that upper management and the decisions they make tend to complicate everyone elses job and more often then not negatively affect outcome.   I dislike the system (VA) but I commend the men and women whom perform the thankless jobs that no one really realizes how much good they actually do.  I especially am thankful for those whom served on active duty and have decided to continue servicing the country by supporting fellow Vets.   Thanks! 
TheGigIsUp!  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, October 02, 2012 12:07:54 PM(UTC)
TheGigIsUp!

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Knight, Thank you for your reply.  I am a military retiree.  The added income would be nice but not needed.  I was one of those people lucky enough to be able to hone my skills in the service, education and build a good enough reputation for getting quality results that I was able to land a pretty decent Federal job doing what I really like.
I suppose my chief complaint was with the VA system of how things are done vice how things are supposed to be.  But in this deflated economy who knows what next so a little supplemental income would be welcomed.
TheGigIsUp!  
#8 Posted : Tuesday, October 02, 2012 12:14:46 PM(UTC)
TheGigIsUp!

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Medion, Thank you for the insight!  This makes sense.  I'm just happy that those Vietnam era Vets are finally able to get the compensation, pension or care they deserve.  I will remain patience and let the system work the way it's suppose to and in the order that is required.  I commend people such as yourself for the assistance you provide to all.  Thank you!
TheGigIsUp!  
#9 Posted : Tuesday, October 02, 2012 12:17:15 PM(UTC)
TheGigIsUp!

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YaFace, Thanks for the advice.  It has been duly noted.  No life decision will not be made based on VA compensations or lack thereof.
cmorebut  
#10 Posted : Tuesday, October 02, 2012 12:20:09 PM(UTC)
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The VA has never been about the Vets its aways been about the civilians working there. Just look at the parking lot and all the reserved spaces for the "staff" not doctors staff. Look at the gyms the newer ones and 11-2 time frames are reserved for staff. Meals better quality for Staff.
The recent 1500 attendee "conference" in Orlando just shows again how misplaced VA's priorities. For any Vet to wait 2-3 years for a disability check is a CRIME and heads should roll 
beyond1984  
#11 Posted : Tuesday, October 02, 2012 12:47:33 PM(UTC)
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Cmorebut,

Your post truly shows how much you know or think you know. Why don't you try to apply and become a VSR and then tell us about how the VBA is? How can you judge the VA without personally experiencing being a VA employee? There are bad apples in every agency and VA is definitely not exempt from this, but to sink the whole VA boat is a joke. Please post with more productive comments.
YaFace  
#12 Posted : Tuesday, October 02, 2012 8:48:31 PM(UTC)
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For someone who needs money from the VA, I can see the frustration. These are horribly lean economic times, and people need this kind of thing more than ever. There is no way of getting around this giant backlog. It will persist one to two years after we are out of Afghanistan, then maybe get busted. But the evitable fact remains that if you want VA compensation you are just going to have to wait.
Go government!
Knight  
#13 Posted : Tuesday, October 02, 2012 8:50:31 PM(UTC)
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If you are a retiree then you have to be rated over 50% to get any added income (called concurrent recept). I got 30% and all they did was decrease my retirement pay by the amount that the VA sends me.
 
Bottomline, submit your claim and then forget about it. Focus on getting a job and starting your second life. If you get anything great, otherwise soldier on.
 
 
Skippy134  
#14 Posted : Tuesday, October 02, 2012 8:56:24 PM(UTC)
Skippy134

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If you haven't done so, I would suggest contacting the Disabled American Veterans to see if they can help you with your disability claim.  They are about the best in the business and can make sure your claim is complete.  Usually they have a VSO located in the same building as the VA Regional Office. 

HQNoBS1  
#15 Posted : Thursday, October 04, 2012 7:54:42 AM(UTC)
HQNoBS1

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Skippy134 wrote:
If you haven't done so, I would suggest contacting the Disabled American Veterans to see if they can help you with your disability claim.  They are about the best in the business and can make sure your claim is complete.  Usually they have a VSO located in the same building as the VA Regional Office. 



VSOs helpful? Yes

Best in the business? Not necessarily

Often times, they are no more helpful than the person who answers the phone when calling 800-827-1000. You do have the handful who have established good rapport with regional office personnel but don't think for one second they will risk that relationship just for your benefit.

Some vets are better off representing themselves cradle to grave and decide their own fate.

Another option is to write your local congressman.
TheGigIsUp!  
#16 Posted : Thursday, October 04, 2012 8:04:20 AM(UTC)
TheGigIsUp!

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Greetings Skippy134,  Thank you for the additional information.  Would you happen to know if the Disabled American Veterans Organization charges a fee for the assistance (I wouldn't mind at all if it helped to speed things up)?  I am currently residing in Japan....do you have a contact number or email address for them?  Thank you in advance for any information you can provide!
Knight  
#17 Posted : Thursday, October 04, 2012 9:51:57 AM(UTC)
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The DAV and other VSOs are free. I personally would never pay to have my VA claim done.
TheGigIsUp!  
#18 Posted : Thursday, October 04, 2012 9:56:00 AM(UTC)
TheGigIsUp!

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Knight,  thank you for the information.  Free is always better!Smile
cmorebut  
#19 Posted : Thursday, October 04, 2012 11:26:01 AM(UTC)
cmorebut

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beyond1984 wrote:
Cmorebut,

Your post truly shows how much you know or think you know. Why don't you try to apply and become a VSR and then tell us about how the VBA is? How can you judge the VA without personally experiencing being a VA employee? There are bad apples in every agency and VA is definitely not exempt from this, but to sink the whole VA boat is a joke. Please post with more productive comments.
Your the poster child for what's wrong with the VA. I don't want to "work" for the VA I just want them to do their job for a  change. The VA's annual travel and conference budget is OVER $100M a year for what???? its just nonsense. The VA's bonus's are the 2nd highest in the federal Govt for what?? Point to 1 single achievement...
Visit a VA hospital and what do you see hundreds of reserved parking places for STAFF not patients. Vets needing to use the gym for therapy...11-2 reserved for staff. if your trying to justify incompetency your appealing to the wrong person
usmc0341  
#20 Posted : Thursday, October 04, 2012 3:30:38 PM(UTC)
usmc0341

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Don't confuse us for VHA folk. Most of the posters here are VBA, and more specifically VSC (Veterans Service Center). 

We're not the fancy HR folk who get to enjoy a lavish conference. Most of us travel once in our career, and that's just for initial training.

The extravagant bonuses are for the DC folks, just read up on our OIG reports to see how they continue to dig our grave even deeper.

And remember that our budget is outrageous because it includes the healthcare and payouts we give to each and every service-connected veteran.

usmc03412012-10-04 23:37:35
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