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Last updated May 13, 2014
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DEMAND FAIR PAY FOR DISABLED VETERANS

WHO SURVIVE THE VA CLAIMS DEATH MARCH
 
Write your Congressional Representatives, including Senators too!
Use Social Media to spread the word.  Ask Volunteer Organizations to help.

Why is VETERANS FAIR PAY (VFP) Legislation needed?  

Thousands of injured or ill Veterans, wait up to 10 years or even longer, before the VA awards their benefit claims, but to add insult to injury, the VA calculates any retro-active back pay due for lost benefits, using yesterday’s dollars. It’s all part of the VA mission to short change Disabled Veterans. Even a child would understand this sinister VA concept, if given a nickel to go buy a candy bar because that was the cost of a candy bar the day the child was born.

Every year, Congress authorizes the VA to revise VA benefit rates based upon any increase to the cost of "living" index.  But if the VA takes 10 years to provide you with your benefits and then pays you based on the rates in effect from 10 years ago, Congress is clearly allowing the VA to treat every disabled veteran standing in line for years on end in the notorious VA claims backlog, as not being among the "living"!

Clearly, Veterans have endured enough abuse by the VA already at home in their own country by the very entity which was created to serve their war torn needs.  It's time for Congress to step up to the plate and do something.  By Mandating all VA Retroactive payments for lost benefits be calculated and paid according to the most current VA Benefit Rates, would at least be a step in the right direction by Congress   Also, by closer scrutiny of the total monthly or annual amount of retroactive payments being made by the VA for any given time frame, Congress could keep a closer eye on the costs attributable to VA delays.  Keep in mind, each and every VA retroactive payment adds up and serves as the best measuring stick for which the VA should be held accountable for unacceptable delays.  Whether a retroactive payment is made for a more  acceptable 6 month delay or for a horrendous and inexcusable 10 year delay, the sum total tells a VA story Congress should be very interested in, to help recognize any tangible improvements or worsening of the VA backlog of claims and appeals, each of which individually, represents another Veteran trying to hold on, while the VA offers Congress, the media and the public, nothing but double-talk and side-stepping routine blabber.

Briefly wandering off topic, nothing is much more reprehensible, than hearing so called know-it-alls, trying to distinguish why one veteran might deserve more benefits than another, because one was stationed in a war zone and the other not. The entire foundation of the VA was built around serving the hardships and needs of war-time Veterans and few Veterans ever had a choice about where they may have served. But somehow, these ungrateful critics will attempt to splinter Veterans from one another, tantamount to proclaiming; if two veterans served during war time, one who was assigned duty to load ammunition onto planes in the U.S. and the other to  offload ammunition in a war-zone country, each having become sick or each having lost a hand, then the U.S. stationed Veteran must therefore be milking the system.  Unfortunately, this is the kind of short-sighted rationale now seeping into the faulty logic of State Governments too when awarding benefits to Veterans and only serves to pit one Veteran against another, which is something this country has never seen before, so it truly must stop.  By the way, some of these very same critics, would not have the backbone necessary to do either job, nor would they ever volunteer to do so anyway!

If you are among the hundreds of thousands of Veterans being abused by the VA, while your benefits are being withheld, don’t be meek about speaking out RIGHT NOW, with any notion of not wanting to rock the boat while the VA controls what if any benefits you have earned and  should be properly awarded.  Your voice will simply not be heard or have any impact whatsoever after your claim has been denied and your Appeals exhausted, with no recourse.  Then, you will have been discarded and labeled a sore loser not to be listened to.  There is no time when your voice resonates louder, than as a Veteran with a claim the VA will not resolve or has not resolved for years on end. SPEAK UP NOW!!! (before it’s too late)

The VA claim and Appeal line stretches for more than a 10 year wait for too many Veterans, while too few Veterans ever have their claims resolved in less than 5 years. As of this date, about 300,000 VA disability benefit claims are still waiting at the front door of the VA, but more than 500,000 other VA claims are still in line after having already been denied and that is the big secret being kept from the public as best as the VA and Congress can do to keep it quiet. DID YOU KNOW?  The VA doesn’t even know and Congress isn’t even looking to find out, how many claims and appeals are waiting to be resolved for Veterans who are no longer even among the living, which is really sad (sad is too kind of a word.)  In fact, while a Veteran has a claim or Appeal pending, there can be routine time lapses of 2 years or more, when the Veteran will not hear a single word from the VA about the status of their claim or Appeal.  Then suddenly, the VA may mail out a notice with a trap door deadline, requiring a response by the Veteran, but when a Veteran doesn’t respond, another claim is closed and the VA is hailed as doing a fantastic job!   As a Veteran however, you are getting exactly what you Voted for, so do something about it while you still can, which means RIGHT NOW!!!  


VETERANS APPEALS - WHAT NOT TO DO!
Suggestions to save YOU years of time with VA claims
(while your claim just collects dust in VA storage almost the entire time)  

Begin with low expectations but with high hopes ...

In rough numbers, you have about a 1 out of 6 chance of having your claim approved initially or though any review process at a VA Regional Office, unless your disabilities are so severe and so obviously service-connected, a denial of your claim might cause a public backlash with news media scrutiny.  Also keep in mind, the VA will sometimes partially approve a claim to create the misleading appearance of having been fair as a means to bolster their unscrupulous reputation.  After having filed your claim, you have entered a VA system of horrors which promises to give you the benefit of doubt as a Veteran, but what they won't tell you, is how the VA will go to extreme lengths to create sufficient doubt and that is what they mean by benefit of the doubt (thus the only benefit they intend to give you and it won't be in your favor).  You've also been told the VA will help you develop your claim, which simply means sending you forms and notices spontaneously at a snails pace, but with strict trap door deadlines, while the VA is accountable to no one (yes no one) all attributable to who you (we) have voted into Congress.  You are on your own to find help elsewhere, but the VA will give you a long list of possibilities you might choose from.  

Above all else, the best advice I can offer any Veteran once the VA denies your claim, after you've waited in line for up to a year or more already, is to NEVER AGREE to let the VA review their own decision to deny your claim, if you want to increase your chances of living long enough to ever have your claims resolved one way or the other.  The VA calls this process "Reconsideration" by a "Decision Review Officer", but by participating, you just delay your opportunity to Appeal directly to the Veterans Board of Appeals.  I recently had a non-complex VA claim, which was delayed 3 additional years before a DRO was completed and I have no reason to believe the claim was processed any faster or slower than what the VA is simply capable of (sadly).  Sure, any claim the VA does reverse through a DRO review will be showboated, but once you have experienced the first VA rubber stamp process to deny claims, just prepare yourself for the same broken rubber stamp to deny your claim again, because the odds are overwhelmingly against you and you'll just find yourself standing in line before the Board of Veterans Appeals anyway, in an even longer line, but just years further back in those same lines you had hoped to avoid with a DRO review.  

You still may or may not prevail before the BVA , but in rough numbers, more than 1 of 4 claims are favorable to Veterans with BVA Appeal decisions
Aside from the importance of preparing your claims and the favorable decisions you seek, your next most important goal should be to just get your claim out of the hands of VA Regional Office (VARO) jurisdiction (part of the Veterans Benefit Agency within the Department of Veterans Affairs.)   Think of the VARO as a record processing and storage facility, designed as a holding pen to control the trickle of claims allowed to proceed to a real Appeal.  You've read in the news about the notorious backlog of hundreds of thousands of VA claims waiting at the front door, but what you hear little about, is there are actually far more claims that have already been denied and being held by the VARO pending an Appeal or already in the jurisdiction of the BVA on Appeal.   Basically, you begin your claim and wait years for a Statement of the Case (SOC) from a VARO, but until you receive an SOC, you can not proceed with any appeal before the BVA (in other words, you can not pass "GO" without an SOC card and you will remain in VA jail until you have one.) 

With thousands and thousands of VA employees among hundreds of thousands of unresolved veteran claim and appeal files stacked to the ceiling in every VARO facility, an SOC is just the manner in which the VA (with manual labor) consolidates your claim along any evidence to be used as a means to deny your claim, all compressed into an SOC and then to be considered by the BVA when you do appeal.  You will likely notice complete omissions within an SOC of any mention of any evidence supporting your claim, but take a deep breath before reading your SOC, because the chance of you understanding the reason for your denial, may leave you believing you are reading the SOC for somebody else's claim or in a state of disbelief with the inaccuracies contained within an SOC.  Keep in mind, those VA employees sitting in endless rows of cubicles, do the same thing all day long, day in and day out, so don't get caught up with the idea of any special consideration being given to your claim by anyone having any particular talent, other than to prepare files in the format designed to provide you with the least chance of ever winning an appeal (while the only technological advances the VA will appear to be using while preparing your SOC, is the cut and paste method of processing claims for denials.)  

Proceed as you wish, but don't feel as if you were not warned.  You may even find you need a lawyer or a volunteer service organization to help you, but both will likely suggest you try a DRO review first.  Keep in mind however, if attorney fees are contingent on any back-pay you may receive, another 2 or 3 year delay waiting for a DRO review, just adds up to much more enticing fees for the attorney, while your claim just sits in VA storage that much longer.   Remember, it's YOUR claim.  You decide what's best for YOU, but the final goal, is simply to just outlive the time it will take the VA to resolve your claim ( too very often, 10 years or longer)  

Did you know the VA is the 2nd largest and most costly Department within the Federal Government, but only about 3% of that entire VA budget is allocated to the Veterans Benefit Administration, thanks to Congress.

Ask yourself, how many private government contractors with Congressional lobbyists get the biggest piece of that VA budget pie, but the VA and Congress together, will continue to defend and explain it all as being part of escalating medical costs (with no mention of escalating private contractor run-away profits, feeding off of the huge VA medical budget.) 

The bottom line is this;  Too many people are making money off of the VA (including the VA workforce) and they don't want disabled Veterans to get in the way of their money, contractor profits, paychecks, bonuses or splendid and comfortable retirements, not to mention being reelected to Congress over and over again.  It's all about the greed for more and more money and by short changing Veterans, everybody but veterans lives happily ever after, with a VA budget that never ends, except for the true needs of Veterans.


One Final Note Until Next Time ...   As a fall back line of defense, when all other excuses fail, the VA will always jump up to explain how they employ “X” number of Veterans, as if that really is relevant to abandoning Disabled Veterans who can no longer work.  You see, Veterans preference in hiring, is mandated throughout the Federal Government and practiced throughout much of private industry too.  Of course Veterans will always strive to extend a helping hand to another Veteran, but their employment is to earn a paycheck and pay their bills like everyone else, regardless of who may work where for a salary.  Are you being baited with false hope to believe any Veteran who simply works for the VA will deviate from their work instructions designed to deny your claim (assuming they want to keep their paycheck next week and for the future too)?  If you believe that non-sense, just think of the long perpetual backlog of VA claims as the nose of Pinocchio!  Yes, the Veterans Benefit Administration does hire many Veterans, but not for the purpose of approving claims, but to help with the bigger workload of denying claims!


By the way, you might think "VA Death March" sounds a little over the top, but the average age for all U.S. Veterans is now over 60 years of age.  Those who have been left standing in those VA backlog lines for up to 10 years or more, while being marched from claims through appeals, could have served with your grandfather, uncle, your dad, brother or maybe a sister.  Chances are if you are reading this, you may even have a loved one whom the VA has abandoned, whether from recent conflicts or from war eras of the past, with service connected injuries which have become even more debilitating over time. You've seen the VA letters randomly come and go, with deadlines to respond or have the claim closed.  Once a Veteran can no longer respond from a grave, all is assumed well and the claim or appeal is closed with just one more reduction of the VA backlog to be counted, while another Veteran has been left behind.  At any given time, the VA has no clue how many claims or appeals belong to Veterans who are no longer among the living, unless a family member or someone else has informed the VA.  Speculating about how many 60, 70 or 80 year old Veterans can not be expected to survive a VA claim all the way through to an appeal resolution, isn't too difficult, because the statistical probabilities are simply undeniable!!!  Now,  just imagine what chance a young disabled homeless Veteran might have with a VA claim today!


The Only Solution

If Congress and the White House won't fix this VA mess,
Elect someone who will.
 

Is your U.S. Congressional Representative and Senator actually With us or Against us?  Obviously, too many of them have not done enough!!!





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