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Last updated May 13, 2014
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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 it's true!!!

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) with the help of Congress 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 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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