Top “Must Do’s” to Research and Win Your Disability Claim

October 15, 2011 | Benjamin Krause

Over the next month, we’re going to go in-depth into the mystery world of VA to file disability claims with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and winning. If you don’t know yet, this kind of information is vital. We’ll start this week with the Art of Not Surprise.

One of the biggest problems with the current VA Compensation and Pension system is that they provide you with no roadmap to prove your disability claim. They know that’s a problem but they refuse take the necessary steps to fix it. Knowing this won’t change anytime soon, veterans like me, who have gone through this process, choose to blog, create forums, and write guides.

It’s all about being proactive so that no deserving veteran will be left behind.

First “Must Do” for Disability Claim Winning

1.  Document every communication. The reason I have this first is because it is really the only way you can CYA when it comes to claims.

For example, I have had a pending claim for 18 months. This summer, I took a trip back to the Midwest from Oregon to move. Prior to my trip, I told the VA I would be out of town for 45 days – sent VA a fax and told them this fact in person at the Regional Office. I also told my Veteran Service Officer (VSO).

A few days after driving back to the Midwest, VA contacted me to tell me they were kind enough to expect me back in Oregon for a Compensation evaluation and refused to schedule it in Chicago. Then they claimed I refused my appointment and tried to end my claim without an evaluation. 18 months down the drain.

Luckily, I did keep the fax and documented the conversations I had with the VA where they claimed I refused to cooperate. Once that happened, we were able to get it sorted out. While I’m still waiting for the appointment, VA decided to not ignore my right to an evaluation.

Shocker. What I’m about to say may shock you if you’ve been hiding under a rock. The Department of Veterans Affairs has been known to ignore the law when it comes to disability claims. It’s true. This ranges from simple violations of due process to all out Shreddergate style destruction of veteran files.

Things like this give me a firm case of “not surprise.”

Yes. When it comes to the VA, they sometimes ignore the law. Knowing this is true and expecting issues relating to violations of your rights should not shock anyone. Now that you’re aware, here’s how to prepare.

Your take away. Document everything.

  • If it’s a phone call, ask for the name of the operator and reference number of the call.
  • For paper records, buy a two tab classification folder from Office Depot or somewhere similar.
  • Get a hole punch. For around $30 you can purchase the tools to document your case pretty well.
  • Create a spreadsheet for calls and meetings with VA officials that will allow you to track all communications in all forms.
  • Send correspondence by mail using Certified Mail with Return Receipt.

Next time, we’ll talk about the VA National Call Center and how to talk to these pranksters. Veterans who have had bad experiences with their Regional Office can take a survey to rate your VA Regional Office on DisabledVeterans.ORG.

Until next time, good luck.

FACT CHECKER

Update: People wishing to dispute whether or not the VA makes legally unsound decisions should review Supreme Court Justice Roberts comments on the matter from 2010. Over 70% of all successful veterans’ appeals cases are awarded EAJA fees. This means the Department of Veterans Affairs took a position that was “substantially unjustified.” Here is the excerpt from The Legal Times:

““If it’s 42 percent, that’s quite a high number of cases in which the government’s position is found substantially — not substantially justified as well as legally erroneous,” Leach said. “In veterans cases, it’s even worse.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, which reports the number of EAJA awards granted annually, reported that for 2008 and 2009, he said, 70 percent resulted in fee awards, Leach told the justices.

When Assistant to the Solicitor General Anthony Yang got up for his rebuttal in the case, Roberts interrupted him and the exchange went like this:

ROBERTS: Counsel do you — do you dispute your friend’s statement that 42 percent of the time in Social Security cases the government’s position is unjustified, and 70 percent of the time in veterans’ cases?

YANG: Well, I think that reflects the stakes often, Your Honor. Oftentimes the government does not contest, for instance, the $2,000 EAJA award and because it’s the government, has to -

ROBERTS: So whenever it really makes a difference, 70 percent of the time the government’s position is substantially unjustified?

YANG: In cases in the VA context , the number’s not quite that large, but is a substantial number of cases at the court of appeals -

ROBERTS: What number would you accept?

YANG: It was, I believe in the order of either 50 or maybe slightly more than 50 percent. It might be 60. But the number is substantial that you get a reversal, and in almost all of those cases EAJA -

ROBERTS: Well that’s really startling, isn’t it? In litigating with veterans, the government more often than not takes a position that is substantially unjustified?

YANG: It is an unfortunate number, Your Honor. And it is — it’s accurate.

Bart Stichman, co-executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program, said he thinks the percentage is greater than the government’s number.

“That means the quality of decisionmaking at the Board of Veterans Appeals is not very good,” he said. “We’ve been saying that for years. The number means not only did they wrongly decide the case but their position wasn’t substantially justified. Not too good.”

# # # # #

Voc Rehab Survival GuideBenjamin Krause is an award winning investigative reporter, Veterans Benefits Law attorney, and disabled veteran of the US Air Force, where he served in its Special Operations Command. He attended Northwestern University and  the University of Minnesota Law School using VA Vocational Rehabilitation. While in law school, Benjamin won his decade-long fight for full disability benefits and now helps others do the same with this website and his guide, the Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans.

Connect with Benjamin on  Google+,  Twitter,  Facebook and LinkedIn.

About Benjamin Krause

Benjamin Krause is a Veterans Benefits Attorney and journalist who investigates problems veterans face with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. He regularly reports on veterans' benefits news and analysis on the website DisabledVeterans.org.

Comments

  1. true, about the way they handle thier claims towards our guys it took me 30 yrs n Chicago came threw 4 me but my 100% thow ser-connected they only payed me from 2008 my ? is Why?

    • I followed every one of their "recommendation"! I had 1 4 drawer file cabinet and 2 bankers boxes full of documentation and contact information. I had 0ver a dozen "INDEPENDENT" civilian doctors confirm my problem (all paid for by me) and after more than 30 years, I finally turned my case over to the DAV! ONLY THEN DID I GET ANY RESULT! The VA Phoenix has a policy of AUTOMATIC DENIAL and one of the reps told me that "A case cannot outlive the VET, so they delay as long as possible!" (a VET dies & the case dies with him!

  2. With lawyers like that, they must be pretty expensive and do they represent in all states?

  3. Rebecca C. Patrick is also an attorney in Columbia, SC and she ONLY has cases for veterans seeking service connection for their disabilities. She is in the firm Bluestein, Nicols….on Taylor St in Columbia. I am a service-connected physician veteran and have first- hand experience with several cases she has handled.

  4. I love this discussion. I work with combat veterans at a Vet Center and our mission is to help veterans with accessing services as well as treating PTSD, marital problems, family issues etc. This series is going to be my Go-To for those starting the benefit filing journey. We have awesome DAV volunteers who really make a difference and will share this with them.
    Every day I thank a veteran for giving up their lives to go to combat and for giving up their pre-combat innocence and trust in the safety of the world for their country.

    • Gulf War Vet says:

      Vet Centers are awsome, Very Welcoming and they don't have the institutional feel the VA Medical Centers give off (hurry up and wait) or wait forever for an appt.

  5. stairwayto7 says:

    Lawyers? Are you people serious?? My first I got 10%, then 30% and I went to VA every year with same problem until I got 60%! Took me 4 years, then I got 8 months of back pay! Do it yourself, DO NOT HIRE LAWYERS! If you hired a lawyer you must be a guard or reservist……

    • How were you able to do that. I have 10% SC for a bad knee. I had it replaced Oct 15th last year. I wonder if that qualifies for any additional?

      • Yes it does. Google "Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations" or "38 CFR" for short. These are the rules and regs for how the VA rates claims.

    • I spent 28 years total with 17 of that being active "guard."
      Dont knock the guard stairway7…you have no idea!

      100% service connected (1st time)
      what was your 10% for?

  6. This is great! For over twenty five years I've been dealing with this VA Process. And it wasn'tuntil 2-3 years ago that I receieved an incomplete rating. However I have letters from my medical facitlities that specifically states to the VA. That they sent them my records more than once. And the VA has no records of those vital medical files. But, the VA denied my claims based on no response. Heres something to pay attention to also. My denial letter was dated with a hand date stamp. One they can change and/or back date whenever they need to change. I never known a governement facility not to date a letter they send it out.
    I recently just had another surgery to my disabled ankle number 5, All they have given me was 10%. Go figure. I could barely walk, stand, run etc. I'm still fighting and as veterans we can't give up our fight. One thing they forgot is that we know how to work together. And we know we can and have to depend on our veteran brothers, sisters and those that truly care about us. In order to make this happen.
    I wish the best to each of you. I look forward to future conversations!

    • I've been told to go to one of the Service officers at the VFW, DAV, American Legion. They work wonders and have a lot to back them up. Get your records together and have the service officer handle it for you. Good Luck.

  7. DO NOT HIRE A LAWYER. Go to a VSO (veteran service organization) like DAV (Disabled American Veterans) or VFW. They are FREE and they will help you with all of your paperwork. They function just like attorneys and they don't cost you a penny.

    • screaming eagle says:

      To bad the VSO in Clarksville,(Montgomery County) TN and the VA Regional office in Nashville can't do a better job. The VA Regional office in Nashville will not even respond to a letter of inquiry. I guess they don't remember who they are supposed to be working for. And the VSO in Clarksville, TN will tell you they DO NOT work for the VA. They work for Montgomery County, TN. And the VSO's for Montgomery County are hired by the County Mayor.

    • I have been having problems with a military treatment facility releasing information and the I would have expected my VSO DAV to have worked the issue. Now I am having to do the work myself. I just havent been impressed with my VSO.

    • I had a terrible experience with DAV in St Petersburg Florida, one of the largest offices in the country. I submitted a FDC with VA nad DAV went, without talking to me, and resubmit some paperwork, according to them in my behalf, and VA took my claim out of the FDC program and added months to the expected completion date. DAV, never answered my calls. Their reps do not even give you an email or telephone line. You must call or email a general number or email address, and hope they would answer… I took them out of the loop, and I am dealing for now alone with VA. I will look for a nother organization if I have to go to appeal… Good luck.

  8. Go to your County Director of Veteran Affairs. They get paid from your tax dollars and cannot charge you anything extra. I was once one in PA. I got my husband, myself and a friend 100%. In addition, I got more than 20 veterans in Lehigh County, PA 100% along with other smaller ratings. The first benefits award was for $92,000 + for the widow of a Vietnam Vet in retroactive benefits in addition to reimbursement for college tuition for her 2 children. I know the County Directors in PA are outstanding so try your County Director if you need help.

  9. Part 2. I had amajor surgery while serving that landed me in Balboa Hospital for nearly 2 months. That left a massive scar across my stomach. Was sent home on convo-leave. and after two days I was admitted back into a civilian hospital for another week for small bowel obstruction. the VA has no record of those records. And thankfully the hospital still retained those records over 25 years ago. But re,member some hospital don't. And not forgetting to mention its docunmented in my military STR. And after 25 years of honorably servicing this country I still to this day receive nothing for all of my ongoing issues to this day. Did I say nothing! Finally if you have to get records from outside hospitals do it now and retain copies for yourself. Just in-case the VA allege they never received them and/or don't have them in your VA record. Keep in mind bot-camp taught us the importance of paying attention to DETAILS! Remember
    the details!
    Also the VA may have people monitoring this site. So don't be surprised!!! Expect the unexpected! In other words prepare for this. A Boot-camp teaching moment.

    • Take your PTSD meds…
      The VA may be monitoring this site???? are you serious??
      and when did you file for these "ongoing" issues???

  10. Politians have given their lawyer buddies a green light to dip into the pockets of disabled Veterans. Makes me sick. Get representation from an organization such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV)!

    They are well trained, Veteran advocates, and they do not cost you a cent.

    • I have found the DAV to be less than helpful in obtaining medical records and getting them to the VA. I sent them copies of everything, but they want copies from the Military Treatment Facility.

  11. screaming eagle says:

    Document, document, document!! And anytime you speak to a VA rep, or when you dial the 18008271000 number (which sucks), get them on tape! It will come in handy when they tell you a different story or claim they didn't say what they told you. And always, always, get the name of the person you speak to, date, time, and location. And NEVER, NEVER, give up. That is what some VA Regional offices want you to do so they can make themselves look good by "saving the VA money"

  12. join your DAV or VFW or PAV they will do the job for you get to know them let them see you and how you have a disability and can say first hand they will work for you to the best they can cost nothing but do please become a life member to help out you and the next vet.

    • you do not have to join the post to have them help you. if they say you do, they are breaking the law.

  13. check with the dav, they know what to do. I went from 20% to 100% by following up with paper work and it did pay off. I help a number of my fellow workers/friends get 100%. just stay with it and don't give up, and make copy of everything you do. pass on the information and help each other. Retired military also check on your crsc that is money also.

    • George what is crsc?

      Jim

      • iT'S COMBAT RELATED SPECIAL COMPENSATION. It pays back for some of the retirement pay they take away and give back in disability. You have to meet certain conditions to qualify. I get a check every month for retirement,disability, and CRSC.

        • Gary, please provide info on how you managed to collect all three (3) mil retirement (2) VA and (3) CRSC. I am a 20 plus retiree, 100% VA disabled with CRSC . . .but they stopped, after 30 yrs, my
          mil retirement. Thank you

  14. I have 40% disability and when I went to file a new claim with the VA I was told if I file a new claim the VA could re-open my old claims and I could lose what I have now. So I did not file for the new claim, doesn't seem right. Looks like the VA is looking for ways to take away what we now have.

    • Yes they will look at everything, but if you have a good claim you should file.

    • DVAADVOCATE says:

      Frank, in your particular case, although, I don't have the specifics or particulars,there were certain things you've mentioned that tells me you have a solid case and if you don't we'll play by their rules. Don't ask me how I know, but I do. I suggest you bring all your stuff to a savvy Disabled Vet Advocate, because you are going up against an entity who is above our Constitution.

    • R. Hendricks says:

      Frank, What you was told by VA representative (s) was misleading. Once a veteran is rated by the Uited States Department of Veteran's Affairs, the veteran's rating is irrevocable.

    • Frank if you know for a fact that your disability has gotten worse since you received the 40% reopening your file could be to your advanatage.It happened to me [ i knew my disabilities were much worse]However i was still nervous about it ,but it worked out very well for me.I find that if you are truthful with the medical examiner they are pretty fair.

    • Frank i also want to say get copies of all your records and make copies for yourself for safe keeping.They were missing one of mine but i had a copy that i obtained .And yes DAV. VFW and other veteran organizations are very helpful,they know all the rules. Good luck.

  15. The one thing that the writer did that cost him time, money and a lot of unnecessary work is that he represented himself. Like someone representing themselves in court, they have a fool for a client. The writer can keep duplicates and more of his contacts and it won't do a damn bit of good. You must have a power-of-attorney through one of the service organizations (VFW, DAV, AMERICAN LEGION, etc., or hire an attorney who specializes in VA claims.) On your own, you don't stand a chance in hell ! On your own, GOOD LUCK, for sure !

  16. magnum7mm44 says:

    I'm right in the thick of things with the VA too. Unfortunately, a surgery I had preformed on me left me unable to work, so after being starved to death by our great SSDI civilian system, I also started with a torque claim against the VA in hopes of getting some semblance of a life back. The DAV really let me down during my hearing, trying to get me to outright lie about things which I refused to do. To say they ignore the Law is a gross understatement, They actually outright Lied to deny me my comp claim, but guess what ? They did'nt realize I had pulled hard copies of my records, and am now perched ready to call them out on their half truths and falsehoods. Filed in 4/2008 and still waiting for my appeal. IT SUCKS !

  17. If you really need help and can afford it, go with lawyers. I have found the VSO with the DAV to be less than helpful.

  18. I fought hard for two years to get my initial rating up from 0% for scars. My next increase was to 30%. I have worked through the DAV for all of my paperwork. When I was first inquiring about my rating I found out that Washington did not have my SRB! Thankfully I did make copies of everything and was able to provide all of that paperwork. Keep track of your responses; It wasn't until I got my denial in 2009 for lack of substantiating a pattern that I remembered I never received a response to my 2007 request for increase! Having had two steroid injections in my back and multiple collapses I am expecting an increase in my rating any day now. If I am denied I will fight the appeal. With regards to information even from the 3rd party medical group you can request a FOIA; Freedom Of Information Act. These must be answered by congressional mandate.

  19. I am a Vietnam era vet with 3 problems that are on the Agent Orange list of connected illnesses. No one else in my family has these problems. I served on Guam and boarded all MAC aircraft that required servicing during my shift. Many of these aircraft carried Agent Orange. Does anyone know how I can find records of Agent Orange being transtered thru Guam to Southeast Asia during the late 60s?

  20. You do not need to hire any one. those attorneys take your money and get the same ending as a good free VSO. The key is getting a good VSO, the DAV once was good, but the do not train like they once did so they are not.

  21. Bob Haynes says:

    I have been in the 'VA System' since 2004 and initially started out on my own and got myself approved to 40%. Subsequently I needed to file again and used the VFW where my claim went no where…stalled!!! I started again with the DAV and was able to get a total rating of 120% and being paid at 80%. DAV told me taht 120% was as far as I could go??? Subsequently filed for 100% unemployability on my own and was denied…of course! I then hired an attorney in the Chicago area where they refiled my claim for 100% unemployability, went to a video conference with a VA adjudicator in Washington. 6 months later I got my approval letter. They will take 20% of my back pay but it is 20% of something that I probably would never have received.
    Points: 1) Document everything, calls, etc. 2) Duplicate everything you send them 3) Don't trust anyone that gets their pay check from the goverment 4) Don't ever give up 6) Use the DAV and leave the other service org's alone 7) When all else fails, seek the help of a reputable attorney, I can direct you to one in the Chicago-land area. She only works on appeals!!!

    • Sure would like the name of that attorney – we were denied our claim in 3 days – I don't even think they looked at all the paperwork we had sent them. L

    • Jim Clark says:

      Bob, I originally went through the VA on my own and got 40%, I later tried to file for more through the DAV and they basically said the VA says no so that's it. Don't think the DAV here tried hard. Years later I got with the VFW and am now paid at 80%. Don't say that one Org. is the only one to deal with, it depends on how hard a Org is willing to work. Here the VFW is known for it's success with the VA. Working on 100% due to un-employability. Just waiting now for the results. If need be will use a lawyer but God willing it won't be required. Careful what you say about the Orgs as the American Legion here is also very good at getting results.

    • Bob,
      Thanks for the great advice. I was medically released at 20% for a shoulder injury. While at madical hold I was diagnosed and had surgury for sleep apnea. I was never informed that sleep apnea was a claimable condition until being out for ten years. The two issues I have are 1). the VA claims no fault or back pay for the damage cause by lack of coverage and treatment for the ten years (apnea went from moderate to sever). 2). Since being diagnosed with the sleep apnea while on active duty I should have not only been released with a rating of 60%, 50% for the apnea (with CPAP), 20% for the shoulder (yes it adds to 70% percent but in VA math it is 60%, this is a whole other class that disabled vets need to learn). Therefor my release should have been a medical retirement with benefits and priviledges! I have been told that the DOD must be contacted about this issue. IPlease forward this to your attorney as I have just been denied again am ready to be represented in the appeals process. My email is miker923@aol.com thanks

  22. What Veterans need to know now, is that they way Veterans get disability has changed. The Social Security administration, along with The Veterans Administration, are working hand in hand to process disability claims.
    According to Social Security Disability, you are either 100% disabled or not, and the process now only takes 9 months from start to finish, from both agencies. I applied for disability in Dec.2010 and was approved by a judge on Sept. 2011 (SSA) and notification was also sent to VA Services with there approval expected in Nov.2011. Here is a kicker, (SSA) DISQUALIFIES YOU FOR THE FIRST 5 MONTHS. Then they will only pay you back pay from the first qualifying month till the end. Getting a lawyer, (Binder & Binder) is your best bet foir getting approval, simply because there are questions and procedures done in court that can make or break your claim.

    • lisa barrett says:

      I JUST RECEIVED A 100% FOR PTSD , military sexual trauma with severe anxiety and agoraphobia. I am on my second appeal with SSD MY court date is this coming Sept 9th. I have a better lawyer now but I am so sick of social security and how farback must they compensate me? Lisa needs help in philly

      • carl parmenter ~CP~ says:

        congrats on getting you 100% with VA!!! That's what I'm doing now, medically retired on PDRL in MAY 2012 and got 90%,,,,,I've been appealing for 3 disabilities that I feel I'm entitled to be Raised!! I have 10+ Disabilitys occurred in AFG by our vehicle driving over a pressure plate IED……make a long story short, 3 Disabilties i want increased and that should put me at 100% I understand the Rate Table they use when having multiple disabilities and where i need to ghet, ion order to receive 100% 1. PTSD (50% currently) 2. Spine (10% currently ) 3. MOD. TBI (40% currently) i just had C&P exams other week and already got letter in mail i have to goto The regional office for a Hearing.?. I also got accepted for SSDI a month after getting out military. I put in for a readjustment of my rating a few months after i was out military and acclimated to being home/civilan and use to my local VA CAN ANYONE GUIDE ME IN RIGHT DIRECTION?>?>?>>?? HEARING IN 15 SEPT 2014 TY so much

  23. I was just diagnosed with prostate cancer last week. Since I served in 'Nam and was exposed th Agent Orange, it's considered an immediate 100% disability through the life of the cancer. I called by San Bernardino County Vet Agency and was given the run around; "Can't help you over the phone,: "Need to come in," No one is available right now," etc., etc. I called a fellow Vet who referred me to another county's Vet Assistance Center. Got the forms and the claim filed in just a couple of hours. What a difference! Still costs nothing – skip the attorney route. Find a good Vet Center. It doesn't even need to be in your county.

  24. Peter harvey says:

    When u can’t get am answer, write ur senators, va will respond to them

  25. michael.a.bell says:

    Sounds to me like I need to contact the (DAV) Disabled American Veterans. I will be calling first thing tomorrow, thank to you all.

  26. davadvocate says:

    Mr. Krause, I am a Disabled Veteran and I assist other veterans independently in filing their disability claims. I have been successful with it. With regards to what you stated on your "SHOCKER", what you mentioned is an understatement. Last year, someone sent me a stack of claims documents from Dept of Vet Affairs. I guess an internal VA Staff felt sick to their stomach about their deceptive practices. They contain internal memos' which indicated rating decisions, internal memos' discussing standard procedures and deceptive practices. This are internal memo's and claims with veterans names and social security numbers. It also discusses providing lower ratings and further…. What was disturbing were the board members. I don't know what to do with the documents and I frankly am afraid to have shared my comments about this. Because they contain the names of veterans and internal memos with the names and signatures of those officials, If i let it out, I feel that many veterans will feel without a doubt betrayed by our leaders. I don't need to remind us about the oath we took. I want this documents off my hands securely.

  27. wayne navy says:

    Do not trust VES, the contract company doing Comp and Pens for the VA! I was sent back in 2010 and I went to a joke of a doctor. He falsified just about every thing on the reports. He put numbers and wrote normal on test he didn't even conduct. I didn't even take my clothes off nor did he touch me and somehow he marked vibration test, pin prick test, and claimed my muscularity in my back and legs were normal; I didn't do any test other that the hammer to the knee test with my clothes on. He talked more about himself coming from overseas to America. I then filed a Notice of Disagreement, contacted VES and they hurried up and rescheduled due to fears of me suing them, but this time I recorded every conversation and took a voice activated recorder and believe it or not they have falsified the test to cover for the first doctor. The problem for them is I have them recorded and they continue to lie, knowing they have been caught. The VES liaisons Nick and Matt are not to be trusted. Both lied throughout the proceedures. I have them on tape and plan to turn them in to The Senate House Committee and file a complaint. Be ware of them and the VA. THey blew off my MRIs and outside Spinal Doctor Info/and other doctors and claim I have just arthritis in my entire back. What a joke! I got out out and retired because of the injuries back in 96.

  28. I have been a Veteran advocate for over 35 years and helped thousands of Vets receive overdue benefits. However when my own service related disabilities became more severe and I applied for benefits myself I ran into a brick wall. as a member of the 11th Air Assault Div,2nd Infantry at Fort Benning in 64 & 65 we became the 1st Cavalry Airmobile Div in July of 65. The Division left for Vietnam in Sept 65. I was TDY on 2 occasions between May and Sept 65. The V.A. has declined benefits for over 2 years because TDY records (they say)are not available. Does anyone have any idea how to get dailey activity report from units going that far back? In addition I feel the nV.A. has a policy to treat Veteran advocates (that file personal claims) with more stringent scrutiny that other Vets. The i nformation you are publishing is excellent and right on. Avoid using legal assistance until you have exhausted all means via the Veteran service community.

  29. DAVADVOCATE says:

    When you file a claim, never leave room to appeal it.

  30. Shocker
    . What I’m about to say may shock you if you’ve been hid­ing under a rock. Somr Veterans have been known to ignore the law when it comes to dis­abil­ity claims. It’s true. This ranges from sim­ple vio­la­tion to all out lies pertaining to there service records.

    Things like this give me a firm case of “not sur­prise.”

    Yes. When it comes to some Veterans, they some­times ignore the law. Know­ing this is true and expect­ing what is not due. compensation issues relat­ing to vio­la­tions should not shock any­one. Now that you’re aware, here’s how to pre­pare.

    dont lie…………………….

    If you cant write this "guide" without unsubstantiated rumors or outright conjuncture on your part, please do not write anymore!
    write about keeping good track of your records
    write about documenting things
    write about reading and understanding the 38 CFR Book C, Schedule for Rating Disabilities
    write about how to get your records
    Just knock off the VA is out to "get you" garbage. You in your own comments you want to help Vets, so stop the bashing and write something worthwhile!

  31. DAV ADVOCATE says:

    I read your comments, I can't believe the number of cases that have gone unattended and delayed. Having assisted many disabled vets put together their claims, I feel your frustrations. I hope you all receive expert support in putting your claims together. I suggest you start with the DAV, although I haven't worked with them, get a feel for it, but ultimately you know what you deserve. Pain and discomfort only gets worse over time.

    • Thank God for individuals like you who assist veterans receive what they deserve. I am a 24 year veteran who retired from the Air Force in 2005. At the time not only was I nervous due to the transition, I was also going through some personal issues. I took my medical records to the individuals on Langley Air Force Base whose job was to assist with filing a VA claim. She handed me a form and my records and told me to take them and go through my records to find anything that I want to claim. Now, I don't know about anyone else, but I cannot even read a doctor's prescription. Feeling frustrated, I did nothing as my first priority was finding a job to take care of my family. I got a job with a contracting company in Iraq. I returned to the states 2 years later and began working for a local company. I finally decided to take my records to a local Veteran's Service Representative who was great. My claim was submitted in Dec of 2011. Since then I have received 3 letters (one approximately every three months) from the VA Department's Veteran Service Center Manager stating that they are sorry for the delay and that they are still processing my claim. It has been about 10 months since I've filed. I know that some have taken longer so I'm just waiting patiently…or should I be doing something else?

      • davadvocate says:

        TO KEVIN – your rating decision should arrive within the next 2-3 weeks if not sooner. Sounds like you were pleased with your Vet-Service-Rep. Once you receive your awards package, please have your Vet-Service-Rep review it. I can also assist you at my end if you ran into complications.

  32. davadvocate says:

    Cron,
    Mr. Krause was merely providing a guideline for disabled veterans who are frustrated with the VA Claims system. It's a difficult and complicated process and without expert guidance, I can assure you that even a soldier who has lost both limbs from an IED will be denied 60% of his rightful benefits. I am working with that soldier. I don't believe our disabled veterans in this forum ignore the law and lie about their claims. I can assure you that they aren’t. All you have to do is ask them. We are very familiar with all of 38 CFR and its vast limitations in compensating disabled veterans. There are many Vets who rate disability but do not file claims because the process is difficult and the system was not meant to be user friendly. We can all disagree, but let’s be decent about it.

    • davadvocate
      you know very well I was just using that as a general statement not directed at vets, and was not meant to be indecent in any way! as I was only disagreeing with how the article was written.
      But you do no help to anyone making statements like "I can assure you that even a soldier who has lost both limbs from an IED will be denied 60% of his rightful benefits.
      YOU sir have no way of backing up that statement.
      To be honest it sounds like something a lawyer that wants you to hire them mite say!

      • davadvocate says:

        TO CRON:
        I'm sorry to have said things in that manner. Those you've mentioned fight for what they deserve in anyway they can. And yes, I can back up the statements I've made. I have in front of me a stack of internal memorandums written by VA officials discussing their deeds. I put cases againsts the federal government and also the states. You would not believe who I go up against. I do respect your opinion. I ask that you respect each others opinion and published works.

  33. FRANK CAMPBELL says:

    MY CLAIM IS PENDING DUE TO THE VA RATING BOARD. STATING THAT MY
    HEARING HAS IMPROVED BY A VA TESTING DOCTOR. THE VA IS DECLINING
    MY BENEFITS FROM 60% TO 40% STARTING ON DEC 1 2011. I SENT THEM
    ANOTHER HEARING TEST FROM ANOTHER EAR DOCTOR. I AM APPEALING
    THIS WITH THE HELP OF OTHERS T.V.C, OFFICERS IN THE AUSTIN AREA.
    IF THERE ANY BODY THAT HAD THIS SAME PROBLEM. CALLING ME 512-535-2728

  34. If I were able to work in the career field I was in I would be earning about 90K + per year, and I wouldn’t be stuck in this bed half the damn time. As it is now the VA is my lifeline. I am very thankful to my fellow citizens for providing a modest benefit which takes care of my base needs. I wish I could work. All of that said, you must be tenacious, even tempered, honest, and document everything. There are good people at the VA, many who are veterans. It does take patience to not be frustrated by the process though. I had help from the VFW and the DAV and am thankful to both. Stick with it and go to the VA for your medical care for as long as it takes. This way all of your records are in one place. Insist that the file people scan all of your outside records in to the CPRS VISTA system. Good luck to all of you who are suffering. God bless and thank you for your service to our country.

  35. davadvocate says:

    PART-1

    Frank,
    I don’t know much about your case and I’m going on based on enough information that you have provided. In the case of “Hearing Loss”, it requires a different approach. If the VA awarded you 60% initially for your hearing loss, it took compelling evidence then for you to rate it. The initial test was significant because all combined audio testing procedures and physical exam indicated that you sustained a significant degree of PERMANENT hearing loss. They were all objective findings and the audiologist/physician made an expert clinical interpretation. They awarded you 60% for permanent hearing loss. They don’t award for temporary hearing loss so you can rule that out completely now, then and in the future.

  36. davadvocate says:

    PART-2

    Frank,
    A very important fact about permanent hearing loss is that hearing will not improve. Your hearing will only get worse over time. Hearing aids do not change your diagnosis. Any future hearing test or examination that indicates improvement after your initial award is not valid. If the VA is smart, they would avoid putting themselves in a position that will only prove that the initial findings were performed by an incompetent audiologist or professionals. They just need to suck up the 60%. It takes a lot to lower a rating. (There’s a lot more to this, but I’m accurately generalizing).

  37. davadvocate says:

    Doug,
    You are right, I can't tell you much about my background, but yes you can get assistance from any good Disabled Veteran Advocate to assist your case at any part of the country.

  38. R. Hendricks says:

    If a veteran files for service-related disability(ies) claim(s), I strongly recommend that you do your research. First, research Title 38 United States Code. Then familiarize yourself with all required VA Forms, to file your claims. Obtain your medicial treament records, if you don't already have them in your possession, from St. Louis, Mo. Once, you have your medical records in your possession, don't ever release your medical records to anyone, that include VA. Have VA to
    send you or download SF Form 180. Then send VA a completed SF Form 180. Veteran must signed SF Form 180, before submitting. Then get orangized, get yourself a couple of 3 inch 3 ring binders and documents protectors. Get busy!

  39. After numerous visits to VA Honolulu, i can honestly say that It is really aggravating and sad to think  that those so called VA advocates (except 1 of 5 I met with)  are USELESS.  Three years ago when I asked for their assistance in filing my disability claim, the Advocate or Rep told me that the Hawaii States  Office of Veterans Services [HSOVS]  (located next door to their office) could help me because they are great people.  Right then, I concluded that it would just be a waste of my time  to deal with those lazy 'crab sand' VA folks'.  However, the advocate was right, John of HSOVS was very helpful nd patient.  He filed my claim on the same day and provided me with a copy. I got a very favorable rating four months later.  Bottomline:  GET RID OF THOSE USELESS VA personnel who I think are just waiting to get paid (from taxes we paid) every payday but DO NOT LIKE TO DO THEIR JOB – HELP the Veterans.  Instead, increase funds/budget  of those agencies (SOVS, DAV, FRA, the Legion etc).   We get results from them anyway!

  40. When vets meager little way of life is theaten by people like Mccain, that is beyond acceptable. What kind of vet is he? Does he live on $27,000 a yr? Does he live in a small apartment? Comments about a person like that cannot get beyond acceptable when he trying to make life harder for vets.
    I dont know ANY vets that think like Mcain,Im a low end vet thats probably why I cant think the way he does, thats it, Mccain lives in a different world,and I live in a crazy world thinking vets should be treated better by FELLOW vet like Mccain.

    • Mccain is not a vet, doing a SWOT analysis on him, I put him in the threat column. What vet would have not consideration for their fellow vets. I just brought a nice car for $250.00 for an enlisted soldier yesterday. Car just needs an alignment and good tires. Body excellent, runs great. I am a service connected disabled vet, that gets no disability monies, but with soldiers like this, we can all beat Mccain, and send his a_ _ back to Texas, or wherever he's from.

  41. I was injured due to the Marines being neglectful in training and I was still cleared to go overseas, despite having nerve damage in my feet. Got overseas and still had to due PT which lead to my knees being a mess because my feet weren't good! I finally got approved for 40% when I went to South Carolina, but I'm still getting the run around! What to do?? I'm 31, but my body is like I'm 61!!

    • davadvocate says:

      Casey – I could email you and we can start from there. If what you stated was close enough to what it is, then you're in luck. I hope you have access to all your medical documents. If not, let's get it, if we can't, we can make it happen. Thanks

  42. davadvocate says:

    TO CASEY (foot injury). I can tell you that you rate 60% right now. The facts and cirumcstances surrounding your injured foot is crystal clear. What makes your case stronger despite your injury is that they cleared you "FIT FOR OPERATIONAL COMMITMENT WORLD WIDE". which lead up to secondary problems such as your knee. I'm surprised why you didn't mentioned you have already developed back pains. A foot injury that recurrs, chronic or otherwise will cause you to favor one leg over the other. Your feet carries all the weight above you and when you walk, you multiply your weight x 4. That's how much weight is distributed unevenly on the other knee, then your lower back. Your hip will come soon. It will be chronic and debilitating after time. It is inevitable.

    • I do have back problems, but I didn’t know what caused it and I figured since I had no problems in the marines with it, that it wouldn’t matter

    • John H. Smith says:

      I had 32 years and 3 mons and 4 days when I retired. My first deployment to IRAQ was 2004-2005. I was their for over 18 mons. I had a lot of issues, such as PTSD, Hearing loss. could go on and on. I went and filed my first claim in Oct 2009. Then I got deployed again in 2010-2011, and when I got back in Oct 2011. I went down to check on my status i was told I never filed a claim in 2009. So they filed a new one in 2011. I have all my paper work from day one with about 30 clams so for. I was told by a VA rep that I might hear something from them around the end of 2014. I just don't understand.

  43. davadvocate says:

    When you file a claim, follow the guideline on the article above by Mr. Krause. Most of you do not know the internal workings of the VA. Sure they have some good people there but keep in mind that good people don't run the show. Activities are different behind the scenes. It is especially important that you need to receive expert support the moment you decide to file your claim. Your claim should be focused on how it will affect the "Quality" of your life and most important, your family, your kids "years from now". Most of you filed after having suffered long enough. I've seen many families destroyed, houses lost, tremendous pain and suffering. You, the disabled veteran in pain will change your childrens' lives forever. They will feel your pain, and you can't hide it. You will lose everything including yourself. Don't go it alone. Veterans don't have the resources to process their claims and receive what they deserve. The scale is tipped that's why you need expereinced support. This is the quick fix. Folks, the system must change now otherwise, you will never know what struck you. It's time to step up to the plate.

    • i file a claim with the va. was not approve. i got out of the army in 1972 on medical honorable discharge. they want me to prove nothing was wrong when i went the army. i went throuh prossing for three day in raliegh nc i need help. can someone help me with this.

  44. davadvocate says:

    TO MIKE:
    I agree. Pay closer attention because they will take more and more of veterans benefits sooner than you think. I think it's time to remember what our founding fathers meant when they wrote the words "We The People". It is our Nation's "fail safe mechanism".

  45. davadvocate says:

    I’m a little upset at the Senator. I’m not really sure what the deal is with this guy, but what can we expect from someone whose poor flying skills earned him a bronze star and be called a hero at that. He must have been high as a kite when flying where he shouldn’t be. When he heard “increase your altitude”, he assumed its party time. It’s bad timing for him to support slashing our benefits especially when we are being over utilized around the globe. It’s was poorly done, just bad taste, and disrespectful to those who have lost their lives, families who no longer have stability, our active/vets. We are not to be used as their means to satisfy their political agendas. We are not the meal on their table. When one impersonates a U.S. Veteran we call them un-American. This is a sad Senator. The only thing we can do to turn this around is assert ourselves. Get to know them. I’d like to see the senator as an American Hero, but I can’t.

  46. Hangfire58 says:

    Is there a part 2 to this article or is a part 2 planned? I have been gathering the information I'll need to file for an increase in my disability rating and would like to know if any of the info from these articles will help me. My Dr. at Wright Patterson AFB would like to remove 3 discs and fuse my cervical spine from an injury that I get CRSC for. Will I lose the CRSC if i get the requested increase? Will the VA approve an increase in disability? I have a lot of questions.

  47. I vouch that the DAVs are their weight in gold. My claim was in limbo for 3 years, out of frustration I contacted the DAV and within a month I received my decision letter.

  48. I'm a disabled vet I've went through all the messed up things V.A. has done to many of us .Well at this point I'm hiring a lawyer,we're inBAD shape at this point and I've just had enough

  49. I filed 5 claims. Won 10%SC left thumb. The rt knee and rt ankle C&P was a joke. They did x-ray only. When MRI was done, the damage showed up causing the doctors jaws to drop. One exclaimed “no wonder your knee/ankle hurt”. PTSD, Migraines, Hypertension, deferred on the ankle and how they did that I have no idea as the med documentation and proof is there. Denied the knee then 5 months later a 2nd knee operation which I’m hoping as I appealed, this 2nd knee operation swings things in my favor. Records I’ve already sent, they ask for “again” as if they either did not get them or maybe lost them or threw them away. Overwhelmed at the exam center. Completion date was July 2013 now they’ve backed it up to Aug 2014. Why I have no idea. My right knee and right ankle are in serious condition. Been using the VSO & American Legion. I pray for a win, a decision in my favor. If I could only find the guys who served with me it’d seal the cases/claims solidly. They could write buddy letters and there’d be no other decision except “approved”.

    • Go to facebook and try to find them. If uou think they are still in the military, you might want to check AKO or military emails……if you dont have access and how to check world wide, send me an email with a name and type of service Guard, Navy, etc…..I will see if I can find them email john.cianci@us.army.mil, ie I won my case to 60% in March 2012—-retroactive to 1997

  50. Tim Switzer says:

    I have a question! I was in the Army Guard from 1997 to 2003 during a deployment CONUS from March 2003 to Sep 2003. I injured my left knee during PT. about Mid April 2003. The doctors diagnosis was a knee sprain. Never did an x-ray or MRI. During the deployment my knee would hyper extend and cause sever pain. On several occasions my knee would send me to sick call where I was never sent to a hospital. The PT at sick call always stated just a sprained knee. When I got home started with civilian doctors and got an MRI and found I had partially tore my ACL and damaged my Meniscus. I had surgery at my expense in 2004. I have since switched to the Air Guard, and injured my knee cartilage again requiring another surgery. Would I have any disability claim? Since I am still in the Guard and love what I do, I don't want to be discharged since I am 3 years from my 20. I would also lose my full time job since I am a guard technician. After my second surgery my knee isn't as stable which was OCT 2012. I'm afraid this one injury in 2003 will end up killing my career.

    • I had 15 years in…….tip, if you are on your last enlistment contract, file with the VA……..by law the Guard they do not have access to the VA and VA would need your signature to allow them. Any communications with VA is protected. At 19 years the Guard attempted to get my VA file—-but couldnt without my signature. I was deployed when in the midst of retiring, again, VA records were not accessable. In Marc 2012, I won my claim from 10% to 60%—–retroactive to 1997(ie I was than in Guard with 11 years when I originally filed)Good luck

  51. I was injured wihile on active duty in and EAS in 2001. I filed a claim during the time when I was awaiting approval and orders to active reserve. My claim was denied in Jan 2002, but I was given orders and reported to my duty station in March 2002. I recently filed again but was denied and told that the decision has been final since there was no appeal back in 2002. I was back on active duty then. Is there a way to have this reversed?

  52. A group of lawyers represent veterans for a % allowed if successfull ——only in the appeals phase after denia they can assist .
    I have used one since the mid 90's Robert Chisholm——–and in March 2012, I won an appeal from 10% to 60% retroactive to 1997—–yes 15 years. Timing is important and you can go to his web page, http://www.cck-law.com……they have a form on line you can fill out to explain your case:
    Civil Litigation, ERISA and Veterans Benefits Attorneys in Providence, Rhode Island

  53. I won 10%SC on the left thumb and didn’t even file the claim. Then when I realize that I was eligible I filed 5 more claims for things that were severely hampering my life and I also wondered why I was unable to cope with things after being medically discharged. 1. PTSD 2. Hypertension 3. Rt Knee [surgery again 13June2012 and knee replacement is on the table now] 4. Rt. Ankle [they were supposed to repair the injury in the Army but I was medically discharged. To me this is gross negligence by the Army] 5. Migraines so severe I’ve tried 40 different meds from 5 different Neurologists but sadly I must take a narcotic to stop them.

    My 5 cases, 1 deferred, 1 denied and appeald, and 3 still in the processing stage were initially to be completed July 2013, now I get a letter stating Aug 2014. That’s a huge future jump which I can’t understand. The financial burden is intense enough now that it interferes with decent living conditions. I don’t mean sound like I’m whining but this huge future pushback of another 14 months is nuts.

  54. Msfixit_AH64 says:

    I injured my left hip in AIT in 1997. It was finally diagnosed as trochanteric bursitis. I sent in a claim to the VA Aug 2008. I finally got decision Jan 2013. VA agrees it is "sc" but I recieved a 10%- "Left hip trochanteric bursitis with limitation of the thigh", 0%-"Limitation of flexion of the left thigh due to trochanteric bursitis", 0%-"Impairment of the left thigh due to left hip trochanteric bursitis"….what the hell does that mean? I had to quit a good paying job because I could no longer physically do it! How can I fight this?

  55. perfume for cheap says:
  56. oldnamvet says:

    Does anyone know how much weight is or should be given to a private Psychiatrist who completed a Disability Benefits Questionairre for PTSD which was higher than the examiner gave. I think the examiner was either a social worker or a psychologist. Then the private Psychiatrist wrote a subsequent letter of support giving more details than in the Disability Benefits Questionairre and actually spelled out that in her medical opinion I am unemployable due to PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder symptoms and GAF of 40. I am still waiting for decision by my regional office

    • matthew lockridge says:

      I believe you have a good chance ay getting 100% based on my experience, good luck!

    • Im from boston ad cofused to this whole clames prosses, cld some one give me a piece of advise ,,, my claim has been in a year i was called to a 2 hr meeting with a psychologist com, and pen.. was told i , i have ptsd and it was du to the event in the military .. thats what he is writing he told me a pleasant man … but what does this mean and what next … help confused

  57. SPC. Rich says:

    IF you are being denied, hire an attorney. There is a plethora of them out there helping vets with their claims. Sometimes It's best to be represented by a firm that's seasoned in dealing with the VA. The VA is screwing so many VETS is really sad. I know if they deny my claim, that's my next step.

    Give it some thought.

  58. I need the best lawyer to start notice of disagreement to initiate an appeal.

  59. t

  60. If you have already had a compensation physical, and you appeal their decision, are you legally required to take another physical? They have had the case for 2 years.

  61. RTA Claims says:

    Thanks again for the blog.Much thanks again. Will read on…

  62. I have been applying for benefits since 1990 and only in 2012 did they recognize that I was a veteran. I got a 10 % rating and have been submitting for the rest. I saw a psychiatrist in the army but yet they did not send any of the paperwork or writings from the psychiatrist. I need to have the joints replaced in my knees and have problems with my hands. The DAV thinks that I was not in long enough for anything to happen. I guess they don't know spec ops. Does anyone have a suggestion for me.

  63. Airbornemama says:

    Hi Folks. After bring out of the service for quite awhile, I finally realized that my incapacitating migraines are the result of my many parachute jumps causing trauma to my neck. These un- abating migraines continue to progress. I've been to my personal doctor and to a neurologist who have yet to determine an etiology. I'm in the process of requesting my medical records from the Army as I know I suffered at least one concussion. Any suggestions on where to start with this in order to get some compensation for all the doctor visits. Also, what happens if there is no documentation linking all my headaches to my parachute jumps. Thanks for any advice.

  64. I have a question about an unusual case and circumstances. Okay, let me start when I know the medical facts were first known by the va. In 1997 and I can't remember why, a Dr told me to file s claim with the va, it was basically for my ankles, right one being the worst, I went to an exam by one of their own Dr's. I never got that report until my state va rep. Sent me a copy. I should mention I have ALL of the originals from my service record. So this report states from the VA's own Dr. "I find it quite puzzling how Mr. Partin was admitted into the service(Navy) with such a gross leg length discrepancy (over 2.7cm) and tthe lift orthotic is not helping him, you will need to contact a university for a procedure to lengthen his leg. This was in 1997. Over the years I have had no idea that this was compensatable. Again in 2007 I had an operation on myy right foot that was unsuccessful and I was ordered to not put any weightt on it for at least 3-5 months , it was over a year before I could even use that foot and then only with a walker, cane or crutches mainly. Now I was I think 30% sc disabled because of my smr alone. Now I find out that I should in all likelihood that I should have been rated temporarily 100% sc. But I again had know knowledge of any of this. So, how do I submit this evidence and will they pay and will they back date it from 1997 or 2007 or not at all? The entire va stuff started iback in 1974 when I had trouble marching and my back started to cause me great pain as well as my ankle. It's all in my servve medical record. I just had no idea what or who to inform about my medical condition. Also PTSD, over 15yrs of documentation of me getting mental health treatments for what was and is PTSD. I know of several times I was involved in traumatic events in the Navy, but one event has bothered me for over 35yrs, my best friend ( my first born was named after his wife) was driving an aircraft tow tug in Okinawa that I should have been doing and he slammed into the side of one of our airplanes. He was all scewed up, I was the first one there it was horrible blood everywhere out of his face and body, I never saw him again. I know that incident is a matter of record. So, did I just screw myself out of not knowing to file a claim? Or is there a provision for claiming and receiving disability back pay from 1997 or longer? Or should I just forget about it like the va advised me? Probably doesnt matter because I have found a little happiness after 2 failed marriages and 9 children, I now have a place of my own and my dogs that couldn't care less if I was in Vietnam at all even if I can provide origanal documentation I was evaced in 1976. I'm older now and not in the best of shape and getting very tired og dealing with the VA and the horrible medical care I have gotten since I was forced to use them, when my various medical maladies became more than I could possibly afford. Anything you can tell me will help even if it's just a simple forget about it and try to enjoy what life you have left. Thank You in advance.

    • Meat Diamond says:

      Hi Dan.
      although there are a few similarities in our history's, from the MEPS,(MILITARY ENTRANSE PROCESSING STATION) till today, you made the greater sacrifice. A non scripted heart felt thank you is in order.
      I also was excepted into the military, un aware of preexisting medical conditions. when these conditions were manifested and changed from
      A symptomatic to symptomatic , the army neglected to do what would what would have potentially prevented some of the catastrophe I have lived with between then and now .It has been a long and evil fight with V A for me.
      Strides have been slow, hard to come by and small.
      I too Am weary as a result of fighting V A , Believe in my heart they our government counts on that. I suffer a lot of severe pain and it motivates me to keep perusing justice. I will be looking for your future posts. DONT LET UP.

  65. P. GUARDIOLA says:

    can somebody advise me on how much dissability rating i could expect after the va doctor in las vegas declared that my shoulder has a flexion of 35, abuction of 35, strenght testing of 2/5 and no repetive motions?
    It is my right shoulder. The one i use as the dominant side. I have already 30 percent from my right elbow and so the shoulder damaged is an extention of the use of the elbow.

  66. My case may be different than the majority on here, but I am ay a loss of what to do at this time. My husband severed in Veitnam and he had a partial disability for hearing loss that VA compensated him for at $120.00 a month for two years. He was diagnosed with PTSD in 2012 but never received any benefit for that. In November 2012 he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Esophageal Cancer and died in December 2012! We were told by VA personnel at the hospital that I would need to file a substitution claim and that I would be able to receive benefits. I have filed a ton of paperwork and get the run around all the time. My local VA office in Valdosta does not really care and most of the time they have no clue what to do next! I have been turned down repeatedly and have even had our state rep, Johnny Issacson, contact the VA twice on my behalf! My husband had a claim in for Agent Orange a year before his death and they are now saying that is not the cause of his cancer even though the Drs at the VA hospitals told us repeatedly that was the cause. I am considering hiring an attorney but just don't know if that is my best choice. I do plan to appeal their decision but I am exhausted fighting with them. I have documented every time we have talked and have tons of paperwork. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • It was my understanding that any Vietnam Vet was automatically granted Agent Orange Comp if they were in that theater, which obviously they were. It sounds to me like you have a very solid case. Please do not give up. Sometimes I feel the VA wants us to give up so they won't have to pay. Go to your local representatives, VA officials that is, and make them help you. It's their job. When the claim's reps are processing they review all VA records. But understand that it is the responsibility of the claimant, that is "you", to provide records too. You might want a lawyer, but make sure they don't rip you off. Please do not give up. We, as Veterans, EARNED our benefits and as the Spouse, you most certainly deserve, and in my view. "owed" this compensation as the surviving Spouse.

      I've actually worked at Moody AFB there in Valdosta while living in Savannah, GA working for the US Army Corps of Engineers. Neat town.

    • One more thing, when I say "VA officials", I'm not talking about the VA Clinic/Hospital, but the Veterans Service Officer/Organization. They process Vet's claims and if I'm not mistaken that is their sole duty/function.
      http://veterans.georgia.gov/

      Sometime you can find a very committed Veteran of Vietnam, or other services, who works at a local Federal Agency that helps Veterans. Look in your phone book or ask someone at the local VA medical facilities.

      • Thank you so much for your advice and encouragement! All my family and close friends have told me to keep fighting and not give up! :) I have worked with the VSO in Valdosta for almost 2 yrs now and sometimes feel their hands are tied as to how much they can really do. I will continue to go back to them first, however, before hiring an attorney. I agree that it seems the VA wants people to give up so they don't have to pay. I plan to take all my paperwork and go back to the Valdosta VSO this week to begin again. I hope I can report better news the next time. :)

  67. chuck smith says:

    My brother did one year air force got the boot for non compliance to military standards. 40 years later he open his claim based on depression and gets 100%. He lied and got guy to help him with his benefit. His mother died when he was 15 and he was depressed for awhile, but that's it … a shame to let this go on. how do I report this.

  68. Robert Brandow says:

    I was in a helicopter crash approx 2 wks before I got out of aemy our birds engine just quit about 30 ft aboe runway it hard spread skids this happened 1986 biggs airfield we'll have had back problems since but also broke back 2 times since do I have any recourse what are my chances of filing disability claim with va thanks for any input and God bless the usa