14 December 2013

VA Cuts "Backlog" By Denying Claims, Regardless of Merit

The VA was, is and shall continue to be under the microscope of Congress for their unacceptable backlog of veterans' claims. The VA was, is and shall continue to be highly creative in addressing this backlog.

Their first step is righteous: VA executives mandated overtime for their regional offices to process more claims per month than before

Their second step is righteous: VA executives created a highly effective campaign called "Fully Developed Claim," whereby vets and their service officers themselves gather each piece of the necessary claim, submit the package with veteran certification that everything needed is attached, and the claim then gets priority. PLUS, the claim in many cases can be given a full year of backdated benefits!

Their third step is righteous: VA executives worked with DOD to get separating disabled veterans awarded VA disability ratings during their separation process. This was one which should have been on the books during World War II, but at least it is working now.

Their forth step is deceptive, cruel and where we are harmed: VA executives make it clear to their
regional offices that a denied claim gets into the "resolved" statistic just a quickly as an approved claim. Turning a good claim down to get a complex issue resolved is unacceptably cowardly, and condemns the vet to between two-three years of appeal. I actually had a VA rater tell me face-to-face that my "complicated" claim would have to be denied (kicked upstairs, as she put it) via denial to get a decision at the Board of Veterans Appeals.

Charming, but at least three out of four schemes to whittle down the backlog of inventory (as General Hickey describes it...to the rest of us, however,  "inventory" means our claim sitting on a bored VA employee's IN box until they have nothing better to do, and are willing to turn their attention to serving America's soldiers, sailors and airmen.

The public should know that while a veteran's claim slowly crawls through the system, denied, appeals, remanded, with years spent hoping...those are years the VA refuses any medical care for the illnesses the veteran's doctors have already certified as "service connected." Those are years of delay which whittle years off the veteran's remaining life expectancy!

Those are years the VA counts as money saved, because no financial compensation and no medical services were permitted the veteran...no medical care, no prosthetics, no dental, no vision, no rehab, no independent living adjustments, no pharmacy, no counseling..truly, lots of money saved by simply delaying the veteran's claim.

There is no reimbursement for the money a veteran spends for vital medical care for his military injuries and illnesses during the years a claim is delayed. Those are years where denied medical care permits a veteran's health to completely collapse.

And for the truly worst off, those who would need CHAMP-VA, no medical care permitted the veteran's family, either. Money saved...for the VA's budget. Policy-driven claim delays and denials for claims which audits show are decided with less than a 50% accuracy rate...and the errors are generally in the VA's favor, not the veteran's.

It is no wonder that vets often wait more years on their claims then they spent on active duty! I wonder what the suicide rate is for disabled veterans defeated over these years of delay.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got something to share? Nothing commercial or off-topic, please.