03 June 2017

The 1448 Day Stall for Claims at Board of Veterans Appeals – why VA must adopt an initial "presumption of eligibility" on certain claims.

When a vet believes VA has made a mistake on his/her claim, VA welcomes an appeal its Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) to set things straight. GREAT, but the only problem is the VA delay in the process leaves vets "twisting in the wind" – abandoned for four years until the system even considers righting the wrong done the vet. Actually, the delay is even longer if we include the year-long initial disability claim process. REMEMBER, this lengthy process gets started with a vet's claim for cancer, ALS, heart disease or whatever is the issue, and until VA finishes its final decision at BVA, all medical care and other essential benefits are refused the vet (unless otherwise eligible for some reason.) That's the unhappy "twisting in the wind" time. The time a vet has to get by somehow on his/her own. One of VA's most unforgivable delays is in its "Statement of the Case and Certification," which VA says takes under three hours work. Yet the most recent statistics show that this task takes the VA on average 537 days after receiving the Notice of Appeal and that it takes another 222 days before the BVA actually receives the certified appeal, for a total of 759 days. Over two years, with VA hospital doors locked as the process continues. Refusing care for cancers and heart disease...as VA did on my claim by postponing a decision for four years...can be a death sentence. A final decision from VA might come with retroactive compensation but there is no retroactive adjustment for medical care denied or family benefits like CHAMP-VA withheld. That's why VA must adopt a scheme of initial consideration of claims for PRESUMPTIVE ELIGIBILITY FOR CARE. Perhaps not all claims, but at least claims with substantial merit and instances where denying care would endanger life or limb.

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