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Old September 2nd, 2017, 10:37 PM   #1
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Thumbs down New law streamlining VA claim appeals eases some protections

By TOM PHILPOTT | SPECIAL TO STARS AND STRIPES
Published: August 31, 2017

"Every major veteran service organization except Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) supported legislation, signed into law last week, to reform a woefully clogged process for deciding appeals of veterans’ disability claims.

Even VVA concedes the new “three-lane” option for appealing claims, when implemented via regulation a year or more from now, will produce speedier appeal decisions and begin to reverse what continues to be a steadily rising backlog of appeals, soon to surpass a stunning 500,000.

Every veteran appealing a claim knows something is wrong with a system that, on average, takes three years to get a final decision. The Department of Veterans Affairs says some veterans are waiting six years or more."

Please take a moment and follow the link to the full article, which is a worthy read. - SG

https://www.stripes.com/new-law-stre...3#.WauMnbKGOG4

IMO the VVA was right about this with regard to certain cases, where additional substantive evidence is not available until perhaps years later, and also that more accurate and just adjudication in the first place would be of far more benefit to veterans and certainly reduce the appeals backlog.

I believe an example of a veteran who would be harmed by this law would be a veteran who is hospitalized for PTSD before PTSD was recognized, and a veterans' service organization rep. files a claim for service connected disability on behalf of the veteran. Then when the veteran is released from the hospital, becomes homeless or is forced to move repeatedly and never receives a notice from the VA, or is too ill, untrusting and/or angry and lacks information to know how to proceed if they do receive the notice of denial. Or a veteran with Agent Orange, cancer, nuclear or chemical agent test related disabilities before those were recognized. Before, a veteran could re-open a long-denied claim with new and substantive evidence. It sounds like that will no longer be the case in the near future, much to the detriment of disabled veterans. - SG
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Old September 2nd, 2017, 11:03 PM   #2
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I advise all military to have their medical records reviewed by the VA six months before they ETS.
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Old September 2nd, 2017, 11:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black_Lotus View Post
I advise all military to have their medical records reviewed by the VA six months before they ETS.
Good advice. Also, if there were any incidents that could possibly result in a VA claim at a later date, even if they happened while on leave or off duty, make sure they are included in medical records and get statements from any witnesses, along with permanent address and if they are willing, SSN's so they can later be contacted if needed. That is especially important if they are women who many change their surname upon marrying at a later date. Wouldn't hurt to also see a civilian physician, have it documented, and get a copy of all medical records. Note that all physicians do not keep copies of medical records older than the required by law length of time. If you do not get a copy, you likely will not be able to later. When you leave service, take a copy of your medical records with you, and if necessary ask them to correct any errors or document missing information. If requested later it is possible that pages may be missing or illegible. Any injury that may seem minor at the time can morph into something big later... for instance, a bump on the noggin can result in a neck injury that seems to heal... but may require surgery later.

On edit: If you have a witness's Social Security Number but cannot locate that person, I believe you can write a letter to the person and give it to the Social Security Administration or IRS, and explain that the person is a witness who could support a claim, and ask the agency to forward the letter to that person so they can contact you.
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