Veteran’s Admininstration: Veteran Abuse Part 1 Initial claim and appeal!

That’s right.  I said abuse.  If there was ever a more bureaucratic organization than this one, I’ve yet to find it.  The bureaucracy is astounding not to mention daunting to the fresh out of military service veteran.  It’s the biggest travesty in the United States government system to say the least.  The only more bureaucratic organization is probably the Internal (some call it infernal) Revenue Service.

Let me start off with the process for initial claim.  This is an almost all day affair.  I made my initial claim in San Diego, California.  In many ways, I’m glad I did.  There is a large base of veterans there both active and inactive.  You have the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines inside of a 50 mile radius there not to mention various U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force bases just up the highway (Interstate 5) in Los Angeles region.  Needless to say my initial claim though time consuming did get more done in a day than I can say about most places (especially Columbia’s own Dorn V.A. Hospital).  That and the entire staff (like Dorn V.A. Hospital run for the most part by students) was very kind, considerate, and above all professional.

After the initial claim, you wait what could be up to 90 days now.  Use to be a lot longer for the initial determination of percentage of disability.  Often times you get that determination too late to have time to sufficiently appeal it as you’re offered the chance (V.A. uses USPS for their delivery method) to.  Worse yet, the Veteran’s Administration only allows you 90 days to appeal when they often take longer than that to mail you your determination of benefits.  Not to mention that it’s 90 days from date of determination and you don’t know till 30 or more days go by because the V.A. bulk mails (likely 3rd class) for cheaper rates.  Surprisingly Uncle Sam does pay for his postage when it should be free.  Tax payer money goes to support the USPS (more on that later).

Ok,  you get your determination in the mail.  You get your 90 days to appeal.  So what.  Well, what if you move within the time of initial claim to the time you’re mailed the determination and notice of possible appeal.  I did move.  I lost my job in San Diego and was forced to move back to Michigan to live due to cost of living.  I never got my original paperwork.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who had this happen though I probably didn’t help it by not giving any forwarding address.  My guess is that fully 10% of all veteran’s go through what I do.  This results in more delays.

Now the sad part.  It is the responsibility of the veteran to prove someone who doesn’t even have a medical degree wrong on the determination of benefits.  Yes, you WILL have to pay to get the appeal process accomplished.  Both in time and quite possibly many dollars.  Every time you appeal, they may or may not come up with the figure you want.  To put it more generally, if you want 100% disability, you may be in for years and years of appeals while fat cat bureaucrats continue to get fatter eating the dollars that should go to the veteran.  Most of those bureaucrats are not even of the medical field and they are the ones determining the veteran’s disability compensation levels.

Oh there are organizations that are set up to help the veteran’s.  Some you’ve even heard of like The American Legion, Disabled American Veteran’s (DAV), and others who sit in an office on government property that are suppose to help out the new veteran.  Most of these groups want your money as a “member” to help you out.  What they don’t tell you is how much the membership costs.  That’s right folks.  If you’re not a member don’t expect help with your appeals.  Some of these organizations charge almost $1000 for a lifetime membership.  With that money they to get into the bureaucratic snafu (you all know the meaning of that acronym), spend money elsewhere instead of helping their fellow veterans.  Same tune as anywhere else.  Just another con job.

Last but not least, this appeal process continues on till you either give up or settle up.  It can take years appealing not to mention money and time.  Money for outside doctors or time chasing paperwork.  Sometimes it’s just faster and easier to sue the federal government.  Yes, I said sue.  You can actually sue the federal government as a veteran.  You can’t as a active duty member.  How do I know this.  A Vietnam veteran whom I’m friends with and who will remain nameless sued the government and settled for $1.2M.  Only issue with this method is you only get that money once and no more money afterwards.  It’s your choice.  You can fight via the appeals and eventually tire of it and settle for what the bureaucrats give you or you can sue and get a one time payment that still won’t be what you want since you’ll have to split that with the lawyers.

This is just a for warning about the headaches that begin with the Veteran’s Administration bureaucrats.  It continues even as you use the system other than for your disability.  This will come in the next installment.


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