Blog Archives

More Lawsuits Filed Against VA Over New Claims System

In a lawsuit filed this week with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans say that a new claims system the VA adopted in March "severely undercuts the non-adversarial, pro-veteran principles upon which the veterans' benefits system was built. In particular, the VA alters decades-long pro-veterans practices under the guise of creating efficiencies within the VA." Historically, any form of written communication to the VA by a veteran served notice that the veteran...

Mental Health Care for Veterans

Veterans eligible for VA medical care may apply for general mental health treatment including specialty services such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse treatment. Contact the nearest VA health care facility to apply. VA's Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program entitles the designated Family Caregiver access to mental health. These services may be offered at the VA and/or contracted agencies. General Caregivers (of all era Veterans) can receive counseling and other services when necessary...

Locked in a VA Clinic…Talk About Long Wait Times

"Never leave anyone behind" is a mantra members of the military know very well. Unfortunately, it doesn't always get applied, as was evidenced when a veteran was left locked in a waiting room in a VA hospital on Monday. Jeff Duck, a Marine Corps veteran, went to the VA Outpatient Clinic in Volusia County, Florida, to see a doctor about getting a medication refilled. He was sent to a waiting room where he waited...and waited...and waited... After an exceedingly long wait and with no one else in the waiting room with him,...

Prosthetic and Sensory Aids for Veterans

Veterans receiving VA care for any condition may receive VA prosthetic appliances, equipment and services, such as home respiratory therapy, artificial limbs, orthopedic braces and therapeutic shoes, wheelchairs, powered mobility, crutches, canes, walkers, special aids, appliances, optical and electronic devices for visual impairment and other durable medical equipment and supplies. Veterans who are approved for a guide or service dog may also receive service dog benefits including veterinary care and equipment. VA medical...

Filing a Claim for Non-VA Care

The VA may authorize veterans to receive care at a non-VA health care facility when the needed services are not available at the VA health care facility, or when the veteran is unable to travel the distance to the VA health care facility, or in the case of an emergency. Non-VA care must be authorized by VA in advance. Veterans may also obtain services not covered in the benefits package through private health care providers at their own expense. In limited circumstances, VA may authorize payment for health care services...

Agent Orange Registry Health Exam for Veterans

The VA's Agent Orange Registry health exam alerts veterans to possible long-term health problems that may be related to Agent Orange exposure during their military service. The registry data helps VA understand and respond to these health problems more effectively. Contact your local VA Environmental Health Coordinator about getting an Agent Orange Registry health exam. About the Agent Orange Registry Health Exam This comprehensive health exam includes an exposure history, medical history, physical exam, and any tests...

VA Bereavement Counseling

VA Vet Centers provide bereavement counseling to all family members including spouses, children, parents, and siblings of Servicemembers who die while on active duty. This includes federally activated members of the National Guard and reserve components. Bereavement services may be accessed by calling (202) 461-6530. Bereavement Counseling related to Veterans: Bereavement counseling is available through any Veterans Health Administration medical center to immediate family members of Veterans who die unexpectedly or while...

Financial Assessment to Receive VA Disability Benefits

Most veterans not receiving VA disability compensation or pension payments must provide information on their gross annual household income and net worth to determine whether they are below the annually adjusted financial thresholds. VA is currently not enrolling new applicants who decline to provide financial information unless they have a special eligibility factor exempting them from disclosure. VA's income thresholds are located on its website.  This financial assessment includes all household income and net worth,...

Veterans Group Provides Free Legal Representation to Fight VA Denials

If you have had a benefits claim appeal wrongly rejected by the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA), the highest administrative review authority within the VA, the next step gets much trickier. That’s because in order to appeal a BVA decision, you have to exit the VA and take it to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. If you didn’t have legal representation so far in your dealings with the VA, that might be a reason why you lost. But of course, not everyone can afford an attorney. The less able you are to afford...

In Fight Against Backlog, VA Shows Signs of Progress

The Department of Veterans Affairs is finally starting to show signs of progress in reducing the stubborn backlog of claims pending for 125 days or more. At the beginning of July, the VA was reporting a backlog of 536,400 cases. That is still much higher than it was when Eric Shinseki took the Secretary of Veterans Affairs job in 2009. But at least the number is beginning to decline: The VA reported a backlog of 608,000 claims in March. The Secretary has established an ambitious goal of eliminating the backlog by 2015. That...

Former Illinois Guard Adjutant General Introduces New Bill to Speed Veterans Benefits

A new bill in Congress would force the Veterans Administration to provide at least partial compensation to veterans whose claims have been pending at least 125 days. The 125-day mark is significant because that is the average claims processing time the Department of Veterans Affairs projected it would meet by 2015. The bill, dubbed the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act, is sponsored by Representative Bill Enyart (D-Illinois). If it becomes law, The VA would have to pay 40 percent of the projected claim amount until the claim...

Is Your VA Hospital Spying on You?

Is your VA hospital spying on you? Well, maybe. If you’re a patient or visiting family member. In a recent case involving an elderly brain-damaged Korean War veteran, ongoing friction between a Tampa VA hospital staff and the patient’s family led nurses to install an observation camera in a smoke detector in the patient’s room. According to the Veterans Administration’s own internal Inspector General’s report, the staff’s intent was to try to determine who or what seemed to have been sabotaging the patient’s...

Report Blasts VA for Claims Error Rates, Inefficiency

A report by the conservative-leaning National Center for Policy Analysis has blasted the Veterans Administration for chronic inefficiency and poor disability claims processing performance. The Veterans Administration is disputing the findings. The original report, The Veterans Disability System: Problems and Solutions, found that over 6 in 10 denials of claims were found to be erroneous on appeal. This represents a significant amount of total claims, since 31 percent of initial claims are denied. The study’s authors find...

VA’s Ability to Comply with Executive Order Hindered by Its Destructive Whistleblower Policies

On August 31, President Obama issued an executive order calling for improved access to mental health care services for veterans and their families, including additional mental health staff to ensure that all veterans in crisis receive care within 24 hours. However, the American Federation of Government Employees has also issued a statement, calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to tighten their management and end retaliation against whistleblowers in order to ensure that the department can follow through on this important...

Sequestration Details Released

Do you know the amount of funding the Department of Defense will automatically lose on January 2nd, 2013 to the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration? $54.7 billion The personnel accounts (military payroll) and the Department of Veteran Affairs exemption still stand. This is only the first cut that sequestration mandates over a ten year period, adding up to approximately $500 billion in cuts overall to defense. Sequestration is the requirement, by law, to automatically balance the national budget with mandatory...

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