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Veterans Groups Launch VA Lawsuit, Claim Changes Just Make Things Worse

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Washington, DCA VA disability benefits lawsuit filed by two prominent veterans groups is trying to make the point that changes to the process by which veterans can apply for benefits have actually made it harder for veterans to apply, rather than easier. What’s more, it is alleged the process now takes longer and serves to further deny veterans the benefits they need and deserve.

The VA lawsuit targets changes to the final rule, coming into effect this past March and undertaken by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The gist of the change has been to eliminate an informal claims process, which had been observed for some years, allowing qualifying veterans to apply for benefits by way of any written communication, including an informal letter. Such a letter or informal written application for benefits was recognized in the past as a qualifying notice to inform the VA of the veteran’s intent to file a formal application for benefits within the year.

No longer. As of March 24 of this year, informal letters of intent are no longer accepted. Instead, standard forms are required to signal intent to apply for disabled veteran’s benefits. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit - Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Disabled American Veterans (DAV) - hold that the change serves to benefit the VA and is unfriendly to veterans, delaying the effective date of the claim and denying compensation to vets.

“The VFW doesn’t oppose the use of standardized forms,” said William L. Bradshaw, VFW director of the National Veterans Service, which assists veterans in filing VA claims. “Our opposition is to this all-or-nothing approach that VA is forcing on veterans - changes, that if left in place, will guarantee in this year alone that tens of thousands of service-connected wounded, ill and injured veterans will be denied benefits they were entitled to before the change.”

The national service director of the DAV echoes those sentiments.
“The new policy is both inflexible and unsupportive for veterans,” says Jim Marszalek.
“Some veterans may be physically, mentally or financially unable to access the correct forms and VA is not providing a reasonable accommodation.”

Veterans and their families for years have been complaining about the delays often experienced in securing deserved and much-needed VA disability benefits. While the VA of late has been trumpeting a trend that has seen the backlog of applications steadily reduced, a backlog remains nonetheless. Advocates for veterans opine that the change doesn’t help speed things up. If anything, it will slow the process down.

In fact, the plaintiffs in the VA benefits lawsuit suggest that the VA, in bringing in the change, is in violation of the informality and care of the VA system mandated by the Supreme Court in 2011’s decision in Henderson v. Shinseki and goes against the Legislature’s intent to create a “beneficial and non-adversarial system of veteran’s benefits.

“Congress’ intent for the VA was to create a system that would ‘fully and sympathetically develop the veteran’s claim to its optimum before deciding on its merits,’ and that is clearly not the case with this new policy,” Marszalek said.

The Veterans benefits lawsuit was filed in May. The case is Disabled American Veterans et al. v. US Department of Veterans Affairs, case number 15-7081, in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
I believe and agree with you because it is the newer generation of doctors and nurses who feel they have a moral imperative and license to impose today's standards to yesterdays injury/ailment or wound. I see this movement as empire building and fear run amuk.

Posted by

on
I have a Dr. that was a cardiologist and is now a primary care provider.
He has consistently wrote false notes in my chart. Says patient declined on things I do not even recall talking about.
Has no idea what the meaning of Pain Management. I tell him I am in more back pain and I refer myself out to a Spine Clinic and they take x-rays and my back is out 35 degrees now. I had previously volunteered to reduce my pain medication awhile back and now I need it increased and he will not budge. I could go on and on. He seems to have a knack of screwing things up constantly. I was a CSM in the Army and have over 40 years of service and this guy treats me like I am a kid. I tell them that the way they operate - it is a no wonder that people go postal. I have had it with this Dr. and I will do whatever it takes to get him relieved of duty. He is incompetent. He has not referred me out for any tests at all. I am my own Dr. basically. If he would read the pamphlet that the VA published on the use of Opiods and pain management he would have a clue what I am going through. He might even learn something. I keep getting told people are dropping dead from hydromorphone and I am telling the VA that something has changed in the formula or they changed companies and they do not think it important enough to investigate. What crap are they handing out? They have no clue. Do I need to get an Independent lab to analyze what they are giving me and let them know?

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