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Berta

Office Of Survivors Assistance

Question

After this office was established I learned of its existence one day reading the 2009 VBM:

"Welcome to the Office of Survivors Assistance (OSA). We were established within the Department of Veterans

Affairs in December 2008 in accordance with Public Law 110-389.

OSA's main function is intended to be an advisor to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on all

policies, programs, legislative issues and other initiatives affecting survivors and dependents of deceased veterans

and service members. In addition to advising the Secretary, we have assumed the following responsibilities:

  • Monitor the delivery of survivors benefits and services
  • Provide internal policy guidance and oversight of survivors benefits
  • Provide oversight for directed outreach programming to survivors
  • Actively seek information from external stakeholders on survivors issues
  • Track and recommend survivor legislative issues
  • Charter national databases on survivor programs and services
  • Prepare annual and special reports and responses to Congressional inquiries

Although we are not equipped or chartered to be a claims processing organization, we will assist wherever possible

in referring issues to the appropriate VA Department.

As we move forward, we are fully committed to staying in step with the needs of survivors and are prepared to take

on other roles as needed in order to remain a viable advocate for the VA survivor community.

We hope you wll find this site helpful. If you have suggestions about information you'd like to see on the website,

please contact us as OfficeofSurvivors@va.gov.

Jim Hanley

Director"

I referred Freespirit to them today but they are limited to what they can and cannot do- still to have widows/widowers claims monitored in some way might produce enough information to cause the VA to treat us survivors with more respect and more importantly - to treat our claims properly.

They told me they were going to monitor my claim-as they were stunned as to what my situation was-I have had no feedback on that since contacting them but have had letters and calls from OGC who did what they said they would do and my retro award is finally being authorized-9 months after the award letter came.My letters to the RO and faxes to the director for the proper monetary awards had been ignored and since it ionvolved a prior OGC matter, the OGC stepped in.

Maybe they (OSA) make the ROs aware they are monitoring claims that widows or widowers contact them about and through that -maybe the ROs will attempt to do those claims properly.

I dont know -I cant wait until this office publishes an annual report (I assume they would to justify what they do) and this report could reveal how lousy the claims process is for many DIC claimants.

Then again DIC claims need medical evidence,among other things and if these things were requested in the VCAA letter -and not supplied to the VA by the claimant , the OSA cannot alter any denial based on lack of medical evidence or proof of presumption etc.

They cant handle DIC claims but hopefully can ensure the DIC claim is handled properly by the VA and that DIC case law is properly followed in the process.

Getting the evidence rests solely with the DIC claimant and then the VA MUST consider it.

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Thanks for heads up never knew about these guys.

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Gee -I posted:"They told me they were going to monitor my claim-as they were stunned as to what my situation was-I have had no feedback on that since contacting them but have had letters and calls from OGC who did what they said they would do

I double checked my email and they did email me the next day after our contact -that they had contacted the Secretary's office as to my situation.

Ms. Simmons,

We have forwarded your complaint to the Secretary’s Office for a response. We have requested that our Office is copied on the response sent to you.

PK

Linda S. Piquet

Office of Survivors Assistance

(202) 461-7382

So much started to happen with my claim I forgot to even look for an email reply from them.

OSA -The VA Survivors Assistance Office- cannot give specific claim advice.But when they hear of an unusual situation - particularily like mine (withholding of retro because they ignored the AO regs and the FTCA regs in M21-1-)they obvously take action.

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Its a warning to VA that they are being monitored. I think for you its a very good development.

Pete

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Thanks for sharing this. I had no idea they existed. I called the Air Force Survivor Assistance Program when my husband died - but they told me they were swamped and so they could only help survivors of active duty individuals.

It is good to know there is a special unit for survivors at the VA though. It might help the survivors from getting lost in the shuffle of the VA.

Free

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Berta,

I emailed the Office of Survivor's Assistance to request assistance in obtaining the medical opinion that was used to deny my claim. This is the same medical opinion that I have tried to get off and on for 2 years. I only got the first page with the C-file. I sent an IRIS asking for the remainder of the report. They wanted the date of the report, name of doctor etc. - which I didn't have because it was on the portion of the report I didn't get. Then they asked for a copy of the portion I had to help them look for it. (How hard is it to find the medical report they obtained and used to deny the claim?) Anyway, I sent a copy by certified mail. They said they didn't receive it. Run around. Run around. Run around.

Anyway - I emailed the Office of Survivor's Assistance and asked if they could assist me in getting the VA to act on the Privacy Act Request, as I had been unsuccessful in getting the report myself.

They emailed back and said they can't help with such matters, but if I would send them the case number and the RO I was dealing with, they would forward my request to the Consumer Affairs Liaison for assistance.

I emailed the info to them on Jan 19. The RO acted on the request TWO DAYS later (January 21). Sent by Priority Mail - and I got it today. :D

Wow! After two years they moved fast!!!

Thanks for the info!!!

Free

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