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About Honibe

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    E-3 Seaman
  1. BVA appeal for earlier effective date for IU approved ( 4/2016) after a 10 year wait . We won the appeal for IU, after my Husband was service connected at 100%. The award does give us a few dollars in the bank, but it should have been approved correctly back in 2006 when the original claim was awarded. Glad this wait is over. EED for DMII was denied. So all in all it is good to have this behind us.
  2. VA employees must fill out a form (yearly) with the names and Social Security numbers of any family members who were in the Military. The information is processes by the RO security officer. If any of these relatives have submitted a compensation or pension claim and their file is at the RO where the employee works, the file is assigned a sensitive level and is then routed to a pre-determined alternative RO. This applies to the employee file too, if the VA employee had a claim being worked in the office. If the family member‘s claim is being processed by another office in a different state the file is just changed to a Sensitive file and is left at that RO. Most of these files are Sensitive 6 or Sensitive 7 files, depending on the case and the results from the background checks, etc. of the employee. A file could be sensitive just because a person is related to a VA employee, or their name was included in a VA employee questionnaire /background check.
  3. 3 Ao Presumptives Published ?

    Agreed. And the VA has just opened and hired hundreds of people to man calls and take calls from vets about thier claims. Instead of getting a specific regional office, a veteran now gets a call center. These people are being trained make claims calls and follow-up calls about claims. (yes they are trainees and no they don't know everything). But they can take information and forward to the VSR who is personally handling your claim and they get the messages to the VSR in real time, they can even call the VSR's extension and hook you up if they want to. This is very different than in the old days of even a year ago. For vets who have been denied one of the 3 new presumptive conditions secondary to AO Herbicide exposure, it is very IMPORTANT that they RE-OPEN their denied claims, to get a NEW date of claim. Because, at this point the VA does not intent to go back and contact veterans that have been previously denied for one of these conditions. Yes, they can do this by calling the 800#.
  4. 3 Ao Presumptives Published ?

    Please reference the M21-1MR, for what is accepted and considered an informal claim, and how long the veteran has to provide information, and what would their effective date be for a claim that is initiated over the phone. The reference is M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart ii, Chapter 2, Section D For the record, I never stated this was the best way to open a claim. I posted and I stand by my statement, that a Veteran can initiate a claim or re-open a claim by calling the VA 800#. And according the VA M21-1MR the Veteran has up to one year to provide any information the VA my request , and the date of the original telephone call or informal contact requesting consideration for a claimed condition (even if it is not on the proper form) will be processed with the date of claim being the date the veteran made his initial request.
  5. 3 Ao Presumptives Published ?

    I appreciate your point of view. I'm glad Veterans can pick up a phone and call the VA. I am also glad the process of opening a claim especially for most of these presumptive veterans. These vets who have been denied have already submitted all the evidence and paperwork, to re-open their claim. All they have to do is make a phone call and their AO Herbicide presumptive condition is re-opened waiting in line by the DOC for a rating, when the go ahead is given. A few minutes on the phone and they have a new effective date and a claim ready for a rating. It is simple and it works.
  6. 3 Ao Presumptives Published ?

    There are veterans that do not want to sit down and write a letter. They do not understand the system. The veterans who are a part of the Hadit group or some of the other Veteran's boards are very claims educated and claims savy. And, for those Veterans who can, of course, writing and using the VAF 526 or a VA statement of the case form, is the best and safest way to open a claim. But, it is not the only way to get an inital claim started with an immediate effective date. For example, if you meet someone on the street. You talk with them and learn they are a Veteran with some health issues. Do you tell them they should should file a claim, but they have to fill out VA form 526 and send it registered mail and don't send originals to the VARO, and then tell them to contact a service organization, and then go their private doctor, and etc., etc.? Or, do you just tell the Veteran to call the *800# and open his/her claim, and then give the new guy your phone to call if he needs help. Sometimes we overwhelm people with the process, and the initial step needs to be a simplistic step, to get them started. Your right, I agree with you, your way is the optimal way.... but I also know there is a simple way to start a claim, for those who are worried the claims process might be to difficult for them.
  7. 3 Ao Presumptives Published ?

    This is not meant as an argumentative response. This is only because Veterans need to get their claim open and get an effective date. Opening any claim can be done over the telephone. The Veteran just needs to call the 800# and get the ball rolling and get his or her name and information in the system. The VA is obliged to accept an initial claim, new claim or re-opened claim, by any means the veteran can or is able to provide. A telephone call to the call center. Or a signed and dated request, with the Veterans name and identifiable information, submitted on a piece of scratch paper to the VARO, by mail or in person. All of these are considered a claim. If the VA wants an official form filled out, it is the VA's responsibilty to write a VCAA letter identifying the Veterans claimed conditions, confirming the veterans desire to open a claim. Once the claim is opened the VCAA or the telephone copntact people will do the follow-up on getting whatever forms may or may not be necessary to proceed with the claim. The date of claim is the date the Veteran stated to the VA representative that he has a service related condition and he wants to open a claim for his or her, such-in-such, condtition. Everything at the VA runs by the Date of Claim (DOC).
  8. Ahhh, I got it. Sorry a little slow on the uptake. If that's so, would it be to far fetched? I think not.
  9. I thought anyone who was previously denied regarding one of the new (3) presumptive conditions, would automatically have their denied claimed reconsidered by the VA, when the new regulation took effect. BUT I have been told different... The word on the street is, any Veteran who meets the qualifications for any one or more of the newly added (3) AO presumptive conditions, and who has previously been denied, needs to re-open their claim for re-consideration. I have been told the VA will not be looking at previously denied claims and will not be sending out notices to Veterans telling them about the new (3) presumptive conditions, even to those who have previously been denied. Unless you currently have an open claim or a claim on appeal, you need to contact VA. As soon as possible re-open your previusly deined claim for the specific condition, and state you want it considered secondary to Herbicide exposure. Agreed, it's not right or fair, but that's the scuttlebutt.
  10. 3 Ao Presumptives Published ?

    Vperl, the part if your post printed in blue, I am able to concur with. "the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced his decision to establish presumption of service connection for three additional illnesses (Parkinson's disease, ischemic heart disease, and B cell leukemia) associated with Agent Orange/herbicide exposure in Vietnam. On March 25, 2010, the VA published a proposed regulation in the Federal Register as part of the process to implement the decision to add those three diseases to the list of presumptive conditions related to Agent Orange/herbicide exposure. The final regulation will affect a large number of Vietnam veterans, estimated to be at least 200,000 veterans. "This is an important step forward in ensuring that Vietnam veterans are justly compensated for the adverse effects suffered by exposure to Agent Orange during their service to our country," said Andy Fyffe, superintendent of Fulton County Veterans Assistance Commission, in a press release. Veteran service officers should file presumptive claims now for these conditions without waiting for the completion of the regulation process, the press release from Fyffe added. Filing these claims prior to the publication of the final regulation is important for effective purposes and it also allows VA to start the claims development process (conducting VA examinations, requesting supporting evidence, etc.) to allow for timely adjudication once the final regulation has been published. I have put together just a few steps, not all but a few, that may help with a claim. If you have been diagnosed or you suspect you suffer from one of these presumptive conditions, call the VA 800# or send in a VA Form 21-4138 and open a claim for the condition/illness. Just tell the person on the phone or send in a letter saying "I want to open a claim for ______" and name your illness or suspected presumptive condition, date and sign it. DO NOT WAIT, your future checks once you are SC'd my be entitled to retro pay, get the earliest effective date you can. Since these claims are on hold for rating purposes, you will have plenty of time to gather medical evidense. If you decide to call the 800# I would also follow-up with a VA Form 21-4138 or a letter confirming on such and such a date I call the VA to open a claim for ________. If you have a Power of Attorney with a Service Organization they can open a claim for you also, (make sure you follow-up and they actually do open the claim on your behalf). The sooner you call the earlier your date of claim or effective date. Within 30 days or before, you should receive in the mail a VCAA letter from the VA. If you do not recieve the VCAA letter within 45 days, call the VA 800# and ask, " where's my VCAA letter". The 800# person. WILL NOT KNOW THE ANSWER to your question, but they can put a message into the computer to ask the Veteran Service Representative who has your claim assignment, and this should help speed things up. When you get your letter, the letter should state, "we have receiced your claim for", _______ condition.". (it will list the condition). It will then go on to say, how the VA can help you and how you can help the VA with this claim. It will ask you to provide names and addresses for the doctors or facilities where you have rec'd treatment and will ask you to fill out a VA Form 21-4142 (release of information for your records). Make sure you sign and date them on all places it asks for your signature, but especially on the back-side of the form. One form for each doctor or facility. You may need copies of the form, to get more copies, (google and print From 21-4142 ). Fill out forms for private doctors and for the VAMC and VA clinics where you are treated. For recent military service, veterans need to complete these forms for all in treatment you received at facilities while serving active, inactive and reserve duties. List your unit numbers and address. MOST IMPORTANT, give a date or date range for treatment. No dates they will send the forms back to you to put in dates. (no dates, you might as well add 60 to 70 days to your claim). In most cases, the VA will only try to get your records (2 times). Generally, if they request a second time you will get a letter telling you that they are requesting them a second time. This is YOUR clue to call your "private" doctor and medical facilities and get them to send in your records to the VA or better yet, for you to get your records and send or fax them to the VA. This process can and does slow your claim down by over 3 to 4 months. If there is anyway for you to get your own medical records by all means do so, it will help speed things up. If you are ready for the VA to process your claim, RETURN THE SIGNED VCAA ELECTION RESPONSE NOTICE, and check the box for no more evidense to provide. If you need more time, send in another VA FORM 21-4138 telling them you need more time.( The VA likes forms and forms get attention). When the VA gets the VCAA back and all available medical evidense is in the file, the VA will send a notice for the C & P examination that is needed to the VAMC or contract examination center. Then, the VAMC or Contractors will notify you of your exam date and time. For the presumptive heart condition, it will be a C & P exam for Ischemic Heart Condition related to or due to Herbicide exposure. Each condition will have it's own C & P exam unless the VA has been able to group exams, such as the DMII exam. The VA is big on exams. Once your exam is done, your claim for these presumtive condtions will wait, and wait and wait for the OK from Washington, to process the final claim through the rating process. The three new presumptive consitions are on "hold" until the VA gets the order to go ahead and rate. (Not a good thing for Our Veterans) but the REGIONAL offices cannot process any further than getting them ready to rate. Jost a side note: If this was a regular claim, not A "pending presumptive claim", your claim would be sent to the rater as soon as all medical evidense is received and the examination REPORT is completed by the examining doctor/facility, who ever is doing the exam, is downloaded a the paper copy is placed in your file. Then it is sent to the rater. Hopes this helps. - Honibe
  11. Ms. Van Houten was recently promoted to VACM when Sande Jones (former VACM for Waco), retired. It is said, Ms. Van Houten has a fairly straight forward management style. They say she is a good listener and is a, "play by the rules" and "inforce the rules", type of manager. She is married and her husband has recently returned home from Iraq. He is military, either Nat. Guard or Army. I hear their shouldn't be any breaks in continuity of processing claims, and there are hopes for actually speeding up the processes. A new VACM won't change 38CFR's and M21-1MR "claims processing procedures", but she might put a fire under some butts. However, the Waco RO is currently making some personnel changes. New employee additions and new work or "duty" assignemnts are being incorporated into the RO space. A newly formed claims processing "concept", headed by VA Corporate, for the WACO RO is in the works. Changes have been occuring as of late and will continue for a while. This could initiate some changes in Waco's internal structure and processing center, but not how a specific claim is processed. The M21-1MR, will remain the "Holy Grail". Hope this helps.- Honibe
  12. There seems to be a lot of speculation about VA and the computer programs they use. I would like to share the following information. For claims development the VA uses a variety of programs. These programs over the years have been intertwined or "programmed" to work with one another, kind of like stacking blocks. Here is some background info that might be of interest. C-Folder numbers are usually the Veteran's Social Security Number. However, for those veterans who filed their claim using their service number (very old claims), VA continues to use their service number not their SS#. In 2006 or so, the VA started doing a conversion called, the "VETSNET conversion". No surprise there. During this conversion time the VA paid benefits and worked claims out of TWO "sort of separate systems" of programs, BDN and VETSNET. As the VA received NEW claims they would be entered into VETSNET. The initial data entry is done in a program called "SHARE". Over the past few years the VA had been doing "major" conversions of thousands of files at a time, and with the exception of "problem" cases, the VETSNET conversion is mostly complete. VETSNET is just how it sounds. It is a network of different programs. VETSNET is the "system name", no one talks about VETSNET by name, they reference or talk about the "individual programs" that make up VETSNET, (which are many). All new claims since about 2007 are in the new system , and the older cases where the Veteran still receives benefits or payments, have mostly been converted. New employees are being trained in using the NEW system of programs and not the old BDN. Converted does not mean all your paperwork, or letters are accessible. If it is something prior to 2007 they may need to pull the paper file to answer your question, if it is a complex matter. The two systems at once, combined with the ongoing conversion process, may explain why there were so many veterans getting conflicting information. During the conversion process it was difficult to figure out what system was being updated. Especially if you were on a development team for a new issue but awards that are processed by a Post team were being prosessed in the old system. With the completion of this conversion I do think the information stream will continue to improve for the better with a bit more time. Hope this is of interest- :D Honibe