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Va Lost My File!


JENNABEAN

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Hi! I just found this forum today and I have been reading the posts for the last few hours but I haven't found a situation quite like mine. I am completley dumbfounded at what the VA is doing to me. I was medically discharged from the Air Force on Jan 16, 2007. I filed my claim before my date of seperation, and it has been on file with the VA since 17 Jan 07. I started calling the VA once a month after I filed my claim and was continuously told my claim would be completed in 6-9 months. Once the 5 month mark hit and I was told my claim had not been STARTED yet, I began losing my patience. I called at least once a week to check on the status and was told something different each time.

About 6 weeks ago, I got my congressman involved, and when I contact his office all I am told is "we've put in an inquiry." Well, that's nice...but it doesn't let me know anything. So today I called the 800 number AGAIN, and I was talking to a woman who had been working in the Nashville office for the last 30 years. She had the nastiest attitude, but she knew her stuff. It turns out my file has not been seen since JANUARY 29th. No one has the file...no one is working on the file...no one knows where the heck the file is! And I have been calling at least once a month for the first 5 months, then once a week after that...and now several times a week...and no one noticed this before today!!!!!!!!!!!!! I started crying my eyes out because I have NO money, and I cannot work. My husband works for the state and he is working a second job at Ruby Tuesdays so we can TRY to make ends meet.

Anyway, I asked the lady what the heck I am supposed to do since no one knows anything about my file....she said that I need to come in to the office and ask them if they can REFILE!! I just don't get it. I NEED that money...I CAN'T work. I have a loose screw in my spine that is eroding away the bones..and depression, and fibromyalgia, and some female stuff on top of that. I have two sons (ages 3 and 4), and I can't even pick the little one up...I can't go out shopping without my walker...I am only 25! Anyway, I am overtired and frustrated and depressed, and I am wondering if I am going to have to wait the 6-9 months all over again when I refile? What can I do about the fact that they lost my file in JANUARY and didn't bother to tell me or ask me to refile.....is there legal action that I can take? Please help me.

Jenna

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I am sorry to hear about your situation and I'm sure the Elders of this forum will be able to assist you.

Just a note about information received via the 800 number-- I once called three times in one day just to see if the information provided was consistent. I received three completely different answers (or non-answer from one of the calls)!

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Monday Morning as early as you can call 800 827 1000 and ask for an inquiry as to where your file is. You might also send in an IRIS Request to cover all the bases. One of the idiots at the VARO has misplaced your C File. If you don't live to far from the VARO you might consider a trip to find out what is going on.

Not knowing where your file is since Jan 29th is unacceptable. I would also call your VSO that is at the VARO and light a fire under them also.

Good Luck

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When you call the 800# Monday- ask them what the COVERS screen says as to the whereabouts of your c file.

Or send them an inquiry via Iris -go to the VA web site and under "COntact US" they will take you step by step on the inquiry form.

Put ATtention Director ----VARO on the inquiry

I think asking Congressmen/women to help at this point is a waste of time- the claim mignt be sitting on the Congressional liason VA person's desk.

If you tell me what VARO this is -I might have the VSMs or the director's phone and fax number and will post this info here.

I suggest you obtain a vet org service rep who has offices in our near this VARO.

The claim could be in process but the 800 people are not reading the correct PC screen.

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My husbands claim file was sent to Maine.... some big mix up, RO said the claim was closed & file was in Maine. We never lived anywhere near Maine (3000 miles away) never saw a Dr in Maine, no reason for it to be sent there.

It had been there for months & we would not have even know if I didn't make him call to check on status of his claim.

We sent letter right away, got a generic reply "sorry for the delay we are working on your claim..etc"

They did get the file back & re-open the claim (if it was ever truely close or just transfer?) But We never did get any explantion for the additional delay & who knows how may service records were lost along the way - there sure are a lot missing!!!

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Do you have proof that you filed the claim? You need to send everything certified mail/return receipt or get hand stamped copies from the VA. If you can prove you filed your claim you can insist on that date being the date you filed and not some future date. I would just insist that they turn over every stone to find my claim application. Like Pete says, the VA has misplaced your file. This happens all the time. It should be on their computer when you call the 800 number that they got your claim.

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Thank you for your replies! Yes, I do have copies of my claim that I filed, and, the VA told me that they recieved my claim on January 17, and it was sent to "claims processing" on January 29th, and nothing has been done on it since then. I did a formal inquiry, and the result of that inqury (2 actually) and they said ... and I quote "file is on search." I was told by 2 different reps that it means they lost my file.

The trouble is that when I got discharged, I went to Georgia to stay with my mom and dad (as I was a single mother to a 2 and 3 year old) for a while until I figured out what I was going to do. So I filed in Georgia, and my file was sent to the Atlanta RO. Then about 3 weeks after I got down there, I decided to move to Tennessee. I called the VA in Feb and told them that I moved to TN, but they said my file would stay in Atlanta. I get the letters saying they are working on my file, but never got a request for information, or a doctors appointment or anything. So according to the people at the RO in Nashville, the file was in Atlanta, and no one in Atlanta knows where it is.....even though I call ALL THE TIME!!!! Why are they not working on my file if I am always calling? Why hasn't anyone noticed until 9 months later that my file has not been seen since I sent it there???

What happens when I refile? I didn't even notify them when I got married in June because I figured that would hold up the process if I did a name change on them. Will I have to wait the 6-9 months again? What do I do as far as my finances during that extra time? My savings has been depleted over the past 10 months and there is no end in sight with these people. Is there some sort of financial help for vets in this situation? How do I make sure they are working on the claim this time when I file? I called all the time with the first claim, and it didn't make anyone work on it....I am so confused!

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JENNABEAN,

"What happens when I refile? I didn't even notify them when I got married in June because I figured that would hold up the process if I did a name change on them. Will I have to wait the 6-9 months again? What do I do as far as my finances during that extra time? My savings has been depleted over the past 10 months and there is no end in sight with these people. Is there some sort of financial help for vets in this situation? How do I make sure they are working on the claim this time when I file? I called all the time with the first claim, and it didn't make anyone work on it....I am so confused!" -- JENNABEAN

I have not read your case details, I am just giving some claims-process-advice here re: a "lost claim" and what to do now, as per the questions you ask above...

I'm still not convinced that your claim REALLY IS lost...just misplaced and in someone's office or on a shelf somewhere, but not actualy lost, i.e, MIA and never to be heard from again...despite what you've been told by assorted VA people of dubious reliability.

But if you can not wait any longer, get someone at the local VA Benefits Office (at your local VAMC, go in-person if there is one in your city) to give you a written statement that they "never received any claim" or that they "can't locate" any such claim (date-stamped of course) and keep it for your records. Then refile your claim, INCLUDING THE VA STATEMENT (a good legible copy should do for now; keep the original) for the record in your "new" claim. But in YOUR statement filing the "new" claim, make it clear that you are filing it because your original claim filed (give date) "appears to be lost" because no one you call at the VA/VARO can find it no matter who you talk to or how many times you call (get people's names if possible along with date/times of calls you make). So consequently, you presently are acting upon the reasonable conclusion that your orignal claim may be lost and rather than waste any further time getting your issues resolved, you are filing THE SAME CLAIM again...in case the original claim is not found later.

[but I have to add, 6-9 months is not really that long re: waiting times for the VA. The "we can't find it" BS is disturbing, but the wait time is par for the course. So if you lose 6-9 months already, re: VA waiting times, it could be a WHOLE LOT worse]

Saying something like this will relate this "new" claim with the "old" original (and "lost") claim and doing so in no uncertain terms, so the VARO later can't say you it's NOT related (if they argue your EED if your original claim DOES show up later). That is, if the original claim IS found eventually. If it NEVER is found -- and you can't PROVE you filed it (no date-stamped submission records of any kind), it's just your word against the VA's and with no proof you even filed, you will have to forget any EED the original claim would have gotten you and just go with the EED the "new" claim filing date will get you.

But in light of your present situation, the EED issue is the least of your worries NOW because you need a claim SUBMITTED and BEING WORKED ON (in line with all the hundreds of other claims also in line, I must add). I'm just saying that you will face the EED issue at some point (we ALL do) down the road, if the orginal claim is found, and it can be shown the VA DID receive it but "lost" it for all this time, you should be able to get a EED set to said ORIGINAL claim, not the "new" claim. It may have to go all the way to the BVA if the VARO still argues this point later on, but you should prevail in the end. If you do NOT have this proof, and the original claim never turns up later, you'll have to write it off.

As for facing finaicial difficulties, lots of vets are in the same boat...that's how it often is and you'll just have to find other means to survive the time period it will take to eventually win (I assume you have a good case and WILL win; as I said, I have not looked into the merits of your claim...but it wouldn't matter much if I had because I am no expert anyway). So financial problems while waitng for a VA decision afflicts thousands of vets almost enough for it t be the rule rather than the exception. You just have to make it somehow. Sorry.

And you can't "make sure" VA employees are working on your new claim -- it goes from place-to-place, person-to-person...slowly...that's also how it is. As I have stated earlier and continue to state, vets filing their first claim need to be emotionally/psychologically prepared for a 3-5 year process UNLESS everything goes right for you from the get-go. Any denials and the time gets longer instantly. If you can't hang in there (persevere) that long, you aren't going to make it. Again sorry, but that's also how it is. Many vets give up early on, or, at the first denial decision.

So I hope you have a date-stamped submission record fo your original claim. If not, still state you are filing THE SAME CLAIM AGAIN in case the original claim shows up later. You either have to have the proof you filed the original or, the claim shows up later to prove it was filed. If neither happens, you truly DO have a new claim now.

Regardless, you have to go on what info you have NOW, so refile....work out the details later...just get it in the pipeline.

Good luck,

-- John D.

Edited by cloudcroft
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I respectfully disagree - I do not think you should re-file.

You said when you called "your file is on search" , so then they know you have a claim & it is still active.

If you re-file - they will still have to track down your current file to get all your Service Records - (once a claim is opened - all your Service Records go to your RO & in your c-file)

(unless you happen to have a complete copy of all your SMC's ?) - otherwise, refilling would not do any good, and just add confusion. Just my opinion.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Jenna:

Refile is really not a good way to start your claim moving especially since you can prove you filed it. You need to get some help from your Service Officer and or the VA to locate your missing claim.

I think you might even want to drop a dime with your local newspaper if things don't move to your satisfaction.

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Disagree with whom? Me?

That's fine, but don't take my last sentence out of context.

I didn't write all the rest of the post for nothing...or did I?

-- John D.

I respectfully disagree - I do not think you should re-file.

You said when you called "your file is on search" , so then they know you have a claim & it is still active.

If you re-file - they will still have to track down your current file to get all your Service Records - (once a claim is opened - all your Service Records go to your RO & in your c-file)

(unless you happen to have a complete copy of all your SMC's ?) - otherwise, refilling would not do any good, and just add confusion. Just my opinion.

Edited by cloudcroft
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I think you might even want to drop a dime with your local newspaper if things don't move to your satisfaction.

Haha, I had that same idea. I wrote them about two weeks ago. I haven't heard back from them, but I am going to write them again now that they told me they "lost" my file.

Cloudcroft: I'm sorry if I struck a nerve with you...kinda seems like I did. The ONLY reason I expected a 6-9 month wait for my claim to be processed is the fact that I was told by VA reps in Nebraska, Georgia, and Tennessee that 6-9 months is what I should expect. So I planned my life accordingly. But seeing as it has been the full 9 months and nothing has been done AT ALL, I am seriously concerned. Now after reading hundreds of the bulletins on this site, I am acutely aware of the time it takes the VA to do anything.

I also do not believe that I am the only vet having money troubles...I asked if anyone knew about assistance programs because I figured MANY of the veterans are in the same boat as me, and someone may know of a program that I am not aware of. My family is doing everything we possibly can to make it through our tough time. My husband is healthy, and he is workng 2 jobs to support my kids and I (and he JUST married me in June.....he is AMAZING for doing that!). I am making scrapbook pages, and selling them online, and trying any and everything to cut back and make ends meet. So I am not just some poor me case sitting on my butt all day doing nothing to help my situation. I simply wanted to know if anyone had the knowledge of some federal or state assistance programs for vets in financial trouble because of the VA taking so long.

My case HAS to be approved, I am not sure if I mentioned this in the first post, but I had a back surgery in 05 at the age of 22, the doc who did it had brain cancer and didn't know it...he died a couple of months after the spinal fusion. Well...I am not sure if that is the cause of this or not, but the bottom left screw in my spine is loose and crooked...and it is eroding away the bone in my spine. On top of that I have fibromyalgia, major depression, TMJ, ovarian cysts that burst and cause painful internal bleeding, and migraines that put me out of comission several times a month. ALL of it is documented in my medical records which I have TWO copies of. Anyway...I am sorry for rambling right now.

As for the rest of the repliers, THANK YOU for your kind words, and your advice. I do have proof that I filed, and the VA tells me that the date of file is 17 Jan...so proving my case is not a problem. Should I really NOT refile like the lady told me? She told me the Nashville VARO would the the claim done MUCH quicker that the Atlanta office which misplaced my file in the first place. And how do I get in contact with a Service Organization...I never heard of them until this site...what exactly do they do for me?

Thank you all again....your comments are MUCH appreciated!!! Just please be nice to me...I am having a hard enough time dealing with my emotions as it is..harsh words are not a help in my situation. :lol:

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Hang in there! You have gotten some good advice here. I would call the 800# and ask the questions Berta said to ask. Also, start keeping a log of what you are doing. Write down every phone call you make and who you speak to and what was said. This will help keep you organized. Also, does TN have Veteran's Service Officers? In Indiana every county has a SO that is paid by the state and their offices are in the county courthouse. Check on that and they may be able to direct you to some financial help. I know you have been told that your elected officials aren't much help and that can be true, but they are elected and things are hot for them right now and helping a Veteran is something they can use on the campaign trail. Or doing nothing can come back to bite them on that trail. Keep after your elected official. Make the staff inquire on your behalf. Have them run any inquiry they are going to send by you and make sure they give you dates of when they are to hear back on the inquiry. That way, you can keep on them to do their job. No, you shouldn't have to do that, but it is needed. Hang in there! Do you belong to a church? Even if you don't find a minister in your area that you can talk to. Don't worry about saying things that you think might offend them, they've heard much worse. This person is someone who will let you get your feelings out without making you feel bad about what you are feeling and you don't have to protect them from your feelings or fears the way we feel we have to protect our love ones from our feelings. This person will know your community also and might be able to help in other areas. Keep us posted here and we are here to help.

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I suggest you call these people until you get a positive documented status of where your claims file is---and if no positive results occur---file a formal letter of complaint and send it by priority mail or fax it to all below:

Thomas O. Sanders VSCM 1-404-929-5721

Stephanie DiBiello AVSMC 1-404-929-5497

Altanta VARO (I have no listing for their Director)

and

Brian Corley Director

Nashville Tenn. 1-615-695-6000

Fax 1-615-695-6002

Jerry Mitchell VSCM -1-615-736-5237 Nashville RO

Cory Hawthorne AVSCM 1-615-695-6101 Nashville RO

Travis Kraft AVSCM 1-615- 695-6032 Nashville RO

And CC the letter to Acting Secretary VA-Gordon Mansfield in VACO Washington DC.

My philosophy is- in order to get people to take their thumbs out of their rectums-it often takes putting a big foot up their read ends.

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Thank you for your replies! Yes, I do have copies of my claim that I filed, and, the VA told me that they recieved my claim on January 17, and it was sent to "claims processing" on January 29th, and nothing has been done on it since then. I did a formal inquiry, and the result of that inqury (2 actually) and they said ... and I quote "file is on search." I was told by 2 different reps that it means they lost my file.

The trouble is that when I got discharged, I went to Georgia to stay with my mom and dad (as I was a single mother to a 2 and 3 year old) for a while until I figured out what I was going to do. So I filed in Georgia, and my file was sent to the Atlanta RO. Then about 3 weeks after I got down there, I decided to move to Tennessee. I called the VA in Feb and told them that I moved to TN, but they said my file would stay in Atlanta. I get the letters saying they are working on my file, but never got a request for information, or a doctors appointment or anything. So according to the people at the RO in Nashville, the file was in Atlanta, and no one in Atlanta knows where it is.....even though I call ALL THE TIME!!!! Why are they not working on my file if I am always calling? Why hasn't anyone noticed until 9 months later that my file has not been seen since I sent it there???

What happens when I refile? I didn't even notify them when I got married in June because I figured that would hold up the process if I did a name change on them. Will I have to wait the 6-9 months again? What do I do as far as my finances during that extra time? My savings has been depleted over the past 10 months and there is no end in sight with these people. Is there some sort of financial help for vets in this situation? How do I make sure they are working on the claim this time when I file? I called all the time with the first claim, and it didn't make anyone work on it....I am so confused!

sweetie set back and relax, take a deep breath. I am gonna give you some advice. The VA doesnt give a dam about you, your finances or anything else. The only way your gonna get your claim expediten is if you are a oef/oif vet and were in country. I was or am a oef and oif vet as well as allot of other conflicts, but if you think your a OEF/OIF Vet check out this link.

If you think you fall into that category go to the VA Hospital find out who their OEI/OIF Coordinator is and talk to them, I did and was told to politley get screwed because I never put a boot in the sand.

I have had congressman get involved, filed a VAOIG complaint, member of a class action lawsuit against the VA, and am looking for a ambulance chasing malpractice attorney to sue a doctor who assulted me while

I was a inpatient in a pysch unit. I got the police report, I got a chaplain as a witness, a call to the city police and on a 911 recording when I called. I hate what they did to me. I couldnt work, couldnt pay my bills, filed bankruptcy and am trying like hell to recover some what from that. Became homicidal and suicidal. I hate to be the one to tell you the truth but no one besides us here at hadit, those that are in our shoes or have been in them dont give a dam about you.

I wish I could pat you on the back and tel you its gonna be okm but its not gonna be ok its gonna be a fight, your gonna want to give up, but dont FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

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JENNABEAN,

If you think I was using "harsh words" and my response was not helpful, then just disregard it. What do I know anyway. I also will refrain from responding to your posts further so there is no future misunderstandings or confusion.

I'm not here to hassle other vets, but I AM here to tell it like it is, and any of us vets here who have been through the claims process -- whether the claim was won or lost -- can do that if he/she wants to. And believe it or not, I DO try to be civil: If I really were using "harsh words," you'd definitely see the difference.

And posts that are not of the "warm and fuzzy" variety can be just as helpful as posts that are. I usually tell people what I believe to be reality, which may or may not be what they want to hear. That does not make me "harsh" or unhelpful but in this case, since it's YOUR thread, YOU are the judge of that.

Sorry for any minunderstanding.

Good luck,

-- John D.

Edited by cloudcroft
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Jennabean - John was just simply giving you some straight forward insight along with some encouragement by telling you to grab a hold and find something to occupy your time before you let this run you crazy like it has most of us.

I did not see any remarks that would indicate you are lazy or not trying, nor any remarks bad about your better half. Simply some encouragement.....

Now hang in there and fight like hell. It will all work out in the end.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Just my thoughts but what's this money you need and are expecting from the VA??? Were you medically retired and discharged or just medically discharged? Sounds like you'd be 100% disabled. One gives you a pension w/Tricare and the other requires the VA to approve your disability(s) for compension. If retired w/a check, the VA will offset any amount by first recovering what you've been paid, previously, from any compensation awarded.

pr

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OMG!!! I am getting nowhere with these people! I called the 1-800 number...to check the answer to the inquiries I had put in. I was told the inquiry says "file is on search." And, I was transferred to the Atlanta office for them to tell me where it is. Well the ever so bright Ms. Rendor...told me she would "check wit the persons who done did dat" to see about the inquiry. Well after a 30 minute phone converstaion with her, she told me that my file is not lost...they just don't know where it is! HAHA! I laughed so hard. I said " Ma'am, if you don't know where it is....then IT IS LOST!" But she ASSURED me it was not lost because it was "in the building" its just that no one has seen it since January 29th. Well I told her that if my car keys were somehwere in my home, but I didn't know where they were in my home, then they were LOST until I could find them and get into my car. She said that she "understood" and she would connect me with her "coach." Well convienently the "coach" was not there and I was connected to her voicemail. It just so happens that this coach is the very same woman I left 5 messages for in August and she NEVER returned my call. When I FINALLY got ahold of her in Aug, it was because she actually answered her phone after I had been calling for weeks. Anyway, needless to say, she hasn't returned my call. And in August she ASSURED me she would find my file and have it sent to the Nashville office....yeah, that never happened.

So I called director at the Nashville VARO...since Berta was nice enough to give me that number. Well, the receptionist would not let me talk to the director. She told me she would connect me with the people in the call center to check on my file. I told her that it was NOT okay to do that...and that the Nashville call center AND the Atlanta call center had no idea where my file was...and that it was VERY important that I talk to the director. Well...she still wouldn't let me talk to him and she tired to connect me to the "supervisor" of the phone center, but he didn't answer the phone so she took a message as well and said he would call me back. I am not holding my breath.

I called every other number Berta gave me, and no one was "available" to talk to me. So again, I called my congressman's office, and the guy I had left messages for last week was in a meeting and I had to leave another message. So , God only knows what is going to happen. NO ONE IS RETURNING MY CALLS....and NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING about my file, where it is, or anything! I am so freaking frustrated!

What now?

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Jenna:

I know its frustrating but keep calling. I did not see anything about using a Veteran Service Officer. You need to talk to one who is at the VARO to help. It is probably on someones desk misplaced under other files.

I was not clear on if you have an Inquiry or not. The VA is required to respond within 10 days either by phone or in writing to an inquiry for a lost claim.

Good Luck

Don't give up.

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You know, not five minutes after that last post,the supervisor from the Nashville phone center called. He was not saying anything too promising, but during my call with him, the congressman's office called! Talk about crazy. Maybe they read my post hahaa. j/k.

Anyway, the congressman tried to tell me that he STILL hasn't heard from Atlanta since the first inquiry he put in on Oct 3, and that if he hadn't heard from them by Friday, he would take further action. I wouldn't take that for an answer. I told him again that they LOST MY FILE. He had me reiterate the whole story, and so I guess he felt bad for me (thank GOD), and he put me on hold and called the Atl congressional liason...for the 4th time. She actually answered this time! After 20 or so minutes she told him that she would physically go look for the file, and yes it had been "missing" since Jan 29th. She said if she can't find it then they will turn the search over to someone at the Atl VARO that specifically looks for lost files.

So according to the congressman's office, there has now officially been a congressional request to find my file. He said in best case scenario someone would find my file, they would feel guilty that nothing has been done since I filed it over 9 months ago, and get it moving through the system. But there is a big chance, that this will not happen. He would not tell me what I would have to do if the file can't be found, and how I would ensure it get done. But PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE!!!!! I think.

Should I still get a Service Organization to help with this? I have no idea how to contact them, or what they even do. Since things are looking up, am I better off continuing to do this on my own? When I was looking through my paperwork this weekend, I found a power of attorney I gave to the Macon Georgia VA guys to give them authority to contact the VA. How do I negate that POA? They obviously didn't do anything.

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  • Most Common VA Disabilities Claimed for Compensation:   

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  • VA Watchdog

  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

    employment 2.jpeg

    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

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