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Processing Of Claims Targeted For Extra Personnel


LarryJ

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  • HadIt.com Elder

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 14, 2010

Secretary Shinseki Announces Staffing Boost with Recovery Act Funds

Processing of Claims Targeted for Extra Personnel

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is putting Americans to work with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, while bolstering staffing at VA benefits offices where Veterans' claims are processed.

“Our hiring has put about approximately 2,300 people in jobs at these important local offices where staffs are working hard to process claims for eligible Veterans and their family members,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

The new hires do not directly decide Veterans claims, but they are involved in general office administrative work supporting the professional adjudicators making compensation or pension decisions or processing changes in Veterans benefits. This frees the more highly trained personnel to spend more time on their core activities.

VA expects the additional staffing will reduce the time it takes VA to process claims, meaning Veterans will receive benefits more quickly than they would otherwise.

The Recovery Act provided $150 million for the program to hire and train the new staffers. VA has hired 500 new staff members as permanent employees. While Recovery Act funding for the temporary employees will expire in September 2010, the 2011 President's budget includes funds to retain or replace these employees on a permanent basis and to hire more than 2,000 additional new processors.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 14, 2010

Secretary Shinseki Announces Staffing Boost with Recovery Act Funds

Processing of Claims Targeted for Extra Personnel

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is putting Americans to work with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, while bolstering staffing at VA benefits offices where Veterans' claims are processed.

"Our hiring has put about approximately 2,300 people in jobs at these important local offices where staffs are working hard to process claims for eligible Veterans and their family members," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

The new hires do not directly decide Veterans claims, but they are involved in general office administrative work supporting the professional adjudicators making compensation or pension decisions or processing changes in Veterans benefits. This frees the more highly trained personnel to spend more time on their core activities.

VA expects the additional staffing will reduce the time it takes VA to process claims, meaning Veterans will receive benefits more quickly than they would otherwise.

The Recovery Act provided $150 million for the program to hire and train the new staffers. VA has hired 500 new staff members as permanent employees. While Recovery Act funding for the temporary employees will expire in September 2010, the 2011 President's budget includes funds to retain or replace these employees on a permanent basis and to hire more than 2,000 additional new processors.

This is all great and dandy, but what evidence do we have that any of these new 2,000+ processors have the academic let alone intellectual capacity (e.g. attention to detail, ability to interpret the law and medical reports properly, to be fair, unbiased and impartial, etc.) to process veterans claims in a timely and efficient manner?

We don't...

This is all a "dog an pony" show.

T.S.

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  • Content Curator/HadIt.com Elder

That is a lot of money to pay noobs to toss mail and fetch coffee

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 14, 2010

Secretary Shinseki Announces Staffing Boost with Recovery Act Funds

Processing of Claims Targeted for Extra Personnel

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is putting Americans to work with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, while bolstering staffing at VA benefits offices where Veterans' claims are processed.

"Our hiring has put about approximately 2,300 people in jobs at these important local offices where staffs are working hard to process claims for eligible Veterans and their family members," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

The new hires do not directly decide Veterans claims, but they are involved in general office administrative work supporting the professional adjudicators making compensation or pension decisions or processing changes in Veterans benefits. This frees the more highly trained personnel to spend more time on their core activities.

VA expects the additional staffing will reduce the time it takes VA to process claims, meaning Veterans will receive benefits more quickly than they would otherwise.

The Recovery Act provided $150 million for the program to hire and train the new staffers. VA has hired 500 new staff members as permanent employees. While Recovery Act funding for the temporary employees will expire in September 2010, the 2011 President's budget includes funds to retain or replace these employees on a permanent basis and to hire more than 2,000 additional new processors.

Just what the VARO needs clerks for the staff. What next personal assistants. On a more serious note, if it helps as intended than great.

Bergie

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  • HadIt.com Elder

They need people to save their places in the coffee shop for the rush hours between 9 to 5

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I have been studying vet's regs etc since I ordered the very first VBM in 1991.

I still learn a lot here all the time.It takes Years to understand VA 101.

While this sounds like a good idea- we are still suffering from the work of RO newbys who were hired about 2-3 years ago in order to resolve the backlog.I had to have them CUE 3 awards letters this year before they got it right-

Almost right-they still made errors in it that I will have to challenge.

The new AO presumptives claims -while adding to the RO case load -should be very easy to resolve as far as determining eligbility for SC. It is the retro that these newbys might mess up.

I think it is imperative whether your claim gets to a newby or to a well seasoned RO rater- that you comply with the VCAA letter ASAP and if you have strong feeling that only an IMO could resolve your claim-it is something to consider obtaining right from the git go.

In BVA remands, many have obvious gaps of evidence needed -that the claimant could have provided themselves.

As the BVA has said the claims process is a two way street.

There are denials and remands there at the BVA that could have been resolved much sooner if the vet had been proactive or had representation that supported getting the evidence in ASAP.

I wish these new hires at the ROs were Lawyers.That would be too costly for VA but it would be a vast improvement in the claims process.

Edited by Berta
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  • Content Curator/HadIt.com Elder

I nominate Berta to replace Shinseki

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  • HadIt.com Elder
I nominate Berta to replace Shinseki

I'm sorry, a little off-subject (well, okay, a lot off-subject), but I just got through reading your Picture. That is hilarious! Ah, fer the good-old-days, when we ate lotsa lard, smoked Camels and drove 80 mph on bald tires! YIIIPPPPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

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If anyone had any doubts about the new guy being a politician 'FIRST', this seals the deal.

Smoke and mirrors and more payroll padding will only serve to

slow it down even more.

Using the older troops to train the new troops will only perpetuate what we have been fighting.

A complete disregard for accuracy and quality.

sledge

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There are denials and remands there at the BVA that could have been resolved much sooner if the vet had been proactive or had representation that supported getting the evidence in ASAP.

I wish these new hires at the ROs were Lawyers.That would be too costly for VA but it would be a vast improvement in the claims process.

Because of the VCAA the veteran doesn't need to be proactive (though they still should), because with the VCAA the veteran only has to sign a release form for the VA to do all that proactive work for the veteran.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with you; the veteran SHOULD be more proactive in developing their claim...most veterans (especially today's new veterans) don't know any better and become frustrated at the process and give up or settle for what little rating(s) they get.

I also agree that a few more legally trained individuals (even paralegals) would be best for the VA in improving the claims process. They would have far more attention to detail, better writing skills (the way some of the decisions I've received and read of others just astounds me with all the grammatical errors contain therein coming from a government agency), and far more advanced analytical skills over the current staffing.

For example, I recently filed a new claim and was rated 20% for it in March. I just got a letter last week from the VA telling me they're still working on that claim. :) I was already granted a rating for that condition last month and this month they're telling me they're still working on it!?! LACK OF ATTENTION TO DETAIL! I mean really, does one hand know what the other hand is doing with this person who worked (well apparently still working) my claim that was already approved?

On top of that, they wanted me to sign the release form and provide evidence in support of my increase claim for my degenerative disc disease. I already did all that in January 2010, in addition to providing copies of the MRI results reflecting 3 herniated discs; and now they're asking for it again! LACK OF ATTENTION TO DETAIL!!!

Bottom line, there are far too few bright bulbs at the VABA and too many floaters (i.e. people doing as little as possible, chatting it up at the water cooler on how bad they have it in life with their work load, and leaves at 4:59 pm collecting their fat government paycheck waiting to retire)...which is why the VA needs to hire people with an academic and/or professional background in the law (e.g. paralegal, lawyer) and medicine (e.g. medical intern, doctor, RN, etc.) in order to more accurately interpet the law, medical reports and apply both in coming to a rational decision on veterans claims.

Until then, no matter how many people the VA claims to be hiring to help with the backlog...if they don't have the intellectual fortitude to improve that process than it's all smoke and mirrors, or window dressing to the underlining problem.

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All these RO claims examiners do is try to match the evidence they have with their understanding of the regulations that award or deny compensation. How do you think they will come down in a case where there is doubt about the amount of compensation to award. It is always safer to award less rather than more. You don't get yelled at if you make ten awards of 10% than if you make ten awards of 100%. We know that someone decides just how many 100% awards are going to be granted. I would like to be in meetings where this sort of unstated quota is discussed. It must filer down to the new hires that when in doubt either deny or low ball. I just don't know how a new hire can really make a rating on a complicated issue. I figure they just deny it and let the Vet appeal. They are supposed to make a certain number of ratings every day like a quota.

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  • HadIt.com Elder
All these RO claims examiners do is try to match the evidence they have with their understanding of the regulations that award or deny compensation. How do you think they will come down in a case where there is doubt about the amount of compensation to award. It is always safer to award less rather than more. You don't get yelled at if you make ten awards of 10% than if you make ten awards of 100%. We know that someone decides just how many 100% awards are going to be granted. I would like to be in meetings where this sort of unstated quota is discussed. It must filer down to the new hires that when in doubt either deny or low ball. I just don't know how a new hire can really make a rating on a complicated issue. I figure they just deny it and let the Vet appeal. They are supposed to make a certain number of ratings every day like a quota.

Repeat:

"The new hires do not directly decide Veterans claims, but they are involved in general office administrative work supporting the professional adjudicators making compensation or pension decisions or processing changes in Veterans benefits. This frees the more highly trained personnel to spend more time on their core activities."

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All these RO claims examiners do is try to match the evidence they have with their understanding of the regulations...

Anyone can read something and think they know what it means...but if you lack the understanding of the material and/or the academic training to put that which you read into its proper context, you're more often than not going to get it wrong. In other words, that is why we have lawyers and judges who are properly trained to interpret the law when making and deciding legal cases.

VA Claims analysts, DROs, etc. lack specific legal and medical training that would give them the ability to properly read and interpret the regulations in juxtaposition with the medical diagnosis given in order to make an informed rating decision. That's why the vast majority of initial claims are first denied, and denied again to the point where a veteran is forced to use every step in the process. File claim, NOD, DRO request, NOD again then appeal, and then appeal to BVA.

I know this because I saw it when I was a work study in my local RO. They hired people with degrees in anything but the law or medicine, it was just the fact that they had a college degree. Some of the people I saw hired used to work in the file room and I got to know them, and let me tell you for a fact that they were not and still are not qualified to be claims assistance let alone analysts, or in any other position to either influence or make a rating decision.

Additionally, as a veteran (one who has a paralegal and criminal justice degree, academically and professionally equipped to properly interpret the law) who has filed claims for over 15 years - myself and as of late assisting another veteran - I still see the same lack of attention to detail, the same improper application of regulations resulting in an irrational basis for their denial, extremely bad grammar and lack of syntax that only serves to confuse the veteran they are writing to, and one fabrication after another fallaciously denying objective medical and lay evidence.

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Vync- if I had his job I put kick people out of the ROs so fast their heads would spin- and then I would hire lawyers versed in VA case law to place them. For every 10 raters and DROs who dont have a clue- one good lawyer replacing every ten VA claims employees could do the job better and faster by replacing them.

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Before I started to read about VA rules and regs I believed that doctors decided claims based on the evidence. I did not understand that clerks are the ones making decisions that mean life or death to some vet. I have had numerous decisions come back that neither me nor my doctor could understand. The decisions contradicted themselves and appeared to be written by a 8 year old. I think it is just a numbers game. If the VA can show X number of claims moved to the next step that is success. I believe they do not even keep statistics on how many claims are approved and how many denied. They tell us that they do not know the percentage of claims approved out of all claims filed. How can that be? That is fundamental to know this. They probably do know the number but they don't release it.

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VA'S WACO REGIONAL OFFICE FAILS VAOIG AUDIT

VA's Inspector General found 36% of veterans' claims were processed incorrectly and uncovered many other problems.

http://www.vawatchdog.org/10/nf10/nfapr10/nf041710-1.htm

...along with the high error rate we have the usual problems found at almost all ROs ... incorrect dates of claims ... personal information not safeguarded ... mail not handled properly ... and on and on.

Again we have the three "lacks" ...

1. Lack of training.

2. Lack of oversight.

3. Lack of accountability.

What's #1 on that list!?!?!

It's been the same problem since day one, and that is systemic from no one being qualified to adequately train people to properly read, interpret, and/or understand not only the regulations, but also in juxtaposing them with the medical data gleaned from C&P examinations and other submitted medical reports from outside the VA.

T.S.

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