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Bva--how Long On Average For A Decision?


EODMOMMY

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I finally got my husband to call the VA to find out the status of his appeal. The lady was shocked, because it is listed as with the Decision Officer and it has been for two years! She didn't want to have it pulled, because you know what happens then, you go down to the bottom of the pile. But she made a note (at least she said she did) in the computer about it.

On average, how long does it take for the BVA to come down with a decision? I finally got a copy of a letter from our primary doctor saying that my husband's condition is chronic and it started while he was on active duty. It was faxed to our State VA Rep. who is suppose to represent us and send this info to Atlanta, but I am not impressed with this guy, he is the second one we have had, neither one ever communicated with us. But I have no idea if they BVA ever received the letter. Would it be wise to send another copy straight to the VA?

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We waited approximately two years from the written request for a Board hearing and the time it actually reached the Board. We waited approximately a month after the Board met before we received the decision in writing. My husband and I do not use a VSO, we do everything ourselves. We started handling things on our own due to circumstances that resemble those you describe.

My opinion is that you should trust your gut feeling about your VSO. At the very least, keep him in the picture for advice if you think what he says has any value, but go ahead and mail your claims documentation via certified mail on your own. You can copy him, but take care of the legwork yourself. You'll know for sure it was done, and you'll have a receipt of delivery.

No one is going to care about or pay as much attention to your claims as you will.

My opinion is that you should send EVERYTHING straight to the VA (and copy your VSO if you want to). If you have new evidence to support your claim, send it in yourself.

I'm a little confused. Did you file your formal request for a Board hearing through your VSO only to discover he didn't send it in? Is your stuff still at the VARO with a DRO for the last two years? Sorry, I'm not clear. If your stuff is at the VARO, send the additional evidence to the VARO. If your stuff is at the Board, send it to the Board and copy your VSO and the VARO.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

I think two years is a good guess. Terry higgins say sooner. I always waited at least two years for an answer from the BVA. I usually got a remand.

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"Would it be wise to send another copy straight to the VA?"

I sure would- I send my vet rep copies but do the actual VARO mailing myself-everything I send goes Priority ot at least with a Proof of Mailing certificate.

I popped into the BVA browser for 2006 the word Remand and 7478 of 9530 appeals came up-

This doesnt mean that they were all remanded recently , but at some point many were remanded in the past-The VCAA ,while giving veterans more chances to succeed- if they get a good VCAA letter telling them what they need-has caused many of these remands because the VA in some cases,probably never sent them one.

I have never gotten a VCAA letter at all-my claims have been at the VARo for over three years.

I read somewhere that a well substantiated claim might not generate a VCAA letter-if they have enough evidence.

I accessed 3 random 2006 decisions that were not remands to get an idea of how long they took-

One appeal from a claim filed in Feb 2002 was denied in April 2006 as the BVA said a NOD had not been filed in a timely manner.

Another was a severance on appeal from a Dec 2002 rating decision that severed comp for HBP, heart disease and atherosclerosis.

The March 2006 BVA decision restored the comp.

The third claim involved a vet who had, since 1988, had filed VA claims with success yet he question the EEDs- he did win an award of much earlier effective date on his PTSD claim.

His additional claims had been remanded by BVA in 2001 and then again in 2004, and then in 2006.

I found claims that were appealed and got BVA decisions in about a year in 2000,2001, 2002 but the VCAA seems to have changed all that.

This 2006 Remand shows you just what I mean:

http://www.va.gov/vetapp06/files1/0601194.txt

It sure ticks me off to see that the veteran was not properly advised under the VCAA- thus this remand was in order.

The BVA is doing the right thing here- but I sure hope this vet can wait it all out.

Has anyone here ever gotten a VCAA letter?

That letter should be specific as to what they need to send to support and prove their claim.

Edited by Berta
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"Would it be wise to send another copy straight to the VA?"

I sure would- I send my vet rep copies but do the actual VARO mailing myself-everything I send goes Priority ot at least with a Proof of Mailing certificate.

I have never gotten a VCAA letter at all-my claims have been at the VARo for over three years.

I read somewhere that a well substantiated claim might not generate a VCAA letter-if they have enough evidence.

It sure ticks me off to see that the veteran was not properly advised under the VCAA- thus this remand was in order.

The BVA is doing the right thing here- but I sure hope this vet can wait it all out.

Has anyone here ever gotten a VCAA letter?

That letter should be specific as to what they need to send to support and prove their claim.

I am going to send the additonal information to the VA Regional Office in Atlanta (where my husband's case is), I always send it certfied mail with a return receipt. Things of this nature, I don't trust them.

The lady that my husband spoke to said they received the VA Form 9. I am the one who did all the filling out of the form and typing up my disagreements to their decisions from our NOD decision. The only reason my husband went to State Veteran's Rep, because he could fax the stuff to Atlanta, we where near the 60 day deadline. But the VA did receive it.

On the VCAA letter, the only time we got any letters was in the beginning. Most where about they where behind on cases and they hadn't forgoten about us!! :) We did get one wanting more infor on the ionizing radiation, but all I could tell them was we didn't have the information, they would have to contact the Public Health Clinic at each base my husband was at and contact Sandia National Labratories. Since then, nothing!! Except to tell us he got a 20% rating and then on our NOD that we where denied. They gave him 10% for his knee and 10% for his shoulder. Actually he should have gotten more for his shoulder, since the orthopedic he saw while on activy duty wanted to do surgery on it again, but she was PCSing and then we where out (medically retired). But my main concern after he was retired was his heart.

The information I have is a letter from our primary doctor who looked over a copy of my husband's military medical records (even though he knew the case, because he was my doctor for most of the years we where stationed here on active duty). It isn't in Nexus format, are they pickey about that?

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"It isn't in Nexus format, are they pickey about that?"

I feel the Nexus factor is the most important factor of most claims.

If the claim is for a secondary condition to one already established as service connected the doc should state that it is as likely as not- or more than likely (better) that the disability is secondary to the SC one and then state his/her medical rationale for this.(the nexus)

If he needs a nexus to service, the doctor would have to state the specific info in the veteran's SMRs (and then refer them to the info and date of it)that would indicate that the present disability is as likely as not or more than likely due to his service. (Unless a presumptive condition)

I had a vet who had a drusen in service, His claim was for SC of diabetes (Not Vietnam vet)

The drusen was in the first statement that the BVA made on a remand but still no one picked up on how important this word was.

I looked it up, went over the veteran's SMRs and found that this was most likely the first manifestation of inservice diabetes and the SMRs also contained additional symptoms to support this.The veteran was not diagnosed until many years after service with diabetes.

A drusen is most always a visual problem, a "hard exudate" as the older version of the VA DMII training letter calls it-we sent the VA DMII training letter with the drusen info-to the VA

They VA had already knocked down an expert IMO because the doctor had failed to make this service connection strong but with the newer info on the SMRs and this symptom, the vet- after 12 long years succeeded in getting SC.

Edited by Berta
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I was looking for a sample Nexus letter on the web and came across this one testimony to the House Committe for Veteran Affairs. Boy what he talks about sounds real familiar, it is almost like a yo-yo effect. The BVA will remand something down and ask specific questions, the vet gets sent for another exam and a VAMC and the doctor still doesn't answer the questions and it can go on this way for several times. Back and forth. This is from 2000, so I don't know if it is still current on how the VA works.

Witness Testimony

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"It isn't in Nexus format, are they pickey about that?"

I feel the Nexus factor is the most important factor of most claims.

I was just looking at the letter and I need a better letter. He doesn't mention that his symptoms go back to while he was in the service. So they could deny SC, even though they know this has been going on since he was on active duty.

Problem is, most civilian doctors won't put themselves out on a limb to override or support another doctor's oppinion. I worked for doctor's too long, seen it happen.

The one person I need to get off his behind and do this is his cadiologist. He treated him while he was on active duty.

Can anyone direct me into the right direction of an example of what needs to be in the letter and such.

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Guest DON20906

I checked my contact at the BVA and the Board is now working appeals that were docketed in April-July 2004. Some VLJs are ahead of that curve. Some are behind.

I finally got my husband to call the VA to find out the status of his appeal. The lady was shocked, because it is listed as with the Decision Officer and it has been for two years! She didn't want to have it pulled, because you know what happens then, you go down to the bottom of the pile. But she made a note (at least she said she did) in the computer about it.

On average, how long does it take for the BVA to come down with a decision? I finally got a copy of a letter from our primary doctor saying that my husband's condition is chronic and it started while he was on active duty. It was faxed to our State VA Rep. who is suppose to represent us and send this info to Atlanta, but I am not impressed with this guy, he is the second one we have had, neither one ever communicated with us. But I have no idea if they BVA ever received the letter. Would it be wise to send another copy straight to the VA?

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Guest DON20906

If an appeal is remanded or otherwise diverted from the VLJ working it, it is supposed to be restored to it's place in docket order when it is returned.

I checked my contact at the BVA and the Board is now working appeals that were docketed in April-July 2004. Some VLJs are ahead of that curve. Some are behind.
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Maybe this would help- I am describing the IMO I got from Dr. Bash.

First he stated that he had reviewed Post service VA medical records,

past VA medical opinions and rating decisions,

and did a medical literature review.

He then stated his opinion on the veteran's long standing "uncontrolled and untreated" diabetes and also agreed with the brief recent opinion I had asked a VA doctor for (the doctor had treated Rod)

His then listed Special Knoweldge and gave his areas of expertise , adding that he had correlated his experience with MRI, CT scans, and nuclear med scans of thousands of patients with diabetes and cerebral trauma as to the veteran's medical records.

He listed Facts: as to other med info in the records and then added a Discussion of his opinion which included 7 points. Briefly stated here-

The veteran was exposed to Agent Orange and he referred to the Institute of Medicine 2002 Agent Orange Update as to DMII in Vietnam vets.

He again stated the veteran's documented abnormal glucose readings while in a prolonged fasting state.

He stated there was no other etiology for the veteran's diabetes but for AO.

He quoted Braunwald (a well known Cardiovascular medical treatise) giving a page number as to the same Peripheral arterial disease that Rod had as consistent with diabetes.

He referenced the autopsy and death certificate as well as statements made by two additional VA doctors as to the veterans heart and brain involvement from undiagnosed and untreated DMII.

He added a 10 page Curriculum Vitae.

In addition to his opinion and before I requested it I had found significant other medical information to support undiagosed and untreated DMII as well as I supplied copy of VA's own admission of misdiagnosing strokes, heart disease, and their inappropriate medication which the VA agreed in 1997 had caused Rod's death.(FTCA settlement) This allowed me to opine also in my claim that, since the VA had failed to diagnose heart disease, and strokes, and had given the veteran inappropriate medication in "multiple" medical errors that had "all" "hastened" his death (Section 1151 award 1998) Therefore it was most likely that the VA had failed to diagnose and treat the veteran's DMII.

A good IMO should cover what Dr. BAsh's did here-

His medical rationale and expertise that lent him to opine.

References to specifics in the veterans med recs, supported by medical treatise, a "more than likely" statement is in there too-as to the veteran's exposure to AO caused diabetes, undiagnosed (but prevalant from evidence in VA med records back to 1988)which then led to heart disease, strokes, and death.

However I did not need a service nexus-Dr. Bash did not need the SMRs-and the veteran's exposure was confirmed by Judge Richland years ago (Agent Orange settlement fund)

This is why the doctor would need the complete SMRs-in your case-to support the inservice nexus-

I hope this helps- a good IMO does not have to be long- mine is only 2 pages plus the Curriculum Vitae and also Dr. Bash called the VA doctor I got IMO from -and enclosed copy of that opinion too.

In my case prior SOCs and SSocs and other VA documents were highly significant to this IMO and I sent them to Dr. BAsh.

In addition to this opinion I spent the time to associate Rod's specific heart disease and then brain trauma to known medical facts as to the diabetic causation.I enclosed a diagram of two sides of brain showing the veteran's type of trauma and the medical association to DMII-

(not all brain trauma is due to DMII -of course) The submission I did of the heart evidence -I copied an autopsied heart-with LVH very similiar to Rods autopsy in full color into my statement and supported every single piece of medical evidence from the autopsy and the VA Echo as consistent with DMII and supported all of this with med treatises.

I correlated Rod's documented VA medical evidence with information from the Standard medical community to include the ADA, and the AHA and numerous other medical sources.

I went over ever single med rec many times and found that-even without the IMOs- the evidence supporting my claim was overwhelming.

I am getting a little off your question here but my point is that when there is evidence-

it can be found.It just takes long hours of reading and work putting it all together.

Vets -keep all of those SOCs and past decisions -I did, never dreaming I would need them again-in reading them carefully 6-7 years later-they revealed more info than I could see at the time-

And dont do what I did-years ago- I used to I believe what the Narrative said as to their "expert" VA opinions-

When I got the actual opinion it was often much different than I thought-

My claim was filed for Peace with Honor- what my husband wanted in his death. That does not come with a Section 1151 death.

Edited by Berta
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Maybe this would help- I am describing the IMO I got from Dr. Bash.

Berta,

Thanks for the info. I am going to have to print it out and hand it to the doctors and ask again for a new letter, especially the cardiologist, since he has treated him while he was on active duty. To me that would be a slam dunk. Of course knowing the VA, they will say that their doctors didn't find anything wrong. Well you wouldn't if you didn't do any of the common tests.

Well, I am back to listening to my daughters fight about something....AGAIN!!! I can't wait till school is back in session.

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Guest frank

I finally got my husband to call the VA to find out the status of his appeal. The lady was shocked, because it is listed as with the Decision Officer and it has been for two years! She didn't want to have it pulled, because you know what happens then, you go down to the bottom of the pile. But she made a note (at least she said she did) in the computer about it.

On average, how long does it take for the BVA to come down with a decision? I finally got a copy of a letter from our primary doctor saying that my husband's condition is chronic and it started while he was on active duty. It was faxed to our State VA Rep. who is suppose to represent us and send this info to Atlanta, but I am not impressed with this guy, he is the second one we have had, neither one ever communicated with us. But I have no idea if they BVA ever received the letter. Would it be wise to send another copy straight to the VA?

[/quothii have a question,if the decision officer,has the case,and lady at va stated she did not want to pull the appeal,that would nean it never left va? because decision officer is at va not bva ? frank

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