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    When a Veteran starts considering whether or not to file a VA Disability Claim, there are a lot of questions that he or she tends to ask. Over the last 10 years, the following are the 14 most common basic questions I am asked about ...
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  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

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    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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marathonjon

Advice On How To Handle Lack Of Response From Ro

Question

I'm in a Catch-22 situation and wonder if anyone has advice on the next step I should take. I filed an appeal to the VA's decision on my disability claim, choosing to go the DRO route. As a veteran living overseas, my case is handled by the Pittsburgh RO. After almost 2 years, I finally got a letter from them stating I needed to get another C&P exam. I made arrangements to get the exam at the air base where I receive my medical treatment, but the catch is that they will do the exam only if they receive the request directly from the VARO. I've sent 5 requests to the RO either by fax or through the IRIS system. They always respond that they'll give my request to the appeal team. Yesterday I got a copy of the original letter stating I needed another C&P exam, but the air base hospital still hasn't received it.

I've searched on this forum for what to do when the RO does not respond to requests and found one post where someone emailed someone in Washington DC and another where someone wrote their Congressional rep, but after 20 years in the military, I have to believe there's a chain of command I can follow. I've searched the VA website, and of course there's nothing about what to do when you have a complaint. Their IG works mostly fraud, waste, and abuse issues. It appears that each RO falls under an area office. Would it do any good to write to them? Or should I write directly to the VBA office in DC? Would appreciate any tips that have worked for others on this issue.

BTW, I don't currently have a VSO rep. I used one back in Texas but he wasn't very helpful. I've lived here in Japan only a short while and haven't found another rep yet.

Thanks!

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I agree there SHOULD be a chain of command at the RO, but, if there is, it is a carefully gaurded secret. You see, the VA doesnt just let you call a supervisor and "fix things" like in the real world, but that would be nice. If there were such a chain of command easily available, then hadit may not be necessary..you just go up the chain of command, like we did in the military.

Instead, first try an IRIS email. If unsuccessful there, send in a 21-4138. Then, if still no success, file an "Intent to file a writ of mandamus" with your RO. If still nothing then file a Writ of Mandamus with the CAVC. Some suggest this should be done if your claim has not moved in about 18 months.

The manager at your RO will likely have to respond to the Writ of mandamus. This does seem to get things going. I have filed a writ, and, tho the writ was denied by the CAVC (they regurarly are denied), it helped move the RO off their duff to get the claim going. They will sit on your claim for decades if you let them. Dont let them.

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I think the biggest thing a Writ accomplishes is that it hits the VA where it hurts the most...in the media, since CAVC cases are public knowledge. If you could get 60 minutes to do a blurb on it, it would likely accomplish the same thing. The VA manages by "putting out fires". So you have to build a fire to get them to put it out. Smoke wont work.

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You can file a complaint on IRIS.

When it asks "Inquiry Type" the pull down box will have "service complaint" you can click on.

Service complaints are documented and they are handled differently then status questions.

This approach worked for me regarding a few issues over the years.

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Thanks Berta, I never noticed the "Complaint" option before. It's worth a try!

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