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Need Help With Reference


sixthscents

Question

Sorry to bother you all, but for some reason I cannot find the decision where the VA decided that claims in certain states may be reopened upon request due to a substantial difference in compensation amount vs. national average.

This is a hot ticket item for me as I am working an appeal right now, and if possible I need an answer as soon as possible...I've done a darn search and cant find the reference...

Help..please...

Thanks

Bob Smith

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This was first reported in this VA O IG document in 2005-

http://www.va.gov/oig/52/reports/2005/VAOIG-05-00765-137.pdf

207 pages from the IG-

Also this is part of the VA Special Outreach Program-that mentions this disparity.

http://www.vba.va.gov/SpecialOutreach/

But there is hardly any information there-

The Veteran's Disability Commission report is now overdue-

http://vawatchdog.org/old%20newsflashes%20...0-16-2006-1.htm

That report should address this problem- dont know if it will-----

I will keep searching because I thought the VA itself made a statement as to the disparate compensation in certain states-I have not found anything specific either-

except what they say on the outreach page above.

This site calls the disparity in state payments a "mystery' and it appears that VA (Nicholson)was supposed to address this issue:

http://www.wildfleckenveterans.com/faq-pro...=007&id=369

You sure asked a good question-

it seems like this issue was swept under the rug.

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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Well they released this statement:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 5, 2006

VA Reaching Out to Veterans on Disability Benefits

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced a special outreach campaign to inform veterans about VA’s disability compensation program.

During the month of May, VA will be conducting outreach efforts in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey and Connecticut to reach those veterans who may have a disability related to their military service, but are not currently receiving VA benefits for their disabilities.

“Our goal is to ensure that all veterans receive the benefits they have earned through their service to our nation,” said the Honorable R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. “This effort reaffirms our commitment to provide full, fair and equitable compensation for veterans.”

Under the VA compensation program, monthly tax-free payments are made to veterans who have medical conditions that are determined to be the result of their military service. VA was recently directed by Congress to undertake this special outreach in response to concerns that the average amount of VA disability compensation received by veterans in the six states is lower than in other states.

VA emphasized that all veterans with the same degree of disability should receive the same amount of VA compensation, regardless of where they live. However, historical differences in the average amount of VA disability compensation received by veterans from one state to another have existed for decades and appear to relate to such factors as the wartime period served, the branch of a veteran's service, the number of officer and enlisted personnel in a state, as well as the number of veterans who apply for benefits and the number of disabilities claimed by veterans in certain areas.

- More -

Disability Compensation 2/2/2/2

To help get the word out, VA is distributing informational brochures and enlisting the support of veterans service organizations, state and county veterans offices, and congressional offices throughout the state.

Veterans already receiving VA disability compensation benefits, and for whom VA therefore has a current address, will receive a letter from VA advising them of the steps to follow if they want to reopen their disability claim. About 326,000 veterans in the six states are included in the letter-mailing effort.

These letters will be mailed over the next two weeks and will include a special flyer advising veterans how to submit a claim for increased benefits if they believe their service-connected conditions have worsened or they have an additional disability not previously claimed. Information will also be provided on what is required if a veteran believes an error was made in an earlier decision and wants VA to review the claim.

VA has established a special Internet site to provide information for veterans interested in applying for VA disability compensation benefits or for an increased disability rating: http://www.vba.va.gov/SpecialOutreach

Veterans may also visit their local VA Regional Office or call toll-free 1-800-827-1000 for assistance. A representative will provide additional information and help them file a claim.

Assistance is also available from the many veterans’ organizations that are formally recognized to represent claimants. More information about representatives in the six states is available at the VA toll-free number or at http://www.va.gov/vso/.

But...nowhere can I find how they want this filed, any differently than a normal appeal....

Bizarre

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Bob - We have also heard the same thing. The website for Senator Obama (Illinois) includes press releases about the issue. We have also heard that my husband was supposed to get a letter -- but he never did. They have a special link on the VA website for you to contact them.

http://www.vba.va.gov/SpecialOutreach/

My husband used that link and told them he thought there were errors in his claim..etc.. and they sent back an impersonal cut and paste response (who would have thunk it) that basically said that the difference in payments were based on differences in levels of disabilities --and they everyone got the amount they deserved no matter where they lived.

http://obama.senate.gov/

Illinois vets can reapply for benefits

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

By Josh Noel - Chicago Tribune

Wayne Macejak, a gray-haired Vietnam-era veteran, said he has seen it time and again: fellow Illinois veterans fighting for their benefits.

"With the VA, everything seems to be about money," said Macejak, chairman of the American Legion's rehabilitation committee in Illinois. "They just sit back and wait for the veterans to come to them."

Flanked by Macejak and other veterans Monday in downtown Chicago, U.S. Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is sending letters to 326,000 veterans in six states, including 62,000 in Illinois, where VA benefits have been the lowest.

The letter tells veterans about benefit disparities and how to reapply if they believe they were shortchanged or if their conditions have worsened.

A report by the VA office of inspector general showed that in 2004, the most recent figures available, Illinois veterans received the lowest average disability payments in the nation, $6,961. In New Mexico, the state with the highest average benefit, veterans received an average of $12,004.

At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza on Wacker Drive, the senators said there's no one reason why Illinois veterans receive so little compared with veterans in other states. But they said the disparity is caused in part by a lack of training for VA workers and not enough outreach.

"For far too long, where a veteran lives determined how much compensation they received," said Obama, who sits on the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. "That's unfair, and it's wrong."

The VA was required to send the letter as a result of an amendment offered by Durbin and Obama to the military construction and veterans affairs appropriations bill.

Acknowledging that the VA would not have sent the letters on its own, spokesman Terry Jemison said in a written statement, "This provision of law requires us to selectively conduct additional outreach to veterans based on where they live."

Durbin said he heard concerns that too many new claims would overburden the agency.

"The Veterans Administration said, `You know what's going to happen when you send out 300,000 letters? We're going to be swamped by veterans,'" Durbin said. "Well so be it. It's better that there'll be a hardship on the VA than more hardship on Illinois veterans."

Veterans in Indiana, Michigan, Connecticut, Ohio and New Jersey also will receive the letter.

Free

Sorry to bother you all, but for some reason I cannot find the decision where the VA decided that claims in certain states may be reopened upon request due to a substantial difference in compensation amount vs. national average.

This is a hot ticket item for me as I am working an appeal right now, and if possible I need an answer as soon as possible...I've done a darn search and cant find the reference...

Help..please...

Thanks

Bob Smith

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From what we can find - you don't actually file anything special. Since the RO was found to have significantly less awards and lower awards than other ROs --they were required to notify claimants of their right to refile -- have their cases reopened -- etc. etc. --but it seems like the actual process is the same -- you have to appeal, open with new and material evidence, etc.

I don't think they have to do anything special with your claim (aside from the fact that they MIGHT be under some pressure by Congress to perform better) -- I think they were just required to send information to the vets (which they didn't do in our case) and go through the motions of informing vets of their rights.

Free

Well they released this statement:

But...nowhere can I find how they want this filed, any differently than a normal appeal....

Bizarre

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