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Need Help In Understanding Varo Letters

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mssoup1

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My husband currently has claims sitting at the VARO. Some of these are remands back from the BVA. Others are new claims. The ones from the BVA, on remand, have been back at the VARO since the first of February 05. Last week, we get a letter from them telling us that they are currently working on these claims (minus one which I will discuss later). They want us to send in medical records or any other evidence which we may have. They even sent us Release of Information Forms to fill out. They also listed the evidence which they have currently received from us. Well, I have sent them letters explaining exactly what we are claiming, why we are claiming it, gave them their regulations to back up what we feel states why the claim should be approved, letters from myself, letters from the Vet Center, medical articles, lists of medications which he has taken or is now taking, a copy of all of his VAMC medical records that were highlighted for them showing that which pertained to the claim, but they still want more. Most of what I sent to them was not even listed on their letter as evidence they received from us. Are they not looking at his file before sending letters out? Also, they stated that they were sending us a form for my husband to fill out if he wanted his claim expedited. He hasn't even been afforded a C & P exam on some of these claims and I am certain without those, the claim will definitely be denied. Why would we want to expedite his claim when they haven't even fullfilled their obligations to him? Also, at the end of the letter we got from the VARO, there was a Release of Information form attached which has another veterans name and social security number on it. Wonder what he received which should have come to us. Well, a couple of days after getting this letter, he received another letter stating that he was being set up for 2 C & P exams. One for audiology, which he is claiming tinnitus for. The other was for a general C & P exam. I am to assume this may be for his claim for an increase in his current service connected skin condition and NSC hypertension claim. He is also claiming erectile dysfunction due to medications he has been taking for his SC PTSD. Doesn't he need to have a Urology C & P exam for this? Also, he has a claim in for cataracts which is currently NSC. Doesn't he need an Ophthamology C & P exam for this? A general C & P could not cover these medical conditions.

The other issue that the letter did not even cover was for his claim for an increase in his SC PTSD. We don't even know where this claim stands since they did not state in the letter we received that it was being worked on. Nor have we received any information about a C & P exam for this. This is a claim on remand back from the BVA.

I am so confused with this letter. You would think in reading it that these are all new claims and they haven't received anything from us with enough evidence to go forward in our favor with the claim. It really makes me think that they are stalling as much as possible to keep from deciding the claims.

Our SO called us about the letter we received because he has just gotten his copy. Well, I don't mean to be so negative about someone, but this person has no idea of what is going on. All he can do is read parts of the letter to me and then say this is what they are saying they want. I told him I could read. I needed some explanation on why we even received this letter, based on all the information I have already given the VARO. I also asked him why they did not even include his PTSD claim in the letter. He couldn't answer anything I asked him. Finally, he said that he had to end the conversation as he had some errands to run before going home and to call him after my husband had the couple of C & P's he has been scheduled for. He knows nothing about the rules and regulations and cannot answer any questions you put before him. He cannot even offer you any help in finding out any information on your claim. He has an office in the same building as the VARO. I never call him for anything because he has no help to give and only makes me more frustrated that I already am.

Also, in the BVA decision, they told the VARO that we had requested a regional office hearing several times before our BVA hearing, but we were never given one. The letter stated that the VARO was to ask the veteran if he still wanted a hearing and if so he was to be given one. Even though some of his claims are remands back from the BVA and some of the others are new claims, should we request a regional office hearing at this stage or is it too late on the BVA remanded claims?

I know this is a long posting, but my husbands claim process is becoming very complicated. Any help, input or comments you may have would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Bev.

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Bev

I can't answer all of your questions and concerns, only offer a little advice.

Do NOT make any correspondence with the VARO long and complicated. Remember that many of the employees cannot read beyond 9th grade level, and are only interested in getting the problem off their desk ASAP.

Unless you are lucky enough to get one of the good ones, you are better off addressing one problem at a time, in simple Middle School level English.

If it is essential to deal with more than one item at a time, be sure to organize your thoughts in short sentences and numbered paragraphs in all correspondence.

You should also realize that the quickest and easiest way to get a claim off their desk, is to send you a 'boiler-plate' letter, without bothering to read the file.

This puts all the burden on the veteran, and causes many to give up. If you feel that they already have as much evidence as there is, or they need, tell them so immediately, so they can't waste another 60 days waiting for your reply.

The best way to handle all this is to rebut everything they are dumping on you with references to the current regulations. That however puts you doing their job, without pay. It is up to you.

Good luck.

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Wallyg,

Thanks for your advice. Everything I give to the VARO is in such simple and plain language that even my 12 year old grandson could understand what I was saying. I take each claim and work it individually from the rest. I put each in its own folder, put the type of claim he is filing for and his claim number on the tab portion. I highlight all of the portions of the evidence I include so they only need to look at those portions and nothing else. This should save them a lot of time in reading an entire document or medical record or letter that I send to them. It is hard to make it any easier for them. I also include a copy of any regulation that might apply to that particular claim and I again highlight the areas that pertain to the claim. I put everything they could possibly need to look at or review in each folder to keep them from having to look up anything or request anything. But, they still take forever and then act like I didn't send them anything. I feel as though I have done their job for them. I only ask that they review the claim on its merits and render a decision in a timely fashion. After all, several of these claims are close to 6 years old.

I was told when I took the last, very detailed evidence in to the VARO, documented as I described above that they rarely ever saw information for a claim to come to them in such an organized manner. Words sound great. Now do something with it instead of sending me canned letters which contains a lot of words, but says nothing.

One other reason that the SO gave me was that they were probably in a stall mode at the VARO because the budget had not been approved yet. Not my problem. If I have a valid claim, then process it. I have noticed lately that there are very few postings put on Hadit that are success stories compared to about 6 months ago. Maybe there is something to this. I'd rather they not tell us anything versus sending us a letter which means absolutely nothing and only tends to stress us out more.

Thanks again for your input. I think we will wait until these 2 C & P's are over and we have a copy of them. Then we will make a personal visit to the VARO and ask to speak to someone who is competent enough to talk to us about the contents of his claims. I can't really fault the people who sit at the desks in the main portion of the office who answer the phones. We are usually given to one of them to talk to and the only thing they are trained to do is look at a screen and read to you what it says. The last person we saw there could not even read and understand what was on the screen. We left not knowing anymore than when we walked in.

Bev.

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