It was once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.
I don’t know who said it, but I think we can agree that is about as close to a “universal truth” as we can get.
And it’s true of Veterans in their VA Claims, too. We do the same things, year in and year out, and we expect the VA Claims Process to produce a different result.
We file the same forms. We hire the same representatives – or use the same free VSOs. We send in the same papers, and we make the same arguments.
And the backlog keeps getting bigger and bigger.
The same types of scandals happen at the VA every year, every decade, every generation.
Its gotten so big that even as the VBA (that’s the Benefits side of the VA, by the way) struggles to find ways to reduce the backlog….the appeals backlog is know growing at about the same rate that snow falls in Buffalo in January.
(Veterans in Buffalo, New York, know EXACTLY what I’m talking about, here).
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not bashing Veterans.
The fact of the matter is that the VA Disability Compensation claims process has been around since the end of the Revolutionary War – and NOBODY ever teaches Veterans how to file a VA Claim.
So we can hardly blame Veterans for the problems.
…Veterans can be the Solution, right?
I mean Congress isn’t going to solve the problem…for years we have watched Congress pursue the soundbite and not the solution.
God knows the Executive Branch isn’t going to solve the problem – I don’t care whether you love the President or hate him, but I am trying to remember the last President that stood up and said – about the VA Benefits Backlog – “The Buck Stops Here”.
If you want to be part of the solution – if you want to Change the Way YOU Experience the VA Claims Process….
Here are the Top 3 Mistakes that I see Veterans make when Filing VA Claims:
Mistake #1: Give the VA a Haystack and Yell at Them When they Can’t Find the Needle.
The typical Veteran fills out a form, attaches a few hundred pages of medical records, and sends it in to the VBA to process their claim for disability benefits.
Then, when the VA denies the claim, they send in a DIFFERENT form, with another 500 pages of medical records.
Then, when the VA denies the appeal, they send in yet another form, with the same 500 pages of medical records…maybe sprinkled with a rant or two about the inefficiencies of the VA Bureaucracy.
Think about it for a minute – if you are a VA rater & opened today’s mail, and were confronted with 5oo pages of unorganized medical records, how long do you think it would take you to figure it out?
If you’re the procrastinating type, you might put it off for weeks or months, right?
What if – instead – you opened today’s mail and found a 2 page summary, neatly typed and organized, with a tabbed and organized binder of documents to look through?
Helluva lot easier, right? You might even jump on it right away and get that claim taken care of.
I can teach you how to prepare, develop and file the second type of VA Claim – the one that the VA Rater WANTS to get taken care of. Just click here and discover the secrets that NOBODY else is teaching Veterans.
Mistake #2: Not Keeping on Top of What their VSOs are doing.
Veterans have mixed feelings about VSOs – the DAV, VFW, American Legion, etc. Some Veterans think they hang the moon. Other Veterans think we should revoke a couple of their charters.
I’ve seen ’em both – most VSOs believe that attorneys are the devil’s agents on earth, so it takes a while to find and get to know the good ones.
There are good ones and there are bad ones.
I tell you though, I have seen some top-notch VSOs – the way you can spot a good VSO is that they are curious and like to investigate.
If a VSO doesn’t show curiosity about your injury and how to show it is related to your military service …. or if they don’t like doing the basic investigation needed to fully develop a VA Claim, then you should run away. Screaming.
How does a Veteran KNOW, though, what basic investigation a VSO should be doing to build a Fully Developed Claim?
I think there are some things that a VSO MUST do to Fully Develop a VA Claim – if you want to learn what those “Must Do’s” are….click here and I’ll start telling you all about them.
Even if you don’t want to Fully Develop Your Own VA Claim, learning how to properly develop one will help you keep better tabs on your VSO – to make sure you got one of the “Good Ones”.
Mistake #3: Not Having a Plan.
When you were in the Army, did you ever go out on an ambush without a plan?
How about you Navy submariners out there – you guys had all sorts of plans to deal with rough situations….torpedoes getting stuck in tubes, electrical fires while submerged, etc.
VA Claims are like this, too.
If you don’t have a plan going in, you are going to get side tracked or distracted…or angry at the VA when they screw things up.
But how does a Veteran put together a plan?
For years – until I hired a software developer to automate our client’s case development process – I used a paper form called a “VA Claim Map”.
On that map, I had spots to identify and organize all the vital elements of the VA Claims I filed for my clients.
It keep me focused on what I needed to prove, and it helped me make sure that I didn’t miss anything important.
The more I used it, the faster my client’s claims got granted.
Right after my firm started using it, we got news that we won a TDIU Claim for one of our clients in under 3 months. Why? We used the VA Claims Map to organize and structure our evidence and arguments.
I would love to tell you about the VA Claims Map – visit this post to find out more about it and where you can get your copy.
You DO Have Power when Filing VA Claims.
If you take nothing else out of this post, I want you to remember this: you have more power than you think you do in filing VA Claims.
If you understand what you need to include in your Fully Developed Claim, take the time to organize it for the VA Rater, and present a clear and concise argument why you are entitled to VA Disability Compensation claims, than I promise you this: You Will Change the Way You Experience the VA Claims Process.
I see it happening every single day.
Is your book “How to file a VA claim” an ebook?
I am a retired Vietnam vet living in the Philippines and want to purchase the book if it is ebook format.
R A Rhoads
All of the books in the Veterans Law Blog BOokstore are eBooks…all the videos are streaming videos you can access through a Store Account Page.
Hope that helps…email me if you have any additional questions I can answer for you.
Attorney Attig, thanks for your service and helping veterans.
Thanks for the kind words – the passion that I have for working with Veterans and their survivors continues to be the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.
Thanks to you, also, for your service to our nation. When the call was made, only a few like you had the courage to answer.