The VA is just cooking the books on VA Claims and Appeals Backlog numbers. Instead of waiting on the VA to fix itself, it’s time for Veterans to have a “Plan B”. Do you know what yours is?
I read recently that Veterans were converging on yet another VA Facility to scream about poor treatment of Veterans and the VA Claims Backlog.
This time, it was the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Ohio to protest the VA Backlog at VA Regional Office in Cleveland.
463 Days to Complete a Claim in Cleveland?!?
The Cleveland VARO is, in my opinion, is in the Top 5 Worst VA Regional Offices in the country.
(Florida, Oakland, Winston-Salem NC, and Houston round out the list).
Cleveland-area veterans wait an average of 463 days to complete a claim.
(That’s the VA’s number, so I’d say double that for an accurate average wait time at the Cleveland VARO).
[Vets – tell us about your Cleveland VARO experiences in the comments below this post.]
In fact, Joyce Cange, Director of the VA’s Cleveland Regional Office, said in July 2013 that 70 percent of the 22,700 pending claims at the regional office are in the VA Claims Backlog.
The VA Claims Backlog is Not Going Away.
But, you say, the VA has set a goal of eliminating the VA Claims backlog by 2015, right?
Guess what? 2015 is already here, and we still have a backlog. Maybe even worse than we thought.
The emphasis, according to Cleveland VARO Director Joyce Cange, is on processing claims more than two years old.
She says, using typical VA Double-Speak, that 97 percent (2,787) of those have been resolved, and the office plans to have the 9,101 year-old claims processed by the end of October.
What does that mean?
As to the “97% that have allegedly been resolved”, the VA “resolves” claims by kicking out decisions quickly – and often very poor quality decisions.
I know this is happening all over the country right now based on the huge upswing in consult requests from Veterans at the Attig Law Firm. Used to be we’d get around a hundred or so a month.
We’re trending WAY beyond that number now.
Translation: the VA is kicking out low quality and error-filled Ratings Decisions to Vets so that the numbers in the backlog go down on paper.
The VA is laser-focused on this goal of kicking out Decisions – quality is suffering.
So laser-focused that I can’t even get the VA to talk to me for 5 minutes about the status of a claim for my client “Bill J.”, a Vietnam-era Veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange on the Korean DMZ and is slowly dying of Ischemic Heart Disease.
His claim – filed in 2010 and denied in 2011 – was just appealed in 2012 when he retained the Attig Law Firm.
Right now, as you sip a coffee and get ready for your work day, know this: “Bill J”, a man who gave a lot to defend this country, is living out of his pickup truck with his dog as his sole companion – nobody at the VA will talk to me about his case.
As to the elimination of the rest of the VA Claims backlog?
It’s just getting worse….there is a HUGE Appeals Backlog now.
The VA is Just “Cooking the Books” on Claim Backlog Numbers.
The Ratings Decisions on these pre-2011 Decisions that I have reviewed over the past 45 days suggests that the VA is just playing the “shell game”. Juggling numbers.
Pulling an Enron.
What they are doing in reality is turning the VA Claims backlog into a backlog of appeals. The American people – and most of Congress – won’t understand that this changes nothing for the Veteran.
All it changes is that the handful of Judges at the BVA will have more work to do.
(Bet you a Pint of Guinness they don’t give BVA Judges a pay raise, either).
For you non-Veterans, here’s an easy explanation. The VA bureaucracy is like a child:
They tell us they picked up the dirty clothes in their room, when all they did was pile the dirty clothes in the closet.
It’s Time for Veterans to Have a “Plan B”.
The VA announced “Victory!” over the VA Claims backlog early in 2014.
Though President Obama did not land a chopper on top of the Cleveland VA Regional Office, strut out wearing a Pilot’s Flight Suit, and unfurl a banner that says: “Mission (not) Accomplished”….their “victory” didn’t change anything for Veterans – the VA Claims backlog is not going away.
It’s time for Veterans to have a “Plan B”.
The VA is not going to solve your VA problems.
Congress? They won’t fix anything of substance for Veterans. After all, they’re too busy getting themselves re-elected and ensuring a steady flow of PAC money so they can live high on the hog.
The American people? Well, I’ll just say this.
There’s a reason that everybody doesn’t volunteer to defend our nation in times of war: some can’t, some won’t, but most?
The American People just don’t care about reintegrating Veterans: it’s time we confront this truth.
So let me ask you a question: what is your Plan B? Here’s my Plan B for the VA Claims Backlog.