Administration Problems Tag

In a self-congratulatory and official VA press release on December 21, 2017, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin, announced a myriad of alleged successes in improving the VA last year. Among the many accomplishments claimed, Shulkin makes three specific claims that deserve a second look. As you will note, each is a bit too vague to really prove true or false. Still, it seems reality may look a little different for actual veterans.

Reports all over the web are saying that the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) is making significant improvements in the timeframe necessary to decide disability claims. But this only tells half of the story. The VA itself claims to have made substantial improvements by upgrading and digitizing its databases and claims handling procedures. But many are still experiencing delays in the VA claim process.

Many veterans are forced to wait for hours beyond their scheduled appointment times to be seen by their VA healthcare providers. When they call to schedule an appointment, they may have to wait for up to eight months to get in. For a long while, the VA has needed to make a drastic overhaul when it comes to meeting the needs of our veterans. While the system is still far from perfect, the VA’s final rule on APRNs goes a long ways toward improving the quality of care and service that our veterans need and deserve.

When veterans submit a disability claim to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) they expect that the VA will take special care to preserve all evidence and documents relating to that claim. Unfortunately, this may not be the case. In July of last year, investigators with Veterans Affairs conducted a surprise audit on 10 regional VA offices around the country. These spot check audits revealed the troubling fact that the VA has been shredding documents related to veterans’ claims.

According to the Sacramento Bee, there is a proposed bill on the table that would authorize hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent on construction at several Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities around the country. These facilities would undoubtedly improve the level of care that our country provides to disabled veterans. However, veteran advocacy groups have opposed the bill so forcefully that the proposed legislation has been put on hold. That’s right - groups of veterans are opposing a bill that would provide funding for major medical facility projects of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  

According to Alive Atlanta,the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) admits that thousands of veterans were seen by unqualified personnel when tested for traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The VA has announced that new TBI exams will be offered to approximately 25,000 veterans across the nation, and that the affected veterans’ disability claims will be adjusted where appropriate.  

At of the end of the fiscal year, 2015, more than 425,000 veterans’ disability claims appeals swamped the already backlogged VA appeals system, according to Board of Veterans’ Appeals Operating Statistics. A disability claim becomes an appeal when the veteran disagrees with the VA’s original decision regarding their level of injury and/or compensation for that injury. The number of appeals has more than doubled in the past decade, partially due to understaffing, partially due to a mad rush by VA hospitals to whittle down the delay times in processing claims, and partially due to new and ever-changing rules regarding filing and appealing claims.  

A North Carolina Navy veteran was forced into proving he was alive after the VA determined he was dead. The veteran’s wife received a letter in July conveying the administration’s condolences on her husband’s passing, as well as demanding that she pay back nearly $1,600 in benefits improperly paid out after her husband’s death. The problem? The veteran was very much alive. This did not seem to matter to Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS), who froze the veteran’s bank accounts and demanded he produce a notarized letter indicating that he was alive. Even the bank at which the veteran had accounts for 20 years demanded that he produce a notarized letter before removing the hold on his accounts.

The Social Security Disability trust fund is set to run out of money sometime in 2016, according to reports by the Social Security trustees. At that time, individuals who are receiving Social Security disability benefits (which includes both Social Security disability income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits) as well as individuals who apply for benefits will likely encounter a Social Security disability program that looks significantly different from the program today.

In a recent post in PBS Newshour’s Making Sense blog, economist Laurence Kotlikoff outlines a staggering 25 reasons why the statements of Social Security personnel are not always to be trusted. His main point comes down to this: Social Security is a tightly controlled program with very clear guidelines, yet many staffers are clueless about their own rules and regulations. This doesn’t surprise us. It is common that people in Mt. Pleasant, and throughout the Charleston area, have been given false information from Social Security staffers in regards to their Social Security disability claims. To help our clients better understand the risk of taking statements from the SSA at face value, we’ve provided several reasons here why it’s best to always seek a second opinion.