Stan Spangle Sr.: VA claims backlog gets some attention
Remember in the last “Veteran’s Views” (April 26) that I wrote about the DAV mobile service office coming to our area? Well, consider this a reminder.
The mobile office will visit 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 18 at Smokin’ Harley-Davidson, 3441 Myer Lee Drive in Winston-Salem. Don’t forget your DD-214, health records (if you want to file a claim) and anything else you think might be needed.
If you read, watch or hear the news, you know about the spending cuts that are being set aside, but we still need to call or write to our representatives asking them not to vote for any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. About four weeks ago, the House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., hosted the first roundtable meeting of Veterans Service Organizations, HVAC members and congressional leaders of the current Congress. The group held off-the-record discussions regarding perennial veterans challenges, such as but not limited to, the VA’s benefits claims backlog and the mental health issues. Miller said “VSO’s give veterans a voice on Capitol Hill, so it’s important for us to listen to what they have to say.”
There is getting to be more and more focus by the government on the growing claims backlog. Congress, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs, sees this as a major concern. Recently, House Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., held a roundtable with VSO’s and MSO’s and members of the Democratic House Caucus. According to reports, it was a very impressive meeting lasting over two hours, and 22 House members took part.
The primary focus of this meeting was on the VA adjudication backlog. Again, the Washington executive director, Deirdre Parke Holleman, represented The Enlisted Association. With both sides of the isle looking at this issue and finding it totally unacceptable, maybe, just maybe, both sides have found a way to work together.
The VA has just established a new initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for veterans who have already waited one year or longer. The VA will now make provisional decisions on the oldest claims, which will allow veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits much quicker. The veteran will have a “safety net” up to a year to submit additional evidence or request the VA to obtain the additional evidence needed to change the provisional decision. If additional evidence is not obtained, the provisional decision becomes final after one year. These veterans then have one year to appeal the decision, if they chose. The wounded and ill veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to have priority. Learn more about disability benefits on the DoD-VA web portal eBenefits at: www.ebenefits.va.gov.
Semper Fi. Pray for the families of the fallen.
Stan Spangle Sr. is a 21-year veteran of the Marine Corps, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He’s a member of numerous veterans organizations. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.