I find it interesting the lengths VA will go to to reach their quota or goals. All’s fair in love and war. I wondered when the circus tent would go up next to the 2015 Big Top. VA, past masters of moonwalking, are now trying to up the ante in hopes of reaching their goal of catching up the backlog. New VSRs and RVSRs who have gone through the VBMS training are now kicking out denials at a stupendous pace. It’s rumored that grants (service connection) may sink below 10% this year.
This becomes all the more true when you look at the statistics of denying 1.85 Vets a day. Deny is such an inexact way of describing what ensues afterwards. The magic 125-day up or down now simply moves into the three year arena where attrition is the name of the game. Statisticians digesting numbers have noticed Gulf War Vets are enjoying a 35-40% service connection rate. Korean/Vietnam Vets with a host of AO issues are barely getting anywhere with a 2-4% average. Considering we are equal in number ( roughly 32-34%), the disparity can (and will be) attributed to old Vets desperately filing claims for anything we can hang a hat on. Chronicity is immaterial. It happened forty years ago. Read Maxson v. Gober. Go away.
VBMS would be a welcome addition to claims adjudications if it wasn’t simply a puppy mill cranking out horrible, misogynistic ill bred decisions- all in the name of expediency.
In construction, we are taught to think it through before we push print. Does the house print actually fit on the foundation print? Logic is a strong component in this process. If your argument does not contain an “if…, then…” or “No. It won’t work that way”, quite possibly there will be a very large error. As good ol’ Johnny Cochran said at OJ’s summation to the jury: “If the facts don’t fit, you can’t convict!”. Powerful oratory. VA missed that one in the Aspire Training Seminars. The facts always fit down at Penny Lane.
VA construction warps the floor to make a spilled drink go where they want it to. Development of claims is the single largest driving force in this new, headlong rush to accomplish claims sooner. Let’s examine development. You are the new factfinder in your FDC quest. You make the rounds for VA. You obtain all the private medical records since service. You pay copying costs, gas money etc. to play fetch and then even more to scan it all in to a CD or a DBQ .PDF. You file it online at your Ebenefits VA website that causedyou to have to drive XXX miles to present to the VAMC Records of Interest office for confirmation of your identity. The operable word is you. Does this sound like a benign, nonadversarial agency that is Veteran friendly and goes the extra mile for you?
Duty to Assist?
VA has now removed themselves from the Duty to Assist business. If the claims fails now, it’s all the Vet’s fault. Of course, in 2009, they said we brought this all on ourselves after they told us we were entitled to it. Too many of you rushed over to one side of the boat and it tipped over. Now we are all paying for it. But being stand up guys at the RO, they are willing to fix it for you. If you carry the water, you’ll get to scratch off the lotto ticket sooner to see if you have won.
But lo! On the horizon a new star called EED (earlier effective date) is rising. Yes, if you file today with a FDC and we grant it, then your effective date of your claim could be as much as a year before your filing date. This is how aluminum siding salesmen talk. If you sign today, I’ll back your warranty up for an extra year. Today only. Has to be today. A feller’d be fool to turn that one down. Free, too. Did I mention it was today only?
Reality now sits on the sofa like the 800 lb. gorilla sooner rather than later. If you are the provider of all the evidence and something such as your STRs are missing, you’ll find out about it a whole lot sooner this way. Unfortunately, that will require filing a Notice of Disagreement and getting into that line which is a short ton longer than this FDC one. This is VA poker. Up the ante and sucker someone else in who isn’t savvy. It’s what separates the ribbon clerks from the poker players. VA does this for a living. Now they do it faster and make you play fetch. Win-win for VA. And the VSOs? They are playing right into it, too. Sorry, I’m just not a conspiracy kind of guy or I might wade in and say something.
I wonder if this is how Indians felt when they woke up hung over the morning after the Big Treaty party and discovered the typo and they’d only been given 4,000 acres instead of the 4,000,000 they had promised to stay on. With no Buffalo. And were then given hot dogs, macaroni and cheap liquor. VA has herded us into doing all the probative, investigative work we would normally hire an attorney to do were we filing for SSD/SSI. We are given a task unequal to our untrained legal minds and then made to pay the price for getting it wrong. VSOs are no panacea. They can’t do much better than us judging by statistics. They aren’t exactly renowned or famous for gathering evidence either.