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VA Form 21-0966 - Intent To File A Claim

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VA Form 21-0958 - NOD

​Notice of Disagreement

VA Form 21-534 EZ

Application for DIC, Death Pension, 

Change of Address

The VA Claims Intake Center - Western Region

Department of Veterans Affairs

PO Box 5235
Janesville, WI  53547-5235
Toll Free FAX Janesville – 844-822-5246

The VA Claims Intake Center - Eastern Region
Department of Veterans Affairs

PO Box 5235
Newnan, GA   30271-0020
Toll Free Fax Newnan – 844-531-7817

File Your Claim On-Line - eBenefits

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TDIU Annual - VA Form 4140

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My HealtheVet

Jim's Mailbag

Regulations Dot Gov

CFR 38

Why Is The VA Putting So Many Veterans on Your Federal Gun Ban List?

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has sent a letter

 to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing deep concerns over Veterans Affairs evaluations

classifying veterans as "mentally defective" and banning them in the federal background

check system from purchasing or owning a firearm.  According to Grassley's office,

the VA "reports individuals to the gun ban list if an individual merely needs financial

assistance managing VA benefits," keeping them from exercising their Second Amendment rights. 

When veterans return, their children also deal with the invisible wounds of war

Twice a day, Koen Hughes’s medicine alarm beeps and sputters. He yells out across the

kitchen to his father, retired Army Staff Sgt. Jonah Hughes, an Iraq war veteran, who suffers

from such a severe brain injury that it’s hard for him to remember things like whether

he showered, and sometimes how to shower.

The Mailbag

Hi Jim,
My father recently turned 65 in January.  He’s 20% disabled by the VA and has been

receiving VA benefits prior to his 65th birthday.  We are trying to determine the route to

take with medicare and growing more confused with each call we make.
I’ve reached out to social security, VA, and medicare in hopes of gaining clarification by

each entity tells me to call the other.   I’m hoping that coming across your

website while doing a google search is a godsend.
If we keep Part B of his medicare coverage, how do we blend the VA, medicare,

doctors visits, testing, and prescriptions? If we keep only Part A, are we making a

mistake by dropping part B. Any suggestions, opinions, insight you can

offer will be greatly appreciated.  We need help making a decision.

VA health care and Medicare are sort of complimentary although totally separate.

How much of each the veteran should use depends on the convenience he wants and how much Medicare deductible his wallet will stand. I use both. I have Part A and Part B.

I rarely use them but sometimes I need something (podiatry for example) that VA seems to

have a hard time delivering so I go to the civilian sector. VA and Medicare won't cover

deductibles for each other. You can use one or the other but not both simultaneously.

If you go to a civilian provider, you'll use Medicare and pay the requisite deductible.

If you go to VA you'll have the same scenario...Medicare won't help with a VA deductible.
I elected to take Part B. Part B is actually the most useful. It covers doctors and things

done in doctors offices. Part A isn't elective, it's required along with SSA retirement. If you

don't elect Part B now and want it in the future, the monthly payment goes up year by

year as a penalty. Most experts recommend that veterans do not take Part D, the

prescription coverage benefit. There is nothing that we can't get through the VA

pharmacy so that's an unnecessary expense. I don't have a Medicare supplement

plan like that AARP offers. Those plans are expensive and still don't cover

everything. I set enough money aside so that rather than paying to AARP, I keep

the money to pay for my deductibles. The only time that a supplemental plan

helps is in the event of a catastrophic illness and if that happens I'll head to VA.
It's a very personal decision with a lot of alternatives for every veteran to consider.

I'm fortunate that my overall health is pretty good and other than some chronic problems,

I don't need hospital services or specialist services very often. I see my VA doc about

once a year or a bit more if I need to. I live in the small town of Fernandina Beach where

I have a civilian family practice doc who is officed about 10 minutes from me.

I've seen him and a Jacksonville eye doc this year because of the convenience factor and I've paid the deductibles out of pocket. Those deductibles aren't much as a rule. If a doctor charges

$100.00 for a service, Medicare may allow $40.00 as the final fee. Of that you pay 20%

out of pocket. The hospital (Part A) side works in a similar fashion although those

deductibles can grow PDQ.  Hospital care is least expensive at VA.
I hope this helps. If you have other questions, please feel free to ask.

Do you have a benefits question? Ask Jim.


More Mailbag is here.


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Military Veterans News & Benefits Information 

This Is The Site VA Reads When They

Want To Learn What They've Been Doing

Healthcare Inspection – Lapses in Access and Quality of Care,

VA Maryland Health Care System, Baltimore, Maryland

​OIG conducted a review in response to concerns raised by Senator Barbara Mikulski

regarding lapses in access and quality of care issues at the VA Maryland Health

Care System. The purpose of this review was to determine the extent to which those

concerns had merit. We substantiated delayed access for a patient at the Perry

Point campus and identified some contributing factors, including insufficient

primary care provider staffing. We substantiated that the system experienced

challenges in providing timely access to orthopedic surgical services but had developed

an action plan to address these issues prior to our visit. We did not substantiate

concerns that a second patient experienced delays in service delivery or cancer

diagnosis at the urgent care center at Perry Point. We also did not substantiate

allegations related to a third patient’s diabetes and diabetic neuropathy pain;

however, we found that community health care information was not included in

the patient’s electronic health record because of provider documentation lapses

and, possibly, a backlog of documents waiting to be scanned. We further found

that the system’s policy for tube-feeding nutrition did not comply with

all requirements. We made nine recommendations.

Administrative Investigation Improper Access

to the VA Network by VA Contractors from

Foreign Countries Office of Information and Technology Austin, TX  

Seven years after the 2006 data breach, VA information security employees still

reacted with indifference, little sense of urgency, or responsibility concerning

a possible cyber threat incident. Austin Information Technology Center (AITC)

OIT employees failed to follow VA information security policy and contract

security requirements when they approved VA contractor employees to work

remotely and access VA’s network from China and India. One accessed it from

China using personally-owned equipment (POE) that he took to and left in China,

and the other accessed it from India using POE that he took with him to India and then brought

back to the United States (US). After the Acting CIO learned of this improper remote access,

he gave verbal instructions for it to cease; however, VA information security employees at all

levels failed to quickly respond to stop the practice and to determine if there was a

compromise to any VA data as a result of VA’s network being accessed internationally.

Further, we found that a VA employee, as well as other VA contractor employees,

improperly connected to VA’s network from foreign locations.

Philly VA official promoted just hours after IG said his

department manipulated data

​Hours after release of a devastating audit that found top-to-bottom problems with the

administration of veterans' pensions in the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs office —

including records manipulation — the man most responsible for those failings was

promoted to a high-paying job in the department's Washington headquarters.

​Cushman v. Shinseki, 576 F.3d 1290 (2009)

Why this is important: This case was probably one of the most important VA cases to

come down in a long time.  It established that veterans are entitled to due process

(fundamentally fair) procedures in the processing of claims for VA benefits. 
The next step in such a holding is to get definition as to what constitutes due process--

the Executive Branch can make a proposal, the Congress can define it statutorily, or the

Courts can make a judicial determination.  The Executive Branch has yet to make such

a proposal, the Congress hasn't acted, so the Courts had an opportunity to define what

due process looks like for veterans in a follow-on case: Veterans for Common

Sense v. Shinseki, which was actually a series of cases (to include 644 F.3d 845, 678 F.3d 1013)

brought as a class action against VA for, among other things, the long wait times in

claims processing.  This string of cases looked like a proposed  judicial remedy for

VA inaction on the grounds of due process.  Unfortunately, the plaintiffs did not

succeed on jurisdictional grounds, rather than on specific legal merit.  But, the case provided a legal framework for how such a class action matter alleging due process should be brought.
The Yale Veterans Service Clinic filing is now following up in that regard and is

bringing the matter before the court of appropriate jurisdiction, the Court of Appeals for Veterans

Claims.  Followers of veterans law should watch this case closely--it could be very significant.

Drew Early, Esq.

​Veterans Law Attorney

Tempest in a C-Cup: Are Gina Elise's Pinups Too Sexy for Our Servicemen?

One hissy-fitting military spouse says, yes:

Pinups be gone! The hissy fitter, SpouseBuzz editor Amy Bushatz, wants charity chief Gina Elise and her 1940's-style Pin Ups for Vets to sashay their curvy little selves away fromthe flight line, the chow hall, the hospital ward, and anywhere else these retro-dressing gals might encounter a married man. 

Veteran says he was repeatedly

put on hold by veterans' suicide hotline
Hotline has problems with handling number of calls

Georgia Vet Shot Dead By Police

Needed More Help From VA

A Georgia military veteran who was killed by police last month did not receive enough medical support from the US Department of Veteran Affairs for his bipolar disorder and was forced to self-medicate with marijuana, his girlfriend said.

VA building projects riddled with

mistakes and cost overruns

There are hospital doors at the half-built ­Veterans Affairs medical center outside Denver that were supposed to cost $100 each but ended up ­running $1,400. There’s a $100-million-and-still-risingprice tag for an atrium and concourse with curving blond-wood walls and towering glass windows. And entire rooms that had to be refashioned because requests for medical equipment changed at the last minute and in other cases the equipment didn’t fit. No one had bothered to measure.


Bureaucrats first is still the VA code

Instead of using all of a $5 billion fund established by Congress to make the Department

of Veterans Affairs more efficient, the VA proposes spending nearly a fifth of the money

to compensate for grotesque inefficiency. "Despite scandal after scandal involving VA bureaucrats,

they are unwilling to sacrifice a single dime of their bonus money to pay for their mistakes," 

Unfinished Repairs at Veterans Affairs
The 40-mile ‘as the crow flies’ rule has been fixed, but much remains to be done. 

​Review of Alleged Data Manipulation at

VA Regional Office, Boston, Massachusetts
We substantiated that the Veteran Services Officer (VSO), accredited and employed by

the Veterans Of Foreign Wars (VFW), Department of Massachusetts, manipulated or

attempted to manipulate dates of claims at the Boston VA Regional Office. We also

found evidence indicating the VSO may have engaged in a similar manipulation scheme

at the VARO in Togus, Maine. The VSO secretly date stamped multiple blank documents,

providing the opportunity to cut, attach, and photocopy these dates onto claims

documents for other claimants. Manipulation of dates of claims appeared to be a routine

practice dating back to at least July 2013. We found about 25 benefits claims in the VSO’s

workspace that had not been submitted to the VARO for processing; some of the claims

dated back to October 2013. We could not identify claims where the VSO may have

altered the actual dates of claim because there is no audit trail that tracks claims

submitted by individual VSOs. Untimely processing by the VSO impedes the VARO’s

ability to initiate required development actions and results in veterans waiting longer

for their claim to be processed. The VSO was able to manipulate dates of claims to

cover up the untimely submission of claims because VARO management did not ensure

only authorized staff accessed and used its date stamping equipment. Additionally, VARO

management did not ensure the keys needed to unlock and operate date stamping

machines were securely stored. Rather, keys were stored in unlocked desk drawers

near the date stamping machines. Further, manipulation of dates of claims compromised

the data integrity of claims processing timeliness and introduced delays in processing

benefits claims. We recommended the Under Secretary for Benefits implement plans

to ensure only authorized staff at the Boston VARO use date stamping equipment

and that they receive refresher training on securing date stamping equipment.

VA memo ordered false health care claims to cover up backlog

​Another veterans scandal hit the Obama administration Wednesday with the emergence of an internal Veterans Affairs memo that allowed bureaucrats to cook their books and assert they were answering diligently President Obama’s

call to reduce the backlog of veterans’ benefits claims.

Fast Letter 13-10   SUBJ: Guidance on Date of Claim Issues 

VA was warned that Aurora hospital could face huge cost overruns

​Three months before the Department of Veterans Affairs began building a new hospital in Aurora, an agency contract specialist warned that the project, and one in New Orleans, could face immense cost overruns.

Philly VA benefits office mishandled, ignored claims

​Mailed documentation backing veterans' disability and pension claims has for years been mishandled, backdated or outright ignored at the Department of Veterans

Affairs Philadelphia regional benefits office, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the VA Inspector General.VA officials said the problems are old news, uncovered last summer during the IG's more than 100 interviews at the office that began in June.

​​VA delays are a thing of the past

​I know that the Veterans Administration has taken a lot of flak lately for its performance and management. If the problems are as widespread as they are often portrayed,

then the Des Moines VA Hospital is the exception.

Florida veteran dying of cancer can’t get pain meds from VA

An Orange County veteran diagnosed with terminal colon cancer said he was given just months to live. But after serving for more than 30 years, he said the Veterans Association denied him pain medication that he needs to make it through the day. The problem is being blamed on a paperwork mistake.​​


Sen. Chuck Grassley Slams VA for Denying Veterans Guns

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said this week tens of thousands of veterans are being unfairly prevented by the government from buying and owning guns.

Boxes of Ignored Mail, Rodent Infestations Latest Black Eye for VA

A Philadelphia VA office simultaneously underserved and overcompensated veterans, keeping them waiting for months to get answers to their benefits questions, paying out millions in duplicative benefits and housing some employees in a vermin-infested warehouse, according to a report released Wednesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General.

House plan would give VA another budget hike

​House appropriators appear poised to give Veterans Affairs Department officials

almost everything they want in next year's budget, but lingering concerns about administrative mismanagement could trim a few billion dollars from the bottom line.

Cabins for homeless veterans proposed for Maine VA center

​A Lewiston lawmaker is leading the charge to bring as many as 21 cabins for homeless

veterans to the grounds of the Veterans Affairs Administration’s medical campus at Togus.