In a highly rated diary today Obama Administration to Cover PTSD for ALL Veterans written by dansac. They showed how thru a NY Times article that the VA Secretary General Shinseki has added a new regulation making it easier for veterans to file claims for PTSD caused by combat but where it is hard to find documentation of the incident thru Army records that verify the veteran was actually at the scene of the incident and that their life was in danger.
Now basically if the veteran was in a war zone, or a hazardous duty area and they get a Veterans Administration doctor or mental health professional to diagnose them with PTSD then their claim should be approved. The only thing that has most veteran service officers upset is that the VA will not recognize diagnosis made by civilian doctors the veterans have to be seen and diagnosed by VA personnel only.
Which in most cases would seem reasonable, except for the other rule changes that General Shinseki is trying to push thru at this same time as a way of supposedly making it easier for veterans to obtain benefits and quicker decisions on these claims.
In reality it will stymie the veterans ability to use lawyers and make it easier for the VA Regional offices to deny claims without fully explaining in detail why the claim was denied. This will truly be a Catch 22 with Catch 22's wrote into them.
From this VA Watchdog.org article we learn of the Secretary's new desired rules for "Veterans Benefit Programs Improvement Act of 2010."
as Larry Scott puts it
SHINSEKI'S PROPOSED LEGISLATION COULD NEGATIVELY IMPACT MANY VETERANS
"Getting rid of the primary basis of appeals and running off the lawyers will surely allow VA to get rid of all those pesky claims on remand."
While there are some excellent ideas in the proposed legislation, we must raise a red flag!
Analysis (below) is provided by an attorney who practices veterans' law.
Two biggies affecting legal representation of veterans in the Secretary's proposed legislation.
- They do away with reasons and bases for Board decisions - only "plausible" basis required. Translation, almost no Board decision could/would be overturnable at the Veterans Court.
- They change the EAJA prevailing party definition to be limited to cases where the claim ultimately results in a monetary benefit. Translation, even if we have to pay we won't have to do it for years or decades. Not to mention that if the claimant dies and no award is ever made, VA will save both the benefit payment and the legal fee.
What lawyer is going to work for months or years on an appeal, then wait more years or decades for a rating decision to get paid EAJA which is immediately offset against the award??? 0, nada, none.
If either of these sections get into law - Game over.
Secretary said he would get rid of the backlog - this should do it. Getting rid of the primary basis of appeals and running off the lawyers will surely allow VA to get rid of all those pesky claims on remand.
It is hard to tell at times where Secretary Shinseki is coming from, either from the side of veterans, or the side of the Potomac two step you know where it makes them seem like they are helping while at the same time tying up the system to make it even harder for the average citizen to get the government benefits they are entitled to.
I am always hopeful that veterans are going to get the benefits they deserve, but after more than a decade of dealing with them, I have this cynical side in me maybe it is the 6 feet of paperwork I have in dealing with their denials and appeals that lasted nine years.