Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
VA Launches New Process To Turn Around Disability Claims In 30 Days Or Less
In an effort to streamline its claims process, the Department of Veteran Affairs announced the official launch of the Decision Ready Claims program for all regional VA offices on Sept. 8, which promises a decision on claims for upgrading disability compensation within 30 days of filing, and could potentially cut out months of waiting.
The system, which has been in the pilot phase since May 1, requires veterans to work with accredited veteran service organizations, such as Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars, to ensure a veteran has all necessary documentation for their disability compensation upgrade prior to submitting the paperwork. Veterans in need of VSO services can locate the nearest office by searching on the VA website.
Currently, veterans can submit a claim with little additional paperwork, which places the impetus on the VA to collect the required documents, schedule any necessary exams, and generally, do most of the heavy lifting. Under the Decision Ready Claims process, veterans can opt to do that legwork themselves ahead of time.
“For veterans who need more flexibility in scheduling doctors appointments and to gather evidence, it might help,” Ryan Gallucci, VFW’s director of the national veterans service, told Task & Purpose. “Right now DRC is making it so veterans take on a lot of the responsibility to take on their own claim. That may be good for some, but probably not the best way for most.”
Veterans opting for the new claims process will have to gather the required documentation then have a VSO representative review the documents to ensure everything is in order. The VSO rep can then mandate additional evidence for the claim if it's needed before the claim is submitted. Once filed, the VA has 30 days to respond.
While the DRC currently is limited to claims for increased disability compensation, which represent about 10% of VA’s total claims, according to Military Times, the department plans to expand the types of claims accepted under DRC in the coming months.
While 30 days is a vast improvement, officials warn that collecting the information needed for the claim can be time-consuming.
“Gathering their military personnel records, military medical records, any private medical evidence you might have, any statements from your family members or people you served with in support of your claim, that can take a long time,” Gallucci told Task & Purpose, adding that it could take months, maybe even a year for a veteran to gather all the requisite material for the DRC.
It’s possible that by shifting the legwork from VA representatives to veterans and VSOs, the department is attempting to tackle an issue that’s plagued it for years: the claims backlog.
“In a way it takes the development time off of VA’s books and has the potential to artificially make the backlog look better or make the pending workload look better, because that time still exists, the veteran is still responsible for going to exams and collecting evidence,” Gallucci said. “With how the paperwork would be filed, it would no longer be considered part of the pending workload.”
In March 2013, the VA came under fire when its backlog of claims peaked at 610,000, drawing harsh criticism and calls for reform. In the years since, it has shrunk, fluctuating around 100,000, according to Military Times.
Ultimately, it’s up to the individual veteran to decide whether DRC will work in their case.
“It's an aggressive pilot program, and we're going to work with VA to make sure it works and meets the needs of veterans, that's our top priority," said Gallucci. “Anyone interested in this program should have an honest conversation with your veteran service officer.”
The Navy has paused proceedings that could strip Eddie Gallagher and three other SEALs of their tridents while the service awaits a written order to formally stand down, a senior Navy official told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
Rear Adm. Collin Green, the head of Naval Special Warfare Command, was expected to decide on the matter after the SEALs appeared before a review board next month. But Trump tweeted on Thursday that Gallagher was in no danger of losing his trident, a sacred symbol of being part of the SEAL community.
"The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher's Trident Pin," the president tweeted. "This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!"
A Corpsman went to a military hospital for a routine shoulder surgery. 4 days later he was dead, and his parents say the Navy is to blame
Jordan Way was living a waking nightmare.
The 23-year-old sailor laid in bed trembling. At times, his body would shake violently as he sobbed. He had recently undergone a routine shoulder surgery on Dec. 12, 2017, and was hoping to recover.
Instead, Jordan couldn't do much of anything other than think about the pain. Simple tasks like showering, dressing himself, or going to the bathroom alone were out of the question, and the excruciating sensation in his shoulder made lying down to sleep feel like torture.
"Imagine being asleep," he called to tell his mother Suzi at one point, "but you can still feel the pain."
To help, military doctors gave Jordan oxycodone, a powerful semi-synthetic opiate they prescribed to dull the sensation in his shoulder. Navy medical records show that he went on to take more than 80 doses of the drug in the days following the surgery, dutifully following doctor's orders to the letter.
Instinctively, Jordan, a Navy corpsman who by day worked at the Twentynine Palms naval hospital where he was now a patient, knew something was wrong. The drugs seemed to have little effect. His parents advised him to seek outside medical advice, but base doctors insisted the drugs just needed more time to work.
"They've got my back," Jordan had told his parents before the surgery, which happened on a Tuesday. By Saturday, he was dead.
Two airmen from Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, were killed on Thursday when two T-38 Talon training aircraft crashed during training mission, according to a message posted on the base's Facebook age.
The two airmen's names are being withheld pending next of kin notification.
A total of four airmen were onboard the aircraft at the time of the incident, base officials had previously announced.
The medical conditions for the other two people involved in the crash was not immediately known.
An investigation will be launched to determine the cause of the crash.
Emergency responders from Vance Air Force Base are at the crash scene to treat casualties and help with recovery efforts.
Read the entire message below:
VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Two Vance Air Force Base Airmen were killed in an aircraft mishap at approximately 9:10 a.m. today.
At the time of the accident, the aircraft were performing a training mission.
Vance emergency response personnel are on scene to treat casualties and assist in recovery efforts.
Names of the deceased will be withheld pending next of kin notification.
A safety investigation team will investigate the incident.
Additional details will be provided as information becomes available. #VanceUpdates.
This is a breaking news story. It will be updated as more information is released.
The commander of the Marine Corps' Wounded Warrior Regiment has been relieved over a loss of "trust and confidence in his ability to lead" amid an investigation into his conduct, a Corps official told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
Col. Lawrence F. Miller was removed from his post on Thursday morning and replaced with his executive officer, Lt. Col. Larry Coleman, who will serve as interim commander of the Quantico, Virginia based unit.
President Donald Trump has nixed any effort by the Navy to excommunicate Eddie Gallagher from the SEAL community.
"The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher's Trident Pin," the president tweeted on Thursday. "This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!"