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The best and worst VA regional offices

The best and worst VA regional offices

Figures released by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for fiscal 2014's second quarter show an increase in the number and quality of fully developed claims (FDCs) being submitted nationwide by American Legion service officers and other accredited representatives.

Because they include more up-front documentation than traditional disability claims, FDCs move through the VA adjudication system much quicker. While traditional claims can take more than 300 days to be developed and decided, FDCs handled by the Legion currently take an average of 136 days. But Zachary Hearn, The American Legion’s deputy director of benefits, said that several VA regional offices (VAROs) were averaging less than 90 days.

Hearn noted that 40 percent of all disability claims filed in fiscal 2014’s second quarter by Legion service officers were FDCs; nine out of 10 were accepted by VA without reservation.“Not only does that show we are submitting more of these types of claims, it shows that our service officers are highly effective in doing this work," Hearn said. "It means they’re asking veterans and their spouses the most pertinent questions.”

Department service officer schools conducted twice a year by the Legion have recently focused their training on FDCs. Hearn said that he and other members of the Legion’s Regional Office Action Review teams have also met with Legion service officers at the VAROs to provide training.

The increasing trend in filing FDCs is good news for veterans. “For some of these VAROs that are performing poorly overall, there is still much room for improvement” Hearn said. “But because of the concerted effort by The American Legion and by our service officers – whom we can’t be more proud of – many veterans are receiving their benefits much faster today than they did a year or two ago.”

Worst VAROs by average days to develop and decide benefits claims:

                               FDC      Traditional

1. Seattle, Wash.      245        335

2. Baltimore, Md.     231        385

3. Reno, Nev.          230         410

4. Detroit, Mich.      230         289

5. Oakland, Calif.    226        312


Best VAROs by average days to develop and decide FDCs:

                                             FDC       Traditional

1. White River Junction, Vt.   56           254

2. Milwaukee, Wis.                64           121

3. Manila, Philippines            79           130

4. Fort Harrison, Mont.          88           280 

5. St. Paul, Minn.                   88           155

 

 

 

 

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TA

November 9, 2014 - 9:16pm

People claiming Welfare, Food Stamps, Foreign Country Aid and Illegal Aliens get their claim processed faster than a Veteran trying to claim for something that happened to him while in the Military. Then the VA rejects claims for injuries that happened to you while serving. The repeals process is a joke. If something is worded wrong on a claim they feed off that one word and the whole process starts over again. DAV has been a great help. Working for Corp. America took up 12 hours of my word day and I just could not find time to pursue getting rejected by VA. Also all my Medical was paid for by Corp. American and myself. Now that I am retired I have the time to go after all injuries that happened to me while serving. I know I might be to late but after watching the Government give our Tax Dollars away to useless Welfare, Illegal Aliens and Foreign Countries I decided I wanted my share of the pie that I earned unlike these useless people that never earn it and will give nothing back in return.

Gary1963

October 8, 2014 - 4:42pm

How did Manila make it so high on the list??? Still waiting for my 100% disability for surgery (10) months. They never update the ebenefits website and when you call they just give you a song and dance. As a medic for 20 years with a MHA degree I find them way below any respectible standard of care. In addition they violated my confidentially of my records and they refuse to do anything about it.

Retired Vet

August 25, 2014 - 7:54am

My only issue is DRO review...It is already fully developed with all evidence needed to receive a rating as the decision was made, you are simply asking for a more experienced person to relook it and see if you should have received a better rating? why does that take months? I dunno....

james ca

July 11, 2014 - 8:36pm

some of these problems, are how you address your self when dealing with VA your best bet is a VA rep LAWYER you will notice a differents

Grant Armbruster

June 23, 2014 - 3:08pm

Our daughter born 20 months ago has yet to be added to our VA benefits.

Dennis D.Howe Sr.

June 11, 2014 - 12:30pm

I have been trying to get assistance from my local contact officer with no answer . I have received what Medical records the Archives had .All others were sent to the V.A. No one answers my calls for help.V.A. for years have told me my Records were destroyed.I am to old to keep fighting . Never again !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WTH

May 14, 2014 - 8:20pm

Prisoners in California got lawyers and demanded better medical care, and they got it. Veterans are waiting for health care and dying. Doesn't our government see something wrong with this picture? Basically, a veteran could get better health care if they went to prison. Now that is what I call backwards.

larry artrip

June 10, 2014 - 6:29am

don't expect any care in the Philippines even if you are already enrolled with the v.a. medical system. some of us have service connected disabilities that are not treatable and no meds to help. thus we are forced to seek substandard medical treatments and purchase useless medications with no reimbursement from the v.a. even our medicines prescribed by the v.a. we must pay for.even retired veterans here are refused all there medical benefits!

CSM Retired N. Saeed

July 15, 2014 - 6:46am

I have had no problem at all with the VA clinic in the Philippines. I always make appointments and gotten all the treatment promptly. If they don't have an open apt , they simply gave me a LOA and I took to a civilian doctor. I have no Idea what Larry is talking about here? Probably the best clinic in the VA system.

pjk

May 13, 2014 - 5:24am

I have been going to the Houston VA and a local clinic for over 10 years. As poor as it sometimes is I am sure glad I do get some care from the VA especially before I got Medicare. When I have actually gotten care most of the time it has been excellent. Getting it is the problem, especially with the pain clinic. When I first started at the VA I still had to see a private doctor for one medication. Even though both the VA & private doctor were doing the same blood test my VA doctor did not tell me I had diabetes. My private Dr did. Initially the VA put me on pills. The VA would not give me a meter to test my blood sugar. After several months I obtained one privately. It showed what the VA was not telling me about the pills. They were not working. I confronted the VA doctor and began on one type of insulin. My blood sugar spiked every time I ate a little carbohydrates. Talking with another diabetic who had the same problem he told me he also used a second type of insulin. Again I had to ask my VA Dr for this other insulin. Now with both insulins my A1C in down in the good area. It troubles me that the VA hide details about my diabetics and that I had to find out from other sources what the VA Doctor should have told me. I also tried to get help for chronic pain, from an injury in Vietnam, for around 10 years. Finally I got Medicare and am getting help from private doctor. I had surgery on my wrist. I was in a great deal of pain. The VA surgeon wanted the VA pain doctor to provide me with pain medicine to take home with me. The pain doctor refused and the surgeon keep me in hospital several days until he was given permission to write the RX for morphine. The VA pain DR later had me drive 100 miles round trip just so he could tell me he would NEVER give me medication. I complained of vomiting etc and VA Dr put in a referral to see GI Dr in May. Come August I go into local emergency have gall bladder removed and spend over 6 weeks in hospital for infection. I got out end of hospital in Sept. Late November receive call from VA to set up apt. to see GI DR. Had I waited for VA I would be dead. I filed a NOD for disability. Records show the paper work was received. The VA losses the paper work and denies NOD because the paper work was not received on time.

VSO Guy

May 12, 2014 - 4:43pm

As a VSO I have for the past 3 yrs been submitting FDC's which supposedly "move through the system faster", however the shortest amount of time for claim I've worked on was 10 months, with many claims still in process 13-15 months later. These are being handled by the office in St. Petersburg, FL. The veteran receives a letter every 3 months or so apologizing for the delay. Is that what's considered by the VA as taking action? What an embarrassment Shinsecki has turned out to be.

John Skelton

May 12, 2014 - 2:16pm

I'm 50% disabled and I've been seen twice by the local VA Clinic in Wichita Falls in the last year.. The clinic is small but the staff do everything they can to get the care needed. The problem is the VAMC in Oklahoma City(Wichita and Wilbarger counties in Texas are under OKC). Two different provider at the local clinic have requested ortho appointments for me, and after the better part of a year, still no appointment, I've had alot of ortho problems (service connected) and I'm treated like a hypochondriac. I believe they just don't want to want to deal with me. They replaced half of my left knee and I've had nothing but trouble with it, but they just teold me to deal with it. I truly believe the VA just doesn't care any longer. They have broken the trust, and frankly I don't believe I will ever be seen.

Chuck Driscoll

May 12, 2014 - 10:20am

Twin Falls CBOC does a good job, but only open 4 days a week. Boise hospital is 170 miles away, hard to get appointments to coordinate with transportation. When you do get appointment, service is great.

Fred Littell

May 9, 2014 - 1:51pm

I think a large part of the problem is that the VA is grossly underfunded. Several members of Congress have voted against increasing funding for various reasons. One Senator stated to me that I needed to understand that Congress is struggling with keeping various programs including Social Security afloat therefore he voted against funding. Sounds like the Potomac Two Step to me. An additional piece of the puzzle seems to be people in the system who perceive themselves to be gatekeepers. These are not only VA employees but volunteer and paid advocates who are supposed to assist the veteran in submitting claims but rather than assist do their utmost to discourage these claims, often with opinions rather than fact. The system is broken, let's get together and demand that Congress step in and fix it.

CSM Retired

July 15, 2014 - 7:23am

no they are actually over funded, Funds are not the issue. It is just the system.

Jim Worthington

April 29, 2014 - 3:27pm

100% disabled. Reno VA provider can't maintain medicine refills. Evidence of medicine cancellations and manipulation of medicine orders. Provider calls leaves message on phone-We will no longer treat you do to your complaints about refills, we consider your phone calls as threats and Red Flagged you. Its not our fault pharmacy doesn't refill your orders-Click. Reports to advocate + requests for new provider, no reply after 8 months. All calls to recent letters of whom to call regarding patient abuse/refusal to treat are phone NIS(no longer in service)+ dead websites, just a carousel runaround

Mike Thatcher

April 29, 2014 - 11:08am

I realize that most of the claims from vets are reasonable and true, and those need help. However, how many are bogus claims? I know of one bogus claim here. This person thinks this will be a way to not have to get a job. Already gets food, clothing, and other needs for free, on your tax dollar. Here in Columbus, Ohio, our VA facility is great. Of course you have to wait for some things, but they are overwhelmed with patients, Docs don't get paid much, there is only so much time. I have received excellent care, and attention. Hearing, eyes, and mental health. I say thank you each time I visit, and I can't tell you how many times I have been thanked for my service. US Army, schooled at the University of South Vietnam.

Margaret Montgomery

April 26, 2014 - 4:42pm

My husband and I retired from the Marine Corps after serving over 20 years active duty. We both put in a VA claim as we both suffer illnesses. They lost my husbands Medical Record, and he has to take over 10 multiple pills twice a day. He served in desert storm and has been told that he was diagnosed with agent orange. Well he can't even get the VA to grant him what he deserves due to not having his medical record. He has PTSD and fibromyalgia along with other illnesses. This has effected our present life in various ways. He is a very private person and you have to know that its killing him to except his present condition. My question is when the Military needed us we were there to serve. Now that we retired we don't get help, respect, whats owed to us, we might as well be on welfare. So sad, so sad, so sad

CSM Retired

July 15, 2014 - 7:32am

You are both getting a pension...better than most people can say. If you deserve a disability payment eventually you will get all your money. The problem is all the folks who just want want want from the government....they screw the folks who truly deserve comp now. For example I know a guy who served in Vietnam over 40 years ago. 2 years in the military total, now every single thing that he finds wrong because of old age and normal wear and tear he blames the military and wants benefits...yet there is NO proof whatsoever of SERVICE Connection. he is on his 3rd appeal along with thousands of people just like him.

J Tennant

April 27, 2014 - 3:39pm

Fibromyalgia or chronic body pain is a typical side effect of PTSD which the VA doesn't like to let you know about. I believe they would have to give higher than 70% disability ratings for PTSD when chronic pian is added so they just disregard it like other illnesses that come up. There isn't any review or update in disability percentage when " new" illnesses" associated with your military time occur unless you push the paperwork thru an already overworked and very slow process. I think it's really sad that the fast track is to pay a hefty fee to an "advocate" to help you get what you deserve.

Don Gill

April 25, 2014 - 5:14pm

My PCP J. Baker from the Sewell, NJ VA clinic is a true and caring professional and I am lucky to have her as MY PCP. As a Veterans' Advocate & Service Officer I see all kinds working with veterans every day in my non-VA job.

george r streicher III

April 25, 2014 - 4:27pm

buffalo ny va-very good since 72! one bad dr.-I was under the motto"YOU SERVED" now let us serve you. not according to this guy.......................! post 152,tampa,fl.

J. Tennant

April 25, 2014 - 10:44am

I've been to 3 VA regions over the past 9 years and they are all different. The one thing they have in common is some good docs and others that I wouldn't let touch my dog. I was a medic in the Army and have spent a lot of time in doctors offices and hospitals since I got out so I've learned a lot about them. I'm in the Salem VA region now. The local COBC doesn't do any type of sick call or emergency treatment. The VA hospital is 80 miles away so it' fee based at the local if you can get it approved. Louisville KY was a pretty decent if you lived locally. The Washington D.C. Hospital was the worst that I've had the bad fortune to had to go to. It is a very busy place but much of the staff makes it worse than it has to be. I'm convinced some of the doc's thinks it's cheaper and less time consuming to bury vets than to treat them. Long story there that I won't go into involving diagnosing prostrate cancer 3years later than normal. I was so very glad to move away from there. The VA needs a way to review and remove non-performing doctors like one here at the local COBC.

cheryl weir

April 25, 2014 - 10:41am

I go to the John Cochran VA Center in St.Louis Mo and I have tried unsuccessfully for 10yrs to get them to do something about my chronic back pain. I even called my vet rep and he was supposed to meet me at the VA to help me and he was a no call no show. Also a few years ago I fell on my front porch and smacked my head on the concrete (bruises on my forehead,cheek and chin, bleeding from the nose and mouth) I sat in the emergency room for 5hrs and never got treated so I went home and then a few weeks later they had the nerve to send me a bill for $100.00 Oh yeah I get great care at the VA

charles osterloh

April 25, 2014 - 8:10am

I've had very good care at the Wilkes-Barre hospital, but it is 70 miles away. in emergency situations where I seek a local hospital it is always a pain to get VA coverage of local hospital expenses. A trip by ambulance to the VA hospital would be $100 dollars a mile or $7000 one way.

MACOR, Valentino

April 25, 2014 - 7:50am

I have been to numerous medical centers/services in my 78 years, from Europe to the U.S., and the best care I ever received has been at the West Palm Beach VA Hospital. Shortly after my first visits, Primary and Specialists knew and referred to ma by my name - I no longer was just a number (last 4?), and have taken very good care of me.

TIM THOMAS

April 24, 2014 - 9:27pm

YOU SERVE YOUR COUNTRY AND YOU GET SCREWED.THE AMERICAN WAY

Devilrider

April 25, 2014 - 7:01pm

Some of the doctors in Arizona have patient loads you would not believe. One Dr. in a clinic in a sparsely populated county has more than 2500 veterans who consider him to be their primary care physician. This is ridiculous and that kind of pressure could kill the man on short notice.

Ronald L Greene 0592

April 24, 2014 - 9:00pm

I go to the Richard Roudebush VA in Indianapolis, Indiana. I recieve excellent care from both Dr. Levient and Natasha Yeary.Usually on time with appointmentsAll employees are very friendly and ready to help when they can.

lambda5555m

April 24, 2014 - 8:13pm

The VA is overwhelmed and not getting any better. Initially, the CBOC was great, but now I have to wait months for an appointment to just get my routine maintenance medications, but since I can't get in to see someone, then I run out or have to use my civilian health insurance that I pay a lot of money for and that is not right. The VA is underfunded, but they are also overworked, however that is still not a reason to make accurate and timely decisions on our claims. The claims may be decided by someone with a high school education, never served in the military, never served in a combat zone, never had a disability or has no medical training. They are the ones reviewing the records and it's no wonder we get ripped off. I could really care less how fast or how many claims are processed, if they are not decided fairly and accurately. In my case, they are not, yet I provide evidence over and over again and still get denied. What does it take to make them do the right thing? I even volunteered to help train some of the employees or make myself available for phone calls if someone doesn't understand what a Soldier did in the military and what rigors they faced in and out of combat. I could answer a lot of questions and teach them how to properly adjudicate the claim. I provided enough evidence, but they don't read it or just flat out don't care. To get a doctor to go through my medical records is too much to ask for and if one did, I am sure that they would see plenty of documentation and evidence justifying the claims I submit and my disability would have gone up a long time ago. If you have a serious disability in your medical records and they see it, they don't tell you. If the doctor didn't tell you that you had it and didn't treat you for it, then how do you know you even have it to even file a claim. They don't tell us we have it and if they even by some chance actually review your records and they find it, they don't tell you about it even though it might be very serious and you could die from it. Happened to me and they just keep denying and denying. How could they miss something so serious and how could Army and VA Doctors know I have it and fail to tell me or treat me for it? Pretty darn sad that we have so many people that just don't care. Congress gets good press about how they are taking care of the Veterans, but they are the ones that cut the budget and nickel and dime the Veterans to death over every little thing. I am sick of it and wonder how it is going to change? Politicians won't do it, so who will? Good luck to all and hope that your claims are fairly, accurately and expeditiously decided.

Judoka-Sandan

April 25, 2014 - 1:04am

It is a matter of race for some and a matter of money for everyone. I had three tours of duty in Southeast Asia during Vietnam. I was discharged under the diagnosis of being Schizophrenia; when in fact I was suffering from PTSD. They should have known after I had attempted suicide twice, the first attempt was swallowing over 200 pills (Tylenol and Aspens) the second time God put a stop to it, which caused me to believe beyond all doubt that, GOD IS. In any case, it took thirty-four years before I was finally given any disability and it was back dated only four months! A veterans life is a dollar sign to be erased. I pray to God everyday to help others, especially the families of veterans that laid down their lives for the freedom of our Nation. The United States of American government does not have to worry about any nation on this earth destroying it, we are doing a better job within than any other nation on this planet. The super rich are living off-shore and feeding on their on nation and not replenishing our monetary and social welfare.

Earl Semler

April 24, 2014 - 7:58pm

This only proves my brother's assertion that the VA's MOTTO is "DENY. DELAY TILL DEATH!!!"

David Goodman

April 24, 2014 - 7:29pm

I have a claim in Baltimore over four years old. I wrote my Congresswomen for help and VA did respond and finally processed my wife of over a year as an added dependent that was not on the original claim and processed all the small claims on the claim and denied them all but one which was 10%, however the major claim was for unemployability which was deferred to gather evidence and expected completion date is not back to eighteen months. I have explained to them that I am oxygen dependent and I have been ammitted to the hospital eleven times in the last year most recently April 18 for COPD Exacerabation. I have a rep at Purple Heart who is so busy that his secretary is answering your questions and looking at your files on her computer telling me I have to wait like everyone else. I have been a member of American Legion Post 268 for 27 years and I need some help real bad.

Roy Wasson

April 24, 2014 - 7:09pm

Wonderful care from the Miami VA. I am always seen promptly and professionally. Although only 30% disabled (hearing), all of my care is free and comprehensive. Lunch is tasty and nourishing (and inexpensive) at the medical center cafeteria. I am a grateful patient and veteran.

Brian Griffin

April 24, 2014 - 6:58pm

I got my small hearing and tinnitus claim filed and approved in 6 months through Oakland. I get good medical care from the CBOC in San Luis Obispo. They have even done my eyeglasses using fee basis for a local exam. I would never drive 640 miles to a medical appointment. Go see your congressman or talk to a patient rep at the hospital. George Steese, former National Commander or the DVA and a volunteer at the Fresno VA hospital told me a while back that a veteran can go to any VA medical facility they want. I would show up at the Phoenix hospital and tell them I need care and I have not been able to get an appointment. Go to the emergency room or the patient reps office if necessary. It is always better to take some action then do nothing but complain. Members of Congress are useless in many ways but they have staff in their offices that know how to cut red tape. If you are lucky you will see a staffer who is a veteran. I am and I did that kind of work for a member for 8 years in Central Ca.

DONALD W. HICKMAN

April 24, 2014 - 5:44pm

The service that I have received from the N.W. Fl. VA people has been over the last 30 or so years, has been without reproach, along with Navy, Corry Station Hospital. I am 100% disabled from service in Navy. I've had more problems with the area Medical Institutes then the V.A. The recently opened Gulf Coast Medical Center is about 4.0 +1.

rich b

April 24, 2014 - 5:43pm

Some of the "best" regional offices manipulate their figures so they appear to be better than some others. It is also true the offices in the larger cities have a more difficult time meet their standards.

Stephen Subin

April 24, 2014 - 5:37pm

Applied but was told that my wife and mine retirement is to much and that I'm not getting any VA benefits. That's not what I was told when I enlisted in the Marines. I only wanted medical benefits, but that isn't going to happen.

Lynn Halle

April 24, 2014 - 5:19pm

I am 100% disabled veteran for PTSD. After being here in Providence, RI for 14 years and having to "jump through hoops", I was finally assigned a PTSD Therapist. After seeing her only 6 times she said she would only see me once every 3 weeks instead of once every 2 weeks because she was over booked. I said no . She then said she would see me no more. I complained to the Director of Psychiatry, and he said he would not overrule the therapist. So now I see no one.

Robert Trebatoski

April 24, 2014 - 6:07pm

I can empathize with you. While the VA medical services I receive have been excellent, I have noticed a "stretching out" in times between appointment, mainly for primary care; I have not had any problems with specialty clinics. My biggest problem is getting them to return my phone calls; again this is primarily related to primary care, which is important because the PC provider is the gatekeeper for all other services. I have also used my CBOC facility for "sick call" on occasion. Results are mixed, but if you need antibiotics, they will give you a prescription. Having said that, VA is still my best health care value.

Nolan Hargrave

April 24, 2014 - 4:11pm

We went, we served, we wait.......

Joseph Bishop

April 24, 2014 - 3:30pm

VA Has discovered a new way to screw disabled veterans out of health care travel pay by changing from quickest route from home to VA health care facility to shortest route. The shortest route goes through municipality's with frequent stop signs, more traffic lights, reduced speed limits, unpaved roads, and even university campus's. The increase in travel time, car wear, lower gas mileage, etc. reduces travel pay by over 20%. This is in addition to the $15 monthly fee withheld from veteran travel.

Patrick Titterington

April 24, 2014 - 4:27pm

This is on top of the fact that now we have to 'front' the money and be reimbursed electronically somewhere down the line. I know of many vets who say the heck with it for one reason or another, so the VA is stamping it all Mission Accomplished; saved more money. I just wish I could charge them for the hours spent sitting waiting to see the doctor!

stuart card

April 24, 2014 - 4:14pm

I have been trying to get my VA appointments sent to the Phoenix Az VA center for about 3 months now , but since I live in far south eastern CA IT SEEMS TO BE A PROBLEM , SO, I MUST DRIVE THE 620 MILES TO tHE va HOSPITAL IN PALO ALTO CA. LESS $ THAN IT TAKES ME TO TRAVEL..... MUST TRAVEL 1240 MILES BACK AND FORTH THERE AND I GET PAID .BACK AND FORTH TO phoenix...?????? FAR LESS THAN WHAT I SPEND ..I NEED HELP..!

Lynn Halle

April 24, 2014 - 5:23pm

There was a story about the Phoenix VA appointment (waiting list) on Fox News today. Senator McCain is supposedly livid about this. I would strongly suggest that you call his office and let them know what you are having to go through. God bless.

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