Re: “VA’s delays, errors create hardships for veterans” (editorial, 3-19).
I disagree with the statistics cited on the Veterans Affairs’ error rate.
The VA supplies that data. Assume that 1 million veterans file a claim in 2013. Of that number, statistically, 850,000 will be denied (the denial rate is 85 percent). Many walk away at this point. Only 50,000 appeal. Of them, 20 percent (10,000) will prevail at the next higher court, the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA).
Of the remaining 40,000, only 5,000 appeal beyond to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Affairs (CAVC). Fully 60 percent of those appeals are overturned for judicial error.
The VA has begun to switch over to a paperless system called VBMS. It has no provisions for handwritten records. The VA has no contingency for this anomaly. Soon, a new tsunami of appeals will wash ashore and inundate the system again.
Vets are far more savvy now than when I filed in 1989. I won in 2008, but the VA refused to pay me retroactively. I lost on appeal to the BVA. I appealed to the CAVC and the VA belatedly admitted error.
It took 23 years of litigation to accomplish three documented claims. What was the cost to deny for so long? I suspect it outweighs what they will eventually pay me.
The VA logo says, “For he who shall have borne the battle, his widow and his orphan child.” Forgive me if I seem cynical. The trick seems to be living long enough to win your appeal and collect.
My suggestion? Start early, pilgrim.