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update on retirement and filing for VA disability

bspangler47's picture
bspangler47
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2010

Well I was retired medically in April from the US Army, with 75%. We (my kids and I) also purchased a house during the time frame of retiring. I ended up having a tube still coming out my left kideny while doing all this.

When I was on terminal leave I filed a claim with the VA center here, they are suppose to have a "fast track system" here. But I am still waiting. I called the other day they are still awaiting for more medical paperwork from the VA here in El Paso. I received a letter saying they are still working on my claim. I do know when I receive the disability I will receive back pay.

I am also receiveing Disability (SSI) so I also have medicare plus tricare. Which is better my options of what dr I see etc. The civilan drs are so different.

Still dealing with side effects from the treatments

Hope everyone else is fine

docholmes52
Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 2011

Hello Bspangler,
I can certainly emphasize with you on the wait. I am a Vietnam veteran. I filed in 1978 and was finally dinied in 1985. I refiled in June of 2010. My information sat on a shelf until March of 2011. That was when I contacted my congressman. I have completed the testing the VA requires from outside sources they will send you to. Those sources have 30 days to report to the VA of thier findings. The social security system did the same thing yet they denied me. I am now waiting for a hearing thru SS. The phone number you call the 1-800-827-1000 is designed to pasify you during your wait. I urge you to contact your congressman and go to the VA regional office and pursue your claim, document everything and also get to know your local VA rep. Be persistent! good luck Donald

bspangler47's picture
bspangler47
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2010

I have an appt at WAMC tomorrow and they VA is next door, hopefully I can go over there and get some help. I also plan on emailing the congressman. From what I understand it shouldnt have taken that long, especially since I was medically retired. And I gave the medical board findings to the counselor at the VA. I will let u know what happens.

Barbara

bspangler47's picture
bspangler47
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2010

Donald,

I called the toll free number for the VA. I kept getting the same story from everyone. So last week I called my congressman. They said it will take at least 1 to 2 weeks to get an answer. El Paso VA started a "fast track" program meaning you can file while you are still on active duty. They are supposed to have only 6 months processing. Working with the VA is like the military hurry up and wait.

Do you know or heard about if I collect VA disability and I am on SSI disablity. that once I start receiveing the VA disability that I will have to pay back the SSI disability.

Thank you

Barbara

bspangler47's picture
bspangler47
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2010

Donald,

I called the toll free number for the VA. I kept getting the same story from everyone. So last week I called my congressman. They said it will take at least 1 to 2 weeks to get an answer. El Paso VA started a "fast track" program meaning you can file while you are still on active duty. They are supposed to have only 6 months processing. Working with the VA is like the military hurry up and wait.

Do you know or heard about if I collect VA disability and I am on SSI disablity. that once I start receiveing the VA disability that I will have to pay back the SSI disability.

Thank you

Barbara

bspangler47's picture
bspangler47
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2010

Donald,

I called the toll free number for the VA. I kept getting the same story from everyone. So last week I called my congressman. They said it will take at least 1 to 2 weeks to get an answer. El Paso VA started a "fast track" program meaning you can file while you are still on active duty. They are supposed to have only 6 months processing. Working with the VA is like the military hurry up and wait.

Do you know or heard about if I collect VA disability and I am on SSI disablity. that once I start receiveing the VA disability that I will have to pay back the SSI disability.

Thank you

Barbara

bspangler47's picture
bspangler47
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2010

Donald,

i wanted to give an update on my situation. Last week or so I called my congressman, Was told it wll take about 1 to 2 weeks to get the answer. I also went to the vet center out in town and my counsler called the Waco office. He said my case is in the San Diego office. The VA opened up another dept to handle the new program they have at the El Paso office. Everytime I would call I would get the same story. I have attended all the appts that scheduled me for. Also the Waco office said there are 40,000 cases and 10,000 pending approvall

bspangler47's picture
bspangler47
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2010

Donald,

i wanted to give an update on my situation. Last week or so I called my congressman, Was told it wll take about 1 to 2 weeks to get the answer. I also went to the vet center out in town and my counsler called the Waco office. He said my case is in the San Diego office. The VA opened up another dept to handle the new program they have at the El Paso office. Everytime I would call I would get the same story. I have attended all the appts that scheduled me for. Also the Waco office said there are 40,000 cases and 10,000 pending approvall

bspangler47's picture
bspangler47
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2010

Donald,

i wanted to give an update on my situation. Last week or so I called my congressman, Was told it wll take about 1 to 2 weeks to get the answer. I also went to the vet center out in town and my counsler called the Waco office. He said my case is in the San Diego office. The VA opened up another dept to handle the new program they have at the El Paso office. Everytime I would call I would get the same story. I have attended all the appts that scheduled me for. Also the Waco office said there are 40,000 cases and 10,000 pending approvall

bspangler47's picture
bspangler47
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2010

Donald,

i wanted to give an update on my situation. Last week or so I called my congressman, Was told it wll take about 1 to 2 weeks to get the answer. I also went to the vet center out in town and my counsler called the Waco office. He said my case is in the San Diego office. The VA opened up another dept to handle the new program they have at the El Paso office. Everytime I would call I would get the same story. I have attended all the appts that scheduled me for. Also the Waco office said there are 40,000 cases and 10,000 pending approvall

Sandi3322's picture
Sandi3322
Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2011

First let me say I'm so sorry you're experiencing delays with the VA, as I am as well.

The kicker here is that I work for the VA. Please know that there are some of the best people I've ever met (many prior military) or worked with, that are working very hard everyday to process claims a quickly and effeciently as possible. We receive literally hundreds of claims per day and there is a huge backlog, mine included. I know the frustration 1st hand, but please be understanding. There is a whole lot of us (prior military) and not so many of us (VA workers).

The "fast track" program you are referring to is called the "QuickStart" / BDD (Benefits at Discharge). To qualify for the program you must still be on active duty and due for discharge not more than 160 days from the time VA receives (date stamps) your application (VA Form 21-526C). The goal of the programs are to have a decision by the time the member is discharged but there is a backlog here also especially with our military current coming home. I believe (please don't hold me to this as it does depend on load and backlog)that currently they are running about 150 days after discharge to reach a decision.

Hope that helps a little bit?
Wishing you all the best!!

bspangler47's picture
bspangler47
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2010

Thanks Sandi. I do believe I fell in that "area". I knew that it would be awhile to hear anything because there would be so many cases. It just gets frusating(sp). But I finally heard in Feb or so after I contacted my congressman. It got the ball rolling. The VA is still looking at several claims I still have open. I am getting some VA disability now. The care I have been receiveing so far from the VA in El Paso has been excellent. Have no complaints so far. I used to work for the VA in Southern California. I have nothing negative about some workers that work for the VA, majority of them were military. When I filed for my VA, I went to the Texas Vet Office had my records and board results from my medical board. He took me right out his office next door to a VA Rep that took my files and forwarded them on to Waco etc.

I have a question thou. I have been told by the VA (a couple of different ppl), I will receive back pay once everything is done and over. DFAS said no because I didnt spend the whole 20 yrs on active duty.

stealth478
Posts: 5
Joined: Jul 2011

Hello Everyone,

I have been placed on the Temporary Disabled Retirement List (TDRL) with compensation rating of 100%, for the cancer I have. I am in the Air Force and have more than 20 years active duty time. After reading the material I was given from my PEB representative, it says that if you are retired for a disability, you may be required to waive all or a protion of the Air Force retired pay if you elect to recieve disability compensation from the VA.

Here is the exact verbage from AFI36-3212, dated 2 Feb 2006,
found here: http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/
A2.8.2. Waiving Retired Pay for VA Compensation. Advise members they may waive all or part of retired pay to receive VA disability compensation. The part of the Air Force retired pay waived is equal to VA compensation received. If VA compensation equals or exceeds Air Force retired pay, the member must waive all Air Force retired pay. The member may revoke the waiver at any time to reestablish Air Force retired pay. This action has no effect on the right to waive Air Force retired pay again at a later date, if such action is a financial benefit.

Below is from an Army Regulation, dated 6 Feb 2006, found here: http://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/pdf/R635_40.PDF
3) Department of Veterans Affairs compensation. VA compensation is exempt from income tax. An individual may waive disability retired pay to receive VA compensation, or receive a combination of the two, or receive military retired pay and exclude from their gross income an amount equal to the VA entitlement. The Army does not make the determination as to the probable VA disability compensation. The individual must apply to the VA and receive a disability rating.

Can anyone elaborate on this in layman's terms?
I am just wondering if I should try to retire under normal conditions since I am at 100% cancer remission, and my condition is stable, and the findings of the PEB were based on my medical records from 5 months ago, before any chemotherpy was done.

Thanks.
Stealth

734gold
Posts: 8
Joined: Feb 2012

Whew! Okay, a lot to cover here so hang on, I believe I may be able to shed some light on these subjects.

The fast track - it really only speeds things up because you apply while on active duty and don't have to wait till your retirement or discharge to file a claim. VA claims are still first received, first processed - and there are thousands and thousands to be processed. Remember, we're still at war and there are guys filing everyday. I've found that 10 mos seems to be the norm about now, but it can be longer.

A claim may be transfered to another VA site if the site it was originally sent to is backlogged. Unfortunately, the site it gets sent to usually becomes backlogged when everyone sends their extra claims there.

The situation at the VA is pretty bad. The funding is below what's needed and cuts are threatened (especially under the current Administration) and it will get worse before it gets better. Yes, by all means contact your Congressional rep, but be sure to tell him or her that if they want your vote next time - FUND THE VA!!! This is what we need from our reps - not them butting in finding out what a particular claim is doing, but getting the personnel and facilities to process all the claims and see all the patients they should. Only our elected leaders can do this and as vets, we really need to think about who we are voting for.

As for the retirement and SS disability. I recently received SS disability and was closely questioned about my VA compensation. In short, my VA compensation is small enough to not effect my SS claim. So no money was withheld or reduced from my payments. I'm not sure what the amount is that this occurs at, and it may vary from case to case and state to state. I don't know. Check with SS and they may be able to give you an idea of what the amounts are for your area.

Now for the retirement question. Yes, in some cases the amount of $$$ received by the VA can offset your retirement. I am 30 % by the VA and what they do, is take the amount of compensation I would receive out of my retirement and give it to me tax free(whoowho!), then I get the rest of my retirement. Now, when "W" first got into office, he signed a new law saying that a retiree could receive their full retirement (afterall we earned it) AND their VA compensation. The only problem is, the VA went to Congress for the money to do this and it was "ah, well, err, ooooh. Get my drift. So, as I understand it... if you are found to be 50 % or above, by 2012 you will receive all your retirement AND your full VA compensation. By 2014 I believe it is, it will be 40% and you'll get it all. This is a very confusing subject (thanks to Congress - go figure) but this is the way my VA Rep explained it to me just the other day. Two different reps agreed to this and said a lot of the written rules on this (such as those quoted by the previous poster) are not clear and many are not fully up to date on the subject. I was working for the VA when ol George W signed the law and definately remember his doing so. A lot just depends on what the dopes in DC have done to it since - everyone is looking to cut costs and pay is the fastest way to do it. But both the Reps I spoke to were pretty adamant about their take on this subject. I myslef am looking to apply very quickly for and increase in benefits that will put me at 50% myself, so I have been researching this pretty thoughly. The same goes for the SSI benefits and from what I've found out, the other compensation has to be fairly high. From my understanding, 100% VA comp is equivelent to over 34K a year - My dad retired as an O-5 and his retirement was over 60K. So I can see where there will be cases where you may not get all you've got coming. Face it, they (the government) ain't in business to make us rich or even moderately comfortable, just themselves!

Hope this clears a few thigs up, or at least sends you in the right direction to find out.

bspangler47's picture
bspangler47
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2010

Hi, you are right about the VA. I do know the San Diego Office opened and hired alot of ppl to process the claims. I see a VET counselor out in town and she called the Waco office, we were told there are/were, 10,000 plus Vets waiting on their claims (that was months ago), and alot more submitting claims. It is true if you have open claims, and you have to send in documents etc, it does slow the process down, even if you call the 800 number to check on it.

I, myself, do receive my VA disability which is greater then 50 percent and receive the balance from my active duty retirement check. Also receive SSI disability. As far as I know SSI dsiability has nothing to do with the VA disability or my Army retirement. They r more concerned if you start back working and you earn a certain amount of income.

I do know the VA was a website ebenefits, that you can log on and alwasys monitor what is going on.

It is good to always educate yourself.

bspangler47's picture
bspangler47
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2010

Hi, you are right about the VA. I do know the San Diego Office opened and hired alot of ppl to process the claims. I see a VET counselor out in town and she called the Waco office, we were told there are/were, 10,000 plus Vets waiting on their claims (that was months ago), and alot more submitting claims. It is true if you have open claims, and you have to send in documents etc, it does slow the process down, even if you call the 800 number to check on it.

I, myself, do receive my VA disability which is greater then 50 percent and receive the balance from my active duty retirement check. Also receive SSI disability. As far as I know SSI dsiability has nothing to do with the VA disability or my Army retirement. They r more concerned if you start back working and you earn a certain amount of income.

I do know the VA was a website ebenefits, that you can log on and alwasys monitor what is going on.

It is good to always educate yourself.

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