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180-Day VA Claims submission process for Active Duty

This is a discussion on 180-Day VA Claims submission process for Active Duty within the Veterans Affairs forums, part of the Armed Services category; Anyone make use of the new policy on filing VA claims as early as 180-days prior to final separation from active duty? I recently did ...


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Old February 8th, 2017, 11:28 AM   #1
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180-Day VA Claims submission process for Active Duty

Anyone make use of the new policy on filing VA claims as early as 180-days prior to final separation from active duty?

I recently did just that and was wondering if anyone with direct experience can give me a straight-up, boots-on-the-ground, "this is how the process is going to pan out" breakdown. I put zero faith in the explanation offered by the Transition Assistance folks because I think they don't know what they don't know. They know "generally" how it's supposed to work, but like anything else related to the leaving the military, YOU DON'T KNOW what you don't know...until you know.

Here's my story: I made a complete copy of my medical record and "made a weekend" of driving 400 miles round trip to see who I'm told is a "respectable" DAV representative. I was expressly told by several recently retired folks to steer clear of the local DAV rep. What they told me was confirmed when I saw my guy, 200 miles away. I didn't want to open the conversation by insinuating his compatriot was a slacker, so I didn't say anything about it. He said, "You came up from Memphis, right? Yeah, I'm glad you came up to see me...that guy down there is a turd."

We went over my medical record, he filled out the claims paperwork and then explained, "Now when the VA calls you, it'll be a 3rd party service they use to set up medical appointments to evaluate your claims....DO NOT MISS THESE APPOINTMENTS AT ANY COST."

I said, "OK, I'm on terminal leave so it shouldn't be an issue...I have nothing else to do for the next 3 months...when should I expect these appointments to happen?"

He says, "I wouldn't expect anything to happen within the next two months...from what I'm hearing, things start happening about 60-90 days after we initiate the claims."

So I'm sitting there thinking, "Son of a B...we're planning on moving out of here as soon as my wife's school year is over in late May...now you're telling me not to expect any medical evaluations to start until sometime in May."

So I can see what is supposed to be an "expedited process" turning into a Charlie Foxtrot. Can't exactly make medical appointments in Memphis if I've moved to Houston or Orlando...or wherever we end up based on employment.

Anyone already been through this process who can "enlighten" me?


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Old February 8th, 2017, 11:36 AM   #2
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I cannot address your specific question, but you are correct in not believing what you are told. I recently checked the VA website for some info then when I spoke face-to-face with a VA employee about the same issue I was told exactly the opposite. I don't know if it's possible for you to get correct info. Good luck.

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Old February 8th, 2017, 12:57 PM   #3
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I retired from the Army in 2010. At that time there was a program where you took both your retirement physical and your VA physical at the same time. After the physicals were complete the VA took my medical records right then.
I then went to see a VSO, I used TXVETS, and started my claim with him. Your VSO should be able to pull information from the VA system on your behalf.

Part of the program at that time was that the VA would have your physical and claim paperwork BEFORE you retired/separated. The VA wasn't allowed to process it legally though because you were still on active duty. The day you retire was the day they started work on your claim. Another part of the program was that your claim was expedited because they already had all the required information.

I received notice my claim was completed about a month after I retired. What happened after that is another story.

PS Keep your VSO informed about your plans after you retire. He's your legal rep to the VA. If you move out of the state or VA region it CAN delay your claim processing.

PPS the eBenefits webpage is a good way to track the progress of your claim. You have to get your log in info from the VA though.

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Old February 9th, 2017, 04:56 AM   #4
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That sounds like a good process, perhaps something better than what I had available to me in 2004.
Your helper is exactly right...DO NOT miss a single appointment that they make for you, which can be many multiples of appointments as they cull through your claim. I think I had more than 10 appointments sent to me a in a letter a few months later. At that time the appointments were made for me in Wichita, KS whereas I was living in Kansas City and working on Fort Leavenworth. I asked for the appointments to be transferred to the Leavenworth VA and that was no problem.
Be prepared for when your claim is processed and sent to you that your specific claims, each one, may say "No prior history"...I toughed out a lot of things on active duty for which there was nothing in my medical records.
Best thing I could prove through history was my hearing and tinnitus, I received 10% for that, $134/month, but I gave up on anything else from VA, no appeals, no nothing.

Good Luck!

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Old February 9th, 2017, 09:47 AM   #5
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This is the program I used.
http://www.benefits.va.gov/PREDISCHA...-discharge.asp

Any appointments required for the VA were completed before I retired. The nicest part about this program is/was that there was no doubt about whether a condition was service connected as I was still on active duty.

Don't be a super hero, if you have a problem tell them. Too many vets regret later in life that they didn't say something and tried to grunt out a problem. My father in law did that and later he needed help and it was refused because didn't make a claim earlier.

Also, don't forget Social Security Disability Insurance if you are disabled. Different program and they look at different things. SS actually said I was more messed up than the VA.

You will also qualify for 1 month of unemployment, really. The last check you receive for active duty will be in one month. Your first retirement check will be in another month. By law you are unemployed during that period between checks.

Lastly, these are benefits you earned. Ignore those that may give you grief about getting a "government check". You actually did something to get those checks.

I receive my military retirement, VA compensation, and SSDI and earn them every morning when I have to literally crawl out of bed.

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Last edited by ArmyPilot; February 9th, 2017 at 06:04 PM.
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Old February 9th, 2017, 10:03 AM   #6
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I retired in 2011 and I did all my physicals and such with the VA prior to my retirement date. I could not actually file my claim until the day after I retired which was the 21st of May but I didn't receive anything until April of 2012. I higher your % the more reviews it has to go through. Also you can set up a advocate for your behalf, I used the VFW organization, and I could call them and they would check on the status of my claim for me. Remember the VA can and does change its rules and procedures quite often so stay on top of it. Good Luck.

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Old February 12th, 2017, 05:27 AM   #7
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Thanks for the replies, Folks.

I imagine I'll "see how it goes," as they say. I think I'm going to have to learn to keep my mouth "under control" when dealing with the VA.

I can't say I'm very good at "keeping my mouth closed" when dealing with the Navy Clinic I'm forced to use here. WEEKS to get an appointment; MONTHS to get from an appointment to any kind of resolution; constant issues trying to activate referrals in the civilian network in and around Memphis. They hear the words "military referral" and you're LUCKY if they call you back within 2-3 weeks to set an appointment for 3-5 weeks later.

From what I hear, the VA is much worse. I'm not looking for preferential treatment; however, my sister in law is the VA Chief of Staff in Richmond, VA. I'll keep that in my back pocket until/if/when I need it.

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Old March 3rd, 2017, 12:15 PM   #8
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UPDATE - 3 March

Figured I'd drop an update on this new VA Fast Track system, perhaps it will help folks out who may still be behind me in the retirement line.

The Fast Track system (allows a separating member to file VA compensation claims up to 180 days prior to their separation date) seems to be chugging right along for me. I met with a DAV Rep, I want to say the last week of November.

1) MAKE SURE you take a complete copy of your medical record with you to your Rep session. They are going to KEEP IT and mail it to the VA. They neglected to tell me that when I scheduled the appointment, so, I showed up with my actual medical record, 200 miles from home. Had to go home after we were done and FEDEX him one of the copies I'd already done. Cost me $74 for that missed nugget of info. I thought they were just going to get the claims paperwork moving and the VA would get my medical record after I retired. Nope, when you file claims, they need your medical record.

2) At the time of the meeting with the DAV, the Rep told me a 3rd party company would call me to set up the claims evaluation appointments and that I should bend over backwards to NOT miss the appointments. He said, "Drop everything your are doing an MAKE THESE APPOINTMENTS." Said they should be calling me within 60-90 days, after the VA had received and reviewed my claims, and then dispatched the 3rd party company to set up the appointments.

3) The 3rd party company called me yesterday, well within the stated 90-day timeframe. They did indeed have my appointments set up, one after the other, 4 days in a row. I'll say this, no one called me ahead of time to ascertain driving distance, whether or not I had plans to do other things etc. They just called with scheduled appointments that were purposely bunched together BECAUSE it's being Fast Tracked. I accepted the appointments "as is." When my wife got home several hours later she said, "Did you forget about spring break...we won't be home until the day of your last appointment." I was TWEAKED to say the least. HINT: it's kind of difficult to see the calendar on your smart phone when you're talking on it while driving.

4) Called the company back the next day to "rearrange" the schedule. Here's the deal, they group these appointments TOGETHER for a reason >>> FAST TRACK. I asked to push the final appointment back 2 weeks, still in the same month, but two weeks later. They didn't want to do it. I was lectured about Fast Track. They said, "We'll call you back." They called back 10 minutes later and my rescheduled appointment was scheduled for the NEXT DAY, which put it within a 7-day time span of the other appointments, just slightly ahead of them. Just so happened my truck was in the shop so I had to jump through my butt and take my wife to work in her vehicle so I could make the appointment. They don't care...and if you miss an appointment, the VA has to pay the doctor anyway.

So I went to my first "Disability & Compensation" appointment yesterday, still more than 60-days from my actual retirement. I will be done with all of my appointments by then end of next week. I will say this, don't bother asking for "percentage ratings" because unless you're at a VA Medical Facility, they aren't qualified to say. I didn't ask the doctor about it yesterday; it was the first thing out of her mouth after she concluded the evaluation. They simply "checklist" an evaluation form and send it to the VA after you leave. Makes me wonder if this is going to be a futile effort, civilian doctors outsourced by the VA to "evaluate" your military medical disabilities, but I guess I'll know soon enough.

Perfect example: I've was in the Marines in Desert Storm, from start to finish. While it wasn't Viet Nam or modern-day Iraq/Afghanistan; we had our moments. I've been overseas with the Coast Guard and Navy twice for Iraqi Freedom for a total of nearly two years. In fact, my law enforcement detachment relieved what was left of our sister unit after we lost one of our folks in a waterborne terrorist attack in 2004. That beside the fact that throughout my USCG career, I've recovered no less than 5000 illegal migrants and 103 "floaters" in all manners of disrepair.

So I'm at a psychiatric appointment. I didn't ask for this appointment, nor did I state any "psychiatric disability" when I met with my DAV rep. Routine VA stuff from what I gather. I think I'm a pretty normal dude who has seen quite a bit of "stuff" over my 30 year military career that people shouldn't have to see, but, I'm mentally fine. I'm sitting in front of a psychiatrist (never seen one) who is evaluating me for disability and compensation claims and the only thing she asked me of any relevance was, "Have you seen any combat?"

While I was gonna say, "YEAH....I seen a little on....TV," I replied, "Yes, a few sporadic bursts when I was in Gulf War, a terrorist attack and coup in Trinidad, and we lost a team member to a terrorist attack in Iraq."

She said, "Hmmm...ok," and moved right on along to something else. Didn't ask me to elaborate, whether or not it bothered me, where there any lasting impressions....nothing.

Then there's my search and rescue and tactical law enforcement background that wasn't even addressed. Never asked me anything related to being a 1st Responder, which in my mind has been well more personally "nasty" to me than my mediocre Desert Storm combat experience. I wasn't trying to work the system for compensation so I didn't say anything about it. Again, I'm mentally fine. The "interview" just didn't seem like it was structured correctly, if you ask me. Never seen me; doesn't know me from "Adam," and didn't ask.

So what I'm telling folks who may be coming up behind me and may read this: If you THINK you have an issue, and you aren't DIRECTLY ASKED the pointed questions during a VA evaluation appointment, YOU NEED TO BRING IT UP WITH THE DOCTOR. Do whatever you have to do to make sure it's documented and addressed.

Well see what the appointments bring next week.

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