Schmitt & Coletta, P.C.

Veteran Attorneys Fighting For Veterans and Their Families

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VA Lost Docs

Posted on May 5, 2016 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (61)
VA has mailed a development letter to claimants and private representatives (where there is one) affected by an "application defect" that occurred when uploading documents on both the VA's eBenefits and Stakeholder Enterprise Portal (SEP) sites.  The defect resulted in users being incorrectly informed that documents were successfully uploaded, when in fact the documents may have been rejected.  These errors occurred from August 1, 2015 through December 21, 2015.

Mandatory New VA Forms Effective March24, 2015

Posted on March 22, 2015 at 2:56 PM Comments comments (1156)
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working to make filing claims and appeals as fast and easy as possible. Beginning Tuesday, March 24, 2015, claims and appeals must be filed using the appropriate form. Standardizing forms will ease frustration among claimants, make claims processing more efficient and help VA reach more accurate decisions.
There are three major actions that will require a specific form or standardized process: Intent to File, claims applications, and Notice of Disagreement.
When filing a formal claim, the following forms should be completed and submitted to VA either electronically via eBenefits (ebenefits.va.gov) or the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal (sep.va.gov), or by mailing the completed paper form to VA:
  • For disability benefits, applicants must now use VA Form 21-526EZ, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits.
  • To apply for needs-based pension, use VA Form 21-527EZ, Application for Pension. To file a claim for dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), survivor’s pension, and accrued benefits, claimants should complete VA Form 21-534EZ, Application for DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits .
Applicants who are not ready to file a claim for disability, but wish to preserve a date of claim while  gathering evidence and completing the necessary application form should use one of the following three methods to communicate an intent to file a claim to VA:
  • 1) electronically via eBenefits (ebenefits.va.gov) or the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal (sep.va.gov),
  • 2) mailing VA Form 21-0966, Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/or Pension, or Survivors Pension and/or DIC, or
  • 3) over the phone with a VA call center representative.
Finally, Veterans filing a Notice of Disagreement with a compensation decision should use VA Form 21-0958, Notice of Disagreement. Veterans and their representatives currently use the form on an optional basis. However, beginning March 24, 2015, Veterans must use this form when VA provides the form with a decision notice letter. Veterans and survivors will not be required to use a standardized notice of disagreement form for other types of claims (i.e., pension or survivors benefits) at this time.
If you are unable to download these forms from va.gov/vaforms/, call 800-827-1000 to have the correct form sent to your home.
Requiring standard forms will help VA more quickly identify what the applicant is claiming and gather the evidence required to process the claim or appeal. Standardized forms are a key component of VA’s transformation, which will help achieve the Department’s goal to eliminate the backlog in 2015.

Win Your Case With Affidavits

Posted on April 27, 2014 at 5:59 PM Comments comments (30)
Many veterans   claims  are lost due to a lack of sufficient evidence to prove the effects their individual service connected disabilities impact their ability to perform work that produces wages above poverty wages.

Use affidavits from relatives and friends describing in detail the difficulty you have performing ANY activity. This puts the onus on the VA to show why these difficulties do not prevent substantial gainful employment. The submission of such lay evidence of the combined effects of multiple service connected disabilities provokes the VA to produce contrary evidence and without such evidence the Board of Veteran Appeals is unable to arbitrarily reject your lay evidence. To do so, is error by the Board.

Of course it is more persuasive to have a doctor review the affidavits and opine that you are unable to perform substantial gainful employment resulting in the earning of income in excess of poverty wages. 


It is best to have an experienced Veteran Disability Lawyer help you to provide and argue this evidence.

 

Paperless VA

Posted on November 5, 2012 at 8:17 PM Comments comments (31)
Please don't forget them!I recently attended the National Association of Veteran Advocates (NOVA) 2012 Fall Conference in Philadelphia. We had a representative from the explain how they are going paperless and therefore make it easier to obtain claim files.  All new claims are paperless.  If an old claim is reopened the file is sent off to scanning and it shall be paperless.  The daunting task is to scan all the old files.  I imagine this will take years