Today we were up and out at 6:15 am (why is it so dark out at that time) and headed for what we thought was going to be some definite progress towards getting my disability claim with the Veterans Administration finally wrapped up.
Alas, it was not to be. You’d think that I’d be used to this, but I guess we had our hopes up too high.
My ongoing struggle with the VA Regional Office in Columbia, SC has now entered the 29th month with no resolution. I need two MRIs to complete all my examinations and then the paperwork would be sent on for review and a final determination.
On the advice of a VA patient representative, the fastest way to get the MRIs done was to make an appointment with my primary care physician and have her schedule the MRIs. The plan was then to take the results to the VA administrative side that handles the disability claims and have it put in my file to be forwarded on for the final review.
I have to stop here to define the two sides of the VA. The medical side where I’ve been able to get treatment has been nothing short of outstanding. The doctors and nurses are some of the best I’ve ever had in my life. They are a real credit to the VA health care system.
On the administrative side, the VA representatives that handle and process disability claims are nothing short of abominable. After over a dozen in person visits with them as well as a number of phone calls and paperwork submissions, I’ve found that all these people do is tell you what they can’t do for you and offer no help whatsoever.
Now back to today, my doctor cannot get involved in any disability claims and is not allowed to schedule the MRIs like the patient rep said. Instead she is going to schedule me for therapy on my knees to see if that will help with the issues. Now we’re going to have to remain in the South Carolina area for an undetermined amount of time while that goes on.
I was able to get signed in to an online VA website today so I can track what is going on with my claim. After wandering around, I got some answers, none of which I was very happy with.
According to the website, my claim is still in the “Gathering Evidence” phase. There is a completion date assigned to it. It will have to be completed between 5 May 2014 and 30 November 2014.
And the big kicker? My package and all the involved paperwork for my claim has been transferred to the VA Regional Office in Atlanta, Georgia! That office is now handling all the backlogged claims over a year old from the Columbia, SC VA Regional Office.
If I need to fill out any additional administrative paperwork or meet with a VA rep, I’ll now have to drive 3-4 hours to get there. Thankfully, at least, the therapy sessions will still be at the VA Hospital in Columbia, SC, about 1 1/2 hours from where we’re staying with our workamping job at the COE.
This puts us in another “lock down” mode, limiting our travels for the next year. We still are planning to go to Missouri (April) and New Jersey (August) for the births of our two new grandkids, but plans for heading out West will be put on a “wait and see” list. We’ll probably be confined to the East Coast for the duration until this sorts out.
On one hand, I feel like chucking the whole thing and just forgetting about it.
On the other hand, I’m a fighter and don’t give up easily. I can see why so many veterans give up with the VA, or choose not to get involved with them in the first place.
So we’re pretty bummed, feeling like the rug has been pulled out from under us again. But we got a little something today that brightened us up. A picture of our granddaughter Anabelle up in New Jersey helping her daddy make our family’s favorite cookie bar recipe.
That helped us keep our focus on the really important things in life.
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