Folder

I don't understand the waiting for folder issues. Are the records not digitalized and in net working computers? Can we expose the folder trails?

I don't remember ever puting in a claim to the VA for anything. What is Mr. O'Brian's evidence for "At some point in time, before you came to see me, you put in a claim for something from the VA."

March14, 2012, (8:46am) Brian O’Neill to Veteran
They are waiting on your records being sent to them, from the previous regional office that had your claim folder. They also put in a request to NPRC for your records, and are awaiting them.
If they do not have your bank information, then they would send a check. If you would like to receive direct deposit, then you would need to provide the VA with your bank information using VA form 24-0296. I have attached that form, so if you would like, fill it out, sign it, and snail mail it to me, and I will submit it to the VA”

March14 (5:09pm) Brian O’Neill to Veteran
“If you recall when you came in, we went over the piece of paper from eligibility, which stated on it your claim folder was in Honolulu, in the regional office there. At some point in time, before you came to see me, you put in a claim for something from the VA. It might have been education, or a home loan. But they generated a claim folder on you. There is only one claim folder per veteran .
As far as NPRC, that is the governments repository for all paperwork. When you were discharged from the military, NPRC took possession of your service records. Any time a claim is made to the VA, they request those records, so they can verify military service, and the particulars of that service.
Both are normal, and nothing to be worried about”

Comment: What is Mr. O'Brian's evidence for "At some point in time, before you came to see me, you put in a claim for something from the VA."

March14 (5:56pm) Brian O’Neill to Veteran
“Where you are, in some cases has nothing to do with where your claim folder is. The VA can send a folder to any number of offices to be worked on. When I went to school in Massachusetts, my claim folder was in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Honolulu may have been where they sent your folder to be worked at that time. Or, the VA may have sent it there for any number of reasons. But since you are in Arizona now, they will try to work the claim out of the Phoenix Regional Office, though they can delegate it out to another Regional Office if their claim load is too high.
NPRC is the National Personnel Records Center. It is the central repository for military personnel records.

I don't give time frames, any time I do the VA makes a liar out of me. I can tell you that people in my family have had their claim in since March of 2010. Yet I know other people who get their claim decided much faster. In the history of the VA, the year they had their most claims filed, last year they had double that amount. The VA has an incredible workload at the moment, without the infrastructure to support it. That means claims that used to take three months can now take over a year. Basically, be prepared to wait. It is an unfortunate reality that we are all suffering through right now, myself included.
Adding direct deposit doesn't complicate the claim in the slightest. I would actually suggest submitting it, to keep the VA from writing you again on it. But that is your choice. They will want it eventually, as they are being mandated to move to direct deposit to get rid of checks.
If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. I prefer getting reminders from clients every once in a while, so that I know to keep tabs on them. With thousands of veterans in our area, my memory isn't good enough to check on all of them every day. So any time you want to know what is up, just drop a line and I will get back with you as quickly as possible”

May10 (regular mail, mailed May11) Jeffery McAdams to Veteran
"IMPORTANT – reply needed
Dear Mr. Oconnell:
Important Information
We have received your typed statement on February 7, 2012, stating that you wish to withdraw your claim for      *Skin cancer
We have withdrawn your pending claim at this time. No further action will be taken on your claim. 
If you decide to reopen your claim at this time, just state so on the enclosed VA Form 21-4138. If we do not receive this form in the Department of Veterans Affairs with one year of the date of this letter, benefits, if entitlement is established, may not be paid prior to the date of this receipt.
The Pension Management Center will address your claim for Non-Service Connected Pension.
How Can You Contact Us?
If you are looking for general information about benefits and eligibility, you should visit our website at http://www.va.gov.  Otherwise you can contact us in several ways. Please give us your VA file number 25 163 990, when you do contact us.
*Call us at 1-800-827-1000. If you use a telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD), the number is 1-800-829-4833.
*Send us an inquiry using the internet at https://iris.va.gov.
*Write to us at the address at the top of this letter.
We look forward to resolving your claim in a fair  and timely manner.
Sincerely yours,
Jeffrey McAdams
Veterans Service Center Manager
Enclosures: VA Form 21-4138  Statement in support of claim.
cc: ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS SERVICES" 

May14 (9:21am) Brian O’Neil to Veteran
VA withdrew your request for compensation of skin cancer, based on a typed statement that they received on February 7, 2012.
On March 20, 2012, per your request a VA 21-4138 was submitted to the VA. My system shows that two 21-4138’s were filled out.
The first stated the following:
To: 345/Triage
From: ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS SERVICES, 240 S Montezuma Street, Suite 208, Prescott AZ 86303
Subject: Withdrawal of compensation claim for skin cancer.
The veteran wishes to withdraw his claim for compensation for skin cancer.
This does not affect the veterans claim for Non-Service Connected Pension. Please move forward with the veterans claim for Non-Service Connected Pension.
On the VA 21-526, questions 36A, 36B. and 36C were not checked, the answer for each was "No".
Thank you.
The second one stated the following, and you were provided a copy of it by James Louis, the counselor you saw:
IN RESPONSE TO PHX VARO LETTER DATED JANUARY 24, 2012, THE VETERAN IS WITHDRAWING THE COMPENSATION CLAIM FOR SKIN CANCER
PLEASE EXPEDITE THE ADJUDICATION OF HIS NON-SERVICE CONNECTED PENSION BASED ON ELIGIBILITY - AGE 65 STATUS
THE VETERAN IS AGE 70 AND CURRENTLY RECEIVES $538.00 PER MONTH FROM SOCIAL SECURITY
THANK YOU FOR YOUR IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE
POA HELD BY ADVS
THE VETERAN DOES NOT HAVE A TELEPHONE. IF THERE IS A NEED TO CONTACT HIM, PLEASE CALL (520) 207-4960 EXT AND SPEAK WITH JAMES LOUIS (POA / ADVS)
On March 20, 2012 the VA system shows they received the Cover Sheet and 21-4138.
As this is now a pension claim, the Phoenix VA Regional Office has closed out the compensation claim as requested, and mailing the claim to the Pension Management Center (PMC) to process the pension. I called the PMC this morning and they have not as yet received it. Once they receive it, they will begin processing it.
I hope this answers your questions.”

May16 (8:45am) Brian O’Neil to Veteran
“The VA only gives out the standard 1-800-827-1000 number for contacting them. And they do not release names to the public. I already contacted them the other day, and they do not have it in their possession as yet, or processing. So I am not sure why you are anxious to contact them, as it will not expedite your claim. While I understand you are trying to track your claim, you will never get better information through them, as you will through us on it. If you are anxious to track it, you can always enroll on eBenefits. You create a basic account online, then if you verify your information in person with the VA, your account is upgraded. One of the features it gives, is the ability to track claims.
Looking over everything though, it appears as though you are contacting our office near you, myself, and the VA. This may result in too many people trying to work towards the same goal, stepping on each others toes, working from different angles, all the while. This is a process that unfortunately, takes time. The VA system has been overloaded for some time now, and pension claims are taking on average over six months.”

May17 (9:05am) Brian O’Neil to Veteran
“I am not sure what you mean by “exposed”.
On January 17, 2012, you came to my office and we filled out your claim. It was mailed to the VA, and it was received by them on January 20, 2012. Shortly thereafter, they requested your claim folder from the location it was being stored at, and that it be sent to the Phoenix VARO.
Statement submitted on February 7, 2012 that you would like to withdraw claim for skin cancer.
On May 7, 2012, your folder was received at the Phoenix VARO from its previous location
VA Letter sent to you on May 10, 2012 that your claim for compensation is withdrawn, and that your claim for pension will be processed at the Pension Management Center.
On May 14, 2012, I contacted to Pension Management Center in regards to your claim. They had not yet received your claim, but stated once they did they will begin working on it.
I looked in the VA system today, your claim folder is still at the Phoenix VARO, waiting to be shipped out. The VA has opened your pension claim, but no work has begun on it.
The average process time for a pension is six to nine months from when the VA starts working on it. It looks at wartime service, income, assets, and whether a veteran is to disabled to work. Being over 65 for VA purposes, is considered a disability. Being over 65 means the VA doesn’t have to develop for medical conditions, which means “over 65” claims should not take as long as those who are too disabled to work due to a physical disability. They verify through a request for records from the National Archives, if they don’t already have the information in a claim folder, the veterans wartime service, and that they were honorably discharged. They can perform a data match with Social Security, and other sources to confirm that the income and assets that are reported are in fact correct. However, all information is verified to ensure eligibility for the pension, and this does take time.
The VA is currently handling a higher workload than it has ever handled in its history, and unfortunately, they cannot just hire people and throw them in the positions that need to be filled in order for the process to return to the speed that it had a few years ago. The job requires training and experience, which means claims take longer than before. The VA is trying to defray that extra time as much as possible, but it still takes time. While the VA average time is six to nine months for pension claims, they can also take over a year. When the PMC receives your claim, they will send you out a letter, typically in the first month, of what they need from you, if anything. The claim is a process, and there are people who submitted claims before you that the VA has to work through before they get to yours.
I hope this answers your questions”

May18 (8:27am) Brian O’Neil to Veteran
“It is a standard letter, there is nothing that obscure about it, and there is no hidden meaning in it. You are over-thinking this.
You had submitted for compensation, and pension.
Compensation claims are typically worked on at the VA Regional Office (VARO) in your state, in this case the Phoenix VARO.
Pension claims are typically worked on at the Saint Paul, Minnesota VARO.
Compensation and pension do not get worked on at the same time typically. They process the compensation, then they process the pension typically.
When you withdrew your compensation claim, for skin cancer, your compensation claim was closed at the Phoenix VARO, so that your pension claim can be sent to the Saint Paul VARO.
Even though you closed your compensation claim, the VA still gives you the option to reopen it at a later date, to keep the original date of claim, as long as you do it within the specified time period.
However, for now, just the pension claim is moving forward as you requested. And the work on it will be done at the Saint Paul VARO
As far as what the Phoenix VARO is sending to Saint Paul, it should be your entire claim folder (which I cannot see on the computer to print the contents of), which includes everything that we have submitted.”

May 21 (postal mail) Brain O’Neil to Veteran, contents of envelope :

January 17 (postal mail) Brian O’Neill to “345/Triage” (Phoenix VA?)
“The following is submitted for Appropriate Action
* VA 21-22 Appointment of ADVS as POA
* VA 21-526 Initial Claim for Compensation and Pension
Remarks:
Veterans claims folder is currently 359 Honolulu Regional Office, please transfer to Phoenix. A SF 180 has been submitted to NPRC, when the veteran receives them, a copy will be submitted to the VA.
Please process accordingly, thank you.”

February 22 (postal mail) Brian O’Neill to “345/TPD2/GW” (Phoenix VA?)
“The following is submitted for Appropriate Action
* VA 21-8416 Medical expense report
* VA 21-8049 Request for details of expenses
Please process accordingly, thank you.”