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Esophageal Cancer Appeal Granted


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19 replies to this topic

#1 sjh4951

 
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Posted 02 May 2010 - 08:59 PM

Thanks for all the information I learned on this site, and because of it, yesterday I received the "brown" envelope from the BVA telling me that I have been granted DIC as they found my late husbands esophageal cancer caused by his exposure to agent orange. All though I am glad the fight is over, I find no joy, only anger that our own chemical companies knowingly poisoned thousands of Vietnam veterans in the name of the all mighty dollar.

I would also like to add that anyone filing a claim or appealing a decision should never assume that their VSO has their best interest at heart. Mine did nothing. In the 4 years that I fought the VA I spoke with my VSO maybe three times and only saw him once. In February I called him to request that he check on my appeal status and his answer to me was "call your congressman." So what I am telling you is this, be sure all of your t's are crossed and you're i's are dotted. Do NOT chance that your VSO will follow through for you.

Best of luck to all who are fighting for what is rightfully theirs.

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#2 Berta

 
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Posted 03 May 2010 - 06:36 AM

This is wonderful news regarding your claim and also some very sad facts-

veterans are dying to due AO disabilities,

their survivors are having -in most cases- many problems getting DIC, and as you said:

"I would also like to add that anyone filing a claim or appealing a decision should never assume that their VSO has their best interest at heart. Mine did nothing."

This is true and cannot be stated enough.

The good VSOs are overwhelmed and the lousy ones .... there are many cases at the BVA that a good VSO or rep could have advised the vet or widow on better-

We see the best rep we will ever have when we wake up and look in our bathroom mirror---

I commend you - this was NOT easy case and you did it!

Your husband would be very proud and now he can truly rest in peace.

I got BVA award April 2009 but it took until a few months ago for them to start paying me the retro DIC.

It was about 10 years of DIC withheld for a FTCA offset.

Even though I won and still had to fight ( have 2 claims pending still in the fire)

the VA made errors that seemed deliberate and they stalled as long as they could-

Make sure when they pay you that the Nehmer retro is correct.

There could be an accrued benefit award too.

My reps had no faith in my AO death claim when I filed it in 2003.

I think they were just too dumb to understand it.

I had to explain the Nehmer court order to them.hey even took steps to insure the claim would fail.

I complained to the General Counsel with evidence of their stupidity and now many of these reps are gone and cannot mess up veterans or widows claims anymore.It was a state Vets Org.

Your post here should be read by everyone here-some of these vet reps treat widows like we are second class citizens and it is an utter disgrace.

Congratulations!!!!

#3 Berta

 
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Posted 03 May 2010 - 06:38 AM

PS -there is info on accrued benefits under the DIC topic here.and we have lots of Nehmer info as well under AO topics.

#4 akwidow

 
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Posted 03 May 2010 - 12:03 PM

Congratulations on your win. I too am a widow who had to fly with her own wings to win her claim without an involved VSO or attorney. It took me 6 years and three denials. I am glad it only took you four years.

Make sure to file for those benefits! They will not do it for you - in fact, when I filed for month of death they wrote back and told me that my vet was not receiving any benefits at the time of his death....what a bunch of idiots. Here I am receiving DIC, which a widow/er can only get when their dead spouse is SC at death, and they turn me down. I sent them back a pointed but brief NOD letter with a copy of SC award, rating award, marriage license, death certificate, and their denial in case they forgot they denied me.

Don't forget to file for burial expenses, medical ChampVa coverage and DEA benefits, and more.

Never give up!

#5 sjh4951

 
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Posted 03 May 2010 - 01:02 PM

Thanks for the replies. I do have a few questions. After reading the letter from the BVA I see where they show
the date that my husband filed his claim as Feb. 2005 when in fact it was July 2004 via VONAPP. As I was awarded accrued benefits because his claim was pending this would affect the accrued benefit amount. How do I
get this corrected? As I remember this was an issue with my husband and the VA but I do have his C file and the original claim to prove otherwise. I don't know if I should protest now or wait until they send me the accrued monies and then go after them. I'm concerned that if I do anything at this point that they will drag their feet.

As for other benefits will my regional office notify me as to how to file for these? I know there are state benefits too but would you believe when I called the State of SC office today to check on this they gave me the name of who to call and low and behold it is my lousy VSO! I'm going to have to find someone else cause he's certainly not going to give me the right info. I know he must have received my appeal today and hasn't even called me.

Berta, are you saying that it's been over a year and they still have not paid you?? Have they not made you wait long enough?? I've been told that I would get an insurance card right away but that the benefits would take several months. Is that correct?

I'll look under the DIC comments as I don't have a clue as to entitlement other than I now know I'm exempt from paying property taxes.


What are DEA benefits?

Thanks,
Susan

#6 Berta

 
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Posted 03 May 2010 - 02:24 PM

DEA Benefits are also called Chapter 35 benefits.

I had half of my degree when I finally got DEA Chap 35 awarded many years ago- with entitlement date as date determined by my husband's posthumous P & T 100% award.

I finished my degree at American Military University but VA only paid about 6,000 thousand and my DEA ran out-
so I paid the rest of the tuition until I graduated.

With my new award I received about 5-6 thousand retro on what I had paid to AMU-that I was then eligible for under the new direct SC death award.

Something all dependents should keep in mind- with DEA under 100% P & T and then ultimately a SC death award.It can change things and involve retro that many vet reps and the VA does not have a clue on-until you send them the actual regs.
on
accrued:

As I was awarded accrued benefits because his claim was pending this would affect the accrued benefit amount. How do I
get this corrected? As I remember this was an issue with my husband and the VA but I do have his" etc.

As long as you filed for accrued with the 21-526 within one year after his death- they take the amount of the new rating (if you continued with and succeeded in his claims pending at death to a higher rating) then they subtract what he got in his lifetime and send you the difference.

"As I remember this was an issue with my husband and the VA but I do have his C file and the original claim to prove otherwise. I don't know if I should protest now or wait until they send me the accrued monies and then go after them. I'm concerned that if I do anything at this point that they will drag their feet."

They should go with the actual date of his claim-I would wait and see what they send as accrued and see how they figure it out- maybe it will be correct.

"As for other benefits will my regional office notify me as to how to file for these?"

I suggest you contact CHAMPVA yourself -they have online web site-

Does the VA have a Burial benefit application from you with the 526?

The VA should handle that but you might have to get on them -I sure did.

We have some state bennies here at hadit by state-I will try to find it-
I only get a local property tax reduction as widow of a disabled vet- there might be more in your locale for widows.

You have to apply for Home Loan Guarantee yourself-the form is at the VA web site-

"Berta, are you saying that it's been over a year and they still have not paid you??"

Actually my REPS check just arrived in the Mail-REPS is explained in the forum somewhere- it only involves widows who lost SSA death benefit when their youngest child turned 16- and if they succeed in establishing direct SC death.
I applied in early 1995.
I cant believe they actually finally resolved this REPS claim.
I am stunned by it.

In my case I had proven a wrongful death in 1997 and VA settled with me and I agreed to a partial offset to my DIC which was null and void if I succeeded on direct SC death.

It was about ten years of DIC.The BVA in a prior decision tome had verified that a direct SC death would bring me this offset refund.

I had to crack the whip with the Office of General COunsel before I could get VARO to budge on this. They would not even acknowledge this offset.
The lawyers I dealt with when I won my FTCA case still remembered me-I was tough-
I got them to do what I wanted them to do and then the RO was forced to send me the cash.

It was almost a year after the award had been made. They owed me on 6 or 7 issues and I think only one is still pending but I found they owe me for something else I keep forgetting to tell them to award-
and they owe my daughter a better DEA date too for her Chapter 35 benefits.

My dumb vet reps had no faith in my claim and my evidence and worked against me.Then they wiothdrew their POA for spite.
They lost credit for over 80,000 so far in retro on my claim.What a bunch of dummies!

It is actually about 90,000 I forgot something.

I get 2 exceptions from my property taxes but your state has total exception? That is GREAT!

My husband should still be alive but they killed him with piss poor medical care over his DMII from AO.

He said the day he died (he had filed a 1151 claim himself) that he wanted me to go after them if he dropped dead---- and make them pay----
I did that and I will continue to do it-he was only 47 years old when the VA put him on ice.A decorated SC combat veteran.

sorry if I sound angry-this award letter I got today gave me flashbacks-and the check could have come last year when I was approved for it- but it took until today.

We deal with illiterates at the VA sometimes.

Edited by Berta, 03 May 2010 - 02:25 PM.


#7 Berta

 
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Posted 03 May 2010 - 02:30 PM

PS under the Nehmer court order they owe you ALL accrued benefits they did not pay the veteran due to his death.

There is a lionk to Nehmer here and at NVLSP web site if you need it,

#8 Pete53

 
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Posted 03 May 2010 - 02:36 PM

I am so glad that Berta is here. She saved me from some very bad information.

Congrats on your win.

#9 sjh4951

 
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Posted 03 May 2010 - 03:45 PM

"sorry if I sound angry-this award letter I got today gave me flashbacks-and the check could have come last year when I was approved for it- but it took until today."

I know exactly where you are coming from re: the flashbacks. On Saturday when I received the BVA decision I simply fell apart. Couldn't even finish reading the thing. Couldn't hold it as I was shaking so badly. Don't know what happened to me. It was like I had just been told that Bill died. Maybe delayed reaction to his death, I have no idea. It was totally unexpected as I thought I would jump for joy if I won but it didn't happened. Still hasn't. Just kind of numb and at a loss as to what to do with myself. I have spent so long in the research mode and now, nothing. Guess it just hasn't hit me yet. It was hard, though, to read cause of death due to agent orange exposure. A death that could have been prevented...thousands of deaths that could have been prevented. Just hung up on that thought right now so I know what you mean by anger.

#10 Pete53

 
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Posted 03 May 2010 - 08:47 PM

Dear Susan:

Its hard to deal with the loss of your spouse right now I am trying to help my sister in law as the VA killed my Brother on Christmas. I blame the VA because they did not help him and only added to his misery and I have anger also.

But anger although can help with motivation but its something we cannot continue to keep.

Your DIC award recognizes the sacrifice your husband made to his country and I am pretty sure he can rest easier knowing that you got it.

Although you think it is done please read Berta and check to see that you got the correct amount.

The waiting is over and thank you for helping a Veteran.

God Bless


Pete

One other thing is talk to Social Security and have them explain your options. As a widow you can elect to take his Social Security when you retire and the DIC money should not count as income for Social Security.

#11 sjh4951

 
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Posted 04 May 2010 - 06:45 AM

Thanks Pete. I also lost my brother (USAF) Vietnam 1969-70 to leukemia. He died 8 months after my husband did. My sister-in-law has chosen not to seek DIC because of the stress involved.

#12 Berta

 
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Posted 04 May 2010 - 11:10 AM

Susan -that is a shame that she feels that way.But I sure can understand it.

If he had Chronic Leucocyte Leukemia-died due to it or its complications and if he was incountry Vietnam-
that should be a very easy claim for the VA to award.

Also they have just added Hairy B Cell Leucocytes to the new AO presumptives.

#13 sjh4951

 
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Posted 05 June 2010 - 07:06 AM

No, my brother had Acute Myloid Leukemia. Diagnosed around Christmas 2006, died February 2007.

I was just reading a post on another site and it said the VA had a 6 month freeze, per their VSO, on all BVA granted claims. Anyone know about this?
I've heard nothing from the VA since I won my appeal. I did contact them via IRIS and got the following response:

"Upon researching your file, our records indicate we have received the notice of grant of benefits and the claim is with our Columbia Regional Office for the final administrative steps which need to be completed prior to the claim being completed. This process is in place to ensure accuracy and we don't have a date it will be finalized as of yet. We appreciate your patience and you will be notified via US mail once the grant of benefits has been finalize. Your notification letter will explain our decision and payment in detail."

Don't know what they mean by "explaining our decision" as the BVA granted my appeal for cause of death, denied for accrued PTSD, so the decision has already been made.

I've never filed for death benefits. Without the award letter I can't file for anything I don't think. I have the paperwork here for CHAMPVA (I requested it) and property tax exemption but need
that award letter to file. I would hate to think that there is a freeze on BVA decisions. Now that I'm finished with my appeal, time is dragging..I just want it over and put behind me so I can
decide where to go next with my life.

#14 Berta

 
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Posted 05 June 2010 - 10:13 AM

"I was just reading a post on another site and it said the VA had a 6 month freeze, per their VSO, on all BVA granted claims. Anyone know about this?"

I am sure they did not support this rumor with any link.



"I've heard nothing from the VA since I won my appeal. I did contact them via IRIS and got the following response:"

I got an award letter in two weeks after the BVA awarded my claim.They forgot to send me the cash.

This matter was finally resolved last month- almost a year after the BVA award- it was an unusual situation though-No one should have a BVA award frozen.A recent court decision prevents them from holding back on any awarded claim- if there were other issues deferred or denied.

I forgot the name of the decision- anyone here remember?


You should be hearing from the VA soon on the award.The retro DIC should come fast too.

"I've never filed for death benefits. Without the award letter I can't file for anything I don't think. I have the paperwork here for CHAMPVA (I requested it) and property tax exemption but need "


I would think your original 21-534 covered all benefits you were eligible for.

CHAMPVA= VA may or may not send you the CHAMPVA app- did you get it on line?

Yes CHAMPVA will need the actual award letter and it should be retro to any expenses you had during the time frame they gave you as an EED (I assume it will be to date of your husband's death unless there are other factors that would possible change that as retro date)

"Don't know what they mean by "explaining our decision" as the BVA granted my appeal for cause of death, denied for accrued PTSD, so the decision has already been made"

they will have to explain the denial of accrued benefits. It should be a complete statement of the award.

#15 Berta

 
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Posted 05 June 2010 - 10:17 AM

I am wrong -it wasnt a CAVC decision -it was a Fast letter and it is here:

http://www.hadit.com...partial-awards/

#16 sjh4951

 
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Posted 05 June 2010 - 11:22 AM

Its great and all that they awarded me accrued to Bill's file date but what do they do about medical expenses regarding his cancer treatments?

He didn't have health insurance just medicare and they only payed 80% of their approved amount which left us with huge bills for chemo, surgery, and radiation. I had been putting the chemo charges on our Visa card but maxed it and one of the times we went in for his chemo treatment we were told to cough up $2800.00 or they wouldn't give him his chemo. Lucky for me that I had another charge card but I was sure pissed that they confronted me right in front of my husband who was already in the chemo chair in a room full of other patients.

#17 sjh4951

 
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Posted 08 June 2010 - 09:57 PM

anyone have an answer regarding the medical bills??

#18 Berta

 
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Posted 09 June 2010 - 11:10 AM

We dont see this type of question often as most of us here get either VA health care or Medicare or CHAMPVA or Tricare-

I managed to find this farly recent BVA decision which contains citations to the rrguilations that cover these types of claims.

Was a formal claim made for reimbursement?

There is criteria for these types of claims in the regulations:

http://www4.va.gov/v...es1/1001535.txt

#19 sjh4951

 
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Posted 09 June 2010 - 03:26 PM

No formal claim has been made as I just received word a month ago that I had won my appeal. It had been denied while my husband was living BUT the
BVA found evidence where my husbands claim should have been approved at the regional so therefore they awarded me accrued back to the date of the original claim that
my husband made in 2004. Because his cancer was not recognized as service connected at the time he was undergoing treatment, we didn't file any claim for reimbursement.

Now that the BVA has stated that my husband did die from a service connected disease, I would think they should be responsible for the cost of all his treatment.

Thanks for the case that you sent.

I'm not going to approach the VA about any of this until I have received my award letter and who knows when that will be. I saw the link for the fast letter stating appeals are to
be handled expediciously but so far I haven't received any notification from the regional office.

#20 sjh4951

 
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Posted 02 December 2010 - 02:32 PM

Well, here it is December and in August I did submit my late husbands medical bills. I've heard zero from the VA. Nothing. I did call a month or so ago and was told
"they are working on it" whatever that means anymore. I only have until next month I think it is to submit the rest of the bills (only sent the major ones). I asked VA if I should go
ahead and submit the rest of the bills and they said "no, wait until you hear something." Soon that will be too late.

I know that the odds of them reimbursing are little to none but it would be nice of them to give me a yay or a nay instead of dragging it out.

I hope that any of you who are fighting the VA for what you feel is due, do not give up!




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