Muskogee Regional Office

Far and away, the biggest concern I hear from Veterans is the disability backlog. From knowing where to start, to the paperwork and appointments—and then the wait for a decision with care and benefits on the line—the whole process can get frustrating.
It’s an issue decades in the making, and not one with an easy, quick fix. That’s why VA, at the end of last year, implemented a paperless processing systems at 18 regional offices known as the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), which pilots showed cut decision times in half while increasing accuracy. Now VA is in the process of rolling out VBMS to the remaining 38 regional offices by the end of the year.

From the release:

Critical to VA’s transformation is ending the reliance on the outmoded paper-intensive processes which prevent timely and accurate claims processing.  VA is deploying technology solutions which improve access, drive automation, reduce variance, and enable faster and more efficient operations to eliminate the backlog.

In other words, the processing system used has not kept up with increased demand, even as VA processes more than 1 million claims each year, and technology is the solution. The backlog grew when barriers to PTSD compensation were removed, along with the consideration of certain illnesses presumptive of Agent Orange exposure—and multiple complex injuries from Iraq and Afghanistan added an unprecedented number of claims. But the long term issues stem from yesterday’s technology not meeting today’s demands. VBMS and other transformation initiatives begin implemented at regional offices across the country aim to take care of that once and for all.

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Published on Jan. 14, 2013

Estimated reading time is 1.4 min.

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  1. MattW January 28, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Waiting 14 months for a simple dependency update that may take, O ’bout 15 minutes or so…No end in sight still. My VSO told me it would be about 9 months, 5 months later still waiting…haven’t heard a lick about it since they gave the intial “we got your letter” letter.

  2. Nvig January 28, 2013 at 5:54 am

    As a former GS 11 DAC I use to work in the SRP, starting in 2003. Initially started out of state. Than moved back home in 2006 an rehired as gs11 AGAIN WITH SRP. SRP screen personnel pending deployment and after deployment. After 30 plus years as a medic and other positions I was able to utilize military training in both the military and civilian sector. SRP is what we called Preparation for Overseas Movement, POM, accomplished by the Aidstation personnel. Now done by the Civilians some with my prior military experience, most not . With GWOT the opportunity came for me to participate. During my last position I was ask to be a TBI provider with the first srp that took on that task. I felt satisfying that as in Vietnam ERA made a dent in support. During my first term , and after Discharge I didn’t seek VA assistance, as I hadn’t been in combat yet I had issues. At no time did we discuss or considered VA follow up. Those records are either lost, no longer exsist or were burned. Then I rejoined and was assigned stateside to paratroops, Bothered by old and new injuries drove on . When I RETIRED i HAD BECOME AWARE OF HOW pROFILES MEANT, AND HOW IF IT WASN’T WRITTEN DOWN va OR active medical would not consider service connected. I applied for disability condition and listed many illness that started on active duty and found on retirement physical. In my situation the VA here has been extremly helpful but initially I was awarded 10% for shoulder seperation that I SERVED WITH FOR twelve years. Received only temporary profile but history and Xrays varified the claim. As I mentioned before about TBI . I HAVE COME TO REALIZE what will our Nation and VA handle the Vets who incure the worsening of those with mild TBI. Problems such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer, Seizures, early onset Dementia. Maybe these will not happen. Another concern is those with multiple deployments and mild TBIs I believe are in line for what they call CTE as the former pro football are now experiencing. CTE is Chronic Traumatic Encepholopathy. Research is pending and hopefully treatment will be available. As of present their is an estimate 200,000 military associated TBIs. A family member sustain a serious TBI that required surgical intervention, his primary Doctor , when asked when can he or who would be doing TBI rehab. Not being military it doesn’t apply to the VA. However, I mention how the civilian community see’s TBI. Her response to me as his Care Provider , she stated “tbi , what is that”
    This VA is an Important issue for me 1. Former Vietnam…

  3. Becky guajardo January 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    I have been patiently waiting and still no response since 2009. I call the regional office and its all automated machines and you can’t talk to a person.

  4. I'm Done January 23, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    What do you do when VocRehab counselor says you cannot go to school or work due to “Serious Employment Handicaps” (SEH) and you’re left waiting? In the mean time you can’t afford to keep food on the table or take care of your medical needs?! What? No one can answer that.

  5. I'm Done January 23, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Requesting help from my congress woman was a joke. She never spoke with me to get details of my situation. Simply forwarded VA’s response letters to me, which were basic template letters where they filled in my name. Nothing specific to my claims. Didn’t follow up after decision. My background is administration, so I have the high expectations of “basic procedures”. Calling 800-827-1000 is also a joke. All you get is scripted responses. There is absolutely no excuse for a “dependency” claim taking years when they are in DEERS and a single form for proof of enrollment in school is in their hands/system. Frankly, VA makes veteran’s ailments worse with all this STRESS. not good when you have PTSD and Major Depression Disorder along with other conditions. Where is the compassion?

  6. Tony C. January 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    I am glad the VA is trying to get faster but don’t get faster and make errors. I just got my decisions on several issues and the adjustment of my son’s birthday. Long story short is his year of birth was 1 year off so it made him 18 in 2011 instead of 2012. They stopped paying anythng for him in January 2011. Well when they made the adjustments they show him continued as a minor child on his birthday in 2012 (the day he turned 18) the next month it coverted him to a school dependent (18 but still in school). I’m wondering where all of 2011 went?

    They also have incorrect amounts that they said they paid me and I can look at eBenefits and see this but they can’t? It really is sad that attention to detail would have made this case over and done with had they looked at the dates correctly. Now it will be sent back as an appeal.

    Again I am happy the VA is trying but let’s not just push cases through to only have them return because of errors.

  7. ibrahim January 22, 2013 at 7:19 am

    I started my claim in Jan 2004. I am still waiting for my approval. My claim has bounced back and forth between the regional office and the appeal center in Washington since then. I have wrote my congressmen and senators and it takes 6-8 months for them to get answers. They get the same canned answer that I get. My rep from the DAV did call last week and said they had approved my claim on Jan-02- 2013 but I still have not gotten anything from veterans. If this web site needs an email address, why didn’t they ask for EMAIL address rather than just address. I agree.

    • I'm Done January 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      My DAV Rep just says the same things VA says, BS

  8. Glenn Davis January 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    I am a Marine viet-vet 1966-1969. Also legacy INS/DHS. (Retired GS-14). I know what shuffling paper files and writing legally sufficient assessments is all about. Watched progress from total backlog to JIT to computer transformation. Was a GS -7 trying to lease supervisor for quality and quantity. Worked field, overseas and nationally and at HQ DC. Conducted over 10,000 interviews. Understand management/employee relations and stressors.
    It is my humble opinion that the vast majority of government employees do hard job as best they can. They are usually faced with overwhelming demand, strict adherence to the rule of law as interpreted by HQ, supervisors and the public. You are never completely right and you never finish but you must soldier on because someone else is waiting. The idea that your decision will affect so many lives never leaves you but you must decide because if you don’t who will? While always maintaining your sworn integrity.
    My claim is in over 17 months. Do I think someone is waiting for me to die? No. I think someone is doing the claims that got there before me or were better prepared or easier to decide.
    When I go to VA clinics I usually find some people great some just so-so depending on their education, pay family and general satisfaction with life. I hope they get the tools they need and aren’t hampered in their jobs by the coming financial crunches. I don’t know about you but in my boot camp platoon we never talked about military benefits. I’m sure glad there are some around now. Thanks to those that served and those that continue to try and help us.

  9. scott s January 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    I was awarded a 70% disability rating. I am also in the National Guard and returned from a deployment. While I was on active duty my VA compensation payments were suspended. I was told that all I had to do was submit a copy of my DD214 and call the help line to have them fill out a form and that was it, the payments would start up again. I did all of that on 8-8-2012 and have not heard a single word from them about it. Does anybody know how long it takes for them to start the payments back up? I also live in the Atlanta area where the VA here will not even answer their phones. I tried calling for an appointment for 4 days straight, left a phone number to have them call me and nothing. I ended up just getting better. It took me nearly 2 years to get the compensation rating and now it seems like it will take another year just to get them to start paying me again.

  10. IT Friday January 18, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Now maybe they will get around to me before I die of old age.

  11. Jane Ewald January 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I am hopeful that this will work but, not blind to the history of our ill treatment. I believe that if we require our employees (Congress, President, US postal service employees, etc) that this situation would be remedied within 60 days.
    On another note, I spent 10 days with my uncle at the VA in Houston to be utterly dismayed by the poor care he received. The staff were ill equipped, possibly poorly educated, and were not even adequate in their care. I watched the staff attempt to ignore patients in absolute pain with “I’m on my way” via the intercom system, only for me to track them down in the breakroom to remind them of the level of pain. I watched staff attempt to give medications to the patients, without using any of the five rights of medication administration. (I am nursing instructor and use that as a prime example of poor nursing care and malpractice.)
    The doctor misdiagnosed my uncle with rheumatoid arthritis only to find renal cell carcinoma one year later, which of course spread throughout his body within a year. Perhaps, if the doctor would have performed a simple urine test, he would have found the cancer before it spread.
    sorry for such a longwinded note but we are allowing this to happen to those that deserve so much better.
    Start to explain– no DEMAND better treatment from our employees. If they had this same level of care, and wait time, it would be remedied within weeks.

  12. Tim P January 15, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    I started my claim in Jan 2004. I am still waiting for my approval. My claim has bounced back and forth between the regional office and the appeal center in Washington since then. I have wrote my congressmen and senators and it takes 6-8 months for them to get answers. They get the same canned answer that I get. My rep from the DAV did call last week and said they had approved my claim on Jan-02- 2013 but I still have not gotten anything from veterans. If this web site needs an email address, why didn’t they ask for EMAIL address rather than just address.

  13. Juan January 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I have an appeal that should it being resolve on 1999, now I’m having so much pain due to my injuries and illness all service connected, why VA give us hope when in reality the only we getting is more pain? Because of my injuries and illness I couldn’t work since January 2012 and nothing more I can do but just continue to wait. But please to the VA stop giving us hope, pleeease!

  14. P.howard January 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    I really can’t believe that the VA has made a statement like that. Oakland Regional is an embarrassment to the entire VA system. I totally agree with the comments. I guess they are waiting for us to die, and when that happens they don’t have to pay the claims, and it saves the VA money.

  15. Paul Deutsch January 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I’ve been waiting for 32 years. Every few years VA sends me a letter. I respond. Two years later they acknowledge my response telling me that I should hear from them soon. Three years later I hear from them. And so it goes.

    Now maybe they will get around to me before I die of old age.

  16. Kris January 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I have a different answer from every psychiatrist about my disorders from the VA and live in pain everyday. I pray I get my compensation.

  17. Glynn L. Atchley January 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I appreciate VA trying to speed up the process, but I’ve been lied to so many times it’s hard to believe. I have memo for records on several calls and I also get the “We are working as fast as we can to get to you claim, but don’t ask again for 90-120 days. I also recently received a call that individual said “I’m with the IL VA Regional Office and working your claim; and you can expect a decision on a couple of your primary conditions within 1 week along with back pay. Then we will work your other claims separately. That’s been about 1 month ago. E-benefits doesn’t show all my information I sent and I’ve made recommendations. I filed VA Sep 2010 and filed for Social Security in Dec 2010. I received my Social Security in July 2010 with backpay. I thought the VA was supposed to start working with the Social Security Administration; but evidently not. My son who served in IRAQ got his PTSD in just a few months after he applied. Thank you for that but please don’t forget about other Vets like me that are Vietnam Era that still have disabling conditions. My claim was up to the “Preparing for Decision” phase; but now has moved back to “Gathering Information Phase. I feel the same way as above person stating the “Is VA waiting for me to die”? I’m trying to give the VA because I do understand they are backlogged, but it’s getting to the point to starting complaining officially to my Congressional Representatives. I’ve been told by two different people that they didn’t want to process with my claim because I had so many conditions listed. Also, VA has changed their suspense dates many times which I have a record of too. Also, when I ask for a phone call back from VA Regional Office, I have never got one. It was always a letter stating the same old thing.
    I’m a retired Air Force E-8 and Retired early from Civil Service as a GS-12. I feel both myself and all those other Vets out there should be treated better. There also are Veteran Service Organization (VSO) Representatives out there that are wearing VA badges; but not doing there job. I’ve been a witness with another Vet where the VSO flat lied to the veteran and the veteran had to re-file because the VSO lied to him and told him he had more time. I’d recommend sending survey’s out the Veterans on VSO and rate VSO accordingly. VSO’s not doing their job should be given training to start with and fired if they don’t meet the standards. I’ve seen 100 percent differences in VA hospitals too. I’ll just say even though Marion VA had failed their inspection, the…

  18. Neil January 15, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Filed two disability claims on August 2011. First disability allowed May 2012. Second disability still no resolution as of January 15, 2013. I think VA needs to clean up old claims before patting themselves on the back for improving serice on disability claims.

    • Sam January 15, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      The appeals process is what is in need of desperate help! People file there claims and get denied, then wait years on an appeal & can’t file a new claim for different problem until the appeal is settled! I hope the appeals backlog is being addressed, all you hear about is the initial filing backlog, while this helps current vets filing, I don’t see it anything that says it will help us waiting on an appeal. I filed for an increase over 2 years ago & filed my appeal almost a year ago. The va hospital wants to give you help, but our regional office doesn’t recognize the labels on our meds that prevent work as making us eligible for 100% payment & excuse me but that is jacked up. Just an example, but u can’t even drive a 18 wheeler taking anything close to a benzo, much less any of these antipsychotics & don’t even mention any type of pain medicine…. We are expected to go from making a decent living to flipping burgers or lying to an employer about our health to be able to support ourselves

  19. JD Kalish January 15, 2013 at 11:48 am

    In my opinion, the vast majority of VA employees are doing the absolute best that they can with what they are given to work with. Most (if not all) of the processes and policies in place are old and outdated. The Orlando VA hospital struggles to keep up with a growing veteran population….while the new hospital in Lake Nona keeps facing delay after delay. The system is broken and needs repair. I do take my hat off to the hundreds of Florida VA employees who work hard for us.

  20. Rebecca Selby January 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Could you tell us which are the 18 sites that are already using VBMS?

  21. dennis January 15, 2013 at 11:35 am

    I contacted the office of Jack Kingston my Rep Ga, and was assured that they would look into my claim that was 2 years ago. Thats why I didn”t vote for him this term. I also went to my Home town in Ma. were they really do care about Veterans, was having alot of lead way but had to move back to jesup Ga. and my claim went back to Va. Atlanta were the Breaks were put on my Claim now i’am back to the begining of the proccess.Also were I live now outside of fort stewart Ga. I’am in an area were theres no Hud Vash no Housing for Vets I’ve ben liviing in a van In my friends Yard for the last 2 months. God Bless America Dont get me wrong when i went into the Army I wasn’t expecting anything for my service when i got out but i didn’t ask tobe messed up either.

    • Tim January 16, 2013 at 9:55 am

      32 years ago I went to mt State Rep in Illinois.The letters that were sent were a mockery of the job the men and women do for their country. I really do doubt that Congress and the Senate know exactly what Vets go through to file a claim and gets results. I also doubt that they know what a disabled veteran receives as far as disability pay. Yesssss…it is agreed , servicemen and women make the ultimate sacrifice …they give their life to this country…but when they return disabled, they receive pennies. THEY SHOULD BE THE HIGHEST PAID IN THIS COUNTRY! PERIOD! But I guess coming back mentally and physically disabled not being able to return to your previous life making two, three, four, five times as much , but now being disabled you are reduced to peanuts and having to take care of a family and loosing your home. The process is long and its from a book…the VET is not involved…like they said 100 years ago! All you are is a number … we are dealing with the government and they take their time…if the 4th of july falls on a weekend …they take the following monday off with pay…but you cant even get a rasie in your disabilty and your kids do without…Congress and the Senate puts the Vet out of sight…and out of mind. Its time for the ones who GAVE! to start DEMANDING! The first cut of the pie. This is what your country feels about your sacrifice. We arent worth a great life after returning…out of sight! out of mind!

    • scott s January 18, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      I was told by one of the VA guys that I talked to from the help line that the Atlanta VA is the slowest in the country. I was also told that they will not touch a file for 30 days after they get any new information, it just sits there for that month.

    • I'm Done January 23, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      You have to be an alcoholic or drug addict to get help with the VA Homeless program. I am a female veteran and I was homeless in Georgia in 2001. No one would help. Shelters required payment for me and my son. Congressman Chambliss had no answers. Had to make the choice of abusive ex-husband or streets. Which do you think I chose for my child?

      Bet VA doesn’t have stats on how many have died or been abused while waiting for or being denied hard earned benefits.

      • Clueless January 24, 2013 at 2:39 am

        I hate hearing about your you & a child in this situation, I am not sure what I would do if kids where involved in my situation. They are just now offering couples counciling for unmarried veterans from what I read. I have a friend from high school who married and a vet and it didn’t work out, myself, I lost someone & now it leaves me believing that I will never meet a woman who can understand my past & present problems & be willing to even some like me a chance. Good luck to you & your son

  22. Frederick A Butler January 15, 2013 at 9:19 am

    The VA believes fasters is only 5 years not 10 years. I hasve been waiting over 9 years on a PTSD case and now they tell me because I open a new case on a different issue I have to wait until the new one is close first. so I believe I will die before I get the results.

    • Cece January 15, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      That’s awful Frederick!
      My husbands took a bit less then 2 months. We went to the local VA hospital and had their counselor help with the claim. He did all the paperwork and sent it in same day and ALL the disabilities were reviewed at once. Went the response came back for additional data we simply walked the response in to the same guy (we arrived at opening time so as not to have to wait in line) and again he did the paperwork. We completed 9 Feb 2010 and the application was 1st put in November 24th 2009. We did have to submit a query as we disagreed with the rating awarded and THAT part is still not even reviewed. Every 4-6 months I call and it is still pending. So yes that part is added time. I suggest you go to your local VA hospital for assistance. Ours did an extremely fast job. I think it may make a difference for you.

      • Cece January 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm

        Sorry – I meant a bit more then 2 months.

    • t. January 16, 2013 at 5:22 am

      I guess “someone” in the VA system, is hoping “all” veterans, whose claims are “extremely” long overdue…wish they all die, before completion!

  23. C.C. January 15, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Really? I will believe it when I see it. More than 2 1/2 years and STILL waiting for the VA to get their stuff together on my claim. More government bureaucracy and word games.

    • Bill Corder January 15, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      Four years and counting for me so far. Even applying for spouse payment has been over a year in the works. Seems like, if one is in the DEERS system, it would be an easy approval. Applying in the DEERS system one has to show any death, divorce and marraige certificates. Why does the VA have to reinvestigate?

      • Tracey January 23, 2013 at 5:41 pm


        I’ve been trying to update my dependent too, what forms did you fill out and did you do it on line? Yes VA should work with DEERs to verify. That would save them time and us the pain of trying to figure out what forms need to be completed.

        • MattW January 28, 2013 at 6:17 pm

          Tracey, if you’re still out there, a form 21-686c is still the form (that I’m aware of) that you need to fill out and send it.

Comments are closed.

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