Limboland – Day 360

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Progress. Yesterday I received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs about my nearly year-long quest for disability benefits. I was irked to find that it looked suspiciously like the last letter I received from them, on April 21. These letters all begin with a salutation followed by a note that “We are working on your claim for: PTSD.” Then there are paragraphs about where to send any additional information and why it is important to do so promptly. The lovely bit of irony in these opening paragraphs is the line that says “…we may make a decision on your claim after 30 days.”  If only.

Yesterday’s letter had the same opening three paragraphs. But squirreled away at the bottom of the page was the news that the VA Regional Office in Baltimore had asked the nearest VA medical facility to schedule me for an examination. This would presumably be the Compensation and Pension (C&P) hearing/examination needed before the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) can determine just how disabled I am. Once again, it is important to note here that the other side of the VA, the Veterans Health Administration, determined a year ago that I have service related PTSD.

I am, as you might imagine, quite pleased at this small step. The C&P hearing/examination will determine if I have a service related disability and the severity of that disability. Depending on the outcome, I could get a higher level veteran’s preference on job applications. I might be eligible for vocational rehabilitation training. I may receive a benefits check. I use all of this conditional tense because none of this is certain. Even though the standard of proof on PTSD claims has been reduced to ease the burden on already suffering veterans, the VA’s Inspector General determined that half of the VA Regional Offices inspected didn’t follow proper procedure when processing PTSD claims. So we’ll see how this goes.

But there is also a curious little aside to the timing of this movement. After my most recent post here, I heard that Secretary Shinseki’s morning press briefer the next day had included a comment about my post and a note that my claim was rapidly approaching a full year in Limboland. Now it would be easy to speculate that someone in the Secretary’s office made a phone call and my claim miraculously moved up to the top of the stack. But rather than presume the power of the press to move America’s second largest government bureaucracy, I will assume that these things move at their own, sometimes glacial, pace, and that in the fullness of time, there was a lovely coincidence.

Regards from Limboland.