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Regarding "VA reviews new paperless system for disability claims" (article, March 26): Be cautious, because the Department of Veterans Affairs hasn’t always followed the law. "Failed to apply the law" (Johnson v. Brown, 1996); "VA cannot ignore its own regulations," (Fanning v. Brown, 1993); "VA cannot substitute its own medical judgment" (Townsend v. Derwinski, 1991).

Will the paper record be maintained to correct any errors when scanning documents?

In computer systems veterans could verify their records. By submitting a claim online, a veteran needs to be able to prove he or she did so. Filling out a form online with a yes/no bubble sheet and a block for comments isn’t going to substitute for medical evaluations. By clicking submit, it isn’t safe to assume appointments needed are always scheduled.

In 1995 the VA lowered the level of experience to evaluate claims from GS-12 and GS-13 to GS-9 and GS-12. They authorized single-signature rating decisions on claims, removed doctors from boards, and used more general instead of specialized exams. Proper exams should always be provided, and [learning] how conditions will affect soldiers the rest of their lives.

It’s more than filling out forms, DD214, and a copy of medical records. You need a representative working for Disabled American Veterans, among others, to help you establish a well-grounded service-connected claim. Ensure the VA uses Title 38, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 4 to properly rate you, [and adheres to] regulations and laws.

If the VA was more efficient, these types of organizations wouldn’t exist. It takes 6 to 12 hours to evaluate one claim. If lowered to 2 hours electronically, you’re a few clicks from probably being denied. After years of service to their country, veterans deserve the time it takes.

Master Sgt. Scott K. DavisTallil, Iraq


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