Welcome to The Veterans Corner.

 Scammers are at it again

Veterans take notice. The scammers are now at it with the coronavirus. If you get a phone call and they say they are from the VA and need information to help with you getting care from the VA, needing your Social Security number or bank routing number, hang up. Do not be fooled. The VA is calling veterans to change appointments and are also doing tell-a-health, with a computer or cell phone. If you do not have them, you can talk on a regular phone with your provider. As always, if you’re not sure, hang up and call the VA. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

VFW opposes VA decision to axe review period for claims

VFW National Commander William “Doc” Schmitz called it “despicable” and “inconceivable” that Department of Veterans Affairs Undersecretary for Benefits Dr. Paul Lawrence intends to eliminate the accredited veterans service officer (VSO) 48-hour review period for claims effective April 30, 2020. 

“The VFW strongly opposes the repeal of the 48-hour review period in reviewing VA decisions for accuracy, as this is a final quality control check that we perform on behalf of our veterans to ensure that their rating decisions are correct the first time,” said Schmitz. 

VSOs have the opportunity and the responsibility to review proposed VA rating decisions to ensure that all claimed conditions have been addressed and properly adjudicated prior to the VA finalizing its rating decision and sending notification to the veteran. 

For decades, the VA has allotted VSOs 48 hours to review the applicable laws and regulations that were applied to the claim. During this time, VSO representatives can go back to the VA to seek corrections before each claim goes to promulgation. This quality review allows VSOs to give the claim an independent quality control check before it is reviewed by the VA and undergoes the VA’s internal quality review process. 

 

COVID-19-related debt assistance and deadlines 

Veterans impacted by COVID-19 are eligible for temporary debt relief from the VA Debt Management Center (DMC). If you are affected and need temporary financial relief, contact DMC at 1 (800) 827-0648 to request assistance. 

On Thursday, President Trump announced that he will direct Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie to take further measures to address issues with deadlines for claims and debt collections amidst the COVID-19 public health crisis. We are monitoring developments on both issues, but urge our members to maintain communication with their service officers. Please keep your service officer informed if you are unable to attend a compensation and pension (C&P) exam, and contact the C&P examiner to reschedule your appointment. 

 

 VA changing rules 

for electronic sharing

The VA is changing the rules for electronic sharing via the Veterans Health Information Exchange (VHIE). Beginning April 17, 2020, the VA will be able to seamlessly and securely share electronic health information with non-VA community providers treating veterans unless they opt out. VA has also recently released a new online option for veterans to manage their VHIE sharing options in My HealtheVet. There is no deadline for veterans to change their sharing options, and they may do so at any time before or after April 17, 2020. 

 

Filled out your census form?

It’s time to be counted in the census again. The results of the census will determine congressional representation, advise hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding, and be used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. The VFW encourages all Americans to take part in this year’s census. 

 

POW/MIA update

— Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Ernest L. Roth, 20, of Los Angeles, was assigned as a pilot with the 359th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force in Europe. On May 19, 1944, he was piloting a B-17G bomber while on a bombing run over Berlin when the plane was hit by flak and crashed. Six of the 10 crewmembers, including Roth, were killed in the incident. They were recovered by German forces and reportedly buried in the Döberitz cemetery. Roth will be buried in his hometown. The date has yet to be determined.

 

Till next week praying for all service members.

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