Ah, St. Nicholas est mort. We poor naive Veterans have been cheated, been mistreated, and just when we think Congress has finally heard our plea, we discover we didn’t get what we paid for… again. Not only that, we-that Veterans group that can now file class action suits- are being led to the gates of the BVA on a high-speed path to
slaughter adjudications. Read on.
My good friend, former BVA Veterans Law Judge BJH, now a distinguished attorney in private practice with some of the keenest minds in the Veterans litigation world (CCK), sent me these links this morning. I found it on Google news about 8 minutes before I began examining his email tea leaves and chicken entrails.
Say it ain’t so. Well, it merely confirms what a Court of Veteran Appeals Judge said about a decade ago that it appeared at least 75% of all BVA decisions were in error requiring remand or reversal. VA has an interesting way of “witching” statistics. In the instant case here, claiming 94% accuracy is fools gold and unfounded. 98% is right out. I’d compare it to my first wife. She was obsessed with being skinny but loved the carbs. This led to some creative baseline measurements from which future increases were computed against. Git that?
How about if someone (like your spouse as an example) is down at the beach with you and said ‘I weigh 3 lbs less than I did when I first went on the two-week diet to slim down 10 lbs. a month ago’. Quite obviously, my first big mistake was to attempt to figure how you divide a two week diet into a month. The second one was to open my mouth and use it to vocalize words instead of breathe in deeply….”So, how much do you weigh now?” The answer was “Well, I still have four lbs. to go.” Have you ever heard that rattle on a big ol’ 8 year-old sidewinder just before you step on it… in the dark? The feeling of the ground starting to give down under you into the Punji pit? Yep. 4 lbs. That’s the magic number. You just accept the statistic and move on. Nothing to see here, folks. Just some ordinary BVA statistics. Move along.
For years, Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey assured us that the new 125-day miracle Fully Developed Claim (FDC) had an unparalleled, shiny 98% accuracy. See the similarity? Speed. Efficiency. Guaranteed results-but notably never so much of a hint of blowback from a DRO review, the BVA or the CAVC. If you remove ‘error’ as a setting or default, the success statistics come up dramatically, too. The operative word here is “rework” as in “The BVA returned it to us with a rework order. CEST (Claim ESTablished)it with a EP 020 (new claim).” See? 98%…eventually. Or hell, just call it a new claim!
A year or more ago, Judge BJH told me he was being tasked with churning out 1.5 claims per day based on a five day work week. Before he left, this requirement was creeping up to contend with the 600,000 + backlog developing. Whether it had reached 2 or 3 decisions per day is immaterial. The new metric, with the exact same number of 90 Veterans Law Judges, will be tasked with producing 25-30 completed decisions per week with no corresponding increase in staff attorneys. Boy howdy does that just piss all over employee morale. Reminds me of that Lucille Ball vignette working in the Bon Bon factory. Better yet, it also conjures up visions of a huge, 25-oar Roman Trireme Warship rowed by slaves and some dude with a bull whip. The USS Vermont Ave. NW.
Well, anyway, here’s the wild and woolly story of how bean counters can make an elephant disappear up it’s own derriere. Either that or the BVA Empress is clothed in invisible finery.
Quality Review of Mass Adjudications:
And Stanford Law Review- Due process and Mass Adjudications: Crisis and Reform
Click to access CrisisandReform.pdf
If we weren’t shaking like a leaf on a tree before, we ought to consider taking a Protein Pill and putting our helmets on. This is going to be bumpy. I joked that they may need about 39 CAVC Judges pretty soon. I think I may have underestimated. One thing’s for sure. Pretty soon, them fellers are going to need a far bigger Courthouse than the 9th Floor of 625 Indiana Ave. NW. Come to think of it, valet parking would be nice, too.
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Fortunately I do not have High Blood Pressure today, nor a failing memory as to keep track of my certified date of claim: now Appeal at the CAVC 18-2746 which Court Order this AM pertaining to the BVA “error” that has caused another (brief this time!) 7-day Stay. Fortunately as well, while I do not have much-coveted Representation by the legal mind-trap Alex G., who wrote this column/story: I AM well represented by someone greatly akin to CC&K who will rep. me back at the post-remand junction.
Much success to you Michael!
Keep us posted on your outcome, please?