Bad Docs. Bad Docs. Bad Docs. Whacha gonna do when they screw with you? Love that show but it’s waaaaaaaay too politically incorrect to admit to watching now. What’s the opposite of woke? Asleep? It’s probably above my paygrade so I’m not gonna poke that sleeping dog. So here’s the gig. I have friends who send me things. I don’t need to go into exquisite detail about who. That’s where things like the Purple Book came from. Sometimes, VA employees see things that are over the top. Suffice it to say this dropped into my e-inbasket. I probably should make him/her a client so I can claim attorney-client privilege and protect us should a subpoena arrive demanding the identity of my Deep Throat.
See the attached. It’s a VA work product. and identified as such in the properties info. I find it interesting that it was distributed to the usual suspects (VES/QTC/LHI) and VHA/AFIP IME doctors used to rebut private IMOs. For the uninitiated, an IMO is an Independent Medical Opinion. Some call it an Independent Medical Evaluation or IME.
So, I noticed one of the offenders, Stephanie Procell, Ph.D was a neighbor (relatively speaking) to me. She was listed as being up in Oak Harbor which is just a hoot and a holler up the coast from me here in Gig Harbor. Puget Sound is huge and has a gazillion harbors. Captain Puget started running out of names on this expedition in 1792 and began naming harbors after boats (gig) and even their shipboard kitchen cat (Rainier). I called Dr. Procell up to tell her she’d been tarred and feathered by VA and got her recorder. Turns out it wasn’t Stephanie’s name, rank, airspeed and tail number at all but that of her boss Sarah (Sally) Sharp. Ph.D.-also listed on the bad boys list. She has an IMO practice but isn’t quite the bogus nexus letter gin mill she’s being touted as. Dr. Procelle works for her practice and is equally besmirched by VA by being included in this consortium of miscreants.
The fact is we’re beginning to see a cottage industry of genuine, legitimate doctors providing IMOs beginning to be overrun by a plethora of greedy internet outfits preying on unsuspecting Veterans. It began as a trickle but has since turned into a veritable gully washer. I’ve had guest authors write articles discussing this phenomenon over the last few years and their ranks have sadly only increased in number.
To begin with, being accredited by VA has some very strict rules. In most instances, we can only charge 20% in fees for our successful representation. Extremely complicated representation at a higher level can warrant up to 33 1/3% if all parties agree. That is a rarity. Most of us do it for 20% and some for nothing. In fact, if you win for your client right out of the gate, you get nothing. I don’t have a problem with that. Others are a wee bit more avaricious. Here’s an example.
Johnny Vet has been denied again and again. He never got the email on Caluza v Brown. He didn’t have a diagnosis of PTSD in 1968 when they extracted him from their forward LRRP position. Seems someone got the wrong coordinates and FB Bronco laid 35 rounds of 155 on top of their position and killed everyone in Johnny’s platoon except him. The PRC-25 on his back saved his ass. He spent a year in the psych ward on the sixth floor of the Seattle VAMC picking out little pieces of retained metal fragments and “calming down” while doing the Thorazine Shuffle.
So Johnny hears all about an outfit that guarantees you a VA win with most excellent compensation ratings and it’s free. No up-front down payment. Let’s call them GoodtogoVAclaimsguys.com for shits and grins. JohnnyVet shows up for their c&p workup and gets 6 IMOs for all his ailments-including the SFWs and the tinnitus. He seeks out an attorney or an agent and they refile the whole shiteree. Well, sure enough they win.
The attorney says 20%, Johnboy- as per our fee agreement. Johnny, being an honest Vet like all of us, says Roger That and coughs up the 20%. A day later, the folks at GoodtogoVAclaimsguys.com call up to remind him “Dude, you owe us 5 months worth of the increase from what you were rated at before you hired us. Soooo, if you were at 0% and all of a sudden you’re at 70%, that’s $1659.00 shekels times five months or $8295.00. Even more if you have some rugrats. But wait. The total went back to your filing in March 2020 and they paid you $1659 per month back to then. You got $19,908 from VA less the 20% for your law dog. That $3,980.00 reduced you down to $15, 928.00 before Goodtogovaclaimsguys.com came knocking. Their $8295.00 tithe knocks you down to $7,633.00. Pretty skanky, huh?
Now do not get me wrong. There are those among you who are very busy people who work for a living. You don’t have time or the legal acumen to win your claim. You purposefully made a decision to farm it out. I’m sure you didn’t quite see this scenario unfold that would divest you of more than half of your winnings. Neither did Congress when they wrote the regulations. So, in essence, what we have here are a group of quasi-legal, greedy scalawags who have no qualms taking you to the cleaners for their services. The problem is the legality of the business. Technically, if you are not accredited, you can’t sit in on this poker game. Goodtogovaclaimguys and all their like-companies would insist they are merely “facilitators” or mayhap Sherpas whom you hire to take you up the claims mountain. Congress did not authorize this technique. VSOs do it for free (no comments from the Peanut Gallery). It now falls to the DOJ to prosecute these carpetbaggers. As with most government entities, justice moves at a snail’s pace. I’m sure somewhere they’re holding a hearing on it and maybe have even empaneled a Grand Jury. By 2033, we should have the authority to lock ’em up.
More interesting is that these rapscallions are starting to pair off with attorneys and pliant doctors and form loose consortiums of Veteran-scalping raiding parties. It’s rumored some are trying to interconnect a nationwide, fruited plains group from sea to shining sea with some fancy branding. I don’t mean to trash any legal operation with genuine VA accreditation credentials This is a knowledge expedition- not a tar and feather committee. But we did run across this outfit which no one seems to be able to locate on the OGC Accreditation lists…
But wait, Roberto has been a busy little beaver…
So, if the Bobmeister above is charging (or even a party helping to charge) Vets 5 friggin’ times the amount he won for them, as an agent that’s a violation of his accreditation agreement. By rights, if this is true, he should be reported to the VA’s Office of General Counsel (022D) for being out of compliance with 38 CFR §14.636(f)(1). And, as an aside, I’m sorry Robert. I sure don’t mean to endanger you or make you feel uncomfortable but you are aware of the regulations -anything over 33 1/3% is considered unreasonable and unlawful.
Which brings us to poor Doctors Procelle and Sharp. They tell me they were inveigled into this web of greed by one or another of these avaricious outfits and sold a bill of goods. Once they grasped the concept of what they were being asked to do, they beat feet and divorced themselves from these 5/50 guarantee ( five months of the increase or $50,000.00 dollars-whichever comes first) companies that practice the technique. Again, let me be clear. I’m unsure of the legality but something grossly unfair to Veterans like this should be declared illegal if it hasn’t been already. No Veteran should be subjected to this level of greedy insanity. We deserved more than a saliva medal w/ 2 OLCs at San Francisco Airpatch in ’68 or that stale “Welcome home” shit they began regurgitating about ’91 when the guilt and angst for all Veterans began to surface. Yellow ribbons on trees don’t pay mortgages. But that’s a story for another day.
Aside from Drs. Procelle and Sharp, I note the inclusion of some well-known names of some of the old hands in this business. I’ve only hired one of those on the list (and lost); I have no knowledge firsthand of the others’ track records. I’m old fashioned. I rely on Court (CAVC) records to gauge a fellow’s prowess. Go to the CAVC site yourself and pull up a few cases to see what you think. I’ll throw out a few for your perusal. CAVC # 02-2195; #06-0451; #09-0260; #09-1349; #17-3556; #16-1515; #14-0437; #19-0709. Obviously, some of the medical doctors and nurses on the list have earned an undesirable cachet that precedes them in this business. Some, however, do carry some baggage (see entry @ 3/10/2020)-https://www.mbp.state.md.us/sanctions_2020.aspx). I feel sorry for anyone who has their professional qualifications besmirched by anyone-including VA. However, the IMO field is an exacting science. We Vets have to play by the rules. So do the medical professionals. That VA doesn’t should come as no surprise.
Doctors have specialties for the most part. In the IMO business, it behooves a Vet to choose the board certified neurologist over the jack-of-all-trades podiatrist who just happens to opine on matters neurological for a small fee. If you have a cross pedigree such as a Juris Doctorate and a Doctor of Medicine, it’s advisable to wear only one hat at a time. When you get to Court, you can get in a real pickle when the Judges have a hard time discerning which hat you’re wearing- the one with the white wig attached or the one with the caduceus. I’m really not sure how I feel about this truthfully. I find it abhorrent to think a Veteran’s choice of his IMO doctor might exert a negative influence on the probity of the IMO or its author’s bona fides. As you can see from the list, VA doesn’t hold some physicians with a JD in very high regard. That is a horrible stain on a Professional’s reputation. I do not condone it. Each IMO should be given a fair hearing. Why they keep the list hidden and unpublished does Veterans a great disservice. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. But what is equally unfair-far worse in my mind- is putting innocent physicians on the list . It was Jonathon Swift who opined “A lie travels around the globe while the truth is putting on its shoes”.
And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.
P.S. I just got an email from a Vet disgruntled with the outfit formerly known as Vetcompandpen.com. He says he decided to fight and blew them off for the money they claim he owed them(which he contends he did not). They sued and the Judge dismissed it. Turns out the contract was, and is, unenforceable and defective. My guess is they should have hired an attorney to write it.
P.P.S. I received this ( 11/2/2022) from one of my readership. It sure appears to be a damning decision regarding the individual named. However, I’m merely the messenger, not the Judge, jury or executioner. As they say on the Six o”clock news- We report. You decide.
Maryland Court of appeals Decision dated 7.22.2022
You ever see the VA do a C&P through QTC for TBI DBQ in 15 or less minutes in person then a week later turn around and put in an IMO in for the same TBI DBQ + TBI administrative code w/o requiring the veteran. I was under the impression IMO’s were the veteran going outside the VA to have them conducted not the VA internally ordering the IMO and this is a new claim that has not even been appealed.
I have a client for R1 who has had three face to face c&ps exams and is now heading into three more rounds of what VES calls “clarifications” of the original diagnosis (loss of use of upper and lower extremities). These additional opinions are what VA calls ACE or Acceptable Clinical Evidence reviews. VA is desperate to deny my client so they keep sending it out one more time to be sure.
IMO’s are our most powerful weapon against the VA. I fear the possibility this infectious disease may soon eventually spread to the BVA, our second line of defense where a veteran has a fair chance of winning his/her claim for well- deserved benefits. I shudder to think about contamination beyond the BVA.
Jez, of course IMOs are the most important weapon, Dwight. I’ve been preaching that since I started this site in 2008. It’s the Rosetta Stone of VA claims.
I don’t worry too much about the BVA folks. They have JDs after their names and mean well. It’s who controls the measurement metrics that determines this. You have to know what the statute/reg says and interpret it in the way most favorable to a Veteran… by law.
This site is devoted to spreading uncensored knowledge free. No pay walls. No entrance fee or fuel surcharge. I pay for it all. If what I present here helps even one person win their claim with VA, then I can die happy. It’s a worthy thing to fight for one’s freedom. It’s another sight finer to fight for another man’s. Those are not my words but they speak my feelings. What I do is provide financial freedom to disabled Veterans. I reckon someone woke will come along and find a way to make even that racist or evil.
One of the docs on the list is also a VA contracted C&P examiner. So yeah… this is no blacklist. If it is, the VA invalidated it by using one of the docs themselves.
The list has been verified as authentic. The doctors or entities on the list are verified as being suspect. As to whether any are VA-approved is no longer in contention. Please be so kind as to identify the alleged VA-approved contractor for the edification of the readership.
This quality-seeking research makes sense & saves time & money:
“I have no knowledge firsthand of the others’ track records. I’m old fashioned. I rely on Court (CAVC) records to gauge their prowess. Go to the CAVC site yourself and pull up a few cases to see what you think.”
Public records of licensed professionals who have been disciplined, are either online or available.
Example: veterinary services
Some states make it hard to find. Before picking a health care provider for IMO’s or services, it’s a good idea to check out those in consideration.
Thanks for all you do.
We’re still waiting for you to stop by.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with a veteran obtaining and paying for an IMO. These doctors know what they are doing and they should get compensation for their knowledge and for helping veterans. The VA uses our own tax dollars to pay incompetent raters who deny almost all claims they see. I feel that an IMO is the only evidence they have to fight with. It is a shame that some outfits have used this fact to bilk vets out of money but what’s worse getting a ripped off by an outfit that gets you a win or a big fat zero when the VA rips you off completely? My advice get a IMO but shop for a reasonable price. Buyer beware.
I needed an IMO to get my disability because the VA doctors were incompetent. It is sad that some of the VA doctors are more interested in saving the VA money than taking care of veterans leading us to seek out IMO’s from doctors. That is a whole other topic.
These groups are only going to make IMO’s impossible to get or be weighted fairly.
Jeff, is anything for veterans weighted fairly? IMO’s are an essential part of any claim and the Veterans Administration will do anything to create doubt and confusion so,they can refuse benefits and not pay for the destruction they have caused veterans. These are ruthless folks who will not stop at anything! And I mean anything!
If not for Alex I would have have been gone long ago…
So we know how this will go down. Some outfits like let’s call them “VA Claims dirt-sliders” are using Doctors to help with IMOs and then over billing vets thousands of dollars. So the VA will come in to save the day by smearing all veteran hired doctors who provide IMOs that might help veterans to get through their terrible claims process regardless of how much they charge or how credible they are. The VA will say they are protecting the vet by offering up free doctors who rubber stamp claims denials like they,ve been doing for years and use tax payer money to do it.
The VA doesn’t like competition when ripping off vets
Shoot, they already are.I have IMOs shot down with no regard to Shedden, Hickson or Caluza precedence. Used to be they’d deny and I’d rebut (and win) at the local Fort Fumble. Now I have to go to the BVA to get that consideration.
The moderating of your post back on Hadit is something else… A well-known doctor on there cannot be called out on his reprimand for whatever reason.
Pretty scary. Almost enough to make you think somebody’s screwing the pooch.
Unscrupulous types should be tar n feathered… like so many things in 2022 the criminals seem busy in all walks of life! Hell, Putin is taking an entire country…