A vet asks if he is entitled to more claim money

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

I was recently awarded an increase of my appeal from a notice of disagreement. However, I read an article today in an American Legion magazine that if the appeal is won, the Retribution award goes back to the initial claim date and not the notice of disagreement date. Is this correct and if so, how do I get the rest of my money?

From Jerome D
Via the internet

Dear Jerome,

Generally, the effective date of a claim won on appeal should be the initial claim date if all of the intermediate claim deadlines are met. If all claim deadlines were met but you disagree with the effective date, you can appeal the effective date of the claim. There could be several reasons why the effective date is not the initial claim date. It all depends on the specific details of the claim. If you are not already using a qualified Veteran Service Officer to help counsel and file appeals, please work with one to better ensure proper paperwork and advice.

Shaft Notes

Military spouses, servicemembers, and veterans are invited to attend the free 2014 Military Spouse Symposium “Keeping a Career on the Move®,” in Old Town Alexandria, Va., hosted by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Wednesday, March 26, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town, 1767 King St. Check-in and a complimentary breakfast begin at 8:15 a.m.

The executive sponsor for this award-winning event is JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Military spouses looking for a job now or preparing for a future career can attend informative workshops and speak with experts and employers who can offer assistance. Five-minute résumé critiques and professional LinkedIn photo shoots will be available throughout the day.

The symposium opens with the Spouse & Policy Panel focusing on tips and information about state policies and national programs that assist military spouses to advance their career opportunities.

Concurrent session workshops include:

  • “Résumé Writing and LinkedIn Strategies for Military Spouses”
  • “Your 30-Second Commercial: How to Work a Networking Event or Career Fair”
  • “Military Spouse Life Coaching”
  • “Dress for Success”

The keynote address will be delivered by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, an accomplished legislator, a mother of three and a military spouse.

During lunch, a “Real Spouses, Real Stories” panel will highlight how fellow military spouses have navigated a wide variety of industries and strategic volunteerism opportunities to keep their careers on the move.

“I want to thank our executive sponsor, JPMorgan Chase & Co., for making this second award-winning event this year possible. We have designed a day to inspire and empower military spouses wherever they may be in their career progression,” says MOAA President Navy Vice Adm. Norb Ryan. “I would also like to thank our gold sponsor, Mercer Consumer, and our bronze sponsor, Sittercity, for their continued support.”

At the conclusion of the conference, conference attendees will receive a special gift from Stella & Dot.

To register and learn more about the symposium, visit www.moaa.org/spousesymposium.

• In addition, MOAA hosted its first virtual town hall recently on MOAA’s Facebook page at http://bit.ly/moaabudgetbattle. MOAA experts shared information and answered questions along with IAVA; The Coalition to Save Our Military Benefits; #KeepYourPromise and Military.com.  With charts on Facebook and through #BudgetBattle on Twitter, MOAA released its analysis of the financial impact on military families: http://www.moaa.org/budgetbattle.

The proposed budget impacts pay and benefits in the following areas: base pay cap below private sector pay growth, increased out-of-pocket expense for housing, reduction in savings at the commissary and changes to health care fees for currently serving family members, retirees and their families “MOAA empathizes with defense leaders concerning budget cutbacks and understands they are in a difficult position,” MOAA President Vice Adm. Norb Ryan said.  “However we think there are huge savings to be found in acquisition reform and a unified medical command.  We are also extremely concerned the negative impact of these potential cuts on the purchasing power of military families is just too high.  There are some who justify these cuts by saying military compensation is already generous, but that’s not true.  Military compensation is fair, and carefully constructed to sustain the stability of the All-Volunteer Force.”

MOAA also reiterated the impact of DoD-proposed FY 2015 TRICARE Fees on retirees.

“For a retiree under age 65 with a family of three, the new system removes the opportunity for retirees to choose between a Standard and Prime health care plan,” Ryan said.  “It requires people to take the Standard option with Prime enrollment fees, which means they will have to pay both a participation fee as well as co-pays.  Also disturbing is the removal of access standards, which means there will be no guarantee that people will get an appointment they need at all.”

• Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) today led a bipartisan letter, which was co-signed by several of his colleagues from the Ohio Congressional Delegation, to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Shinseki regarding the backlog at the Cleveland VA Regional Office. According to county Veterans Service Officers, the Cleveland VA Regional Office is currently processing veterans’ disability claims appeals with a waiting time of five to ten years, causing many of our nation’s heroes to suffer additional hardships.

“The current backlog at the Cleveland VA Regional Office is unacceptable,” said Latta. “Our veterans have made significant sacrifices in service to this country, and the VA must make sure their needs are taken care of in a timely manner. For many, a five to ten-year backlog could last a lifetime and will only bring further hardship to these heroes and their families. Therefore, it is imperative that Secretary Shinseki and the VA address this backlog and institute measures to ensure this trend does not continue.”

The letter asks that Secretary Shinseki provide reasons for the current backlog, the corrective action the VA and the Cleveland VARO are taking to remedy the situation, and ways Congress may be helpful.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.