Occasionally I like to take a look at eBenefits. As I’ve stated in previous blogs, my eBenefits account is generally incorrect and rarely updated. My regular readers know that I have a number of actions pending at the St Pete VARO. If you’re new here, take a look at this blog to get acquainted with my pending claims and appeals.
Not everything about eBenefits is bad. I’m applying for a free lifetime Florida State Parks pass. For that I need proof of my dates of service and honorable discharge plus proof that I’m a disabled Veteran. You can get all that in eBenefits by printing out a couple of prefabricated letters. I also wanted to see if the VA was going to pay my annual clothing allowance on the 1st of September. They aren’t but that’s a story for another blog.
eBenefits was down most of the weekend, I’m guessing for upgrades, so I decided to poke around a bit to explore the new changes. I didn’t see any so I kept plugging along, looking at my claims. Call me a glutton for punishment.
You may recall that my claim for Temporary 100% for shoulder surgery was submitted in June 2010. It’s been sitting in the Decision Phase for so many months now that I’ve lost count. No change there. Am I surprised? Not really. This is the St Pete VARO we’re talking about.
I then clicked over to check on how much I’m going to be paid on the 1st of the month. No surprises or real news there. Same amount I’ve been receiving for 80% disability for … well, however long it’s been.
On a whim I clicked over to check on the status of my appeal and noticed a change. I had to do a double take. It read that a Statement of the Case (SOC, Form 9) had been issued on August 25, 2011. That was 4 days ago as I write this. I emailed my friend and mentor, Jim Strickland, and his response was as sarcastic as I excepted it to be. He said, “What’s eBenefits?” I responded with, “Trix are for kids.” Those are the kinds of strange emails we exchange. If you don’t understand it, don’t worry. We’re sick and twisted old Veterans. And we're both very skeptical when it comes to eBenefits. Can you tell?
slowest, most backlogged Regional Offices in the Country to actually send me that “big brown envelope“. Let’s see how long it takes my Temp 100% claim to move from the “Decision Phase” to the “Notification Phase”. We’ve already discussed how notorious St Pete is for being slow and inaccurate in prior blogs.
There is another scenario. This could be a clerical error. The DRO Review was only one month ago and I certainly did not expect a decision in such a short time period. My eBenefits account has been incorrect before. Was it one year ago that I was able to print out a Commissary Letter that read I was 100% service connected? Three days later the error was caught and that letter disappeared from my account. I believe I still have a copy of it as proof somewhere. Not that I need a letter from the VA to use the commissary …. I’m an Army Retiree. No, I wasn’t medically retired. I'm an AR 635-200, Chapter 12 retiree, for longevity. I put my time in. I was an honest to goodness Lifer and I’m damn proud of that fact. According to my DD Form 214, I'm "Subject to Active Duty Recall by the Secretary of the Army".
So which is it, my friends? Lets take bets here. Was my claim/appeal denied in bits and pieces or is the entry a clerical error? What do you think? Leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until the next time ……
**** An update**** Today, September 7, 2011, I received my copy of the Statement of the Case (SOC) dated August 24, 2011. As it turns out, my eBenefits record was correct in this case. However, there is still a very important update missing to my eBenefits record. In the SOC, it states I was increased to 100%. I checked my eBenefits record shortly after reading the SOC and it still has me rated at 80%. Well, at least eBenefits had my account partly correct. I've got to give them that.
Something important is missing here. My award letter. I had to read through 23 pages of the SOC to find out that I'd won my claim for 100% IU. The St Pete VA sent out the SOC before sending out my Award Letter. Is that normal? Shouldn't they be sent out at the same time? Why make me read through 23 pages to find out I'd been awarded 100% IU? That's crazy! Oh well. Maybe next time they'll get it right for the next Veteran. Hopefully my award letter will be in the mail soon. I've been waiting for three years for it.
Until the next time......