Friday, August 01, 2014

Finally, some hope for our Veterans

 

I promised not to change the front page of this blog until there was some action on the VA mess (long before the "Scandal" broke.)  Now there is hope.  

My additional sugggestion:  Grant every veteran Medicare and Medicaid upon discharge from the military.

 

"Sens. Bernie Sanders and John McCain have struck a deal on legislation to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand veterans’ access to health care and make it easier to fire VA officials for misconduct.

The compromise measure, announced Thursday on the Senate floor, includes pieces of three VA bills that have been introduced in the Senate."

 

Bernie Sanders, John McCain strike VA deal - Jeremy Herb - POLITICO.com http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/bernie-sanders-john-mccain-va-deal-107491.html

 

Use the Power of Science

If you practice law, use the power of science.  This wonderful quote from deGrasse Tyson describing the scientific method should lead you on the way.

To make this journey we'll need imagination, but imagination alone is not enough because the reality of nature is far more wondrous than anything we can imagine. This adventure is made possible by generations of searchers strictly adhering to a simple set of rules. Test ideas by experiment and observation, build on those ideas that pass the test, reject the ones that fail. Follow the evidence wherever it leads and question everything. Accept these terms, and the cosmos is yours.

Cosmos relaunches with Neil deGrasse Tyson http://hplusmagazine.com/2014/03/10/nerdvana-cosmos-relaunches-with-neil-degrasse-tyson/

 

Epidemic of Veteran Suicides is a National Shame

 Over 1,892 Veterans killed themselves so far this year.

Flag funeral"WASHINGTON — Volunteers in dark green hooded sweatshirts spread out across the National Mall on Thursday, planting 1,892 small American flags in the grass between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. Each flag represented a veteran who had committed suicide since Jan. 1, a figure that amounts to 22 deaths each day.

Civilians stood among the waving flags in solidarity with veterans like Michael Blazer, a former sergeant in the Army who had a friend commit suicide when he got back from Afghanistan.

“He shot himself in the same room as me and a friend of mine,” Mr. Blazer said. “I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD because of that, so a lot of these issues are what I’ve personally been dealing with. But above and beyond, I’m out here in memory of him.”

The event was part of an awareness campaign mounted by members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group focused on issues affecting the nation’s newest veterans. They are in Washington this week as part of their leadership development program, Storm the Hill, and to support the introduction of legislation aimed at preventing suicides and providing more mental health resources for service members home from combat.

Event organizers said that the issues were a top priority for veterans and their families, and that they wanted to make them a priority for Congress, too.

Senator John Walsh, Democrat of Montana and the first Iraq war veteran to serve in the Senate, introduced the Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act on Thursday. For Mr. Walsh, the issue is personal: A sergeant who served under him when he commanded an infantry battalion in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 committed suicide after returning home.

“We’ve waited too long to take on this action,” he said. Then, mentioning the 22 veterans who take their lives every day, he added, “That’s an epidemic that we cannot allow to continue.”

. . .

"

Using Flags to Focus on Veteran Suicides - NYTimes.com http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/28/us/using-flags-to-focus-on-veteran-suicides.html

 

 

 

February 2014 ALJ Data

I adapted SSA data into a spreadsheet.  It is available for download in two formats.  The data are the same, only the formats differ.  

Notice, as you browse the spreadsheets, that the data strongly suggest that who the ALJ is makes more difference than any evidence in these cases.  Is that a reliable and fair way to allocate scarce resources to the weakest and most disadvantaged in our communities?   


http://ssaconnect.com/tfiles/ALJ_Data_9-28-13-to-2-28-14.xls
http://ssaconnect.com/tfiles/ALJ_Data_9-28-13-to-2-28-14.ods

Milwaukee WI Disposition Data

Sample of Milwaukee data

Source:  http://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/03_ALJ_Disposition_Data.html

 

 

 

 

 

Fully Disabled Vets Get Social Security Fast-track

 

Most disabilities are invisible"The Social Security Administration will immediately begin fast-tracking paperwork for veterans who are rated 100 percent disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Under the new process, Social Security will treat these veterans' applications as high priority and issue expedited decisions just as it does for disability claims filed by troops who become disabled for any reason while on active duty.

"We have reached another milestone for those who have sacrificed so much for our country and this process ensures they will get the benefits they need quickly,"Carolyn W. Colvin, acting Social Security commissioner, said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon by the White House.

The decision by Social Security does not affect the disability claims backlog that the VA has been dealing with for years.  Rather, it is for veterans who are applying for SSA benefits in addition to the disability compensation awarded by VA.

SSA's move came as a welcome surprise, said Joe Davis, national spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"It recognizes seriously disabled veterans as deserving of expedited claims processing," Davis said.

Colvin said expediting Social Security disability claims processing for the veterans does not guarantee approval for Social Security benefits. The vets must still meet the eligibility requirements.

Also, it will be up to the veteran, not the VA, to inform Social Security that they qualify for the expedited processing. Veterans will have to inform Social Security that they have permanent and total VA disability rating of 100 percent. Along with that notification they must also include proof of the rating, Colbert said.

"While we can never fully repay them for their sacrifices, we can be sure we provide them with the quality of service that they deserve," Colvin said. . . ."

Fully Disabled Vets Get Social Security Fast-track

 

 

 

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