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SGT. SHAFT: Veteran seeks correct terminology in submitting VA claim

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

What is the correct terminology to use when disagreeing with the denial of the VA claim? There are many different opinions as to what words to use to keep the original date of claim rather than have the date change to the date the notice of disagreement is submitted. The consensus of the opinions is thus:

1. Is "Reconsideration" the appropriate word to use as this will keep the original date you file the claim?

2. Will the words "Disagreement" or "Appeal" of the decision result in the date of the claim being adjusted to the date the Disagreement or Appeal paperwork is filed.

None of this seems logical to me, but I constantly hear this all the time, even from some NSO [National Service Office] reps. There are many myths about the VA adjudication process that confuse the facts. Is there any truth to what word or words you must use in the title when filing an appeal to a claim that was denied? Would any of these words if wrong result in the appeal being considered a new claim or if additional support information was provided?

People at VA seem noncommittal in their answers to my inquiries.

David L.
U.S. Army Master Sergeant (Retired)

Dear David:

Title 38 of the CFR [Code of Federal Regulations] defines a "Notice of Disagreement" as a written communication from a claimant or his or her representative expressing dissatisfaction or disagreement with an adjudicative determination by the VA and a desire to contest the result of that decision.

While special wording is not required, the Notice of Disagreement must be in terms that can be reasonably construed as disagreement with that determination and a desire for appellate review.

If the agency of original jurisdiction (VA Regional Office) gave notice that adjudicative determinations were made on several issues at the same time, the specific determinations with which the claimant disagrees must be identified.

For example, if service connection was denied for two disabilities and the claimant wishes to appeal the denial of service connection with respect to only one of the disabilities, the Notice of Disagreement must make that clear. There is no foundation in law or regulation to use the date of the NOD as the effective date for the issues specified in the appeal. A properly filed NOD will protect the date of claim.

Also the word "Reconsideration" exists in regulation only for decisions of the Board of Veterans' Appeals. There is no precise authority to permit a Regional Office to reconsider a decision.

Shaft notes

• A one-of-a-kind summer camp for military children from families with wounded, disabled or fallen family members will double the number of camp locations available across the country this summer.

Camp Corral, supported by Golden Corral restaurants, will send 2,000 children from military families to a weeklong camp free of charge. Camp Corral has grown from the pilot, one-camp program in 2011, to nine camps in 2012 and has expanded to 18 camps in 14 states for the summer of 2013. Registration priority is given to children with wounded, disabled or fallen military family members.

The free camp is for children ages 8 to 15 and will provide them with activities such as canoeing, swimming, fishing, arts and crafts, ropes course challenge, archery, horseback riding and other camp and outdoors activities. Families are only responsible for transportation to and from camp.

Camp Corral — a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation — builds on Golden Corral's commitment to honoring our disabled American veterans and their families. Since 2011, Golden Corral has collected donations for Camp Corral from its restaurant guests, franchises and many others, with 100 percent of the donations going directly toward the Camp Corral campers' participation.

For the last 12 years, Golden Corral has supported America's veterans with their "Military Appreciation Monday" event. This event has raised more than $7.2 million for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) state and local chapters and served more than 3.8 million veterans a free "thank you" meal. The DAV organization is a strong supporter of Camp Corral.

"We are so thankful for the overwhelming support from Golden Corral and their guests," said Betsey Fortlouis, executive director for Camp Corral. "It's an honor to be able to pay it forward by sending even more deserving kids to camp this summer."

The Camp Corral locations will be managed and staffed by the 4-H Youth Development Group and YMCA Organization. The camps are accredited by the American Camp Association or follow guidelines set by the ACA. Donations to Camp Corral are accepted at any Golden Corral restaurant, processed through PayPal or can be mailed to the Camp Corral Office in Raleigh, N.C.

To register online for camp weeks held from June to August, or to make a donation, go to www.campcorral.org. For more information, call 1-855-605-1267.

• The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation (PenFed Foundation), a nationally recognized nonprofit organization working to meet the unmet needs of military personnel and their families, recently announced that it raised more than $850,000 at its Ninth Annual Night of Heroes Gala, which took place last week at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C.

The annual event honors the men and women of our military and veterans. This year's gala highlighted the service of the Department of Veterans Affairs, financial literacy, and the new Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge, which is a free hotel for veterans in Palo Alto, Calif., to be completed later this year.

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.

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