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More Evidence of VA Incompetence and Arbitrary Decision-Making: My Case

Elpidio Osteria: “After 16 months of waiting for their correction and with no response, I decided to file for a writ of mandamus per se.”

To the editor:

I have read your article [Accuracy Not Priority as VA Battles Backlog of Veterans’ Benefits Claims, Nov. 19, 2012] and could not agree much more. I know there are a lot of skeptics, and VA employees who will contest your statements. If you need evidence to document as to how ignorant and incompetent the raters are—and also to support your claim that for every three cases, one is adjudicated incorrectly—I am willing to offer my case for demonstration.

I filed for Aid and Attendance Benefits in August 2009, which was denied. I immediately filed for a NOD [notice of disagreement] and on June 9, 2011, an award was granted. However, the decision was so flawed that they gave me a lower rating under SMC-L instead of SMC-O. They awarded me SMC-K for loss of function of both buttocks but there was no corresponding payment that goes with it.

Furthermore, in the accounting of the retroactive compensation, one month of compensation is missing. I brought all of this issue with the VA through another NOD.

After 16 months of waiting for their correction and with no response, I decided to file for a writ of mandamus per se. In their rush to comply with the court requirements, they just flat out denied my claims by just stating that there are no evidences to support a higher rating for Aid and Attendance base on the fact that other than the loss of function of both feet; there are no other separate and distinct medical condition that will require Aid and Attendance other than my bronchial asthma, which is rated 100 percent.

If this rater was senior and well-experienced, I was wondering how they missed my other service-connected medical conditions totaling 16 with a rating ranging between 0 percent to as high as 60 percent.

If you use the VA combine rating table, this will come out to two 100 percent ratings on top of the loss of function of both feet. How in the world will you say then that this veteran is not in need of Aid and Attendance without consideration of the loss of function of both feet?

If they really analyze all the evidence, I can not understand why they did not correct the nonpayment of the recently awarded SMC-K and missed one month compensation in the retroactive compensation. They just address the request for a higher rating for Aid and Attendance and even without consideration of the evidence in front of them.

This is clear-cut evidence of incompetence and arbitrary decision-making without taking into consideration the quality of work being done, and concentrating more on quantity.

Elpidio M. Osteria
Anaheim

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