The sound of no phones ringing as my VA saga continues

In my most recent post I lamented about the languishing status of my service connected disability claim.  It had been partially settled, but half of the conditions under review still required action and that action was very long in coming.  It is month seven and counting since I was informed that “I would be contacted” by a VA representative to continue the work on my claim.

At month five or so I called to see what was up.  After many failed attempts, I got up extra early and called when the call center opened, and after being on hold for a half hour I was able to speak to a representative.  Long story short, he initiated an official inquiry which included the promise that I would receive a telephone call from the regional office that was working my claim.  In ten working days or less.

Well, ten days came and went, so this morning I again got up extra early (well, not that extra early because I get up before 0500 anyhow) and I called the VA.  After navigating the automated menus I was informed that I would be on hold for 22 minutes, so I waited.  45 minutes later a voice broke the elevator-esque hold music monotony and asked how she could help.

I explained my dilemma, and she pulled my information up on her computer.  I heard the clattering of her typing on her keyboard along with a sigh.

“They did not call you?” she asked.

“Nope.”

“They marked it closed, but there are no notes that show a call was conducted…”

Great.

It turns out that my Official Inquiry had been marked closed with no action taken.  No call.  No notes.  No action on my claim.

I was a bit annoyed, and she was a bit perplexed.  I got the feeling that I was not the first person that she had spoken to with this problem.  To her credit, she calmly explained the next steps as she typed away.  She notified her local supervisor as well as the supervisor and the team that was supposed to contact me about the problem, and apologized for the whole incident.  She went so far as to say that whoever closed my inquiry had actually lied about it and not done their job.  She said that someone may call me to update me on the status of my claim, but she also wisely did not promise that anyone would actually pick up the phone.  Neato.

As for my claim, she further explained that the crux of the problem was that while my issues had been partially resolved (with a completed disability rating for half of my identified conditions) the remaining issues would be addressed in the future.  How far in the future she could not say.  Eight months was the average for the initial claim (which was close to my timeline), but there was no expected timeline for the rest of the issues.  It could be a day, a week, a month, a year, or more.  Neato again!

So there you have it.  My first call resulted in a promise of a call back that never came.  My second call resulted in a complaint that nobody called, and I don’t know if anyone ever will.  Time will pass, I suppose, and maybe my phone will ring.

I won’t hold my breath.

__________

Lessons Learned:

1.  Stay on top of the process!  If you are promised a phone call, follow up if you do not get it.

2.  Call early in the day and you will get through.  Eventually.   My experience is that your wait time is twice the amount of time announced, so get a cup of coffee or two and read the paper because it is going to take a while.

3.  Don’t get angry.  The person on the other end of the phone is a person too, and they had nothing to do with your particular issue.  If you make them angry they will not be helpful.  Remember the golden rule!  Be nice and help them help you.

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4 responses to “The sound of no phones ringing as my VA saga continues

  1. Awful. The VA has the worst turnaround time, and that says a lot. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted on hold, in waiting rooms, or just waiting to hear anything. Nothing says “thanks for your service” quite like being put in a maze that has no exit.

    • It is really as big a bureaucratic nightmare as everyone says it is. Amazing! I wonder how many hours have been collectively wasted by the millions of veterans who just trying to get their claims completed?
      Thanks for reading!

  2. Great… I’m just getting started on that journey. Just got the results of my initial claim back (11 months after I submitted it). A few items need to be reviewed again, and they said they couldn’t process my claim properly because I didn’t provide enough information on my dependents… I know I did. Apparently they don’t know my daughter’s place of birth… or that daughters are girls (apparently they need “his” place of birth). Lots to look forward to, but at least you’re doing the leader’s recon for me.

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