15 July 2014

The VA headache: prescription strength

If you've been following my posts (1, 2) on my relationship with the VA, you'll enjoy this. Late last week I received this letter:

After I read it, I sat back, baffled. I felt like Yossarian trying to have a rational discussion with the Mad Hatter. And then I thought that I must be losing it and so I pulled up the letter of May 20, as suggested: 

And then I went further down the rabbit hole, seeking a new mission that I could fly to reach my quota to go home before I had to drink any more potions to show that I was too nuts to fly more missions (bonus points if you followed that literary thread). 

Let me get this straight, Dept of Veterans' Affairs:
  • You sent me a letter telling me you are proposing to change the rating on one of my evaluated conditions and 
  • that if I think you shouldn't change the rating, I should submit evidence demonstrating why you shouldn't make the change but then when I send you a letter telling you why, including four enclosures of medical information supporting my rationale, you reject it as "not acceptable" because you actually haven't yet "made" a decision, it was just a "proposed" reduction (even though the letter states how they made their "decision" and called it a "Rating Decision") and 
  • so I can't yet "disagree" and, even if I did disagree,
  • I have not filed a "valid notice of disagreement" even though you previously asked me for information and rationale, if I did, in fact, disagree with the proposed change to my rating, as stated in the letter (as well, this was the guidance given to me by the call center staff - that I had to state that I disagree with their "rating decision," the wording listed on the first letter). 
  • I do appreciate that you are allowing me - or my designated representative -  to fill out Form 4107 to appeal in the event that I disagree with your determination that my notice of disagreement isn't valid. 
As an aside, the opening line of my letter of 14 June states "the letter serves a my formal disagreement to your decision to reduce my rating......enclosed is the following evidence..." I guess I should have said, "the enclosed evidence shows why you shouldn't make the change in my rating" - which sounds like I am in fifth grade, doesn't it? So I guess I'm not allowed to say I disagree even though by virtue of submitting all the medical information, I am in obvious disagreement with the change to my rating.

I am sitting here trying to decipher how I should have responded to the request for evidence? Just send them a bundle of medical documents and a sticky note saying, 'Don't change the rating, read me!'? In two of the four enclosures, the docs wrote treatment summary letters, and the one most pertinent to the specific condition wrote hers to the VA specifically. 

I am so befuddled, I haven't yet formulated my letter to the Regional Office Director, whose name is on both my letters, electronically, of course.  I don't even know where to start, really, because it's absolutely unclear as to whether the VA is even considering the medical information I sent. Whew. It really is a parade of the absurd. I am mostly laughing and shaking my head. 

I think I'll go into the kitchen and find the bottle that says "Drink Me" and see what happens.....

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