I am a Vietnam veteran with an appeal claim for hypertension with the VA. My claim was denied due to Not Service Connected even though I have diabetes and heart disabilities with the VA. I also have been on high blood pressure meds for ten years. The appeal claim was filed prior to the new PACT passage. Do I need to put in a new claim for hypertension or should I let the appeal claim handle it?


Jim's Reply:

The PACT Act is so new that most VA observers aren't sure of exactly what to expect. Your VA is in the process of hiring thousands of new workers and fast tracking them to their new desks to manage the tsunami of claims coming forward.

In your case I'll stick to my usual very conservative views of the claims and appeals process and say that if you're sure that you have an active appeal in process, let that work it's way through the system rather than filing a new claim.

Over the years I've listened to VBA raters complain about veterans submitting too much paper that is duplicative of what they've already submitted. Of course that's as much the fault of the VHA as anything because of the number of reminders and letters they send asking for more evidence. Most of us get those letters and think they haven't received what we've already submitted so we send in duplicates and of course that bogs everything down.

What I'm sure is happening is that appeals like yours are now presumptive and there is no longer any need to appeal. Your appeal should soon enough be identified and kicked back to a VBA rater to sort it all out.

Hang tight, don't make any moves quite yet. Good luck sir.