In late 2016, a provision of legislation Congresswoman Pingree introduced - the Ruth Moore Act, named after Mainer Ruth Moore - was passed in a Veterans Omnibus package. The provision ensured more transparency in the VA claims process by requiring the agency to make regular reports on how many benefit claims for military sexual trauma it received, how many it denied, and reasons for denial.
In April 2017, Congresswoman Pingree introduced legilsation to help military service members who have been sexually harassed online. Learn more here.
In June 2013, Congresswoman Pingree posted this very helpful Q and A about previously denied claims based on MST and how to get your case reviewed.
The Congresswoman's office sent us these updated claim instructions in March 2015:
- Send a letter to your regional VA benefits office:
- If you were one of the 3000 veterans who received a letter offering a review of a denied MST claim, note that that you received a letter from the VA on (date), offering you the option to have your previously denied PTSD /MSD claim reviewed for possible adjudication errors, and you are requesting this review.
- If you did not receive a letter, state that you are asking for your previously denied PTSD /MSD claim to be reviewed for possible adjudication errors. Download the sample VA letter to include with your request to ensure they understand this is a review request, not an appeal request.
- State in your letter that you believe acceptable markers or evidence was overlooked. And if you have a clear sense of what proof was overlooked, state what you believe it is.
- If you never completed VA form 21-0781a, do so and include with your letter requesting the review. Page three allows you to describe secondary markers that can be used as evidence. Do not circle them, but instead, write out a statement that describes each marker you have experienced. (Example: "After the assault my marriage ended and I have not had a significant relationship since.”)
- This review is an option even if you have been service connected on a later claim (not an appeal). If the evidence for service connected was the same, or there was a failure in the duty to assist, there may be grounds for a "clear and unmistakable error."
The Pingree site also invites your Feedback on the Review Process. We encourage you to share your experiences, in order to strengthen the system for all.
March 2015; Updated January 2018