Susan R. Frasier
Today's hearing on VA document tampering in veterans claims is long overdue. I welcome and thank you for this opportunity to tell you my story, Mr. Chairman.
I am here to announce and allege to you today that I am the victim of a VA remand order fraud scheme that has been allowed to go on for entire decades in my comp and pen disability claim.
I have literally spent years trying to report this fraud scheme to VA authorities, and to this very minute not one of those reports have been processed, acknowledged, or remedied by any office with the VA agency.
Remand order fraud is largely perpetrated by the Board of Veterans' Appeals at Washington, DC, and is premised upon a falsified and trashed comp case coming out of VA Regional Office at New York City.
I was discharged from the Army in 1972, and a few months later in December, I entered the VA Hospital system as an inpatient here in Washington, DC, for the very first time. I have been in both the VA Hospital system and the VA comp and pen disability system since then, now totaling 37 years. To this very day I have no VA disability benefits, not even a zero percent rating, and I am nearly 60 years old now. I have spent my entire adult life in the system since age 22.
I have been under the jurisdiction of the VA Regional Office in New York City since the year 1977. New York is my home state and I am under the medical care of the VA Hospital in Albany, NY. For the record, please know that I am crippled with a confirmed muscular disease and I walk with a crutch and wear prosthetics on my legs.
I was declared disabled by the Social Security Administration in 1993 which was backdated to the year 1991, and that disability claim was supported in part by written statements and papers from VA hospital practitioners handling my medical care at that time.
In 1996 I was diagnosed with a crippling muscular disease. Although that diagnosis was not the high point of my life, it absolutely did bring much needed answers about my entire medical history up to that point. For years I had suffered with one symptom at a time, and this new 1996 diagnosis had brought some closure to explaining what those chain of symptoms were all about. That was good news for me, but it was bad news for those who had been falsifying my VA ruling papers up until then.
My medical history dated back to my Army active duty days in 1970, 1971, and 1972 and are permanently fixed in my Army hospital files although the VA Raters have blocked those hospital records for years.
At the time of my muscular diagnosis, I had compiled all of the VA diagnostic tests, biopsy surgery results, and related VA practitioner papers through a Privacy Act request, and then submitted them as updates into my then 24-year-old VA comp and pen case. Since that year, 1996, I repeatedly sent those practitioner papers into VA Regional Office in New York City several and many more times thereafter. I flatly reject the idea that the VA comp and pen system does not have these papers because they do have them X 10.
The 1996 diagnosis for my muscular disease basically confirmed the very first medical theories that had been submitted to the VA all the way back to the year 1972 in my case. However, while I thought the diagnosis would finally pave the way for my swift VA disability adjudication, what happened next was anything EXCEPT a rating in my favor.
I found myself on the receiving end of a perpetual and infinite revolving door of Remand Orders and fake ruling papers coming first from VARO New York City, then by the Board of Veterans' Appeals in Washington, DC.
I am caught up in a kind of Remand Order hell of which there is no escape.
Let's start with the fact that the Page 1 Issues list of the fake and phony remand orders, are not showing exactly what my VA comp claims are for.
I am, for sure, submitting to the VA concisely named and numbered VA medical diagnostic codes under the 38 CFR Part 4 tables. What I am getting back from the VA Raters is a vague translated version of those codes followed by the word "disorder."
Please know and understand that I am almost 60 years old now and all of my medical conditions are fully diagnosed by regular VA doctors. When a person spends 2 full months in the VA Critical Care Ward with abdominal tube life support after a life threatening surgery, I think it's a given that VA doctors along the way would have likely told me what my diagnosis is. They did, but I am finding out now there is no rational way possible to file those medical diagnostic codes into the VA disability system and STILL get a truthful and accurate law finding in return that determines me to be service connected disabled. The VA Raters are just not going to have it that I already know the medical titles of my diagnosis results. It's their plan to keep on writing this case as if they alone can determine my diagnosis.
The better part of all of my medical conditions are diagnosed as a result of surgeries. Very often, those VA surgery reports are only 1 page long in computer format. For as many times as I have cited the VA diagnostic codes under 38 CFR Part 4 and filed them with the 1-page surgery reports from the VA, then that's as many times as I continue to get a denial on the claim by VA Raters and for no apparent reason. The VA Raters appear to be of the idea that I am asking THEM for THEIR "opinion" about what my diagnosis is. I am not. If I am diagnosed by licensed VA practitioners then why in the world would I ever turn around and ask an incompetent and illiterate VA Rater for their "opinion" on those findings?? It makes no sense. I submit these entries as declarations and not as a "request" for their opinion. My only obligation in disability claims is to submit proofing papers of what licensed doctors have already determined.
Note that VA Raters at the VA Regional Office in New York City, and Board of Veterans' Appeals judges, are not medical practitioners either licensed or unlicensed. Most all of my modern day diagnosis are perfectly matched to my Army hospital records from active duty.
For an example of how the VA Raters alter the statement of my medical conditions, take 38 CFR Part 4 diagnostic tables, Code 7308 for instance. VA Raters change this and alter it into "gastrointestinal disorder." It's important to understand what's happening here, as small as it may first appear to be.
While that by itself seems harmless enough, what the VA Raters are doing by this sleight of hand is basically concealing the fact that I am already diagnosed by licensed medical doctors. They are making it falsely appear on the Page 1 Issues section of the fake remand orders, as if I have never been diagnosed at all by any doctor and that some kind of "mystery" lurks in my disability case. No such "mystery" exists and it stands to reason that what I am saying here is true.
After they create this false illusion on paper that there is some kind of "mystery" in my case, then here comes a truckload of "law" excuses for why a remand order is the only solution to the "mystery". This is fake, this is phony, this is a deceptive practice and it is a fraud scheme. I am here to blow the whistle on the matter and to ask Congress to put a decisive end to all of it. When I submit a claim for Code #7308, then Code 7308 is exactly what I expect to see on my ruling papers when I receive them back from Raters. Anything else is a deliberate falsification for remand order purposes.
After the Page 1 ISSUES section is falsified in this way, then the entire following 15 pages after that are wrong, bungled, misapplied, and misinterpreted and the entire ruling ends up not even worth the paper that it's written on. I've had enough and I'm here to ask Congress to end this practice.
What is taking place in my VA disability case is the ongoing refusal of VA Raters to read my diagnostic papers, compare them to my Army Hospital records, and then pay the claim. Instead I am getting phony remand orders for papers which are already in the C File, and all kinds of fake and phony overtures which suggests I am NOT fully diagnosed. I am for sure, and all they are doing is ignoring or concealing the proofing papers for delay purposes.
My Army hospital papers are blocked in every single review by the VA Raters as relentless abuses of the new and material evidence rule under 38 CFR Part 3.156. It seems to me that a full repeal of this regulation would put a swift end to these abuses.
In 1999, I received my first bungled Remand Order from the Board of Veterans' Appeals here in Washington, DC, which was for doctors who were known to be dead; and for places where I had never been treated at; and for other information that was already submitted in my C-File. I knew for sure then that the VA was jerking me around on my disability case.
It took from 1999 to 2008 for me to get to the Board of Veterans' Appeals a second time. I came to the hearing in person on May 21, 2008, at 2:00 p.m. I welcome a subpoena by any investigator who would like to obtain the video of that hearing because a picture is worth a thousand words. The BVA Judge was completely lost on the case and he conducted the hearing without ever having read any of the case papers. He didn't know what questions to ask and he didn't comprehend the REAL case that I was talking about in front of him.
Also, it just so happens that I am in possession of part of my VA C-File at home which is dated in 2004, but nearly 1/3 of the box was missing in the version that was brought out for my inspection at the BVA Hearing in May of 2008. So I knew from that moment there would be a chance for a bungled ruling yet again but I was hoping for the best.
In August, I received the second fake and phony remand order from BVA, once again completely incorrectly showing a falsified ISSUES list on the Page 1 of the ruling. He went on and on talking about my PTSD claim, when in fact, no PTSD claim from me was ever submitted for that appeal, nor was it argued at the hearing, nor was any evidence submitted in the papers for that appeal. Basically he was assessing a PTSD condition on paper that was nowhere sitting before him. It was all his own fabrication in the ruling and he was in it by himself. This is why the hearing video would be important to see because there is no match between what actually went on at the BVA hearing and the resulting and absurd 15-page falsified ruling which came out later in August.
Incredibly, he "remanded" the case for more papers on the PTSD not realizing the HUGE mistake he had made. Within approximately 5 days of the fake remand order, I submitted a Motion for Reconsideration and to Vacate the remand order, which was well within the 120 day allotted time for such a Motion.
In October, he issued a second fake and phony ruling, first removing the falsified PTSD entry but then leaving behind the other 5 or 6 remaining falsified entries as "Issues." All of the Issues were altered and reworded to NOT coincide with the evidences I had submitted on the appeal.
I can tell you with certainty, that it's my considered opinion after receiving these fake papers, that the Board of Veterans Appeals is not even reading C Files. They are just reaching in the box and grabbing a handful of papers and making up whatever story they can concoct for the sake of issuing a fake remand order for delay purposes to not pay the claim.
There is nobody who is more evidenced than I am with Army hospital records, an A-1 physical rating upon my entry into the military, VA hospital records spanning 37 years by VA doctors, and yet after all of THAT, the Board of Veterans Appeals STILL cannot get it right in my case. I have concluded that these events are deliberate and not a mistake, and that even when handed the papers they are claiming to need, then it's STILL not enough to pay the case. This is nuts.
As you know, Veterans cannot receive free lawyer assistance on disability claims until we enter the Court of Veterans Appeals. After receiving the second falsified BVA Remand Order, I then filed my court papers and began the search for lawyer representation.
It was here that the value and purpose of issuing fake remand orders began to reveal itself. I came upon a veterans lawyer in Washington who was found to be harboring and protecting the fake remand orders coming from the BVA. While trying to solicit his services for the case, it all came out that he only and exclusively reviewed what the BVA said in cases and NOT what the client (veteran) side of the case was. In other words, the client is never represented, only the VA is represented to the client by this particular lawyer. This is a second fundamental piece to the remand order fraud which is the full wall of silence and protection coming from the veterans lawyer community, and includes the VSOs.
The national veterans claim backlog grew to nearly 800,000 at one point last year and yet Congress has not really connected the dots that it happened on their watch. So this self-admitted, one-sided case review to only consider the VA's side of a case is the next big reveal that came to bear as I was trying to get help in the fake remand order scheme.
Allegedly the Veterans Pro Bono Consortium is receiving federal funding from the Court of Veterans Appeals to represent veterans before the court, and yet this very same Consortium has taken an advance position that all remand orders issued by the BVA are true, valid, and legitimate which quite frankly, is a breach and violation of the standing Bar Associations doctrine that lawyers must review cases on their individual merits. Case in a box and McClaims are not valid law practices by most law firms, but here it is alive and well inside the national veterans claims arena.
It seems that VA remand orders generally, no matter how falsified, or how bungled, or how misstated on the details of the case by the BVA Rater, do have the final result of blocking the veterans from accessing the free lawyers for representation at the Court of Veterans Appeals. I was rejected across the board by all lawyers for representation in my case, for no other reason that I had a remand order -- no matter how trashed and falsified. I was effectively boycotted.
It was also found that the Court of Veterans Appeals is refusing to even accept or hear remand orders of any kind, no matter how trashed, falsified, or misstated by the BVA Raters. Again, the Court presumes all remand orders to be true, valid, and legitimate and their authority does not remain open for the possibility of VA driven fraud schemes or deliberately falsified documents.
At the Court of Veterans Appeals on February 9th, the VA agency filed a Motion to Dismiss my appeal followed immediately by a Motion for a Stay in contemplation for a dismissal. The Court Clerk, without any judicial review and just 15 minutes apart after the VA had filed their motions in Washington, went ahead and granted the VA's motion. This is in clear violation of constitutional Due Process and is a breach of the ex parte proceeding rule under 38 USCA.
I assert to you today that I am fully entitled to a right of Notice in my case and the right of responsive pleading. Ex parte proceedings are prohibited in all federal courts, but here it is alive and well at the Court of Veterans Appeals.
This is all out legal malpractice at the Court, and it shows that the entire veterans claims system at every level, is self absorbed, out of control, and having it's way with the sick and injured of our nation.
This story gets even worse. After all of that, in November of 2008 and right while my trashed VA case was being bounced around between the BVA and Court, the very man who was falsifying my ruling documents at the VARO level out of New York City was included in a mass firing which made newspaper headlines. In a small way I felt vindicated, but my filed complaints on this guy, which to this very day still remains unprocessed at the VA.
The VA Inspector General, for the entirety of the 1990's and into the 2000 decade now, had repeatedly refused to accept my complaints that the VARO in New York City was deliberately falsifying my ruling documents. I was given a rejection form letter saying that the IG did not process filings, related to veterans claims. In January of 2008, I alternately filed 2 different VA Civil Rights complaints on the very guy who eventually was fired or suspended out of New York City. Those Civil Rights complaints have also never been processed by the VA in Washington to this day. Walls of silence, lockouts, boycotts, and refusals to assist: these are the common trends and practices of what I have been getting out of the national veterans claims system for my case. No help, just excuses and ex parte decisions at the Court.
Also during this time, a national scandal has broken out involving other VA regional offices shredding documents that were submitted by Veterans for their disability claims. It is my suspicion, and partly why I am here today, to allege that these shredded documents may be attached to the much larger crimes of VA-caused remand order fraud. What the VA gets away with at one location, often creeps into other locations. Remand order fraud is the perfect VA crime because one has to be incredibly smart to even discover it.
There is, for sure, a legislative void in this issue of remand orders. Veterans are never notified by any VA publication whatsoever, that remand orders are NOT appealable at the Court of Veterans Appeals.
[ says the Veterans Pro Bono Consortium ]
I have been forced to sit through (for years at a time) fake ruling orders for medical conditions I had never applied for, and for evidence papers which were separated and confused by the VA and then misapplied to the wrong medical conditions among other things. I've had every dirty rotten trick in the book played on me in the ruling papers of my case.
And let's talk a minute about the misuse and abuse of "comp and pen exams". There is NO comp and pen doctor under the sun who is going to read my 37 year old C File, spanning several boxes of medical and surgical files from 1972 to 2009, and then do this all in a matter of a 1 hour VA exam. This is perhaps one of the most wasteful, overly abused, and malpractice burdens of all which VA Raters are putting upon lifelong backlogged cases.
Understand that I will not consent to a "comp and pen exam" because nothing at all other than more of the same, will come out of such a scenario. It's bungled now, and I will just get more bungled out of a comp and pen exam. What can a "comp and pen" exam show in 1 hour that my VA licensed doctors haven't seen in 37 years? This question deserves a serious answer.
How many decades will I be forced to sit through a pile of fake and phony remand orders before some official police authority comes to my rescue?
How elderly must I be before my VA Hospital papers are compared to my Army Hospital papers to show once and for all that I am truly a service connected disability case?
If I never receive another "final order" in my case again, then does this mean that I can also never file an appeal at the Court of Veterans Appeals again? And is it for sure, the true intent of Congress to have NO appeal process whatsoever for fake and phony remand orders which are issued by the criminal agendas at the Board of Veterans Appeals? When does a lifetime remand order become "final" for appeal purposes, and are there no possible conditional scenarios where remand orders are FORFEITED by reason of VA abuse?
What do BVA Raters think they are competing with exactly, when they put veterans through lifelong overkill process, when at the very same time, those veterans are holding full diagnosis papers from surgery outcomes ?? Clearly, the Board of Veterans Appeals does NOT understand it's role in disability claims. Since when is the BVA empowered to not accept surgery findings from licensed hospital practitioners as rational proofing of a disability claim?
At what point over a lifetime is the veteran given a golden parachute to go directly to the VA pay order and to stop the flow of remands?
These are all fair questions to know.
There needs to be more clarity in police authority at the VA so that those of us who are crime victims can speedily report corruption to the authorities and not receive some ridiculous rejection form from the VA Inspector Generals Office saying they have no jurisdiction in matters related to veterans claims.
And what exactly is the true meaning of patient abuse and patient exploitation in the VA disability process - because I can make a very good case right now that I have been through both in the name of pursuing my disability benefits from the Army?
As a lifelong backlogged case in the VA disability system, I hope this committee can rescue me and others like me who are hopelessly trapped in this VA process from hell.
I will be glad to meet with any federal prosecutor who would like to seriously pursue a conviction at the VA as I have the worlds biggest stockpile of papers showing VA Raters gone amuck. Bring on the handcuffs I say, and shame on the lawyers who have been protecting them.
In conclusion, if you look at the list of broken pieces that I just finished describing, then there really is too much here to be considered a "coincidence": false ruling documents, altered medical conditions, boycotting lawyers, case rigging at the appeals Court, and suspended police action not processing reports. It certainly sounds like a crisis to me!
Thanking you today Mr. Chairman.