I purchased my current car a few years ago. It was preowned and it relatively good shape. However, there was one issue that kept it from passing inspection; the hazard lights. I knew I had to get this fixed for the inspection, but I was able to wait because it was not due for nearly a year. I put it off for a long time because I was afraid of replacing it. I know a lot about cars, but I know nothing about repairing them. I did not have anyone to ask, and panic started setting near the time my inspection was due. I purchased a really expensive switch, tore off the dash of my car as if I were Thor, the God of Thunder, and quickly realized that I made a huge fuss out of something very simple. Simply, the switch that connects the wires to the lights had somehow separated. All I had to do was plug it back in. The entire task only took a few minutes. Months of panic could have been avoided if I could have asked somebody about my situation.
I know I am not alone in putting things off when I don’t know the answers. From my past 5 years of experience working with VA Disability claims, I know many Veterans do the same thing when it comes to their claims. Let’s be honest, VA Disability is one of the most complicated and frustrating processes out there. I’ve been working with it for nearly a decade and I still don’t fully understand how everything works. As many Veterans already know, if you search for answers you won’t find many. The internet is full of opinion, not fact about the process, and if you call the VA directly, you will likely put on hold for as long as 3 screenings of the film “Inception.” In other words, if you have questions, you are out of luck.
What if this isn’t how things worked? What if you had questions about your VA disability claim and you could get answers in a matter of moments? What if it were in the palm of your hand? What if it we lived in 2015 and the technology to do this had been around for years? Well, the present is now, and this does not have to be a bunch of “what if’s.”
Recently the VA launched a new app that is designed to answer questions for VA Disability claims. Called 311Vet, it’s meant to ease frustration and get Veterans answers to the questions they have about their claims. Simply type in your question and you will have an answer in moments. (More about that later.) The VA has this set up to provide quick answers by way of a database. So, if you ask a common question, your response should be immediate. However, if you something more complicated or a question that hasn’t been answered before, your inquiry will be reviewed by an individual and the will get back to you “quickly.”
Please note that this app is only for VA Disability claims, and they can’t answer questions about a specific claim. For instance, you can’t ask: “How much back pay will I receive?” or “When is my next appointment.”
So, here is the question of the hour…how does it work? While I am not trying to be counterproductive, I must admit that I am not a fan of this app. Granted, I am not a Veteran, and I have some experience working with VA disability. Not to mention I have an awesome VA Disability Blog. Overall I found it to be a tad on the basic side. The first question I asked was “How long does a VA Disability claim take?” The response time was about 45 minutes and they gave me a very generic response that was way too vague to be helpful. (The real answer is that most VA Disability claims last 2-4 years on average. The second question was more successful. I asked: “What is the highest rating a Veteran can receive for PTSD?” This response only took a few minutes. While they did say that 100% was the highest one could receive for PTSD, the answer was convoluted and they pretty much quoted the CFR. (The CFR is the rating code book for VA disability code.) If you weren’t an individual with a background in VA Disability you wouldn’t likely fully understand their response. One of the reasons my blog is so successful is that I know how to communicate with real people, not just other people who work in VA disability. No one cares if you can look something up in a book, and then copy and paste it in an app.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the fact that the VA is willing to put an app like this out there is great. Plus, it will take some time to work this app out. It’s only been around for about a month, so I need to give it more time. My best advice to Veterans reading this is to try it out on your own. It’s free and available for both Apple and Android devices. It’s free too. If you don’t have a smart phone, or if use something like a Blackberry, you can simply test your questions to 311838 and get the same response.
If you want real answers to your questions, or would like to talk with me about becoming a client, give me a call today for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457. If you can talk now, use our chat, or fill out this form so we can contact you at a later time.