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Ms. Ranuan Eartnett

Lastly, I do not find that the reference to age la paragraph 7(C) of the proposed circular is either misleading or contrary to VA policy. The statement that age may be considered in determiaing permanence of disa bility is based upon VAR 1340 (B). Paragraph 19 of the Schedule for Rating Disabilities and VAR 1341 clearly state, however, that age may not be considered as a factor in determining the severity of serviceconnected disability. Age, as such, is a factor for consideration only 1f the severity of nonservice-connected disability is evaluated for purposes of nonservice connected pension.

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your comments regarding the proposed circular,

Sincerely yowa,

DOROTEY L. STARBUCK
Chief Benefits Director

October 29, 1981

"liss Dorothy Starbuck (20)
Chief Benefits Director
Veterans Administration
€10 Vermont Ave., Rn. 300
rashington, DC 20420

Dear 10ss Starbuck:

Thank you for appearing before the Subcommittee on October 27. Due to the large number of witnesses and the fact that time was at such a prenium, the Subcommittee did not have the opportunity to ask all of its prepared questions. I am therefore sulnitting additional questions for insertion in the hearing record.

1. to date?

How many ratings on prisoner of war claims have you received
Have you analyzed them to ascertain any trends.

2. It is noted you are planning outreach efforts to contact the major veterans' service organizations. Does this include the American Ex-Prisoners of war and the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor?

3. You nention that 19 percent of the unemployability cases . reviewed were increased to a 100 percent rating. I assume these were all neuropsychiatric cases. If 80, can you tell us how many IP cases remain rated as unemployable?

4. Does your Statistical Quality Control review of current ratings show that rating boards are aware of the requirements for unemployability ratings?

In order that we can close the hearing record in a timely manner, we would appreciate your response to these questions within 10 days.

Sincerely,

SNI 2. HALL, JR.
Chairaan
Subcommittee on Compensation,
Pension and Insurance

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her ir. Joeckel appeared before the Suncommittee on October 27, there were so many witnesses üttending the hearing and time was at Euch a premium, the Subconrittee did not have the opportunity to ask all of its prepared questions. I an therefore submitting additional questions for insertion in the hearing record.

1. You testified concerning the review of individual ur:enployability conducted by the Veterans Administration and inplied that your organization was displeased with some of the decisions. DO you have any clains identified in which you feel that benefits were reduced despite the fact that the veteran renains individually unemployable? If so, would you please submited identification of these clains for committee staff review.

2. In your testimony, you expressed displeasure with the draft of another DVB circular which was recently submitted to you for com.ent. Did you subirit your contents to the Veterans Administration, and if 60, what was their reaction to your comments?

3. Considerable testimony at the hearing concerned proposals to restore remarried widows to the rolls at age 60 despite their remarriage. Does your organization have a legislative position on such a proposal? tillat is that position?

In order that we can close the hearing record in a timely manner. He would appreciate your response to these questions within 10 ys.

Sincerely,

SAY B. 1.LL, JR.
Chairan
Subcommitteog on Corrensation,
Pension and Insurance

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I am pleased to respond to your letter of October 29, 1981, concerning additional hearing questions.

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Ratings on POW Claims: We have received ratings for 23 former prisoner-of-war claims--too small a number of claims on which to make projections. Approximately 75% of the claims involve a mental disorder. The provision of Public Law No. 97-37 pertaining to the anxiety states was the basis for the grant of service connection in five

cases.

O Outreach Efforts: The American Ex-Prisoners of War, Inc., Tampa, Florida, and the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, Inc., McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, were on our outreach list. Letters have been sent to both organizations asking for their assistance.

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Unemployability Cases: The 19% of the individual unemployability cases reviewed which were subsequently raised to a 100% rating were all neuropsychiatric cases. The remaining number of NP cases rated as unemployable is not available; this statistical information is not currently maintained. We are certain there are some cases in which the service-connected neuropsychiatric disability, in combination with other service-connected disabilities, provides the basis for a rating of individual unemployability.

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Statistical Quality Control: A review of the latest Statistical Quality Control Validation Report for each of our regional offices revealed few exceptions in cases involving individual unemployability. While the relatively small number of exceptions shows that our rating boards are largely aware of individual unemployability rating requirements, the fact that exceptions were taken indicates that some room for improvement exists. We will continue to stress this area.

Please contact me if I can be of further assistance to the
Subcommittee.

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Honorable Sam B. Hall, Jr., Chairman
Subcommittee on Compensation, Pension & Insurance
of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs
335 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Hall:

This letter is in reply to your follow-up letter of October 29, 1981 relative to the Subcommittee Hearing of October 27, 1981 regarding VA's review of Individual Unemployability Claims.

First, let me respond to your request for the DAV to identify those Individual Unemployability cases wherein compensation "... benefits were reduced despite the fact that the veteran remains individually unemployable." The DAV did not indicate nor imply at the October 27, 1981 hearing any displeasure with VA rating practices.

As you

Rather, our concern centers around the fact that the VA did not follow its own guidelines and that many VA Regional Offices interpreted the DVB Circular 21-80-7 (September 9, 1980) as a mandate to reduce Individual Unemployability claims. know, the Circular was designed to establish control through development of such claims. Reductions were to occur only if the grant of Individual Unemployability benefits was clearly and unmistakably erroneous under the provisions of VA Regulations 1105(A).

However, many claims reduced as a result of the review were based upon a judgemental decision rather than on a clear and unmistakable finding of error.

In reply to your inquiry regarding our comments to the VA with respect to the most recent DVB Circular 21-81-11 (October 15, 1981) concerning Individual Unemployability Claims, I am pleased to provide you with copies of our letter of September 16, 1981 and VA's reply dated October 2, 1981.

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