Monday, December 06, 2010

800 Numbers for Social Security Disability and VA Compensation

I am writing this post today because of some recent events in my own practice that were caused by my client calling the toll-free 800 number for the VA. What I will explain in this article also applies to the national 800 number for Social Security disability and SSI. If you have a lawyer you should never call the VA or Social Security 800-number to check the status of your claim. The purpose of these national telephone numbers is for the most part good intentioned, but they frequently give out wrong information both about individual claims and the benefits in general. To be quite frank, the only time someone should call these numbers is to get the phone number and/or address of their local Social Security office or VA regional office. I cannot tell you how many times clients of mine have called these numbers to check the status of their claims and received the wrong information. I also get e-mails from people who have called these numbers and were told wrong information. If you have a lawyer and want to check the status of your claim you should call your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer or your lawyer does not return your call you should then call the 800 numbers only to get the phone number of the local office where your claim is being handled. I felt the need to write this article today because I had a client who called the VA 800-number and they were told there was no claim pending for this individual. This individual who assumed they had received accurate information then called my office understandably extremely upset. I looked at this individual's file and everything was in order and a claim was pending and I was able to tell them exactly where they were in the process and who was processing their claim. I called the local regional office and explained the situation and they told me themselves that there was nothing wrong with the claim and that the 800-number employees do not have access to all the information and frequently give wrong information. This incident by itself would not have prompted me to write this article today but I had it happen again in the same day to another one of my clients who was told by the 800-number that my office had not been in contact with them for several months. Once again, the information provided was completely wrong as I knew I had been in frequent contact with the regional office supervisor. Many people who have Social Security disability and VA compensation claims resort to calling these phone numbers because these claims can take a long time. Other people call these phone numbers to get information about these benefits. If you want to make sure that the information you get is correct you should call your lawyer if you have one. If you do not have a lawyer then you should call your local regional office in a VA compensation claim or district office in a Social Security disability or SSI claim and set up an in person or telephone appointment with someone who actually has knowledge of your claim. If you do not have a claim and are just looking for information start by looking for your answers on the VA or Social Security website and if you can't find the answer there call your local office. I can't guarantee that the local office will even give you the right information or status of your claim 100% of the time, but I do know that your chances of getting a right answer are better if you ask your local office rather than the national 800 numbers. I mean no disrespect to the people who answer the phone at these 800-number's. Many I am sure are hard-working and do their best to give the information as they know it. The problem is frequently they do not have access to all the information on your particular claim and many may not be trained to the degree of the local office employees who are actually handling actual claims on a daily basis. I hope this article makes you think twice before relying solely on information you received from these national Social Security and VA 800 numbers. If you have VA questions you are welcome to visit my website on VA disability benefits or my website on Social Security disability benefits and e-mail me from those websites.