Presentation on theme: "Duties Responsibilities Authority. The VFW National Veterans Service Program (NVS) is supervised by the National Veterans Service Advisory Committee which."— Presentation transcript:
The VFW National Veterans Service Program (NVS) is supervised by the National Veterans Service Advisory Committee which performs its duties under the supervision of the National Council of Administration. The VFW National Service Officer is appointed by the Commander-in-Chief. He and his staff in Washington DC work under the immediate supervision of the Assistant Adjutant General, Washington DC Executive Director.
The National Veterans Service Advisory Committee establishes the NVS Policies and Procedures Manual which dictates the rules under which all Department Service Offices must operate in order to maintain VFW staff accreditation with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to include training requirements, basic office procedures and reporting.
The Department Service Officer is an appointee of the State Commander and must work under the National Veterans Service Policy and Procedure Manual as adopted by the National Council of Administration and under the direction of the National Service Officer. The Department of Illinois Service Officer works under the immediate oversight of the Department Veterans Service Committee which draws its authority from the Department Bylaws and the Department Council of Administration.
A District Service Officer is appointed by the District Commander as a District Officer. His duties are defined by national VFW Manual of Procedure Section 418 (a)(14). “The District Service Officer shall assist Post Service Officers.” While the District Service Officer may assist claimants it is his primary duty to assist the Post Service Officers of his District and to foster them in the performance of their duties.
The Post Service Officer must be a VFW Post member in good standing Is an Officer of the Post, appointed by the Post Commander Unless restricted by Post Bylaws may also serve the Post in other elected or appointed positions
The duties & responsibilities of the Post Service Officer are generally defined in the VFW Manual of Procedure Section 218 (a) (12)
1.Shall assist members of the Post, their widows and orphans 2. Shall assist other worthy cases brought to their attention 3. Shall perform their duties in accordance with the instructions contained in the VFW Guide for Service Officers 4. Shall perform their duties under the general supervision of the Department Service Officer
The VFW Guide for Post Service Officers further provides that the Post Service Officer: 1.Should have access to the latest copy of the VFW Guide for Post Service Officers 2. Must route claims and supporting evidence and all inquires to the Department Service Officer 3. Should have an adequate supply of current VA Forms (either by hard copy or VA website) 4. Should keep members informed of veteran’s entitlements and benefits offered and administrated by local, state and federal agencies
5.Is not allowed to request or accept remuneration for their services 6.Shall not refuse to assist any claimant unless it is clear that the claim is fraudulent in which case the Department Service Officer will be the final authority as to whether the VFW will provide representation 7.Shall not refuse to assist any claimant because they do not feel the claimant is eligible for the benefit sought
8. Shall forward without delay all applications to the Department Service Officer (we encourage Post Service Officers to utilize local professional contacts such as IDVA or VAC offices for claim development assistance) 9.Shall not keep original documents provided to them but are to transmit such documents to the Department Service Officer (may maintain records of claims prepared and submitted to the DSO)
Note: Public Law 93-579 restricts the release of confidential information to parties other than the claimant. An accredited representative of a Veterans Service Organization may only release information necessary for development of a specific claim to a local Post Service Officer, if authorized by the claimant in writing by either letter or form created for that purpose.
10. Shall not make direct contact with any office or representative of the Department of Veterans Affairs concerning a pending benefit claim or as a request for personal information regarding a claimant except in the case of an emergent ill veteran to a VA Medical Center in which case the Department Service Officer will be informed when time permits
11. Must attend all training conducted within the Department in service work by the Department Service Officer, especially the annual Department Post Service Officer School and any service officer training conducted at District meetings or by the District Service Officer
Any VFW member may offer their assistance to a potential claimant. However only an appointed Post Service Officer may present themselves as such to either a claimant or government department or agency. Any VFW member offering their assistance to a claimant must accept the responsibility to act under the same rules as an appointed Post Service Officer.
In 2011 a VFW Post Service Officer in Maine filed a complaint to the VA District Counsel through his Department Service Officer that a private attorney properly accredited by the VA was acting unethically in filing claims for residents of a nursing home at which the Post SO volunteered. The attorney filed a counter complaint that the Post SO as a volunteer violated VA regulations by “advising and assisting” residents of the nursing home on VA benefit claims in as much as he was not “accredited” by the VA and the National VFW directive that Post SOs work under the “general supervision” of the Department Service Officer did not offer adequate control of qualifications and conduct.
The VA General Counsel agreed with the attorney!
In an agreement reached between the VA General Counsel and the VSOs in July 2011 Post Service Officers may not “advise” potential clients on VA benefits. Post Service Officers may assist clients in completing VA forms by acting solely as “recorders” of information. They may not “advise” on the legal criteria for eligibility for benefits but may inform and provide information on that criteria such as printed material for use and interpretation by the client.
The VFW NVS Policy and Procedure Manual was amended by the NVS Advisory Committee and the National Council of Administration at the National Convention in August 2011. As it relates to the Post Service Officer the Manual now states in paragraph 7 D: “When acting as a recorder, the PSO is simply transcribing information provided by the claimant. At no time should the PSO make suggestions on how to frame information to make it appear more favorable or less harmful to the claimant.”
Paragraph 7 E: “Under no circumstances should a PSO counsel a claimant on their individual claim. While a PSO provides information concerning various government benefit programs, he/she should not offer any guidance or opinion as to the individual claim itself. General statements about the types of evidence necessary to support a claim can be described; however, a PSO must not discuss the nature or merits of any particular claim.”
What do we expect from a Post Service Officer? We expect that he has a desire to assist his fellow veterans without prejudice. We expect that he will establish a working relationship with other key Post and Auxiliary officers. Post Hospital Chairman Post Chaplain Post Military Assistance Service Chairman
We expect that he will establish a working relationship with key community service providers and agencies: Churches Shelters Funeral Directors State & County Social Workers Hospital Social Workers
We expect that he will establish a working relationship with key members of the veteran service network in his area: County Veterans Assistant Commission Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Other Veterans Service Organizations
We expect that he will attend the annual Department Service Office Conference at which he will receive instruction on changes in VA regulations on benefit eligibility and guidance on VA claim policies and procedures.
We expect that he will become familiar with basic eligibility requirements for VA benefits to include: Medical Care Disability Compensation Disability Pension Survivor DIC and Pension Education Benefits Burial Benefits
We expect that he will acquaint himself with basic VA forms required to apply for VA benefits and the procedures for filing claims. We do not expect and do not normally train Post Service Officers to prepare claims. Although Post Service Officers may prepare claims for submission to the Department Service Office within their level of expertise we encourage them to establish a good working relationship with the local professionals in their area such as IDVA and VAC offices.
Standard VA Forms for Post Service Officers: 21-22 Appointment of Accredited Representative 21-526 Application for Compensation or Pension 21-526b Application to Reopen Compensation 21-526EZ Fully Developed Compensation Claim 21-527 Application to Reopen Pension 21-534 Application for DIC or Death Pension 21-4138 Statement in Support of Claim 21-4142 Authorization to Release Information 21-8940 Application for Individual Unemployability 20-572 Change of Address 10-10EZ Application for Medical Benefits
Post Service Officers are not insured against improper or inadequate advice subjecting themselves to personal liability if they give improper advice regarding benefit eligibility. Know your Department Service Office contact information. Know your local assistance resources for referrals. Be prepared to provide assistance of all kinds.
Accreditation: The US Department of Veterans Affairs accredits persons to represent claimants in the presentation of claims. Persons affiliated with (employed by) Veterans Service Organizations must be certified (verification of training) to the VA General Counsel by that VSO for accreditation to be granted.
The VFW does not “certify” that any member or any other person involved in assisting veterans has been trained or is authorized to provide services to veterans under the authority or supervision of the VFW except as is required to “certify” that a qualified person has been properly trained for the purposes of VA accreditation.
It is the policy of the VFW NVS that only full time employees of the Department VFW Service Office who are endorsed by the State Commander will be certified by NVS for accreditation by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The only exception to this policy are full time employees of local or state entities who provide services to veterans and are certified by the Department Service Officer that they have received proper annual training to maintain accreditation.
Representatives accredited by the VA under the VFW sponsorship are insured for errors and omissions by the national VFW.