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**Statistical Analysis: Representation Success at Board of Veterans’ Appeal 1 of 11
**

Date: 29 August 2013

Statistical Analysis: Representation Success at Board of Veterans’ Appeal

US Veteran

United States of America

CC: US House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs; US Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs

To Whom It May Concern:

Purpose

First, the veteran, one who is filing a claim, must be active in the process in my opinion and part of that activity is reading

and becoming informed.

Next, I believe the following statistical analysis will help veterans choose a Veterans Service Organization[1] that maximizes

their success with the claim process. Although I cannot guarantee success, I have used the statistical methods[2-6] of

average, standard deviation, range, maximum, minimum, normal quantile plots and other simple graphical procedures,

Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and Duncan multiple-range test to increase the likelihood of success by ordering Veterans

Service Organizations according to success, ―percent allowed‖ when presenting before Board of Veterans Appeals[7]. After

reading this paper, I believe you will, at a minimum, agree that one should not represent themselves before the Board of

Veterans’ Appeals. Also, the data was extracted from Board of Veterans’ Appeals Annual Reports[7]. As such, the data does

not, in any way, suggest that a certain Veterans Service Organization will be better than another when dealing with Veterans

Benefits Administration. Rather, the data provides a statistical ordering of Veterans Service Organization success before the

Board of Veterans’ Appeals. In the future, I hope Veterans Service Organizations will share their Veterans Benefits

Administration successes with me so that I can do a similar statistical analysis.

My VSO Choice

When I had filed a disability claim with the Veterans Affairs, I wanted to maximize my success. Although I had strong

medical evidence, I knew that mistakes could occur. As such, I expected to face an appeal process that might end in the

courts. I have always heard that a fool represents himself or herself in a court of law. Therefore, I believed my success was

dependent upon a good Veterans Service Officer (VSO)—What Veterans Service Organization though?

I tried to find Veterans Service Organization comparisons with no success, but I found many social network threads that said

the Veteran Service Organizations were basically the same. Still, this did not make any sense to me because humans run the

organizations and we humans always fall into statistical populations. As such, I suspected the Veterans Service Organizations

fell within populations regarding their success with veteran claims processes. I could not find any comparisons though. As

such, I eventually went with the well-recognized Disabled American Veteran (DAV) organization. Still, I was worried

because my choice was blind.

Chris Harding

Statistical Analysis: Representation Success at Board of Veterans’ Appeal 2 of 11

Board of Veterans’ Appeals Annual Report to Congress

As a person with two Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degrees: chemical engineering and

biological sciences I have been trained to research most ―important‖ tasks. Like other veterans, I tried to peak within the

opaque process of the US Veteran Benefit Administration. Still, I found no data regarding VSO success with Veterans

Benefit Administration (VBA) claims. What percent of filed VBA claims were successful and what percent was denied when

considering VSOs? Personally, I still have not found VBA/VSO data. Since I accepted that I might have to appeal, I

eventually discovered the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) and the BVA annual reports to Congress. In those reports, I

found ―raw‖ data, data that has not been manipulated by statistics, that covered the most common Veterans Service

Organizations from 1992 to 2012. To be specific, the table is called ―BVA Dispositions by Representation FY 2012‖ in the

2012 Annual report[7]. The BVA reports cases ―Allowed‖; ―Remanded‖; ―Denied‖; ―Other‖; and ―Total‖.

Raw Data

I decided to create a Microsoft Excel workbook with all available raw data from 1991-2012 representation tables[9]. While

collecting that data, I discovered that the year of 1991 was missing a table, so I collected the year range from 1992-2012.

Some Useful and Informative Graphs

First, I wanted to graph the data and see what I was up against. To do this, I had to rearrange the collected data[9]. Also, I

calculated the average, standard deviation, range, max, and min. After graphing all Veterans Service Organizations (VSO)

representations of ―percent allowed‖ from 1992-2012, I graphed the means of percent allowed. Interestingly, I found that

most of the represented Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) had a trend of increased success, ―percent allowed‖, since

1992. I also noticed that the rate of increase from 1991 to 2012 was variable between representations. One major exception

was Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), which consistently fell between 19.16% allowed and 43.32% allowed with an

average of 27.33% allowed. In the opposite direction, a representation of ―None‖ had a slight positive rate from 1992 to

2012, with values between the range of 11.89% allowed to 23.30% allowed and an average of 16.90% allowed. As a side note,

I often I interchange ―mean‖ with ―average‖. Mean and average are the same mathematically.

Now, I provide two graphs and the knowledge that statistical analysis indicated that the averages, second graph, are, on

average, statistically different—ANOVA. I describe the ANOVA calculation later. Also, I will eventually order the averages

according to Duncan multiple-range test[2;6]. The averages seen in the second graph are not ordered or grouped according

to Duncan multiple-range test, which will come later. Also, the first graph is all the raw data from 1992 to 2012.

Chris Harding

Statistical Analysis: Representation Success at Board of Veterans’ Appeal 3 of 11

As mentioned previously, ANOVA[2;3;5], which is a statistical tool to compare 2 or more means, indicated that there is a

statistical difference in the percent allowed averages. Also, the reader can see that ―Vietnam Veterans of America‖ has the

greatest percent allowed average while ―None‖ has the lowest percent allowed average. Later, I determine which means can

be separated from each other according to Duncan multiple-range test[2;6]. Remember, a ―mean‖ is mathematically

identical to the ―average‖.

What I do not do with the following statistical analysis is determine ―why‖ one average differs from another. As an example,

a change in the law might have affected the averages.

Chris Harding

Statistical Analysis: Representation Success at Board of Veterans’ Appeal 4 of 11

Analysis of Variance, ―ANOVA‖, Results

I am not a statistician, but I am a chemical engineer who took engineering statistics in college, and I used statistics as a

chemical engineer in the pharmaceutical industry to optimize my methylation process for biaxin antibiotic. Still, I am not a

statistician. As such, I will not attempt to reproduce a textbook explanation of ANOVA[2-6].

Before I calculated the ANOVA table, I used Normal Quantile Plots to check if the raw data came from a normal

population[9]. All data, except the Jewish War Veterans, proved to satisfy the normality test. I also compared the standard

deviations of the data[9]. As for standard deviations, the average was 4.93 and the range was 4.71, which is quite variable in

my opinion, but my statistics textbook stated that the following ANOVA method is robust and relatively insensitive to cases

where data does not meet the normality and equal variance criteria[2]. As previously mentioned, all the analyzed data met

the criteria or normality[9]. Jewish War Veterans and American Red Cross were not included in this ANOVA calculation

because their data did not span the 1992-2012 range. Although I could have used another ANOVA method that allows

variable sample size, I decided to exclude the two from my current analysis.

What I will do is provide a very brief explanation of ANOVA, provide an ANOVA table, and provide a comparison to the

F

0.05

distribution table[2;8]. Later, I group the averages of percent (%) allowed according to Duncan multiple-range test.

Chris Harding

Statistical Analysis: Representation Success at Board of Veterans’ Appeal 5 of 11

In a very brief nutshell, the ANOVA analysis calculates an F value. If the calculated F value is greater than

F

0.05

in a

provided statistical table[8], the null hypothesis that all the means are equal can be rejected, and there is a 5% chance of

being wrong. Consider the following table as an example of reported values that we want to calculate the F value. The first

table is not an ANOVA table:

1 (Year) 2 j n Means

Sample 1

(VSO 1)

y

11

(percent

allowed)

y

12

y

1 j

y

1n

y

1

Sample 2

y

21

y

22

y

2 j

y

2n

y

2

Sample i

y

i1

y

i2

y

ij

y

in

y

i

Sample k

y

k1

y

k2

y

kj

y

kn

y

k

Now, I provide the equations used to calculate the F value of the above table[2].

F =

o

B

2

o

W

2

;

o

B

2

= between sample variance;

o

W

2

= within-sample variance

Can be written as:

F =

SS(Tr) /(k ÷1)

SSE/(k(n ÷1))

;

SS(Tr) =between-samples sum of squares;

SSE =error sum of squares

SS(Tr) =

T

i

2

i=1

k

¿

n

÷C;

SSE =SST÷SS(Tr);

SST = y

ij

2

j =1

n

¿

i=1

k

¿

÷C;

C =

T

2

kn

In this paper, ―k‖ represents the number of Veterans Service Organizations (VSO), and ―n‖ represents the number of years.

T

i

is the total of the ―n‖ observations in the ith sample[2]. T is the sum of all

T

i

. The value

y

ij

2

represents the square root of

every ―percent allowed‖ numerical value, and

¿

represents a summation of all values.

y

i1

+ y

i2

+ y

ij

+ y

in

= T

i

y

k1

+ y

k2

+ y

kj

+ y

kn

= T

k

T

i

+T

k

= T

Chris Harding

Statistical Analysis: Representation Success at Board of Veterans’ Appeal 6 of 11

Once a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is created, all the above equations can be used to calculate the needed F value[9].

Afterwards, an ANOVA table can be created[2]:

Source of Variation Degrees of Freedom Sum of Squares Mean Square F

Treatments k-1 SS(Tr) MS(Tr) = SS(Tr)/(k-1)

MS(Tr)

MSE

Error k(n-1) SSE MSE = SSE/k(n-1)

Total nk-1 SST

Now, I will provide the ANOVA table I obtained after using Microsoft Excel to organize data and calculate the F value for

the Board of Veterans’ Appeal percent allowed.

Source of Variation Degrees of Freedom Sum of Squares Mean Square F

Treatments 11 1559.49 141.77 5.44

Error 240 6252.12 26.05

Total 251 7811.61

From the

F

0.05

table[2;8], I get four values. Because of the large degrees of freedom for error, I cannot interpolate between

the last numerical value and the infinity symbol. As such, I report all four values. As you will see, the above-calculated F

value is much larger than the four table values. If I would have interpolated the statistical table, the interpolated

F

0.05

result

would have fallen within the four table values that I provide.

F

0.05

Table

Denominator

Numerator

10 12

120 1.91 1.83

Infinity 1.83 1.75

As the reader can see, the calculated F value of 5.44 is greater than all the above

F

0.05

values: 1.91; 1.83; 1.83; 1.75. Because

the calculated F value is larger than

F

0.05

, it can be assumed that there is statistical significance that the means are different

and not the same. In other words, the null hypothesis of equal means can be rejected.

Now that it is known that the means are statistically different, the Duncan multiple-range test will be used to determine which

means can be separated from each other and grouped statistically. Remember, the words ―mean‖ and ―average‖ are identical

mathematically.

Chris Harding

Statistical Analysis: Representation Success at Board of Veterans’ Appeal 7 of 11

Duncan Multiple-Range Test

When performing the Duncan multiple-range test, ranges of means are tabulated. Ranges are calculated from the population

means, ―Average of % Allowed‖, and then compared to a test value labeled

R

p

. If the calculated range value exceeds the

R

p

value, the differences in that set are significant and will not be grouped. In this case, we calculate the

R

p

for an

o = 0.05,

which means that there is a probability of 5% to commit a type I error. A type I error is when a rejection occurs even though

the value is true. In this case, there is a 5% error probability that the groupings are wrong.

Raw Data

p r

p

p R

p

Number Representation

Average of %

Allowed

2 2.77

2 3.09 12 None 16.90

3 2.92 3 3.25 11 Agent 20.39

4 3.02 4 3.36 10 State Service Organizations 20.65

5 3.09 5 3.44 9 Veterans of Foreign War 20.88

6 3.15 6 3.51 8 American Legion 21.46

7 3.19 7 3.55 7 Attorney 21.83

8 3.23 8 3.60 6 Other 22.94

9 3.27 9 3.64 5 Disabled American Veterans 23.08

10 3.29 10 3.66 4 AMVETS 23.49

3

Military Order of the Purple

Heart 23.64

2 Paralyzed Veterans of America 24.82

1 Vietnam Veterans of America 27.33

The ―p‖ is a numerical number from 2 to 10 in a statistical table[2]. The ―p‖ represents the size of the group that is used to

calculate the range. If I chose the above ―Representation‖ as an example, a group of p = 3 would be calculating the range:

(Vietnam Veterans of America – Military Order of Purple Heart) = 3.69. As can be seen in the next table, the latter range is

statistically significant.

Chris Harding

Statistical Analysis: Representation Success at Board of Veterans’ Appeal 8 of 11

As an example and an actual grouping:

Group 1 Averages: Highest Grouping

p Rp Group Range Significant

10 3.66 1-10 6.67 Yes

2 3.09 1-2 2.51 No

3 3.25 1-3 3.69 Yes

Group 1 Averages: Highest Grouping

Representation Average of % Allowed p = 3; Rp = 3.25 Range = 3.69

Vietnam Veterans of America 27.33

Paralyzed Veterans of America 24.82

The first table is a calculation of ranges from ―Representation‖, a comparison of

R

p

to the calculated, and a determining of

statistical significance. First, a comparison calculated from a range from Vietnam Veterans of America to State Service

Organizations, which gave a ―p‖ of 10, since there are 10 Veterans Service Groups in the group, and a range of 6.67. Also,

6.67 is greater than 3.66, so the calculated range is statistically significant. In other words, the average of ―State Service

Organizations‖ statistically differs from that of ―Vietnam Veterans of America.‖ The method was repeated, which can be

seen in the above table.

To create a ―grouping‖, I started at a logical point, calculated ranges, compared to

R

p

, determined if it was statistically

significant, and, if ―No‖, I grouped the ―Representative‖. As can see from the above tables, I continually compared different

Veterans Service Organizations with Vietnam Veterans of America, ―1‖, to see which were or were not statistically

significant. In the case of Vietnam Veterans of America, I reached a statistically significant value when I compared Vietnam

Veterans of America with Military Order of Purple Heart, ―3‖. As such, Military Order of Purple Heart, and all other

representatives after Military Order of Purple Heart, were not included in the ―Highest‖ group with Vietnam Veterans of

America. Therefore, only Paralyzed Veterans of America was included. Finally, all the Veterans Service Organizations seen

in the above table: ―Group 1 Averages: Highest Grouping‖ could not be separated statistically. When considering average

percent allowed, ―Paralyzed Veterans of America‖ is the same as ―Vietnam Veterans Of America‖ when considering

Duncan multiple-range test.

Now, I provide the other groups. After the groups, I provide the equations used.

Chris Harding

Statistical Analysis: Representation Success at Board of Veterans’ Appeal 9 of 11

Group 2 Averages: Higher Grouping

p Rp Group Range Significant

10 3.66 2-11 4.43 Yes

7 3.55 2-8 3.36 No

8 3.6 2-9 3.94 Yes

Group 2 Averages: Higher Grouping

Representation Average of % Allowed p = 8; Rp = 3.6 Range = 3.94

Paralyzed Veterans of America 24.82

Military Order of the Purple Heart 23.64

AMVETS 23.49

Disabled American Veterans 23.08

Other 22.94

Attorney 21.83

American Legion 21.46

Group 3 Averages: Intermediate Grouping

p Rp Group Range Significant

5 3.44 8-12 4.56169261790745 Yes

4 3.36 8-11 1.0762113767962 no

Group 3 Averages: Intermediate Grouping

Representation Average of % Allowed p = 5; Rp = 3.44 Range = 4.56

American Legion 21.46

Veterans of Foreign War 20.88

State Service Organizations 20.65

Agent 20.39

Group 4 Averages: Lowest Grouping

p Rp Group Range Significant

2 3.09 11-12 3.49 Yes

Group 4 Averages: Lowest Grouping

Representation Average of % Allowed p = 2; Rp = 3.09 Range = 3.49

None 16.90

Equations

R

p

= s

x

· r

p

s

x

=

MSE

n

r

p

is found from statistical tables[2]. MSE and n are values obtained from the ANOVA calculation. Specifically, MSE is

listed in the ANOVA table, and n was described at the beginning of the ANOVA discussion. Specifically, it is the number of

years.

Chris Harding

Statistical Analysis: Representation Success at Board of Veterans’ Appeal 10 of 11

Summary

Descriptive statistics, Analysis of Variance, and Duncan multiple-range test was used to compare twelve Veterans Service

Organizations (VSO)[1]. According to the analysis, the Veterans Service Organizations of Vietnam Veterans of America and

Paralyzed Veterans of America appear to have greater success with Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Also, no representation,

―None‖, is the lowest group of all and completely isolated.

If a veteran takes the time to read this paper, he or she might agree that there are methods of picking a VSO. If I would have

had this information earlier, I would have contacted the top tier group and asked if they represent 1991 Gulf War veterans.

Why? I knew that I had strong medical evidence, but mistakes happen. As such, I expected a lengthy appeal that would

eventually lead to Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Now I know that Vietnam Veterans of America and Paralyzed Veterans of

America have the greatest average percent allowed when considering the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. With that said, the

success might be due to new changes in the law that skewed the averages. Also, those in Paralyzed Veterans of America

might have a medical condition that is easily proven to be service connected. In my opinion, the graphs[9] also show that

Vietnam Veterans of America have been consistently successful.

I hope veterans find this paper useful. If I made an error, please let me know.

Chris Harding,

100% T&P Disabled 1991 Gulf War Veteran

References:

[1] US Department of Veterans Affairs. Directory of Veterans Service Organizations. va.gov[online]. 2013. Available from:

http://www1.va.gov/vso/

[2] Johnson, Richard A.(1994) Miller & Freund's Probability & Statistics for Engineers. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

[3] Statsoft. Electronic Statistics Textbook. statsoft.com[online]. 2013. Available from: http://www.statsoft.com/textbook/

[4] Calvin. Math 243--Normal Quantile Plots. calvin.edu[online]. 2013. Available from:

http://www.calvin.edu/~rpruim/courses/m243/F03/handouts/normquant.pdf

[5] UWlax. Comparing multiple population means using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) Why? ANOVA is a significance

test used to compare 2 or more unknown population or treatment means. uwlax.edu[online]. 2013. Available from:

http://www.uwlax.edu/faculty/baggett/Math_145/HANDOUTS/anova.pdf

[6] Bewick, Vic; Cheek, Liz; Ball, Jonathan. Statistics review 9: One-way analysis of variance, March, 2004. Crit Care[online].

2004. vol.8(20. pp.130-136. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC420045/ doi: 10.1186/cc2836

[7] US Department of Veterans Affairs. The Board of Veterans Appeals Annual Reports to Congress 1991-2012.

bva.va.gov[online]. 2013. Available from: http://www.bva.va.gov/Chairman_Annual_Rpts.asp

[8] StatSoft. F Table for alpha = .05. statsoft.com[online]. 2013. Available from:

http://www.statsoft.com/textbook/distribution-tables/#f05

Chris Harding

Statistical Analysis: Representation Success at Board of Veterans’ Appeal 11 of 11

[9] Microsoft Excel file can be E-mailed upon request. Sadly, SkyDrive Microsoft Excel has too many bugs.

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