dav_marine72

HadIt.com Elder
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About dav_marine72

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    HadIt.com Elder
  • Birthday 01/01/1972

Previous Fields

  • Service Connected Disability 100%
  • Branch of Service Marines

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Profile Information

  • Location Bolton, CT
  • Interests Never giving up on my claims.

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  1. http://www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com/the-dangers-of-long-term-suboxone-use The VA's new recommended treatment for non-cancer pain.
  2. Hi Everyone, Man I feel like an idiot missing all this information over the last few years on the VA's crackdown on opiates. I was going to an outside provider for pain care until January of this year. I have been on what I call a blind sided suboxone regiment since then. Suboxone actually seems to help some people with mild to moderate chronic pain and the side effects are minimal as far as sedation. Here is why I recommend not switching. They didn't tell me at first but they had to put me in as an opiate addict to get me the script. I was going through withdrawals at the time because they would not connect me back to the VA pain clinic I used to go to or I probably would have been able to deter this. Now 8 months in for me my pain is worse than ever. Honestly it seemed to help a little better in the beginning. Now that it doesn't and I want to switch back to regular opiates no one will touch me in the VA. I never abused my opiates in the 7 years I used them. I never ran out early. Yet now I am deemed an opiate addict. I had to get off my benzo because they will not allow you to take any form when on subxone. My benzo used to help greatly with my severe pain and it's well documented in the medical community. I have to attend mandatory group meetings where I have not found one person yet who has chronic pain and didn't abuse their meds. It seems like a great drug if you do have an opiate problem so I'm told. Sad part is there are probably many people who could benefit from suboxone who have mild to moderate pain. I'm TDIU because of my back and leg pain and lived a much better quality of life on regular opiates. Now it seems I shot myself in the foot. I wouldn't recommend switching based on the stigma that comes with it and the fact that if it does not work for you, you may not be able to switch back. I also found presentations during my research with the VA and pain clinics and it seems most of them now recommend subxone first for any non-cancer pain. Just my luck. Now I understand why I was sent to mental health and not a pain clinic. Just my input.
  3. Hi Everyone, Thanks for taking the time to read this. I am at the end of my line again with VA healthcare and I'm just wondering if I have any options. I don't know how I get myself into these messes but I seem to do a good job of it. Okay so I am 100% P&T. I'm 94% on the schedule and have had TDIU since 2009. My main SC disability is my back / leg issues / pain. I am currently rated 40% Ortho, 40% left leg nerve issue, and 20% right leg nerve issue. Not sure if it matters but I am 50% mental, 30% asthma and a bunch of 10%s. I had two unsuccessful back surgeries L3-4 L4-5 disectomy (2000) and L3-4 L4-5 L5-S1 fusion with titanium cages (2009). I had a spinal stimulator implanted in 2010. I have been in pain management on high doses of opiates under the care of a non-VA provider 2006-2009 / VA pain clinic 2009-2011 / then back to non-VA provider 2011-2014. I probably should have just stayed with the VA pain clinic but I had access to insurance and quite frankly I don't have to beg or get judged when at my non-VA provider. The problem started in Jan. 2014 when I lost access to insurance. For 2 months I paid $100 no insurance office visit fees and $500 a month for my medications all while seeking care from the VA for this mind you. I went to my PCP doctor at the VA and asked if she would re-write my prescriptions if I kept going to my outside provider. She declined saying she didn't feel comfortable and didn't like the fact I have a valid CT medical marijuana license for my spinal conditions. I explained my situation and told them I didn't have the money to keep paying out of pocket and I needed to re-connect with the pain clinic ASAP. She kept running me around, asking for a pee test, blood test, etc. She called my outside Dr. and got him mad at me. Finally I got an appointment to a pain management screening with 3 different VA providers which ended up being about 2 months after I sought treatment again for this. They recommended sending me to the ORC (Opiate Reassessment Clinic) and rotating my opiates and possibly trying methadone. I had no idea what the ORC was and was told my local VA clinic now had it's own pain clinic. The pain clinic I was with 2009-2011 was an hour drive away when my local VA clinic is 20 minutes. So I expected to be going to this new pain clinic when I got an appointment. When I arrived I realized I was going to Mental Health in a different area I had never been to and thought it was strange. I asked if this was the right place for the ORC and they said yes. I should have ran right then. I sat down with two doctors and was told they wanted to put me on suboxone for my pain. Mind you I was in full blown withdrawals by this time as I did not have the $600 to pay out of pocket again and had run out of my meds. I asked them what suboxone was. They said it was a partial agonist Opiate. I was like what is that. They said it does not have any of the euphoria effects like Morphine or Fentanyl patches that I had been on. Honestly I hadn't felt euphoria from my meds since like 2007. My main goal is pain reduction and trying to have some quality of life. They told me only addiction doctors could write this script in the VA hence why I was there. Again being in withdrawals I wasn't thinking too clearly. So I end up starting subxone and they increased me to the max dose of 24mg a day which I have been on ever since. I actually felt a little better for a while taking it. My body seems to get used to opiates quick and I tended to rotate them somewhat often with my outside provider to get the best pain relief. Then I saw the doctor again and he told me that he had to put down that I was an addict to prescribe this drug to me. I could have went through the roof. I was ready to blow my top. I told him I still had a good amount of pain by then and he thought maybe going to a subxone group meeting would help because some of the patients in there have chronic pain. He said maybe they could help me with coping skills. I said sure why not. Well once I started going I realized that 99% of the people in the group were heroin addicts. I don't have any problem with that per say but I never touched heroin, never ran out of my prescribed opiates, never asked for early refills, no abuse, etc. I suddenly realized I had really gone down a wrong turn and went through months of major depression and just went with the treatment program. Talking to the counselors in the group they thought I should go on Methadone since my pain wasn't being addressed and felt suboxone wasn't for pain. After researching a ton I see that suboxone does help many people in chronic pain just not me. I spoke to the doctor who had prescribed it for me and he thought methadone was not an option. He asked what had worked in the past. I told him Morphine, Oxycodone, Fentyal, etc. Then he asked why I was sent to him? I said I had no idea I was just trying to re-connect with the pain clinic. He then asked if I was sent there by a court or because I was abusing opiates? I said no. He told me if my story checked out he would call a doctor in the pain clinic at the other VA location and see if they could put me back on regular opiates. Then when I saw him again I asked for a status. He said that doctor didn't call you? I said no. He said thats weird he should have by now. I asked him what his discussion was and he said the doctor didn't think it was a good idea but would call and discuss it with me. So here I sit three weeks later without a response and after calling the patient advocate who said she would give that doctor a message to call me. I also found out through getting my records that the initial pain intake team labeled me with substance abuse because I was using medical marijuana legally in CT. I have since stopped using the medical marijuana because when on opiates I only needed it now and again. I don't like the feeling it gives me using it daily. I also found a presentation from the doctor that was supposed to call me where he believes in almost all situations suboxone should be used for non-cancer chronic pain. Hence probably why he doesn't want to re-visit. Sorry for the long story but there was no other way to tell this insanity. I know I can get fee basis to see an outside pain clinic as they have agreed to before. The problem with that is paying for the medication. I know it says you can bring your scripts into your PCP and see if they will re-write them but they already said they would not do this for me. Unfortunately I am on SSDI and didn't know I could have gone on Medicare back in Feb. of this year. Now I would need to wait until January with it not kicking in until July 2015. I feel like I was sorta duped with no one at the VA explaining to me exactly what was going on. Now I seem to have no options. I also run the risk of being refused meds in the future because of the addict labeling. It just seems like being 100% P&T, never abusing my meds, having documentation up the you know what they would be willing to help me with my pain. The RO found my back and leg condition to be the main reason for my TDIU. I feel as I should have some option to complain to someone in authority (not patient advocate) that I'm not being treated for my pain. I'm very depressed / disturbed over this whole thing. It's making my mental condition much worse. They also took away my benzo because they will not give suboxone with one yet they will give regular opiates. I feel like I'm back to early 2000's as I'm having daily panic attacks and stress because of the severe pain which is why I was put on a benzo in the first place. wish I could go in a time machine. Thanks for listening to my book. Any advice / feedback is appreciated.
  4. Wow!

    Congrats. That is a miracle. I got TDIU first before getting SSDI benefits. I had to go to the admin hearing with a judge as someone above had to. I think the judge was sympathetic to Veterans but it still took over a year.
  5. Tdiu Granted

    Congrats and I agree with John. Your back is only 0%? I got TDIU in 2009 and they put I was scheduled for a review exam in 2013. I don't know if 4 years is their magic number lately or what. In 2013 I was given a bunch of exams for remands and after they rated that they awarded me P&T. Again not sure if they are doing TDIU for 4 years and then considering P&T but your case sends exactly like mine in those terms. Luckily or unluckily I have static disabilities so it was probably an easier call for the P&T from the RO. I'd appeal for P&T Chapter 35 benefits (DEA) as John has recommended. With PTSD they can always say you got better. Better to keep the pressure on as you talk about with an IME or keeping VA medical appointments. Sounds like your on the right track. Good luck.
  6. Success

    Congrats man. I'd check the full break down to make sure they rated you properly. Your talking like a $700+ difference in monthly pay. If I read this correctly your looking at about a year of back pay. So around $8000 + retro + $1207 monthly moving forward. The reason I say check their reasoning is you never know when your injuries will turn into arthritis, etc. Better to stay on top now especially if you have any problems working. Congrats again!
  7. That is outstanding. What was the Dr's specialty? I had two IMO's done for $4000. Then the BVA tried to dismiss because I was never examined. It got me a Joint Remand from the U.S. Court so I guess the 4K was worth it. This doctor is in Mass. huh? I'm right in CT.
  8. Hey Devil Dog, Welcome. Have they rated your PTSD yet? They are supposed to look at all your VA records. Talk to DAV and find out where you are in the process. Once you get service connected and get rated a % you need to see if they are rating you properly. If not you just have DAV file a notice of disagreement NOD with the rating. If your more recent medical documentation warrants a higher rating they can point that out and try to get it increased. If you should have been rated higher from the start they can argue that. Make sure you get the NOD submitted as soon as possible and within the one year appeal period to keep your initial rating date in tact. Make sense? Semper Fi
  9. Thanks. I always forget about IRIS. Yes I don't trust anything I see from the VA whether on the phone or in writing. Hehe.
  10. I'm just wondering if anyone has opened a claim lately or ever and never received a response? I opened a claim in April 2014 for two secondary service connections. All the evidence was in my VA medical records including the doctors saying the conditions were from my SC back and neurological issues. I submitted using the new fully developed claim method. As I read it if they decide it needs further evidence, etc. it just gets kicked to the regular claim process. I get an update on May 22 2014 saying a decision was made and there is a letter in the mail via ebenefits. So naturally I figured ebenefits was off it's rocker. So I called the 800 number and they said yes they made a decision on those issues you should get a decision in the mail within a few weeks. Then he digs deeper into the claim and says hmmmm this is weird. There is no letter in the system showing the decision and their reasoning. So I said well did they award service connection? He says I can't comment on that until you get the letter. So I said well you said there was no letter. He says good point. Then he says it looks like they updated your remand on the same day. They also updated their case about a possible ratings reduction. He says all three cases were updated on the same day. Then he says I'm not sure what they are doing here. Sorry. So I received a letter about them continuing my TDIU and P&T. Yet I never received a letter about my remand or the new service connections. It's all tracked and documented so they can't say I didn't submit. I'm just wondering if I should submit a NOD or an inquiry as to where their decision letter is.
  11. 14 years on appeal for 4 increases. It's not just the wait, its the ignoring of evidence. The USCAVC said they messed up. Still in limbo.
  12. Hey Everyone, Has anyone else received a form asking to verify your dependents or your allowance will be taken away in 60 days? Man first they try to reduce my benefits now this. If they are doing this to everyone how many Vets wont get this in the mail? Don't bother looking at my 14 year old remand. Seems a little retaliatory. I don't like to throw out the conspiracy theories but this is a little crazy. Anyone else get this?
  13. Hey Folks, I have been reading some posts about a new law that went into affect a couple of years ago where no mention of a decision is a decision? What is this law? The reason I bring it up is I have a joint remand from the USCAVC in 2009 for 4 issues going on 14 years now. I thought some movement was coming as I was told a new decision was being made on my case. The RO had already made one decision in July 2013 bumping up a combined 10% for neurological symptoms of my back from 2002 to 40% for my left side and 20% for my right side. However, they said the examiner did not comment on my disability prior to the 2013 exam. The whole reason the remand was there was because they ignored evidence and most of their exams from 2000 - 2008 for my back were thrown out by the court lol. I'm sure I went from mild neurological symptoms to overnight severe when their exam was done :) Anyway my lawyer at the time had appealed their July 2013 decision. We never heard back. Then they tried to take my TDIU away (I'm 94.4%) and my P&T in January 2014. They sent me a decision a few weeks ago calling it a special mandate in my case. They decided my TDIU and P&T were intact. That was a relief but I since looked at the decision again. This is the part that now concerns me. They wrote at the end this is to be considered all claims inferred or raised from the special mandate. I'm working on a new appeal letter currently. So is this their new way of saying we deny your claims back to 2000 again without saying it????
  14. Don't get discouraged. If I could give any advice to anyone either starting their fight or continuing on with the VA is to always appeal if you have a case. I started my plight in 1995 and after 19 years I have 13 service connections. The VA tends to get very confused and makes possible mistakes as the number of aliments grow with a Veteran. Luckily I appealed all along the way and now that I can't work I'm 100% P&T. It seems with me every time a decision is made either by the RO or the BVA they give me a little more. I did my own case for years and I'm back on my own again. The biggest mistake I made in the earlier years was bombarding them with statements about what they missed. Although you do need to bring up the errors, just appeal on time and make sure all your evidence is in. The smaller your case file the better. My file size gets brought up everything the BVA sees it. Now, most of my file is straight up evidence but I did get frustrated for a while at missed evidence and sent in a multitude of lay statements because I was in disbelief how evidence could be ignored. Although you do need to submit lay statements try to make them short and sweet as they say. I would recommend talking to multiple VSO's if possible. Early on I would just sign with whoever and leave it in their hands. All VSOs are not the same. Most of all the name of the game is patience.
  15. Hi Everyone, As my case grows more complicated everyday I am reviewing my 7 + volumes of evidence. I'm trying to figure out if I have any weight to getting a decision for 10% to go back further than 2008. Here are the facts: 2002 - Submitted for service connection of hypertension secondary to chronic back pain. Denied initially. 2004 - Service connection granted for hypertension secondary to back pain and eczema and an increase for asthma to 30% awarded on August 10, 2004. Oddly enough I received a second letter which was a SOC. That letter explained why I was given 30% for asthma and denied higher ratings for my back, right foot, left foot, and chronic right testicle pain on appeal since 2000. It also denied service connection for a mental condition (Which later was service connected). 2005 - On April 20, 2005 I received a form from the RO asking if I agreed with their decision on the back, right and left foot, chronic testicular pain, hypertension, and eczema. I sent the form back in April 25, 2005 stating I did not agree with any of their decisions. During the time in between I went into the RO and asked for a status on my case. I was told everything was at the BVA including the hypertension issue. 2008 - The BVA made a decision denying higher ratings for my back, right and left foot, and chronic testicular pain which I appealed to the USCAC. At that point I went and asked where my eczema and hypertension decisions were. I was told I did not appeal them and they were final decisions. I told the RO I never received another SOC about the hypertension and eczema. They told me I didn't appeal. So I raised the question of what happened and they put in for increases from 0% for both. 2012 - The BVA increases my hypertension rating to 10% and continues eczema at 0%. They specifically addressed the fact that I was wrong and never appealed the initially ratings. Here is the kicker. They used evidence in my record from 2001 and 2002 to award the 10%. I had been on medication since 1997. So the question I have is if they used evidence available at the time of service connection to rate me 10% in 2012 is that an error on their part which could be re-opened? I'm not going to chase the eczema because thats not as strong. It just gets me mad I was sending letters to them while the case was at the BVA before their 2008 decision including statements about my hypertension and eczema. At the time I didn't realize they needed to make another decision at the RO before the issue could go to the BVA. Very confusing with all my service connections going on. My back, feet, and right testicle pain are still on appeal from 2000 so that 10% back to 2002 could mean something eventually. Not sure if this is a true error worthy of bringing up or if I should just eat it and walk away from this one. Thanks in advance.