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Vync

Lower Back Claim

45 posts in this topic

Hello everyone,

I am new here, so I am asking folks to please review and offer your opinions. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

While I was on active duty from 1990-1995, I was injured numerous times during military training. I originally filed a claim back regarding my back in 1995, but it was denied. I am currently 40% SC, thanks for SC approval for several unrelated problems. While on active duty, the military took x-rays and diagnosed me with lumbar or muscular strain and prescribed medication, exepted me from physical activity, and also sent to physical therapy.

In early 2006, I suffered an injury to my L4-L5 and L5-S1 and was given an MRI, I was diagnosed with lower lumbar spondylosis (moderate narrowing of the disc cavities), degenerative disc disease, herniated vertebrae discs contacting the nerve roots, muscle spasms and strains, reversal of the lordotic curve, and and even advised to seriously consider surgery. I was given more loads strong medication, an epidural pain block, and eventually sought help from physical therapy and even a chiropractor.

In 2008, I filed another claim regarding my back, but it was denied. I spent time gathering copies of my service medical records and civilian medical records and re-filed again in August of 2008, providing counters to each reason the RO claimed was a basis for my denial. I also got a written statement from my ex-wife, who described her observations of my back problems. I just received a letter asking me to fill out medical release forms or provide medical evidence, even thought I sent the medical records already.

It seems very obvious that my back injuries during military service were the root cause for my current problems. I now have a sedentary desk job with an ergonomic chair and a wonderfully supportive girlfriend. Over time have had to re-train myself how to avoid reinjuring my back while performing normal daily duties. Quite often, I can control the pain and problems with medication, but when I simply sneeze or cough, I always worry about having to take another unplanned visit to the emergency room.

Questions

1. Given the nature of my injuries, what type of percentage would I qualify for?

2. With respect to my overall 40% SC rating, could I potentially see this increase or will they just embed it and leave me with the same rating?

3. Since I did not 'keep alive' the back injury portion of my original claim in 1996, if my back claim is approved, what could I expect as an effective date?

4. If I kept records of my out of pocket expenses for doctor and medication co-pays, if my back claim is approved, will the VA allow me to file for some sort of reimbursement?

Thanks,

Vync

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Welcome here.

1. if this gets service connected they will use the Schedule of Ratings available here in the Claims Reference area-they might do funny VA math for the overall percentages- hard to say

2. if these are distinctly separate from what you the 40% for -they will rate the back problems and then possible do funny VA math again-

I am serious about the funny math part-others will chime in-you didnt say what the 40% is for-

3. The date you file the claim would be the EED.

You could have potential basis for a CUE claim- hard to say yet- to recover the date of the original claim.I wouldnt even consider that at this point.Cues usually depend on established evidence of what is now and should have been in prior decision -service connection.

4. You probably could recover any co pays for anything SCed once it is SCed.

"In early 2006, I suffered an injury to my L4-L5 and L5-S1 and was given an MRI, I was diagnosed with lower lumb" etc

They will attempt to use this NSC injury to say it is cause of your present back problems.

I advise that you collect copies of all available medical records and try to get an independent medical opinion- Make sure the IMO doc follows the IMO criteria here at hadit.

Can you prove your condition was continuous and chronic from service to present?

It sounds like you can connect the dots but the VA isn't good at that.

They will not pay comp for a NSC injury unless somehow it can be shown as being "aggravated" by a SC disability.

The inservice nexus is what you need.

Did they list and refer to all evidence yopu sent to them?

What did they say as to your SMRs and this condition?

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Welcome to Hadit

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Does the VA know about your 2006 back injury?

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Hello everyone,

I am new here, so I am asking folks to please review and offer your opinions. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

While I was on active duty from 1990-1995, I was injured numerous times during military training. I originally filed a claim back regarding my back in 1995, but it was denied. I am currently 40% SC, thanks for SC approval for several unrelated problems. While on active duty, the military took x-rays and diagnosed me with lumbar or muscular strain and prescribed medication, exepted me from physical activity, and also sent to physical therapy.

In early 2006, I suffered an injury to my L4-L5 and L5-S1 and was given an MRI, I was diagnosed with lower lumbar spondylosis (moderate narrowing of the disc cavities), degenerative disc disease, herniated vertebrae discs contacting the nerve roots, muscle spasms and strains, reversal of the lordotic curve, and and even advised to seriously consider surgery. I was given more loads strong medication, an epidural pain block, and eventually sought help from physical therapy and even a chiropractor.

In 2008, I filed another claim regarding my back, but it was denied. I spent time gathering copies of my service medical records and civilian medical records and re-filed again in August of 2008, providing counters to each reason the RO claimed was a basis for my denial. I also got a written statement from my ex-wife, who described her observations of my back problems. I just received a letter asking me to fill out medical release forms or provide medical evidence, even thought I sent the medical records already.

It seems very obvious that my back injuries during military service were the root cause for my current problems. I now have a sedentary desk job with an ergonomic chair and a wonderfully supportive girlfriend. Over time have had to re-train myself how to avoid reinjuring my back while performing normal daily duties. Quite often, I can control the pain and problems with medication, but when I simply sneeze or cough, I always worry about having to take another unplanned visit to the emergency room.

Questions

1. Given the nature of my injuries, what type of percentage would I qualify for?

2. With respect to my overall 40% SC rating, could I potentially see this increase or will they just embed it and leave me with the same rating?

3. Since I did not 'keep alive' the back injury portion of my original claim in 1996, if my back claim is approved, what could I expect as an effective date?

4. If I kept records of my out of pocket expenses for doctor and medication co-pays, if my back claim is approved, will the VA allow me to file for some sort of reimbursement?

Thanks,

Vync

Vync, I'm very impressed that the military doctors did all that for you. Do not give up the fight like I did. The VA denied me saying that I never hurt my back in the service. I like a bonehead let it go without a fight. I can now prove my injury and it is documented that the doctor requested no xrays, no PT, no pain meds nada. Oh! I'm sorry the doctor told me to sleep on the floor. I have had back problems ever since. BTW, Welcome. People on Hadit are just great.

Papa

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Hey Berta,

I'll post the way they calculated my original 40% and text from the denial letter I received recently, but will need to dig out my original SC award letter. I have a couple of questions about the original calculation too. I looked over the calculations used in the fuzzy math and now know why it is referred to as fuzzy.

What is an EED? I looked on the commonly used definitions page, but EED is not there.

When I got out of the military, muscle spasms continued periodically, a couple of times a year until the major episode in 2006, which changed everything for me. The pain is now chronic and I am lucky if I go a couple of days without having some sort of problem.

Here is how I connect the dots:

1. Multiple injuries during military service

2. Injuries continue intermittently between 1995 and 2006.

3. Major episode occurred in 2006

4. Major problems and treatment through end of 2008, but been kinda lucky in 2009.

I have all service medical records and all private medical records from 2006 forward. I tried to gather medical records prior to 2006, but the medical provider claims they lost them.

Hey John999,

Oh yes, the VA definitely knows about my 2006 back injury, because my private records are well documented. I must say that the MRI looks really neat, kind of like someone stepped on a jelly donut and the jelly is oozing all out. The side view is also pretty neat too. You see all of these nice thick solid white discs running down my spine, but L4-L5 and L5-S1 are really dark and almost nonexistent. I didn't realize how bad off I was until I looked at the spine model and realized that the two discs that were supposed to be the largest were toasted.

Hey Papa,

When I was injured in the military, they usually gave me motrin and flexeril. They exempted me from physical activity for a few weeks and sent me to physical therapy just once. I got the records to prove to the VA that it actually happened. If they deny SC by saying I never hurt my back while in the service, I'll definitely look into filing a CUE. Since my problems in 2006, my civilian doctors have rolled out the red carpet of treatment, but it hasn't been cheap.

Hey Pete53,

Thanks! I am glad I found these forums.

It's great to meet everyone! Thank you very much for the feedback.

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Here is the breakdown of my 40% SC rating:

1. 10% asthma bronchiole (claimed as asthma)

2. 30% allergic rhinitis/sinusitis (reduced by 10% because the VA says I had a 10% pre-service disability)

3. 10% chronic allergic conjunctivitis, bilateral

4. 10% internal derangement of the right temporomandibular joint

I posted on another topic about the pre-service disability rating and asking about getting it 'corrected'.

Here is the meaty text from my back problem SC denial letter. As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated.

We determined that the following condition(s) was/were not related to your military service, so service connection remains denied: back disability 0%.

Decision

The previous denial of service connection for back disability (also claimed as upper and lower back condition) is confirmed and continued.

Evidence (I am paraphrasing)

- Service treatment records

- ER treatment records

- Orthopedic treatment records

- MRI report

- Epidural pain block treatment records

- Neurologist treatment records

Reasons for Decision

The claim for service connection for back disability (also claimed as upper and lower back condition) is considered reopened. However, the evidence continues to show this condition was not incurred in or aggravated by military service.

The service treatment records were considered in deciding your claim. Private medical records show you have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and chronic low back pain with lumbar disc displacement. You have received lumbar epidural steroid injections.

Based on this information, can anyone please offer opinions on where I went wrong?

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Any info, opinion, interpretation on this is greatly appreciated.

Thanks

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Any additional feedback on this would be greatly appreciated!

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Hey everyone,

I sent off my updated claim evidence last week, but while going through my service medical records, I found something interesting that might be helpful to everyone. Some of the papers were double-sided containing separate instances of medical care. During my re-review, I found three additional instances where I was treated for my lower back. Also, I pulled up my entrance and exit medical exams. My entrance exam shows no indication of back problems. My exit exam indicates "hx of lower back pain". I plan to get copies of these into the mail asap.

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Wow, talk about fast track claim denial. I just got my denial letter in the mail about 20 minutes ago.

What should I do now?

Am I filing for the wrong thing?

What am I doing wrong?

Also, I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon on Thursday.

Here's what the claim denial letter said:

DECISION

The previous denial of service connection for back disability (also claimed as upper and lower back condition) is confirmed and continued.

EVIDENCE

- Private physician records, {physician name}, from {start date} through {end date}.

- Copies of service medical records were received August 17, 2009.

- Medical records from {various physicians and treatment facilities} received August 17, 2009.

- Statement from {ex-wife} received August 17, 2009.

REASONS FOR DECISION

Service connection for back disability (also claimed as upper and lower back condition).

The service medical records are a duplicate of medical record previously considered. The private treatment records show that you report you reinjured you back several years after active duty. You are shown to have degenerative disc disease, low back pain, and disc displacement. You were show to have normal range of motion on flexion, extension, and rotation. You have received epidural injection and have been to physical therapy. The prior decision denying service connection for condition for back disability (also claimed as upper and lower back condition) remains denied as your claimed back disability (also claimed as upper and lower back condition) was not caused by or the result of active duty.

The claim for service connection for back disability (also claimed as upper and lower back condition) is considered reopened. However, the evidence continues to show this condition was not incurred in or aggravated by military service.

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On the way home, I called the VA's toll-free number and they were able to give me the codes used for my claims, both SC and non-SC. I don't know if this makes any difference with what I should claim, but here they are:

40% SC rating:

(6602) 10% asthma bronchiole (claimed as asthma)

(6522) 30% allergic rhinitis/sinusitis (reduced by 10% because the VA says I had a 10% pre-service disability)

(6018) 10% chronic allergic conjunctivitis, bilateral

(9905) 10% internal derangement of the right temporomandibular joint

0% Non-SC rating:

(5024) Joint disorder - hand/feet/knee/shoulder

(5237) Back disability (also claimed as upper and lower back condition)

(6079) Refractive error

(9900) Multiple-tooth extraction

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EED-earliest effective date-

This would be the date you filed a claim that is awarded.

"The service medical records are a duplicate of medical record previously considered. The private treatment records show that you report you reinjured you back several years after active duty. You are shown to have degenerative disc disease, low back pain, and disc displacement. You were show to have normal range of motion on flexion, extension, and rotation. You have received epidural injection and have been to physical therapy. The prior decision denying service connection for condition for back disability (also claimed as upper and lower back condition) remains denied as your claimed back disability (also claimed as upper and lower back condition) was not caused by or the result of active duty."

Looks like they are considering the post service back injury to rule out SC injury-BUT- they do say "reinjured"- which does validate a prior injury.

Would your private doctors or the neurosurgeon be willing to write an IMO for you?

The criteria for an IMO (Independent Medical Opinion) is in the IMO forum.

They must give a full medical rationale and be able to tie in your inservice medical records with a direct association to what problems you have now.They should try to detailed the service injury as causing problems that could have aggravated the post service injury and would need some before and after post service injury X rays or MRIs for that.

An IMO can be very expensive-maybe a doctor who has treated you already will prepare one for fee or small fee-I don't know.

They need to see the decision , and a copy of the C & P exam VA did, as well as all available records and the circumstances of the post service injury.

If you cannot obtain an IMO you need to NOD this (file Notice of Disagreement) raising every argument you can make with the decision.

Did they use a goinometer for the ROM?

Is this correct?

"were show to have normal range of motion on flexion, extension, and rotation"

I dont see any substantial VA medical rationale here at all. Is there more to the decision than this?

"The service medical records are a duplicate of medical record previously considered"

Is that a fact? Do you have any older SOC on this claim that refers to the SMRs?

wait a minute- I just caught this------

"Hey everyone,

I sent off my updated claim evidence last week, but while going through my service medical records, I found something interesting that might be helpful to everyone. Some of the papers were double-sided containing separate instances of medical care. During my re-review, I found three additional instances where I was treated for my lower back. Also, I pulled up my entrance and exit medical exams. My entrance exam shows no indication of back problems. My exit exam indicates "hx of lower back pain". I plan to get copies of these into the mail asap."

I am sure they never considered this evidence in your recent decision.They state evidence they got in August 2009-

Maybe (hope others give opinions here) a Request for Reconsideration should be filed with this additional evidence.

This wont stop the NOD one year clock so mark your calendar-

But this type of request could possibly get a better decision faster than a NOD would-

I would still try to get an IMO too if I were you-

I hope others might see basis here for a reconsideration request-

and chime in.

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Berta,

Wow, I really appreciate your input here. You're awesome! Let me respond to each section...

Re-injured?

Initial injuries occured during active duty. My private medical files between my ETS in 1995 and and first signs of bulging discs and bone spurs in 2004 were lost by my physician. They claims they can only go back a couple of years. A dual disc herniation nightmare in 2006, when I was diagnosed with DDD. From what I hear, DDD onset takes time, usually years.

EED

For my 40% SC, the EED is 1995. If I somehow succeed, would the effective date be 1995 or my reopened claim submitted in 2008?

C&P Exam

Original C&P exam was in the late 1990's. Due to what I experienced between 2004-Present, I requested the claim be reopened in 2008. They have not performed a new C&P.

IMO

My neurosurgeon appointment is tomorrow. No idea if he will write me an IMO. My girlfriend works on a surgical team. Does the IMO have to be issued by a neurosurgeon or would a general surgeon suffice. She's well liked by several of them and they might be willing to do it.

ROM

In my original C&P, I do not remember a goinometer being used. They did when I had physical therapy in 2007. They got me back to 'normal' ROM, but I was loaded up with Lortab and Soma. I relapsed late last year and had more therapy. The VA probably found a couple of specific instances where I had normal ROM to make a blanket statement. I believe my ROM is no longer normal. I cannot afford to live in physical therapy and stay juiced up on pain killers and muscle relaxers all the time. I will ask the doc to use a goinometer tomorrow so I can have accurate numbers.

SOC

I cannot find the original SOC from 1995. My SOC from 2000 indicates 'You were found to have other non-service connected disabilities', but it either did not list them or I lost them. I need to request my C-file. The SOC prior to this one (in my posting below on Sep 18 2009, 6:49 PM) indicated I had chronic low back pain. They seem to have removed 'chronic' in the most recent SOC, which is absolutely incorrect in itself.

Entrance/Exit Exam

The SOC simply indicates 'Copies of service medical records', but it does not specifically indicate the dates of specific instances of treatment. I do not have proof that they actually reviewed every item, but only that blanket statement. Should I first try to submit this as additional evidence or file a NOD? This alone should qualify as the 'incurred or aggravated' requirement.

NOD

What is best? Brief 'disagreements' or a very detailed listing every instance of injury during/post military service? I reviewed the NOD topics and see differing recommendations on this.

Code 5243-XXX (38 CFR 4.71(a)) - Part 1

Under the spine codes for 20%, other than ROM, it indicates 'or, muscle spasm or guarding severe enough to result in an abnormal gait or abnormal spinal contour such as scoliosis, reversed lordosis, or abnormal kyphosis'. If we throw ROM out the window, I do have indications in my private medical records regarding reversed lordosis. If all else fails, is this worth pursuing?

Code 5243-XXX (38 CFR 4.71(a)) - Part 2

Also, check this out. This is below the % ratings. 'Note (1): Evaluate any associated objective neurologic abnormalities, including, but not limited to, bowel or bladder impairment, separately, under an appropriate diagnostic code.' I frequently experience back pain and negative side effects at the worst possible times, like when my girlfriend and I are intimate, but I am not going into the specifics about it. I hate to admit it, but it does happen. Should I also file this as 'an associated neurologic abnormality'? I am thinking cause and effect here. If this is a possibility, I don't know how they would go about evaluating it...

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The effective date would be the date you re-opened this claim.

Only a successful CUE claim could bring potentially more retro- not worth thinking about CUE yet-

but with SC award for back-then the CUE potential would possibly come in .

The new evidence in your SMRs could trigger a C & P exam.

Any doctor who has expertise in the field of your back disability could opine on your claim and the nexus to your service.

Is the neurosurgeon seeing you regarding the back issues?

Even if a VA C & P is negative to your claim, a strong IMO can raise the evidence to Relative Equipoise- meaning if equal evidence for and against the claim-the veteran still gets an award under Benefit of Doubt.

They denied without a C & P because they said you had not sent them new evidence.

It seems you do have evidence they didnt get when they made the denial decision.

This evidence should trigger them to give you a C & P but I think you will still need a strong IMO -in case the C & P goes against the claim.

The ROM you were given was based on an older exam- we have some back experts here -I dont know how much weight the VA puts on the ROM for a percentage.

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I too have a back injury and have a hard time working. But find it helpful to work at home online to suppliment my 60% disab.

Erich

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Berta,

The neurosurgeon is seeing me regarding the back issues.

Relative Equipoise? Sounds interesting. Let's hope it doesn't get to that point.

But, I did send them new evidence which was never previously submitted.

Erich,

I'll check out that site. I do have the opportunity to work remotely, but my workplace has put forth the effort to make my office environment/cubicle ergonomically suited for my needs. I don't know if they would do that for my home, plus I have to rely on high bandwidth for my job.

Thanks!

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Ok Bertha

Just make sure you read the folowing articles before you choose anything. There are a lot of scams and other questionable opportunities to work at home. My google sponsored links and infolinks are constantly updated and I have little control over them. These two guides will help you:

http://www.work-at-home-directory.com/scams.html

http://www.work-at-home-directory.com/self-employment.html

Erich

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??? Thanks but ..... I am retired. and so busy I dont have time to work.

Maybe you meant this info for anyone here in general and I agree that there are many scams out there.

Some of these work at home outfits have cost people a lot of money. Good info.

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Hello everyone,

I visited the Neurologist yesterday. I went in hurting and with a moderate back spasm, came out feeling worse. I have a new MRI scheduled for this afternoon. He is leaning toward another epidural pain block, unless surgery is required. Here's the scoop:

Doc is reluctant to provide a written IMO because he did not treat me in 1990-1995.

Forward flexion: 10 degrees

Hyperextension: 0 degrees

Right Lateral Bend: 5 degrees

Left Lateral Bend: 5 degrees

Has some straightening of the lumbar lordosis.

Sitting straight leg raise positive in bilaterally in back only.

Diagnosis: Degenerative disc disease, lumbrosacral spine w/radiculopathy

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If he won't write you an a medical report get another doctor. There are tons of them out there who are willing to inject you. It is the biggest money making scam in the world. There is no proof at all that these injections work. I had plenty and they did not work for me.

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I had one injection back in 2006 and must have got lucky. Pain subsided steadily over several weeks, but never really went away. Now it's back. It stinks that I have to take a half a day off work to visit docs like this, but might eventually run out of time off. Don't want to give my boss anything to worry about.

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I had several injections in the cervical spine. The 1st worked for a day and the 2nd lasted for 2 days. Doc referred my back to primary care and to get a nuerosurgeon, Nuerosurgeon said I was wasting my time with the injections since my neck was so jacked up. My neurosurgeon did not have a problem writing a letter to connect cervical radiculopthy, chronic headaches to the DDD in the neck. I've found that you have to straight up front, don't waste their time when you go in to see them. Let them know what your pains/problems are, that you want to eleviate these problems, and that you want the VA to compensate you for the problems that you are having. I took the rating chart for the conditions and that showed him that I was rightfully seeking compensation. Told him if he didn't find anything wrong to put that in as well. The last statement ensured my credibility with him.

Doctors are so used to patients running them around in circles with symtons that they would like to see someone just be straight forward and make their job easier.

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MRI is complete. No official radiologist report yet, but I noticed a few things visibly. The herniated discs are no longer blown wide open. I see bits of debris around where the tears were. The lordotic curve is totally gone. My spine is straight as a ruler from the thoracic region to the first segment of the sacrum.

Back to this:

Code 5243-XXX (38 CFR 4.71(a)) - Part 1

Under the spine codes for 20%, other than ROM, it indicates 'or, muscle spasm or guarding severe enough to result in an abnormal gait or abnormal spinal contour such as scoliosis, reversed lordosis, or abnormal kyphosis'.

I guess having no lordosis may qualify as "abnormal spinal contour"

I have another appointment on Monday with a different doc. Will ask for their opinion and IMO. Will be up front about it too.

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I just had an appointment with another doctor, but she was unwilling to write a nexus letter. I am hoping to find someone in my area who would be willing to do this without charging an excessive fee. Anyone have any tips on how to find a doc who will do this?

Note: Still no word regarding my official MRI results or f/u appt to give me some relief of my pain.

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I just had an appointment with another doctor, but she was unwilling to write a nexus letter. I am hoping to find someone in my area who would be willing to do this without charging an excessive fee. Anyone have any tips on how to find a doc who will do this?

Note: Still no word regarding my official MRI results or f/u appt to give me some relief of my pain.

I would like to know this answer too!

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SSD lawyers may know doctors who will write IMO's since they use them for their clients all the time. Are you going to apply for SSD? You could kill two birds with one stone.

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I honestly would like to hold onto my job as long as I can. Would really like to get this claim approved and/or get rid of the 10% reduction "(6522) 30% allergic rhinitis/sinusitis" (reduced by 10% because the VA says I had a 10% pre-service disability). I am thinking/hoping that would get me changed from 40% to 50% SC. Their fuzzy math is kinda weird.

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MRI results are in! The doc said my herniations have healed, but I definitely have DDD. It is almost bad enough for surgery, but the doc wants to take a conservative approach first. He recommended another epidural pain block injection to help keep the pain and chronic muscle spasms at a manageable level.

Below, ArmyTexas indicated that he had bad luck with the injections. I only had one and luckily it lasted for a while. I am thinking about having another...

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I have had three injections.....two worked great.....the third caused problems, but I think it was because the person injecting them kept bending the needles and hurting me!

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Herniations heal? I did not know that herniated discs heal themselves. How do you get the toothpaste back in the tube? When your disc herniates material pushes out and pressures the nerve. How does that heal itself? I have discs that are going bad, but just from wear and tare. Not herniated.

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Poor choice of words John. My fault there. The disc nucleus and annulus are no longer contacting my nerve roots.

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I honestly would like to hold onto my job as long as I can. Would really like to get this claim approved and/or get rid of the 10% reduction "(6522) 30% allergic rhinitis/sinusitis" (reduced by 10% because the VA says I had a 10% pre-service disability). I am thinking/hoping that would get me changed from 40% to 50% SC. Their fuzzy math is kinda weird.

Vync, do you have enough employees where you work (at least 50), where you qualify for FMLA for your back? There's such a thing as "intermittent FMLA," that would protect you up to 12 weeks when you have to take time off for doctor's visits, as long as you've worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous twelve-month period. You don't have to take entire days off at a time. My husband was in your situation, working full time with a 40% VA rated lumbar spine disability, until he couldn't do it anymore. But FMLA covered him in the interim, so he could go to his doctors and VA visits without losing his job. He then applied and was approved for Social Security Disability.

He received three injections for his back from a pain management specialist without much success, but the surgery he underwent in February, a laminectomy, alleviated the pain problem, at least there.

Edited by vaf

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They can shrink down over time with bed rest.

I developed degenerative disk disease by my late 20's, early 30's. Most herniations would last 3 to 4 months back then. Some putting me out of work for two to three yrs.

I'm at the point I can't bend my spine to put my shoes on without severe pain. Bone spurs touch the cord & disks have lost their flexibility.

It gets worse as time goes on.

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I have DDD and it just gets worse every year. I wake up in the morning and my back is stiff as a board. If I sit too long or ride in a car too long I can hardly get out of the chair or car. What is the cure? I have had all the injections.

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If someone finds a cure you will make bookoo dough! I believe the majority of us "back injured" vets have gone amongst all of the gambet of treatments/therapy's/medication/injections/splints/corsetts/back braces/you name it we have tried it...yes chiropractic care/mediation/relaxation exercises...and still become more immobile and the pain increases greatly. As far as % granted??? The objective is TO GET GRANTED! Then you can always try for an increase. Many of us have been waiting for along time for approval, not having to go through the appeals.

But the beat goes on and we still hang tuff and fight!

Hello everyone,

I am new here, so I am asking folks to please review and offer your opinions. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

While I was on active duty from 1990-1995, I was injured numerous times during military training. I originally filed a claim back regarding my back in 1995, but it was denied. I am currently 40% SC, thanks for SC approval for several unrelated problems. While on active duty, the military took x-rays and diagnosed me with lumbar or muscular strain and prescribed medication, exepted me from physical activity, and also sent to physical therapy.

In early 2006, I suffered an injury to my L4-L5 and L5-S1 and was given an MRI, I was diagnosed with lower lumbar spondylosis (moderate narrowing of the disc cavities), degenerative disc disease, herniated vertebrae discs contacting the nerve roots, muscle spasms and strains, reversal of the lordotic curve, and and even advised to seriously consider surgery. I was given more loads strong medication, an epidural pain block, and eventually sought help from physical therapy and even a chiropractor.

In 2008, I filed another claim regarding my back, but it was denied. I spent time gathering copies of my service medical records and civilian medical records and re-filed again in August of 2008, providing counters to each reason the RO claimed was a basis for my denial. I also got a written statement from my ex-wife, who described her observations of my back problems. I just received a letter asking me to fill out medical release forms or provide medical evidence, even thought I sent the medical records already.

It seems very obvious that my back injuries during military service were the root cause for my current problems. I now have a sedentary desk job with an ergonomic chair and a wonderfully supportive girlfriend. Over time have had to re-train myself how to avoid reinjuring my back while performing normal daily duties. Quite often, I can control the pain and problems with medication, but when I simply sneeze or cough, I always worry about having to take another unplanned visit to the emergency room.

Questions

1. Given the nature of my injuries, what type of percentage would I qualify for?

2. With respect to my overall 40% SC rating, could I potentially see this increase or will they just embed it and leave me with the same rating?

3. Since I did not 'keep alive' the back injury portion of my original claim in 1996, if my back claim is approved, what could I expect as an effective date?

4. If I kept records of my out of pocket expenses for doctor and medication co-pays, if my back claim is approved, will the VA allow me to file for some sort of reimbursement?

Thanks,

Vync

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I work at a place where I qualify for FMLA, but I also have decent short and long term disability insurance. Not going the FMLA route unless it becomes absolutely necessary.

My girlfriend and I talked about having another pain block, so I am going that route within the next two weeks. Before then, I am hoping to find a doc who is willing to write a nexus letter. Finding one in my area who will do it under my insurance is going to be a challenge.

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I work at a place where I qualify for FMLA, but I also have decent short and long term disability insurance. Not going the FMLA route unless it becomes absolutely necessary.

My girlfriend and I talked about having another pain block, so I am going that route within the next two weeks. Before then, I am hoping to find a doc who is willing to write a nexus letter. Finding one in my area who will do it under my insurance is going to be a challenge.

Understood, but please know that you cannot apply for it retroactively after you've been terminated. In this economy, we never know from one day to the next, with ALL certainty, that we're going to have a job, and older people who make more, and people with chronic health issues that cause absences, are normally the first to go. Yes, I know there are laws against that, but the truth is most of the time, victims of these actions don't seek relief due to the cost and the hassle.

Long and short term disability policies have nothing to do with FMLA, that's like the proverbial closing the barn door after the cows escaped. And, many of us here have had to take our short and long-term disability insurance companies to court because they refused to pay any benefits when the veteran actually needed them (my husband settled his claim after almost two years of appeals then filing a lawsuit).

Should you be terminated due to excessive absence, without FMLA protection, any relief you would receive after that occurrence would result from your taking legal action, based on the fact that your employer should have offered you FMLA coverage when they noticed the extent of your absences. My suggestion to you is to enroll in it anyway, and if you don't use it, that's fine, but at least it's there if you need it. It's been my experience that employees with chronic health problems would be well-advised to avail themselves of the federal protections offered under FMLA, even if they never actually need to use them. My husband didn't want to apply for it, either, and for the most part, he hardly used any of it. However, his last year of employment, he came very close to maxing it out, which actually helped when he applied for Social Security disability.

Edited by vaf

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vaf,

I appreciate the information. I think I will look into it with my HR department. You're right. It is better to cover all the bases.

Thanks!

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I just got a letter in the mail from the VA regarding my claim. This is dated 11 days after the SOC denial letter. From what it says, it sounds like my claim is not actually closed. Anyone else have this happen to them?

Here is what it basically says:

We are working on your claim for:

- Back disability to include neck and lower spine

Where should you send us what we need:

{RO address}

How soon should you send what we need:

We strongly encourage you to send any information or evidence as soon as you can. If we do not hear from you, we may make a decision on your claim after 30 days. However, you have up to one year from the date of this letter to submit the information and evidence necessary to support your claim. If we decide your claim before one year from the date of this letter, you will still have the remainder of the one-year period to submit additional information or evidence necessary to support your claim.

what have we done?

We have requested copies of treatment records or other evidence from:

{list of 10 civilian treatment providers}

Even though we have asked for this information, it is your responsibility to see that VA receives it (except for any evidence kept by the VA, military or any other federal government agency).

Medical evidence from private provider.

How can you contact us?

{VA contact methods}

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Ok, here's the latest on my issue.

- Recently saw a neurologist and had an MRI done(see below)

- Finally got the MRI results (see below)

- Had another epidural pain block injection yesterday (very sore today)

- Requested copies of medical records from the VA

- Planning on requesting my C-File next...

The neurologist is still hesitant to write an IMO. I hope to find something between 1995 and 2004 in my VA medical records. It's a long time ago, but worth digging around.

Inspection-deformity:

He has some straightening of the lumbar lordosis. He has hypersensitivity to even light touch sensation in the lower spine more along the right side and the left side.

Range of Motion:

Forward Flexion: 10 degrees

Hyperextension: 0 degrees

Right Lateral Bend: 5 degrees

Left Lateral Bend: 5 degrees

Sitting Straight Leg Raise:

Right: positive in back only

Left: positive in back only

Impression & Medical Decision Making:

- Degenerative Disc disease

- Lumbrosacral spine w/radiculopathy

MRI:

1. Midline bulding disc in the last two lumbar levels along with degenerative disc disease.

1. No disc herniations.

Edited by Vync

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Hello Vync and everyone else. I'm new to these forums and trying to become active in them. I have had both neck and lower back injuries and issues since active duty. I was luckily able to get 10% for my lower back (I say lucky because I have a battery for a cervical spinal cord stimulator riding in my hip so all I can get are normal x-rays and not MRIs. I have gotten very little for my neck, even though I've had two surgeries. One was a double ANCF, with a plate between C4-6. That didn't help all that much, because once the discs were removed, the stenosis proved so severe that my pain continued. That led to a double laminectomy at the same area from the rear C4-6. Unfortunately for me that one led to nerve damage in my left arm and hand (I'm continuing to lose function in that hand, although I'm only at 20% for it). I tried to hold off from that second surgery for nearly a year. I had a course of 6 epidural injections into the site and each one worked less...the last one not at all. Plus mentally, I didn't want that needle going down into my spine anymore.

I'm currently getting ready to fight a reduction in the rating (20% to 10%) for my neck DDD, becaused based on the range of motion finding the QTC doctor submitted in August this past year, I have full range of motion. He must have mixed up my file with someone elses! I can barely move my neck in any direction (part due to pain, part due to all the hardware sitting in there), let alone the full range. And he said he observed no problem with repetitive motion, and he didn't even test me for that; nor did he use any instruments when he watched from across the exam room at me trying to move my neck when he asked me to during the exam. Anyway, now I'm going to fight that.

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tck5810,

Wow, I definitely understand the kind of pain you must experience every day. I hope you are able to find some kind of pain relief. Definitely fight that rating reduction. It does not surprise me that the QTC guy gave you a shoddy examination. It really stinks that the examiner was a lamer.

There are times when I have full range of motion, but those times are usually when I am taking a lot of pain meds and muscle relaxers followed by a couple of months of physical therapy. I keep the full ROM for a couple of weeks and then things slowly go back to the way they were. After about a month, I am ready to go in for another round of physical therapy and meds, rinse and repeat. Paying a co-pay for every PT and doc visit adds up, especially when they send you to PT 3-5 days a week.

I did not dare let the VA give me a pain block. My girlfriend recommended a very skilled anesthesiologist who did my last two. I had me last one in the middle of December and must have got lucky, because my pain level is way down lately.

Latest claim denial

I just got another claim denial from the VA. This one is weirder than the previous ones. It says they received additional evidence for February 22, 2008, but the evidence listed is dated from April 2006 through October 2009. They can't even get their evidence receipt dates straight.

The records reviewed shows you have received treatment from several physicians for a back condition. The records show your pain is provoked with walking, standing, weight bearing and any activity. You state the pain is relieved with rest. Treatment includes medication and steroid injections. The records show the pain radiates to the lower extremeties. The records show you state your back condition started during your period of military service. Dr{omitted} stated considering your age that you may have a family history. Your claimed has previously been denied as there was no chronic back condition found during military service. The evidence reviewed fails to show your back condition started during your period of military service.

So much for benefit of the doubt. As soon as I get my tax refunds, I am going to get an IMO from a private doc, so I hope to get that taken care of my the end of February.

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I know this has probably been discussed before, but I have to ask. With a rating for DDD, does it not matter on bulging disc, arthritis, etc.. Does the rating solely go on the range of motion?? Flexion.. The chronic pain is there everyday, I drive truck for a living and sitting does not help my problem. I think at times it affects my overall mood. I always have to watch what I do and how I move, one day I was showering at work and slipped while I was drying my hair and my back spasmed and I jerked my head while drying my hair and was in pain for a week. It never really recovered and about 1 year later was in great pain and an MRI revealed a herniated disc and I had to have a neck fusion at C6-C7. Can I try and apply for my neck also? What do I do?

Hated to get off course on the original post.. Thanks

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From what I read, they go by range of motion, ankylosis (inability to move), or unnatural curvature (kyphosis and lordosis). Note: Those are or's, not and's.

First, get your records together which show your neck was injured during service. Also, you probably will need a nexus letter or IMO from a doc, which says your current neck problem is a result of the injury you incurred during service, along with the meaty details.

The fusion would also be considered as some degree of ankylosis.

Be careful, the VA always tries to look for any reason to cast doubt on your claim. They could come back and say that the fusion is what caused your current problem. Yes, they are stupid enough to do something like that.

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