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    • This is not a VA issue, this is a work related issue.  VA is not trying to get any of my private medical records, the fact is that my job is trying to obtain private medical records from the VA, etc.  Which I have not authorized them to get access of my records due to HIPPA laws.  Also, my Service Connection has nothing to do with my employment or me not being able to do my job~   I find these actions intrusive and with ulterior motives~ 
    • Crabcake it depended if they catch it or not ??? about the auto accidents, if a Dr mention it the ''auto accidents'' aggervated your Back and tail bone /shoulder  then they probably will give you hell over it . but it also can be INCREASED too  just have to go about it the correct way  and that is get all the medical evidence you can and in your lay statements and opinions from specialist Dr's in this field if medicine to read most of your medical records and in service medical records   so they can give there medical opinion rather or not its ''likely as not'' your .S.C. Disability's has increase/aggravated over time/years from when you were first S.C And rated..you might be better off to seek an experienced Veterans Attorney  to help you  or contact Alex Graham (AKA Asknod here on Hadit   he is an excellent Adjudicator for veterans and also Accredited with the VA to help Veterans win their claims. Here at hadit we can recommend some great Attorney's Dr' combination.  they work on 20% of retro that you may get. As for as how secondary claims work  here a link that may help you shine a light on  link at the bottom of this post. because I just have a feeling VA will fight you tooth and nail on this  because of the Auto Accidents...but maybe not? , file for the increase and  the other contentions at the same time and see what happens. I may add this  To use an attorney you will need to be denied and then you send in your NOD (Notice of Disagreement) and find a good prompt intelligent VA Attorney....you can get help here at hadit too  but since this is going to be a hard claim to win  this is why I would suggest an Attorney So file your claim and submit any favorable probative evidence that you can  and just see what happens?  the auto accidents will be in your files  and the medical records are there  the main thing is for you to find these records and see what they say?? here's link to secondary /aggravated  bases  of claims. how they work. https://www.nap.edu/read/11885/chapter/11#273 ..................Buck
    • I called today it is P&T!!  It is going through a Quality Review also! Anyone know exactly what that means in frame of timeline.
    • Greetings all! I thank you all - in advance - for the wealth of information available on this site to help vets. I stumbled upon it while researching what to do, where to start, etc. on filing for an increase for my S/C rated disabilities. At this point, what I have is: a full copy of my service records, and I have filed a notice of intent this week with VA. I am going to chronologically organize & flag my service records this weekend so I can identify where these things are noted in them. This will be long, but I want to lay out as complete a starting picture as possible to help understand my situation in hopes of getting advice on how to proceed. I've been fortunate to have had good health insurance through my employer for years, and have used it for treatment as needed vs. the VA because of how cumbersome getting to & through the VA system can be. In the last two years, my insurance is now an HDHP, which means until I pay out of pocket $3500, insurance doesn't kick in, so I need to start utilizing the VA for these issues because I cannot afford to pay for the injections, films, treatment, etc. anymore. The neck, shoulder and low back issues stemmed from a combination of a fall I took during a training exercise carrying way more gear on my back than I should have; a fall during a squadron event; and, a motor vehicle accident. What I feel may complicate things is that I have also been in a few car accidents since being S/C rated; none were my fault; I'm sadly just a crash magnet for inattentive drivers. The last one caused a minor rotator cuff tear in my left shoulder, further aggravated my cervical spine pain (to include shooting pain down my arms and fingers) and lumbar area & SI joints (to include severe shooting pain down both legs to the ankles). Following each accident, I've gone through ortho treatment, MRIs/x-rays, PT, injections in the SI joints and left shoulder, etc. And in 'settling' each accident, the insurance companies cite my 'pre-existing conditions' as reasons for low settlements. I had a bad flare-up of both the neck & low back problems earlier this week with the shooting pain down arms & legs, and went to the Durham, NC VA hospital ER because I'm not assigned a VA PCM yet (that appt is next week). The ER did x-rays which - according to the ER doc - showed: loss of disc space and degenerative changes in cervical & lumbar spine and SI joints and my cervical spine is too straight vs. curved - all of which is resulting in the nerves from cervical & lumbar areas being pinched causing my shoulders/arms/fingers to go numb, as well as the shooting pain down my legs. She also noted arthritis in my spine, but I didn't catch the specific locations. Her discharge diagnosis reads: neck/back pain; degenerative disc disease. I was prescribed cyclobenzaprine, prednisone, 800mg iburprofen, and hydrocodone/acet. What I currently have S/C per eBenefits (all from 2000, retroactive to end of service in 1998, except the lumbosacral strain which was increased in 2005 from 10%) Lumbosacral strain to include coccyx condition (previously claimed as coccyx fracture)(VCAA)  20% Service Connected  Refractive error (claimed as astigmatism) Not Service Connected                              Degenerative joint disease and rheumatoid arthritis, secondary to a coccyx fracture -Not Service Connected                      Bursitis, right shoulder   0%          Service Connected Bursitis, left shoulder     10%        Service Connected                          Allergic rhinitis   0%          Service Connected Cervical strain    0%          Service Connected                          Tinnitus                10%        Service Connected What has arisen/increased in severity (why I'm seeking an increase/file new claim/s): Sacroiliac joint pain - I know I verbalized this repeatedly in my C&P exams, but not sure it was factored into or as part of the lumbosacral strain rating or not, but this pain is noted in my service records with the word "sciatica", and it is excruciating. I remember describing it to the C&P examiner as someone smashing my tailbone area with a baseball bat. If you have this, you understand. I get injections about every other year for them, and take 500 mg naproxen to ease flare-ups in between injections. Shooting pain (sciatica, radiculopathy ... I've been told both and not sure what the difference is) in both legs to my feet and arms to include my fingers. Anxiety - I believe this is secondary to my injuries. I barely drive because I have panic attacks as a result of the pain I'm in and the fear of yet another potential accident worsening my injuries. I had a panic attack in my ortho's office when he suggested I might need surgery on my shoulder. I cannot sit in the dentist's chair without Xanax because the sounds and feeling have me clenching my jaw and fists (never had this problem before the injuries).  I saw a psychologist after my last accident about the panic attacks, and my private PCM put me on anxiety meds, but I don't attend regular counseling, as there isn't much we can do except understand the triggers, perform exercises when they come on, and take my meds when it happens. Consequently, I work full time from home, barely drive anywhere, and take Xanax whenever I go to the doctor for anything other than a routine exam. Hearing - I was rated for tinnitus; however, I believe I mentioned to C&P examiner that I also had (at that time) some hearing loss/challenges. This has - over time - gotten far worse. I cannot differentiate conversations from background noises (e.g., music, tv, etc.), and I strain to hear people who speak in normal tones. I also experience a severe 'crackling' sound in my left ear if there is any loud noise (e.g., firetruck passing, in church if sitting too close to speakers, music being played too loudly - for me). The cause for the tinnitus (and I suspect the hearing loss) was from escorting media on the flightline during deployments as well as through other high-noise areas on base where - because of the need for interaction with the media and those they interviewed (make sure they weren't saying things they shouldn't) - it wasn't conducive to wear any sort of hearing protection. Questions I have to get started: 1) What is the most effective way to request my C&P exam documents and any films/x-rays/to see how earlier decisions were reached and what they considered for each S/C disability? I was initially evaluated at the VA in Wilmington, DE, and the low back strain (originally 10%) was increased in Winston Salem, NC. 2) How (if at all) does my having been in the car accidents (since being rated) impact my claim for increased pain/problems/aggravation of these injuries? Will the VA say 'too bad, not our fault', or are they considered aggravations/worsening of conditions and therefore 'rate-able' or able to be considered for increase? 3) Would the shooting pain in my arms & legs due to the pinched nerves be separate claims from the cervical and lumbosacral strains, or would those items include these items? I keep reading about 'secondary' ailments, but I'm not clear on what that means in regards to the VA process. 4) I used to have a DAV rep helping with my claim, and they still have a POA on record with VA. Is it better to keep working through/with them, or can/should I go it alone? I'm sure I'll have more questions but for now, hopefully that is enough to get started. And please, feel free to ask any questions to clarify anything I noted and/or make any suggestions/recommendations/etc. It's been so long since I went through this all that I don't know where to start, where to go, what to do, etc. Thanks again!
    • Gastone,   Thanks, I just reapplied for Voc Rehab on my ebenefits page. Another question is will I still be eligible for Voc Rehab since I came in 1974 and got out in 1990?   Pointers to remember when I do meet with the Voc Rehab folks?

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Foia Request

20 posts in this topic

I am so mad right now I can barely write this. Aug. 17 of last year I submitted a request for copies of information in my C file of information from April to that point to my VARO. At that time, I had a remanded appeal from August 2010 and IU claim from early 2011 there. It became apparent they were treating the request like a claim and I became concerned there were holding off the decision process for it. On Nov. 22 and Dec. 12 (after I had seen the Aug. 17 FOIA request still showing as a claim) to two separate fax numbers at the VARO I faxed in letters rescinding any outstanding FOIA request I might have that would impede the decision process..

I started seeing on Ebenefits "noclaim information is available at this time" . At the end of December I was advised that a decision had been made (Dec. 20). Dec. 30 via phone from the VARO I was told it was in Authorization, then would go to my POA for review, then back to them and then I would be notiified. I have some thought what that might mean but we'll see.

Friday on EBenefits under Claims an FOIA request shows up for Jan. 5. I MADE NO SUCH REQUEST. I immediately faxed them that I had rescinded any FOIA fax request and made no request Jan. 5. I copied all of the previous faxes with it. I again rescinded any outstanding FOIA request

I am aware that a claim can hold up everything and very concerned this action is deliberate to do that. I received a letter in the mail from the VARO Saturday confirming the Jan. 5 FOIA request. I NEVER MADE THE REQUEST! Am I being paranoid?

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Is it possible that you have a common name and you and someone else w/the same name are being mixed up?? Just a thought.


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No, my name is uncommon. I cannot help but feel it may be a malicious attempt to further delay. I made no such request Dec. 5. Quite the reverse. I had sent them an emphatic letter November 22 via fax rescinding any FOIA request on my behalf that might impede that I again reiterated via fax Dec. 12. I faxed a letter to the VARO manager yesterday requesting an explanation.

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One other question. Is an FOIA request always treated as a claim and delays everything until processed?

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Hello Deanbrt,

I am sorry for your delays at the VA, but do want to bring something up.

I do not believe that the VA will treat your FOIA as a claim and do the usual stalling techniques that all of us are aware of. The FOIA has not given you an oppurtunity to participate in an award of benefits thru the claims process. A FOIA is a specific request by law to search for and deliver any records that you were specific in your written FOIA request. All depts of government have a FOIA officer that will oversee the legal request that person has initiated. It appears what you asked the VA to do is to search for your written documents that should exist (unless shreddergate is still on).

The only problem I see with a FOIA request is that it may allow your file to be moved from whatever position and whatever state it is to search those records. I personally believe that while you are waiting in a decision mode of VA that everything should be left alone until after a decision to keep your position and file inorder so that the VARO decision teams/DRO can adjudicate it.

I have over 15 FOIAs to numerous agencies and only a couple of them produced records at all. It usually sent me on a wild goose chase and I never got to catch one and eat it for dinner. I mean Atomic Energy commission, US ARMY, US ARMY FORT DIETRICH, EPA, and so on ...... FOIAs to the VA are still a tool that can be used to force information to be released. However the person or dept giving the information out can still " miss" some evidence or "overlook" it.

Case in point. I FOIA the Atomic Energy Commission for anything , all documents pertaining to SM1A Nuclear Reactor, Fort Greely , Alaska. They replied back they have no documents or knowledge of an SM1A Nuclear reactor at Fort Greely....... HUH...... I personally assigned the quarters to the personnel that TDY from Atomic Energy Commission that had to work on the reactor while it decided to have a runaway resulting in its entombment while I was there in 1971-73. I have plenty of other dept . thankfully that I have all the information I need. Another case in point is I have FOIA for spraying records thru the National Records giving the form numbers.....they are posted in archives here at Hadit under AO and latest AO thread. No luck.

My point is though the law under FOIA says they are to turn over such request and must make all available efforts to comply, it still can fall thru the cracks and be "nonexistant". You are not the first to have FOIA problems and I do feel that eventually you will be able to receive what you have asked for, it may slow your decision process down. The VA can still move your file for anything that needs to be look at or pulled from the file and that is where the problems lie when the Veteran does anything during the process, that may make someone open it other than the decision officer. I am sorry for a lengthy post but we probably should do a FOIA topic as it is a tool that can be used . For me it has not worked as I wanted it too because of sensitive data which will keep any FOIA request underwraps....period. Hang in there and be patient. Get your decision so you can move to the next step and address any errors or discrepancies then. NEVER GIVE UP. God Bless, C.C.

Edited by Capt.Contaminate

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Capt. Contaminate. First, thanks for the detailed response. smile.png Here is how my claims section reads as of this evening in Ebenefits.

Open Claims

Date/Type of Claim Claim Status Updates 12/05/2011

Freedom of Information Act / Privacy Act Request Claim Received

As you can see, they are treating it as a claim. I never made any FOIA request on the above date. Again, I had one from Aug. 17 for copies from my c file from April to that date. I rescinded that request via fax to two separate numbers at my VARO on Nov 22 and then Dec. 12 after becoming concerned it might cause delay. This claim for Dec. 5 just appeared Friday. I immediately sent another fax to the VARO center manager with copies of all the documents again rescinding any FOIA request. But I am getting more skeptical by the minute. Why is it being treated like a claim, which can slow down or stop everything?. That is why I faxed them Nov. 22 and Dec.12 . Why does it just show up Friday and my IU claim has NEVER shown up on Ebenefits. I NEVER MADE THIS REQUEST......

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