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  • 14 Questions about VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claims

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Alpha Male

Can Someone Please Respond? I'm Going Nuts!

Question

Hi,

First, I want to thank everybody who contributes to this site. The information I gleaned from Hadit was the key factor in putting together my claim.

I am currently rated at 70% since 1998 (50% bipolar, 10% left knee, 10% right knee, 10% hypertension). I was shot and nearly killed during a robbery in Dec. '04. My friend was killed in the incident. I had 4 subsequent major surgeries to repair the damage, including a colostomy and a colostomy reversal 1 year later. The Physical and emotional trauma has scarred me forever. While recovering, I turned to drinking to escape. Since the shooting I have only been able to work for 6 months total. Now, I am homeless. I drank myself out of house and home. I have tried to commit suicide on two occaisions in the last two years. I was hospitalized on the Tucson VA hospital psych ward on both occaisions for a total of 11 and 20 days respectively. During the last stay, I was placed in an intensive SATP (substance abuse treatment program). The program has a dual-diagnosis track for mental illness-substance abuse. This program requires 3 months participation on an inpatient basis. They provided me with housing and the tools to get clean. I graduated the program in the spring and was encouraged by my case manager to file a claim for increase for bipolar as my disorder was exascerbated by the PTSD from the shooting. He also told me to apply for TDIU as well.

I filed my claim on July 23rd and to my surprise, when I called the Phoenix, AZ RO on Dec. 4th to get a status update, they told me my claim has been decided on Dec. 3rd and to expect the determination letter in the mail. I called my Purple Heart VSO (who was absolutely no help at all other than mailing the claim I put together) to inform him of this. He told me to call the Phoenix branch of Purple Hearts. They told me that the claim had not been finalized and that it was being sent to Seattle, WA for post-determination proccessing. My question is, is this a harbinger of good things to come? Is this par for the course? Why would the VA rep tell me to expect a letter in a week but the claim hasn't been finalized? Why would it need to go to post-determination if I were being denied? Also, aren't I entitled to 100% pay for the three month inpatient program since it treated my bipolar as well as my alcoholism. I am still homeless and living at the Comin' Home shelter for homeless vets (they are awsome to me) in Tucson. I thank God I am sober 11 months and trying to turn my life around. I don't know if I can go another round with the VA. I lost a claim for increase in 2007. I was denied outright. I wasn't as prepared as I was this time. Thank everyone who contributes to this. :(

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If the shooting was after your discharge you are mixing apples and oranges when you add that fact into your TDIU claim. Your TDIU or increase claims must be solely for service connected conditions. If you have PTSD from the shooting you don't really want to mix that in with your service connected bi-polar condition. Your claims have to rise or fall on service connected conditions. Don't count on anything the VA says until you have the letter in your hand. Your alcoholism due to the shooting and bi-polar gets complicated. You need to separate out anything to do with the shooting from your bi-polar condition. You don't want to mix these things together because you give the VA an excuse to say your inability to work is due to the shooting and alcoholism and not to your SC conditions. When the VA considers TDIU they will look at any NSC conditions and often say that is the real reason you are unemployable (in your case the shootings and your alcoholism).

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Alpha,

Welcome to Hadit.

Ditto on John's post.

PTSD from the shooting will not get SC'd

or be considered as medical evidence for an increase

as it has nothing to do with what happened on AD.

If your clean now, what are you doing with your 70 % VA compensation,

as it relates to still living in the shelter ?

The VA 800 # rarely can provide accurtes claim status information.

There is a reg that provides for a temporary 100 % payment if you are

hospitalized 21 days or longer. I have no idea if the program

you joined would provide for this or not.

Maybe someone else will chime in.

Most of us here are VA claimants and veterans and help her on

a voluntary basis.

Hang in there - I've been fighting VA since 1978.

Never give up.

jmho,

carlie

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Carlie and John,

I want to thank both of you so much for responding. I am grateful that someone cares enough to do so.

I hope that somehow my claim will be decided by the worsening of my bipolar disorder. I do understand what both of you have said about the shooting being non service-connected. I'm trying to think positive, but at the same time, I know that reason and practicality are what's going to help us win in the long run. Your advice is noted and I will use a different strategy if I have to do this again.

As far as what I'm doing with the 70% now that I'm sober, I had a $6,000 debt to the VA from overpayments and my compensation is also being apportioned by my ex-wife, even though I'm paying child support and spousal support even though we've been divorced for 11 years (I'm figting this in a separate claim). So, I only see a portion of my 70%. I also have to pay "program fees" (a fancy term for rent) of 30% percent of what's left. I also pay for my own food. The social worker at the program has helped me open a savings account and has placed me on a waiting list for subsidized housing. I hope to be on my own by the summer.

Have either one of you come up with a reason for moving my claim post-determination to Seattle? If they were going to deny me, why not just send the denial letter and get it over with?

Thank you again.

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As for you claim being sent to Seattle, they are shipping claims all over the place, nowadays, just to get them processed. They'll ship a claim to the least busy of the various VA Regional Offices. Lot of pressure on them to start getting up off their duffs and get some things processed.

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As far as what I'm doing with the 70% now that I'm sober, I had a $6,000 debt to the VA from overpayments and my compensation is also being apportioned by my ex-wife, even though I'm paying child support and spousal support even though we've been divorced for 11 years (I'm figting this in a separate claim).

How did you come across a $6,000 overpayment from the VA?

If you have been divorced for 11 years, how much longer do you have on your support obligations?

Check with your VSO about the overpayments. Depending on your financial situation, they may be able to forgive some of it or even offer a structured payment plan over time.

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