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  • 14 Questions about VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claims


    When a Veteran starts considering whether or not to file a VA Disability Claim, there are a lot of questions that he or she tends to ask. Over the last 10 years, the following are the 14 most common basic questions I am asked about ...
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  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

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Hey there and thanks in advance for your time. My main question is how much weight is given to comments? The Checkmarked Impairment would indicate up to 50% - but the comments seem to read more like 70%. Would appreciate your thoughts on where you think this might land. Sorry for it being so long, stripped out as much as I could.


a. Does the Veteran now have or has he/she ever been diagnosed with a mental disorder(s)? [x ] Yes [ ] No

Diagnosis #1: Major Depression, single episode, moderate to severe ICD code: 296.22

Indicate the Axis category: [x ] Axis I [ ] Axis II

Comments, if any:The veteran's Major Depression is more likely than not secondary to her musculoskeletal condition and chronic pain from her service connected lumbarsacral/cervical strain and knee condition. She has had worsening of her pain conditions over time to the point that it has significantly interfered with her ability to care for her own needs and participate in activities which she previously enjoyed. This eventually led to depression. Clinical records clearly indicate that her depression is felt to be due to her medical conditions and chronic pain. There is a clear association between the severity of her depression and the severity of her pain and physical limitations.

b. Axis III - medical diagnoses:


Low back strain

Arthritis of spine

Degeneration of intervertebral disc

Arthritis of knee

Chondromalacia of patella

Derangement of meniscus

Premature beats (SNOMED CT 29717002)

Paresthesia (SNOMED CT 91019004)

Paresthesia of foot (SNOMED CT 309087008)

Chronic constipation (SNOMED CT 236069009)

Esophagitis (SNOMED CT 16761005)

Neck pain (SNOMED CT 81680005)

Rectal hemorrhage (SNOMED CT 12063002)

Nausea (SNOMED CT 422587007)

Lumbar disc prolapse with radiculopathy (SNOMED CT 202735001)

Major Depressive, Single Episode

Chronic Low Back Pain (ICD-9-CM 724.2)


Stomatitis, Aphthous * (ICD-9-CM 528.2)

Rosacea * (ICD-9-CM 695.3)

Migraine with Aura, without mention of intractable Migraine without mention of

Syncope * (ICD-9-CM 780.2)

Other specified cardiac dysrhythmias

Graves' Disease * (ICD-9-CM 242.00)

Endometriosis * (ICD-9-CM 617.9/617.0)

Pain in joint involving lower leg (ICD-9-CM 719.46)

c. Axis IV - Psychosocial and Environmental Problems (describe, if any): unemployment; chronic mental health symptoms, chronic pain, financial concerns, limited social supports; numerous medical conditions

d. Axis V - Current global assessment of functioning (GAF) score: 52 mconsistent with recent GAF (52 on 10-25-13)

Comments, if any: Veteran has moderate to serious difficulty with depression and anxiety; she has intermittent passive suicidal ideation; she has poor motivation and chronic problems with energy/concentration/focus/distractibility/interest /hoplessness/helplessness. She is social withdrawn and periodically does not leave her house for extended periods at a time. She becomes frustrated over her need for her husband to act as a caretaker. She is unable to attend to a number of ADLs, but is not neglectful of hygiene or appearance. She has frequent anxiety attacks but no panic attacks or violence. No impulsivity. She has withdrawn from activities that she previously enjoyed and frequently avoids family and friends. She has lost a number of friends due to social withdrawal. She endorses irritability and poor frustration tolerance.

3. Occupational and social impairment


a. Which of the following best summarizes the Veteran's level of occupational and social impairment with regards to all mental diagnoses?

[x ] Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity

c. Relevant Mental Health history

MENTAL HEALTH HISTORY: No h/o mental health treatment in childhood, adolescence or during the military. SMR are negative for mental health treatment. She reports being resistant to mental health treatment and having a long history of aversion to psychotropic medications. She was therefore very resistant to referral to mental health services.

She first participating in behavioral health medicine at the VA in 2012 where she got limited treatment for chronic headaches. She was referred to mental health after having a "breakdown". She was first seen in November 2012 at which time she was diagnosed with major depression.

Clinical records endorse her depression as being due to her chronic pain from her service-connected conditions. She has a history of being a very strong and independent woman who has great difficulty dealing with being dependent on others for basic care. This has greatly added to her depression over time. She is seen every 2-3 months for medication management and weekly to biweekly for individual therapy. On her current medication of Remeron 15 mg q.h.s. and temazepam 22.5 mg q.h.s. There is no history of inpatient psychiatric admissions, substance abuse treatment\problems or suicide attempts.

4 months ago she endorsed passive suicidal ideation.

She continues to endorse chronic difficulties with hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, and guilt. She has chronic difficulties with "need for control", excessive worry, racing thoughts, feeling like a burden, social withdrawal, irritability, poor frustration tolerance and emotional detachment.

d. Relevant Legal and Behavioral history (pre-military, military, and post-military): No history of DUIs, arrest or time in jail. She is at risk for foreclosure due to losing her source of income. She continues to endorse social withdrawal, emotional detachment, irritability and poor frustration tolerance. There is no history of assault or violence.

e. Relevant Substance abuse history (pre-military, military, and post-military): ETOH: Never problematic; she thinks a glass of wine per month. Drugs: Never. Smoking: In her teens

3. Symptoms


For VA purposes, check all symptoms that apply to the Veteran's diagnoses:

[x ] Depressed mood

[x ] Anxiety

[x] Near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively

[X ] Chronic sleep impairment

[x ] Mild memory loss, such as forgetting names, directions or recent


[X ] Impairment of short- and long-term memory, for example, retention of only highly learned material, while forgetting to complete tasks

[x ] Flattened affect

[x ] Disturbances of motivation and mood

[x ] Difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships

[x ] Difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances, including work or a worklike setting

[x ] Inability to establish and maintain effective relationships

4. Other symptoms


Does the Veteran have any other symptoms attributable to mental disorders that are not listed above?

[x ] Yes [ ] No

If yes, describe:social withdrawl; frequent hopelessness/helplessness; chronic problems with energy/concentration/focus; ruminating thoughts; excessive worry; her need for control; social withdrawal; emotional attachment; frequent sense of worthlessness and guilt; black and white thinking

5. Competency


Is the Veteran capable of managing his or her financial affairs?

[x ] Yes [ ] No

6. Remarks, if any:


The following gives added information reading the Veteran's employability for both sedentary and physical employment based on her mental health symptoms. Veteran is considered fully capable of managing funds in her own best interest.

Her ability to understand and follow instructions is considered mildly impaired.

Her ability to retain instructions as well as sustain concentration to perform simple tasks is considered markedly impaired. Her ability to sustain concentration to task persistence and pace is considered markedly impaired. Her ability to respond appropriately to coworkers, supervisors, or the general public is considered moderately to markedly impaired. Her ability to respond appropriately to changes in the work setting is considered markedly impaired.

Her ability to accept supervision is considered mildly impaired. Her ability to accept criticism is considered mildly impaired. Her ability to be flexible in the work setting is considered markedly impaired. Her ability to work in groups is considered moderately impaired. Her ability for impulse control in the work setting is considered moderately impaired. The veteran has poor stress tolerance and is easily overwhelmed and exhausted. For example, she was very exhausted by the end of her to our assessment.

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21 answers to this question

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Thanks for your WAG, Carlie - appreciate your taking the time to read it. All comes down to that impairment checkmark most of the time, eh?

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I agree with carlie, but I would say boarderline to 70%. Are you working?

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Not working. Wheelchair bound. Essentially housebound. Lucky to have my husband of 27 years (also former Marine) taking care of me. I haven't been able to work since 2010 - was (very) recently approved for SSDI, mostly due to service connected issues, so that was a huge help. I've been service connected since my exit physical in 1990 and never knew it until I came to the VA for the first time in 2011 when I could no longer afford private health care. Didn't even know I could receive disability compensation.

I really appreciate you guys here - this site was extremely helpful as I built my claim, and now it helps me pass the time with folks in similar boats. People who understand, and are supportive of each other. I don't post much, but I lurk quite a bit when I'm stuck in bed or on the couch.

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If you don't mind me asking. What is your SC broken down in percentage/condition and is there anything else you are applying for other than your MH claim?

Get your private psych Dr to fill out the disability Benefit Questionaire below. It's a good form to use as it addresses the symptoms of the rating chart.

General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders:

Total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as: gross impairment in thought processes or communication; persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior; persistent danger of hurting self or others; intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene); disorientation to time or place; memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name (100%)

Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a worklike setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships (70%)

Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships (50%)

Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks (although generally functioning satisfactorily, with routine behavior, self-care, and conversation normal), due to such symptoms as: depressed mood, anxiety, suspiciousness, panic attacks (weekly or less often), chronic sleep impairment, mild memory loss (such as forgetting names, directions, recent events) (30%)

Occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms which decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks only during periods of significant stress, or; symptoms controlled by continuous medication (10%)

A mental condition has been formally diagnosed, but symptoms are not severe enough either to interfere with occupational and social functioning or to require continuous medication (0%)


Edited by Dot09

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I don't mind at all - currently 20% Lower Spine, 10% Right LE Radiculopathy, 10% Right Knee Pain, 10% Right Knee Instability, 10% Left Knee Pain, 10% Left Knee Instability.

Put in for increase for both knees - C&P shows additional diagnoses of pes anserine bursitis bilaterally with hx of steroidal and "chicken grease" shots without relief and the left knee is now limited to 45 degree flexion. I wear rigid braces on both at all times save when showering and sleeping.

Put in for increase of spine - MRIs show multiple disk herniations & annular tears with main compartment and bilateral foreman compromise. C&P documents forward flexion now limited to 30 degrees with pain at 10, and hx of many failed medication and physical therapies. Also notes bilateral moderate radiculopathic pain and loss of sensation on the right le. Medications Pregabalin and Percocet with another med for nausea fm percocet. Reads like 40% IVDS and bilateral radiculopathy at 20% for Right and 10 - 20% Left

Put in for Migrains. C&P shows evidence in service records of treatment, continuing treatment post military with occurances >1x per month prostrating with all the pain and non pain symptoms, treated with pregabalin and percocet. Reads like 50%, but you never know.

And put in for MDD as above.

Edited by GlassRose1500

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      Page 18 of 44
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      | Hz* | Hz | Hz | Hz | Hz | Hz | Hz | (B-E)**|
      | 30 | 50 | 75 | 85 | 95 | 105+ | 100+ | 76 |
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      | 500 | 1000 | 2000 | 3000 | 4000 | 6000 | 8000 | Avg Hz |
      | Hz* | Hz | Hz | Hz | Hz | Hz | Hz | (B-E)**|
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      Page 19 of 44
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      Word Discrimination Score appropriateness:
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      Use of word recognition score is appropriate for this Veteran.
      f. Audiologic Findings
      Summary of Immittance (Tympanometry) Findings:
      | | RIGHT EAR | LEFT EAR
      | Acoustic immittance | [ ] Normal [ ] Abnormal | [ ] Normal [ ] Abnormal
      | Ipsilateral | |
      | Acoustic Reflexes | [ ] Normal [ ] Abnormal | [ ] Normal [ ] Abnormal
      | Contralateral | |
      | Acoustic Reflexes | [ ] Normal [ ] Abnormal | [ ] Normal [ ] Abnormal
      | Unable to interpret | |
      | reflexes due to | [ ] | [ ]
      | artifact | |
      | Unable to obtain/ | |
      | maintain seal | [X] | [X]
      Page 20 of 44
      2. Diagnosis
      [ ] Normal hearing
      [ ] Conductive hearing loss ICD code:
      [ ] Mixed hearing loss ICD code:
      [X] Sensorineural hearing loss (in the frequency range of 500-4000 Hz)*
      ICD code: H90.3
      [X] Sensorineural hearing loss (in the frequency range of 6000 Hz or
      higher frequencies)** ICD code: H90.3
      [ ] Significant changes in hearing thresholds in service***
      LEFT EAR
      [ ] Normal hearing
      [ ] Conductive hearing loss ICD code:
      [ ] Mixed hearing loss ICD code:
      [X] Sensorineural hearing loss (in the frequency range of 500-4000 Hz)*
      ICD code: H90.3
      [X] Sensorineural hearing loss (in the frequency range of 6000 Hz or
      higher frequencies)** ICD code: H90.3
      [ ] Significant changes in hearing thresholds in service***
      * The Veteran may have hearing loss at a level that is not considered to
      a disability for VA purposes. This can occur when the auditory
      thresholds are greater than 25 dB at one or more frequencies in the
      500-4000 Hz range.
      ** The Veteran may have impaired hearing, but it does not meet the criteria
      to be considered a disability for VA purposes. For VA purposes, the
      diagnosis of hearing impairment is based upon testing at frequency
      of 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, and 4000 Hz. If there is no HL in the
      Hz range, but there is HL above 4000 Hz, check this box.
      *** The Veteran may have a significant change in hearing threshold in
      service, but it does not meet the criteria to be considered a disability
      for VA purposes. (A signi
      ficant change in hearing threshold may indicate
      Page 21 of 44
      noise exposure or acoustic trauma.)
      3. Etiology
      [X] Etiology opinion not indicated as:
      [X] Service connected condition
      [X] VBA did not request etiology
      4. Functional impact of hearing loss
      Does the Veteran's hearing loss impact ordinary conditions of daily
      including ability to work: Yes
      If yes, describe impact in the Veteran's own words: DIFFICULTY
      5. Remarks, if any, pertaining to hearing loss:
      1. Medical history
      Does the Veteran report recurrent tinnitus: Yes
      Date and circumstances of onset of tinnitus: FROM 2.16.16 EVALUATION:
      describes a subjective, bilateral, constant tinnitus with an unsure
      2. Etiology of tinnitus
      [X] Etiology opinion not indicated as:
      [X] VBA did not request etiology
      3. Functional impact of tinnitus
      Does the Veteran's tinnitus impact ordinary conditions of daily life,
      including ability to work: No
      4. Remarks, if any, pertaining to tinnitus::
      No response provided
      NOTE: VA may request additional medical information, including additional
      examinations if necessary to complete VA's review of the
      NIC…., MARK
      Page 22 of 44
    • By Michigander
      My heart goes out to all of my fellow survivors of MST ...
      For me, I have found I can no longer suppress and manage the daily physical and emotional affects of the sexual assault that took place on December 25, 1985 while serving on active duty.  In effort to find some help, relief and hopefully someday healing I am starting the uphill journey to deal with this and try to share some of the highlights of my battle.  I will be the first to admit I have no idea what I am doing and can only hope that God the father.... will guide my feet day by day. 
      First step locating documentation of the event.  A few weeks ago I was able to locate the police dept. and requested a copy of the report.  I received a copy of the 15 page report this past week and it makes me emotionally and physically sick just to look at the envelope it's in.
      I also tried to locate medical records over the years from prior mental health therapists and physicians that would have documented my history as it related to these events, but the practices were closed or my records were no longer available due to time.
      April I called the VA to inquire about mental health services for MST and hesitated to start the process because the MST would not be marked in my record for all my providers to see.  This was a big hurdle mentally as I have always hid this event at all costs from my providers.   I am sure this did not help my physicians treat me and fully understand my ongoing medical problems especially those in which are usually brought on by some big life event which I always adamantly denied when asked. 
      May 2nd 2017, I submitted a "intent to file".
      May 4th 2017, I went to a VSO rep?? to asked questions about the process to file a claim related to MST.  The rep was belittling, insulting, hurtful, rude and I walked out of that office with no more information and the psychological affects were pretty devastating.  At the encouragement from my daughter to go straight to the patient advocate office and file a complaint....I did just that.  I found myself have a total mental breakdown just trying to give the details of what just went down and was thankfully met with support and many reassurances that I would have a team of people helping moving forward and that person would be brought in...dealt with and re-trained.  I will spare you all the details.
      My next step is hearing from the mental health dept. to set up an appt. to do some type of baseline evaluation of my symptoms etc. as it related to MST... I guess to get an official diagnosis on record and to get me the specific therapy I need started.  I will likely opt for tele-therapy once I have a few sessions onsite at the VA. 
      That's it for now
    • By bright
      I have been 100% perm and total since 2003, before that i was 70%.
      I just got an appointment for a C and P exam to reevaluate. WHY!
      Has anyone ever heard of this?  Has anyone ever had one after being perm and total?
      What is going on?
    • By mrkman123
      Forgive the first effort, injuries have a way of making things difficult.....   Twenty-four years of dealing with the VA, and the difficulties at hand ensure negative results.....  These are the copies of a C and P recently done at the VA, and leaves me to doubt this system is capable of conducting themselves in an ethical manner.   Enjoy the insanity, this veteran is tired of paying the piper; Eighteen Years were Enough !!!!    (Remand posted earlier.)  Still waiting to address attorney with the results of this remand and the Shabby, Disrespectful, and unethical way in which this Veteran has been treated at the VA hands......   Document 1.pdf ...   Comments, opinions, and suggestion greatly needed and appreciated....   Sincerely, Mark
      Document 38.pdf
      Document 37.pdf
      Document 36.pdf
      Document 35.pdf
      Document 39.pdf
      Document 40.pdf
      Document 41.pdf
      Document 42.pdf
      Document 43.pdf
      Document 44.pdf
      Document 45.pdf
      Document 46.pdf
      Document 2.pdf
      Document 3.pdf
      Document 4.pdf
      Document 5.pdf
      Document 6.pdf
      Document 7.pdf
      Document 8.pdf
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      Document 10.pdf
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      Document 14.pdf
      Document 15.pdf
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      Document 29.pdf
      Document 30.pdf
      Document 31.pdf
      Document 32.pdf
      Document 33.pdf
      Document 34.pdf
  • Our picks

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    • I have a 30% hearing loss and 10% Tinnitus rating since 5/17.  I have Meniere's Syndrome which was diagnosed by a VA facility in 2010 yet I never thought to include this in my quest for a rating.  Meniere's is very debilitating for me, but I have not made any noise about it because I could lose my license to drive.  I am thinking of applying for additional compensation as I am unable to work at any meaningful employment as I cannot communicate effectively because of my hearing and comprehension difficulties.  I don't know whether to file for a TDUI, or just ask for additional compensation.  My county Veterans service contact who helped me get my current rating has been totally useless on this when I asked her for help.  Does anyone know which forms I should use?  There are so many different directions to proceed on this that I am confused.  Any help would be appreciated.  Vietnam Vet 64-67.