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Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/04/2019 in all areas

  1. 5 points
    July 11th? Do you have a time machine?
  2. 5 points
    I just wanted to share that sometimes we need to be a squeaky wheel to get our BVA cases moving. I had filed an appeal to the BVA October 2018 under the then RAMP program. I had also filed a FOIA request for my complete C-FIle. The FOIA request was completed mid March 2019, unfortunately the pending FOIA case had caused my appeal to fall out of processing (originally my appeal showed to be with a judge since 1/7/2019 with an estimated completion of 1 - 2 months) . I had called the BVA 800 number back in mid May wanting an update and at that time I was told my case was with FOIA. I informed them that the FOIA has already been completed in mid March and asked them to put my case back into production. I called again last week and was told by the representative that the case was back with a judge. I called again today to see if anything happened with my case, I know it is law clerks that actually prepares the cases for the judges and once completed then the judge makes a decision. When I spoke with them this morning I was told it was still with FOIA, I held my tongue and told them that last week I was told it is with a judge and now I am being told it is not. I asked him how is the vet to know whats actually going on with their case if they keep getting different answers? He did not have an answer and apologized. Once again he sent a message to FOIA informing them I had already received my FOIA response and to release my case so it can be assigned to a judge again. After the call needless to say I was very frustrated and decided to email the Secretary of VA, instead I decided to email his Chief of Staff with my concerns. I explained my frustration and simple asked could she please assist with getting my appeal put back into production. I received a response this after from Ms. Mason the Chairman of the BVA letting me know that a mistake was made by FOIA in updating my case and that my case is now assigned to a judge. The response also had a cc to the Chief of Staff. I am one of those who log into Vets.gov and ebenefits on a regular basis just to see if anything has changed on my appeal. My point to this long post is that sometimes as vets we need to be that squeaky wheel. Also keep in mind I did not send the email right away I tried to use the system as it is meant to be used. But when your case falls off the rail don't be afraid to email those in charge. If anyone wants to do what I did I will suggest that when you send emails like this be respectful and keep your emotions out of the email. Simply state your facts and what you are wanting assistance on. I did not ask to have my case approved I only asked that they help to get the case back into production is what happened in my case. Be polite and keep it professional after all the people you email are human like us. Hope this helps others with their claims.
  3. 5 points
    You are not alone! You will never be alone! This trauma caused you pain in a way some of us here will never understand. I have had my own demons to slay over the years some I knew I had and others were so ingrained I had no idea how to deal with them. This story has nothing to do with your experience, just to give you some tools to deal with trauma. I was born into a Cult. I was brain washed from a very young age. The abuse to place over 18 years until I finally left. I had to leave behind my 11 siblings where I was living(Knowing I would be allowed to have a relationship with them). I left in 1999/2000 and joined the Military in 2001. I had never had time to process what had happened to me as a child. I did not realize my dad was having sex with his daughters. I was always taught to suck it up and be a MAN! I was told there is no one who can help you! There is only you! Almost everything I was taught from a young age was a lie!. I blamed myself for many years and was told I was the problem and how could you do this to your family? I have dealt with this by allowing myself to feel again. I had blocked myself behind so many walls I was hollow inside. I did not love myself or anyone I was in a relationship with. I allow myself to remember! I allow myself to cry! I allow myself to forgive me! I allow myself to love! It took me a long time to realize how to love myself, I had told myself I was not worthy of love. Letting yourself back into your life and forgiving yourself are the hardest part of trauma. The events happened and they will not go away. The pain is there and will not go away. You have an injury no one else can see, it is so deep and painful. I had a wound like this and I found a friend who helped me heal myself. My wife had a lot to do with it, but in the end the friend was me. I was causing the wound to stay open and fester, I did not want to get better. I wanted to pain because I deserved the pain. I was to weak to deal with it. I just want you to know we are here for you and you are loved! You have support from all of us here!
  4. 5 points
    I first found this forum after I started my claim Aug 7, 2018. This was 10 years after my discharge. I had done everything I could to stay away from the military after my experience and had never even been to the VA before this year. I prepared my claim myself and was concerned I would be denied. I posted my c and p exam results here October 31, 2018 and members commented on their thoughts of success or failure, and said I would get about 50%. I then took my exam results to the Veteran rep here at my local unemployment office who told me ultimately I would be denied and should appoint a representative and prepare for appeal. I choose the DAV and left with my spirits a little crushed, but after reading people stories here I knew I had to remain hopeful. Nov. 29, 2018 I received an email from the DAV with the Decision that had been made even before I could see it. The email stated I had been service-connected at 70% PTSD permanent, also approved for TDIU and Dependent Education, but Ebenefits still said pending approval. So again I came to the forums for assistance and posted a copy of the email. I was met with congratulatory responses and assurance that the email was legit. @GeekySquid then messaged me a ton of information about benefits that were now available to me. It was from that information I was able to start the process of getting my life back on track. Im currently working with VR&E also known as Voc Rehab, to go back to school. Geeky told me they would give me hard time but to be persistent and it paid off my counselor has approved my long term goal of a Masters Degree. I can not put in words how thankful I am for this forum and its Members.
  5. 5 points
    You can immediately ask for a different doctor to do the exam. When I say 'flawed', I mean the examiner did not have the expertise to opine on your claim, or the doctor did not have any of your medical records, to include SMRs in many cases, or the doctor failed to consider any other probative evidence that you moght have brought with you to the C & P yet the doctor didn't want to see it--- or the examiner LIED. There are probably many more reasons why an exam can be flawed. This AM I received a call from OAWP-VA-DC, as to the ongoing investigation they are doing based on my other complaint . I have more evidence to send to them-we went over some of the evidence they already have- it is solid to support my complaint-It is a different issue than this post is about- But then I mentioned to the Triage manager the C & P situations I see so many of you here are dealing with. I told him of 2 of my C & P exams (posthumously done on my husband) and am waiting until Jan 15, 2019 for a copy of one of them-to adequately prepare a OAWB complaint. on that matter, which affects so many veterans....and I am sure I am not the only survivor of a vet who has had this problem consistently with the RO I deal with. He was shocked at what one SOC C & P examiner had stated..... I told him this was only one of many C & Ps they did- all wrong, to deny my claims. (all awarded since-yet not the point)) Would anyone here be willing to follow up my next complaint on the C& P problems many here have? If it took a costly IMO/IME to get a full reading of your evidence, and then attain an award, tell them that. If your are in financial diffculties and cannot possibly afford an IMO/IME, tell them that. If they lied about your condition , tell the OAWB that- and give evidence to show that they lied. Be prepared to attach the C & P exam to the email you send to them, and attach any other evidence you feel they might need. I told the OAWB Triage manager I have seen many C & Ps over the years that are highly erroneous and deny many valid claims . Claims that will add to the backlog and if they are valid they should never even be in the appeals process at all. If you prepare a complaint, specific only to the C & P problem, you can refer OAWB to my complaint ( Berta Simmons, NY ) that will be at OAWB on the 16th of this month.I am waiting until the 15th to see if VA will send me a C & P exam I requested.Whether I get it or not the complaint will still be filed on the 16th. I do not really have a dog in this fight because so far I won any claim VA gave a lousy C & P on.I only needed the IMOs I have for one claim. Something needs to be done about this situation.That wont happen with one complaint from a dead veteran's widow. The only evidence I have is my own personal letters and C & P exams from the VA, And the info from NVLSP and GAO-which covers all veterans but is general, and not specific to what many of you really go through with C & P exams, that are geared to what the VAROs want- and that is - to deny the claim.
  6. 4 points
    Now I will add my 2 cents to the question... As many have said, you have the right to file any claim you want to file. I was told by so many people in the past, that once I was awarded TDIU I should never file another claim, because the VA will reevaluate every one of your conditions each time your file, this is just not true and don't let anyone scare you into this belief. At the time I was awarded TDIU. I had four separate ratings, two were 10% ratings, one was a 30% rating, and one a 60% rating. I did not stop there, and why would I when so many conditions where highlighted in my active duty medical records that I had not claimed yet, due to ignorance of the system when I medically retired. Since my initial rating I have been awarded a TDIU rating, I have been bumped to a single 100% rating, ( apart and separate from my TDIU rating ) and have received 14 other ratings from 0% to 50%. I have received adapted Housing ( which today is a $70,000 grant, I have received the Auto Grant which today is about $20,000. I was awarded 1 K award, and I have A&A at the L 1/2 step. My dependants have received the benefit of not one but two separate Chapter 35 awards with different start dates ( 1999 for TDIU and 2007 for 100%). I never even knew it was legal to get more than one chapter 35 award. Also, as we age, our conditions get worse with time. A back strain becomes degenerative disc disease and will bump a 10% rating up. Torn meniscus of the knee eventually results in arthritis of the knee and a seperate rating. And lets not forget about the damage a VA surgeon can do to someone when they have surgery for a service connected condition. There are so many valid reason to continue your quest for any condition that you feel should be service connected. My situation could be the highlighted as the poster child for continuing to file claims. And to this day I continue my quest to be receive increased ratings and new ratings for some medical issues. I have had people tell me why would you pursue a claim that only awards 10% its not going to result in any more compensation...but when I decide to file a claim I am not looking to get a 10% or 40% rating, I am looking to get service connected which is the hardest thing to do. After getting service connection then I pursue the rating I think I am entitled to, if I haven't already received it. I may have 9 10% ratings, and alone they may not amount to much, but when your start combing the 60% , 50% 40% and even 30% ratings you may achieve another 100% rating, and the nine 10% ratings will help you get to that second 100% rating. Also, don't forget the special monthly compensations that you may end up with, such as Housebound or Aid and attendance and the different levels of Aid and attendance as well as multiple K awards. Finally, you could end up being eligible for a free life insurance policy because your rated TDIU or 100%, or disabled veterans mortgage insurance, which you can only get if you are awarded the adapted housing grant. And for those that are really hurting they now have the caregivers program where a family member ( or anyone you designate) as your care giver receives a monthly check based on the amount of help you need, and this program has just recently been approved for all disabled veterans. Another benefit for those that have a TBI, is a higher level of Aid and attendance that only those with a TBI ( Depending on the severity) may be eligible for. And remember, you never know when or if the VA will decide to take back that TDIU or other rating. So additional ratings are one way to insulate yourself against losing your compensation. If you just sit back after your TDIU award, you will never know how much compensation you may lose, but if you continue to file and achieve new ratings you may just be surprised how fast the compensation dollars add up. Together with the compensation & ancillary benefits you may live very comfortable. Finally, wouldn't it be nice to leave your spouse financially secure when you leave this world with the mortgage paid off, and a monthly check from DIC or survivor benefits , especially if she/he stood by you and cared for your during the hard times, for me this was my greatest motivation. You served, and your quality of life has been diminished because of that service, you owe it to your self and family to continue to file claims if you feel they are valid.
  7. 4 points
    Just a month ago I hit 90% from 30%, literally a month later got more back pay and generated a benefit letter on ebenefits. They upped me to tdui permanent and total disability. I went from almost losing my house two months ago to being debt free. Thank you everyone who answered my questions and helped.
  8. 4 points
    You have a relatively unique situation having a single 100% MH rating, 100% P&T status, and working in a secluded environment, which might be constituted as a "protected work environment". In 2017, CCK Law Firm won a precedential ruling which required the VA to spell out what qualifies as a "protected work environment" because §4.16 was not specific enough. Keep in mind §4.16 appears to have been written to apply to TDIU veterans, not regular P&T veterans. The ruling appears to create a grey area which you might be able to swing in your favor if the VA proposes to reduce you. This is kind of lengthy and I could be wrong, but should be interesting. If I made any mistakes in interpretation, I welcome feedback from other members. Here's what I used to believe: I was under the impression that if one has a single 100% MH disability, by definition, that means they are completely socially and occupationally impaired. I have read numerous posts over the years reiterating the same thing with advice that if the VA finds you working then they would potentially propose reduction to 70%. That was based on the VA's interpretation of one being "substantially employed". §4.130 Schedule of ratings—Mental disorders. However, CCK Law Firm won a precedential decision regarding "protected work environment", which might cover your situation. This is a very interesting read. https://cck-law.com/news/cck-successfully-argues-precedential-decision-protected-work-environment/ §4.16 Total disability ratings for compensation based on unemployability of the individual. CCK's win ordered the VA to define and clarify what constitutes "protected work environment". That was in 2017 and it doesn't look like the VA has updated §4.16 since 2014. Keep in mind that §4.16 appears to be written for veterans who are TDIU, not 100% P&T. https://cck-law.com/news/protected-work-environment/ The above article goes into some potential explanations of what constitutes a "protected work environment" and much of it sounds like your situation. The interesting thing is what is said in §4.16(a). It states that "Marginal employment shall not be considered substantially gainful employment" and goes on to state that protected/sheltered work environments are considered "marginal", too. I wanted to give you some more information on "protected work environments". It appears that a lot of the examples provided by CCK's article may pertain to "reasonable accommodations", per the ADA. These are modifications to work policy or environment that allow someone to overcome a disability limitations to perform a job. For example, I am 100% P&T, and have disability ratings including 30% MH rating plus separate neck/back ratings. I work as a computer programmer, but my disabilities were causing me some real problems at work. The cubicle environment was aggravating my hypervigilance and the distance from my disabled parking spot to the cubicle was extreme. My employer fought this pretty hard for years, but my doctor provided medical justification for some changes based on hypervigilance, cognitive impairment, and physical mobility. They eventually implemented the changes and I was able to be productive again. They moved me to a private office with a door that I keep closed. It is adjacent to the building entrance/restrooms and they exempted me from in-person meetings (I call in to those instead). It's like I am a full-time telecommuter, except I perform my work from the office. I do encounter other people during the day in the building, but it is casual and not work related, so it does not interfere with my ability to concentrate. If you want to learn more about accommodations under the ADA, look up the Job Accommodation Network. They have a hotline you can call to get more information. Lets assume the VA sends you a proposal to reduce your rating because you are found to be employed and have annual income above the poverty threshold. You go to the C&P exam. The VARO reviews the findings and proposes reducing you to 70%. You could then argue that you work in a protected work environment which is classified as "marginal employment" under §4.16(a) and CCK's precedential ruling. The VA could then approve you for 100% TDIU given the circumstances. The odd thing is you are back to where you were initially percentage-wise and financially. If they do propose to reduce, it might be worth it to take this approach and try to convince the VA that they could potentially be going through a lot of effort for nothing. Once the VA officially defines "protected work environment", hopefully it will clarify things.
  9. 4 points
    I filed my first VA claim in 2013. Most of the claim was denied however I did receive a 20%sc which shortly after changed to 40% after they ruled on another item that had earlier been deferred. I immediately filed an appeal and shortly thereafter another claim for new conditions. The new claim was completely denied and I immediately filed a second appeal. Hoping I would win one appeal and be able to reach a 70%sc and qualify for TDIU I went ahead and applied for TDIU even though I was still just 40%. I figured I might at least be able to get an earlier effective date if approved. It too was denied. I filed a third appeal. So for about 6 years I’ve watched 3 separate appeals work their way through the system and when the first one got to The Board they also addressed the other 2 appeals at the same time. I won all three of my appeals and I am now 90%sc/w TDIU paid at the 100% rate and my letter says it’s Permanent & Total. This is a huge life changer. Never give up the fight.
  10. 4 points
    For those looking at buying another home. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, when the new law takes effect, the VA will not cap the size of a loan a veteran can get, paving the way for veterans to buy higher-value homes. The other change that comes with the new law will affect fees for some veterans. VA charges most veterans a "funding fee" when a VA loan is issued. Veterans receiving any VA disability benefits are exempt from the funding fee. https://www.military.com/money/va-loans/new-law-allows-you-get-bigger-va-home-loan-without-down-payment.html
  11. 4 points
    oorah! I hope this message finds you in good spirit. And, if you're on this forum, I'm sure you have questions for which you simply won't find the exact answer to until your claim is complete. Every claim is different and you have your own unique circumstances. You may have the same condition as another veteran who was denied and your claim may be granted. Or, you may be denied while another veteran's claim is granted. Situation dictates. So, don't believe the hype. Stay motivated! Drink water and exercise your mind and body. And, even if you're denied the VA will give you instructions on what you need to do in order to get your claim granted. Here's my story: For years (about 10) I totally disregarded submitting a claim to VA for a number a different reasons. Eventually, I did. I claimed everything that's sore and I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I figured the worse thing these guys could say is "No." I didn't write any statements- because I did't know anything about them- no C&P exams, no follow-up phone calls, no VSO, just got the VA form and filled in the blanks.....and, almost a year later, I found it in an old backpack... crumbled and dirty. 1 month before a full year expired, unbeknownst to me, I called VA again to request another sheet. Eventually (8-10 months later) I reluctantly mailed in a claim with written statements and medical records to support. I did my best to paint a clear picture and give the full story of my circumstances. It paid off because, this time I was afforded C&P exams and was awarded 40% for one condition. As for the other condition(s), let's just say we had a "faulty operator." So, I requested another C&P exam because, in short, the first one was penfkd. To my surprise, the VA agreed and offered me another C&P exam with a "more credible" doctor. And, let's just say this particular doctor takes pride in serving veterans. The doc has opined that my condition was "more likely than not aggravated by in-service events" and is "not expected to improve." If I were a gambling man, I'd bet my claim is granted. But, I don't like to gamble. Yet, I've been frantically calling the 800#, anticipating someone will just say "Yeah, xxxxxxx, you're good to go. You should see a deposit any minute now." But, it doesn't work like that, does it? I get a different freaking story every time I call. But, one thing they can agree on is this: A decision has been made on my claim but, it needs secondary signature approval. Whatever that means.. Remember, when you submit a claim: Paint a clear picture Give as much evidence as possible Follow-up Request a C&P exam if you are not offered one (Keep notes) Follow-up Win Sep 2015- Intent to file (phone call) Aug 2016- Intent to file (phone call) June 2017- Mailed in claim Aug 2017- C&P exam Sep 2017- Claim granted/ others pending Oct 2017- 1st check and retro pay (back dated to Sep 2015/effective date) Nov 2017- C&P exam Dec 2017- Claim denied Dec 2017- NOD Jan 2018- Opt-in RAMP Feb 2018- Claim moved to RAMP Feb 2018- Requested Higher Level Review Mar 2018- Claim denied Apr 2018- NOD/ Requested Supplemental Review and second C&P exam Apr 2019- Second C&P exam May 2019- Claim is awaiting secondary signature approval ~I'm sure you're wondering "WHAT ARE YOUR CONDITIONS?" Lumbosacral Strain- 40% Bilateral Pes Planus- Pending Bilateral Foot Condition- Pending TDIU- Pending ~ I'll keep you posted. And, best of luck to all of you on the paper trail. Stay motivated! oorah!
  12. 4 points
    Paul is right about needing a space where you can come after you have had defeat or a win. I know my wife gets sick and tired of me talking about my fight with the VA. For her all she sees is me spending a bunch of time not doing things with her in her mind productive things. At the end of the day for me this is a personal fight as I have had my health taken from me. I am also doing this, because in 5-10 years there is no way I will have the energy to fight this hard. My wife told me for years I would never get to 50% and now we are looking at 100%. She sometimes understands how bad it is, but I am pretty good at hiding the pain most days. I will say it has changed a bunch around here now that we have been this far down the road. I think she is finally understanding I have limitations. She is also very supportive of my issues. I just don't want to always weigh her down with my crap. As for this site is great to come here and see I am not alone, and there are those who are where I was at and other who are where I want to land. I am glad I can give back some of my experience to make someone else's life easier! Remember we make up less than 1% of the USA. We have a unique bond and we all support each other. I also find it a blessing there are those out there who have never fought in a war who are willing to fight (for years) through a court case to help us be able to take care of ourselves! Thank you to all of those who help us here without any knowledge of getting paid at the end of the day. It would be very hard to work knowing there was a chance to never get paid and to put so many hours into a persons case. My hats off to you and keep up the fight!
  13. 4 points
    https://www.informnny.com/news/blue-water-navy-vietnam-veterans-act-passes-house-of-representatives/2003742731 Maybe there will be no need for the Secretary to pursue fighting the Procopio decision........ This is Big news but all I have so far........
  14. 4 points
    I got my retro today.it was three days after closing.Now can plan for daughters college in two years.
  15. 4 points
    First and foremost, it would always behoove you to write out support of claim statements for each and every contention that you are filing a claim. Make sure to bring a copy of this with you to your exam. It would be highly intelligent to have any paperwork that would be critical for your examiner to have pertaining to your claim on hand with you when at your exam. Case in point, when I went for my sleep apnea exam, my examiner stated that they couldn't find the sleep study. I knew that it was in VBMS (the system that stores all documents and the system that VSRs and RVSRs aka raters use to process claims) as the VA not only sent me out for the sleep study to a third party, but I also submitted the results as part of my evidence that I was building and submitting for my sleep apnea claim. However, there was no issue because I simply handed her a copy of my sleep study because I had it on hand. I literally had a thumb drive with all x rays, MRI images, radiology reports, C File, buddy statements, support of claims etc, and paper copies of any relevant information that could potentially be asked for. For hearing loss and tinnitus exams, know what can and won't give your statement more probative value. Yes, your MOS/Rate will be taken into account. So will combat. If you can prove via DD 214 i.e. Combat Action Bage, Combat Infantry Badge, Combat Medic Badge, Purple Heart..........you get the idea, they are awards that can concede combat exposure. This gives more probative value to any of your statements made concerning hearing loss. However, keep in mind, with regards to hearing loss, they primarily look at audiograms.............entrance and exit audiograms, and any audiograms that you provide up to 12 months after service..........much beyond that, one can't likely connect that to service. If one shoots guns recreationally, rides a motorcycle to work, uses power tools regularly etc, this also throws other factors into the equation that could affect hearing loss. For tinnitus............if you are claiming tinnitus, I honestly don't know why one would show up to the exam and say that their ears aren't ringing, but it happens all of the time. Another common phenomenon is that people didn't complain about it in service or go to get treated for it (there is no treatment really for it other than trying lipoflavinoids or newer hearing aids that can block it out via white noise.) However, there is one little-known thing about tinnitus......it is essentially the only illness that a Veteran can actually diagnose themselves. Here is the most important manual reference for tinnitus claims.............it clearly says that you do not need a diagnosis of tinnitus in service so long as you provide a competent lay statement indicating that you had it while in service AND you get it diagnosed later on (hint hint........get an exam done privately.) III.iv.4.D.3.b. Requesting Medical Opinions for Tinnitus A medical opinion is not required to establish direct SC for claimed tinnitus if STRs document the original complaints and/or diagnosis of tinnitus there is current medical evidence of a diagnosis of tinnitus or the Veteran competently and credibly reports current tinnitus, and the Veteran claims continuity of tinnitus since service or there are records or other competent and credible evidence of continuity of tinnitus diagnosis or symptomatology. Exception: An opinion may be necessary in the fact pattern above if evidence suggests a superseding post-service cause of current tinnitus. A tinnitus examination may also be necessary if the STRs do not document tinnitus but there is evidence establishing noise exposure or another in-service event, injury, or disease (for example ear infections, use of ototoxic medication, head injury, barotrauma, or other tympanic trauma) that is medically accepted as a potential cause of tinnitus, and there is a competent diagnosis or competent report of current tinnitus. Notes: Under Jandreau v. Nicholson, 492 F.3d. 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2007), a layperson may provide a competent diagnosis of a condition when a layperson is competent to identify a medical condition. Tinnitus is a medical condition that a layperson is competent to identify in himself/herself because the condition is defined by what the person experiences or perceives – namely subjective perception of sounds in his/her own ear(s) or head. Therefore, a layperson may establish the diagnosis of tinnitus at any point in time from service to present. However, consider credibility and weight of the evidence in deciding whether to accept lay testimony as proving tinnitus in service or presently. The Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Disability Benefits Questionnaire tinnitus-only examination includes a number of options for examiner opinions on etiology. The examination may be conducted by an audiologist or non-audiologist clinician. Only ask the audiologist to offer an opinion about the association to hearing loss if hearing loss is concurrently claimed or already SC. Know the Disability Ratings before you go into the exam. You will want to check out this website: https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/38/part-4/subpart-B 38 CFR Subpart B For instance, if you have any issues with bones/joints etc, you will want to check out this: https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/38/4.71 and https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/38/4.71a Know the politics.................. There are some good posts on here about PTSD exams, and I agree with most of what has been said. I must add on to some of it, and some of it is very very crucial. We are Veterans.....that is why we are here. Generally speaking, most of us are going to be politically conservative. Guess what, most psychiatrists and psychologists do not tend to be. Statistically speaking, of all of the MDs (yes, a psychiatrist is an MD), psychiatrists are the most politically liberal (left) of all MD fields whereas surgeons are the polar opposite. Guess what might not be a good idea to do in exams? You guessed it.........bring up politics. In fact, I would suggest that going in there acting like a hard ass would not bode well for you. If you walk in there wearing a MAGA hat, you might want to consider writing up your appeal later that evening. If it is a female examiner (and you're a male), I would suggest not grimacing at them during your mental health/PTSD exam. I would suggest not trying to play the examiners; sure, you can roll the dice and try some of the advice about talking about wanting to kill people all of the time and acting super hypervigilant in the room and making sure to sit where you can clearly monitor all exits etc, but I suspect that most of these examiners see 5-8 people a day and have become very astute on picking up on the bull shit artists and won't think twice about drawing a line through your name rather than under it. I would suggest being truthful.......that doesn't mean that you can't elaborate on your worst experiences pertaining to the questions that are asked, but I wouldn't recommend lying or exaggerating. I certainly wouldn't recommend lying about anything pertaining to your military record either, as while the examiner might be none the wiser, the raters reviewing it are more likely than not Veterans are thoroughly adept at combing through military records i.e. don't tell the examiner that you were an Army Ranger when you were a chaplain assistant.
  16. 4 points
    I am a Veteran Service Representative for the Dept of Veterans Affairs for compensation on the rating side. For those unfamiliar with my job, there are two key figures processing compensation claims. RVSRs (raters) and VSRs; they do the medical side and we do the administrative side. Essentially my job is to do everything but rate the claims. I have seen some on here disputing the merits of DBQs. That being said, I think that is foolish to advocate that DBQ's for musculoskeletal exams are the only worthwhile DBQs to submit. One very worthwhile one to submit is Sleep Apnea. Yes, the VA will do it for free, but if you have a decent insurance policy, you can get DBQs done for a $25 co-pay w/ a medical opinion. I get that that not everyone has good medical insurance and that that is a disadvantage for some, but for those that do have it, that is one course of action to take. One might make an argument that you could even essentially write up a medical opinion and save them the legwork and have them edit it to their liking...........don't like the opinion........go to the next doctor and only submit the ones that are favorable to you. If you want to really cement your claim, get cross disciplines to and do multiple DBQs i.e. have an orthopedic surgeon and a podiatrist do foot and ankle DBQs and medical opinions. Have a chiropractor and an orthopedic surgeon do your knees, back, neck, hips, shoulders. Want to get sleep apnea, well, get a handful of "buddy statements" from people that you served with on active duty written on 21-4138 forms so that they become affidavits if you have no complaints/treatments/sleep study while on ACTIVE DUTY, submit them so they become part of your "C-file", see a sleep specialist for a sleep apnea DBQ, get a medical opinion for direct service connectedness...........make sure that he sees the buddy statements.........if you legitimately had sleep apnea in service, your buddies will make adequate statements. Then, if you have PTSD, see a psychologist and try to get sleep apnea secondary to PTSD. Double whammy. Lots of studies out there to corroborate that. Make sure that you have your C-file. Doctors filling out DBQs are supposed to have access to your C-file to adequately make a medical opinion. If you don't care about the medical opinion, then don't worry about it. For presumptive issues such as gulf war i.e. chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal, I wouldn't even bother trying to get a medical opinion as it will not carry much weight. Again, DBQs accompanied by medical opinions, especially in number, are in your favor for getting a favorable decision. Don't like the PTSD rating that you just got last month............go right away and get a PTSD Review DBQ and Medical Opinion by a Psychiatrist, Ph.D. Psychologist or a Psychologist under a Ph.D. psychologist. Learn about the M 21-2 references.............google is your friend. Learn about the rating references...........google is your friend.............. Don't want your claim held up............take your damn time when filling out all of your paperwork and make sure everything is filled out completely and send us everything from the get-go. I would suggest doing an intent to file call the 1800 827 1000 number, fax in a 21-0966 form etc. That way everything will be back paid to whenever we receive that. Take your time filling everything out. If you want to claim dependents, have a 686c form filled out............every damn line that is there fill out.........don't have the information........get it.........I am guessing that you can get it quicker than 15-30 days, so get it. Have birth certificates of your kids and marriage certificate for your wife. We don't need social security cards....just numbers. Have records from private doctors scanned and ready to submit. If you have copies of your Service treatment records, DD 214's, OMPF (Personnel FIle) scan them and have them ready to submit (we still have to send out for them, but if we can't retrieve them, then we have them there ready to use as a last resort. If you are wanting to claim aid and attendance, have those forms scanned and ready to submit. Wanting to claim PTSD, have a 0781 or 0781/a scanned and ready to submit unless you were in combat and it is easily verified. Wanting to claim IU, have an 8940 and 4192 filled out and scanned ready to submit. I would also suggest making a brief (5-6 sentences at most) statement on a 21-4138 for each contention you are claiming; be specific with what you are claiming.............don't say foot pain..........be more specific i.e. pes plan (flat foot)..........when did it start.......was an injury involved.........where did you initially get treated..........where have you continued to get treated............etc... When filling out the 526ez be specific............ especially if you were in the reserves or the guard..........tell us the name of unit you were with, current address and contact information. If you have a line of duty reports (again, guard and reserves) better believe that you should submit those. It pays to take your time. You will be more likely to have a quicker turn around if you take your time and do everything completely. If you don't like your rating, don't appeal it right away...........that should be the last resort. Send it new and material (relevant) information. Do not get disheartened. For direct service connected exams, we can generally only send you out for exams if there is a complaint/treatment/injury in your service treatment records for a contention that you are making. Secondary connected issues are different. This is why it is highly intelligent for anyone wanting to file a claim to actually be in possession of their service treatment records BEFORE filing for a claim. It would also be intelligent to have a copy of your Personnel records which you can actually get off of DPRIS which can be accessed via va.gov or e-benefits if you got out of the service within the last twenty or so years. If not, I would recommend downloading an SF 180 form and sending it out.........hopefully the government shutdown won't slow it down too much. Once you have all of that done, sit back, relax and have a cold one. Believe it or not, people sending out original claims (first time claims) that have everything put together and in which the claims are not overly complex i.e. 35+ contentions w/ aid and attendance, IU, 4142/4142a etc ad nauseum, are actually having exams ordered for them within 2-3 weeks of the claim being received. Best of luck.
  17. 4 points
    My own BVA appeal was granted on several issues back on October 31st, with two small remanded conditions. Waited until mid-December to call to check on the status with Peggy, and was told that my appeal was back at the Houston VARO, and they had no further information from there. I’m at 80%, so I’m still good during the wait for the remaining granted conditions and retro, but I also feel the aggravation that others feel knowing that initial claims have been ripening on the vines for years, only to sit for a few more AFTER the BVA grants awards. If you want to watch for the pot to boil though, set up a VA.gov account and you can access your “place in line” while you wait for your appeal, along with the VA’s guess on how many appeals are in the VA system, something like 179K today. They seem to update it after every work day, and for some reason, there is even a small update on Saturday afternoons. My place in line numbers only change like 50-100 per day, but I’m hoping that this has only been a slow down because of the holidays, and that next week things will begin to move quicker. I would figure that between the AMC and all of the VARO’s working on appeals that they could get veterans and their grants/remands taken care of much more effectively. Good luck to you all, and have have a safe and healthy New Year! Mark
  18. 3 points
    Geeky gave the best explanation of TDIU, SMC's, and the options you probably will ever see.. Save it and use it to explore further on what you can or will do. And as Shrek said you really have to look into the future. You are a young veteran but someday, some new secondary conditions are more than likely going to show up. Put in the disability claims as they come up. If you earned compensation for a disability go and get it; you already have paid for it.
  19. 3 points
    VSO's are known to routinely say this and some veterans repeat it. It is based on the reality that indeed until you are P&T and have passed some milestones the VA can change your rating. It is not until you have been rated for 20 years that the only way to reverse is if YOU defrauded the VA. That said, ignore those naysayers. By default everyone here believes you told the VA the full truth about your conditions. Based on doing that you really have a limited chance to be reversed. IT is a hard thing for VA to approve. TD/IU are actually two different things. We refer to them in a shorthand as TDIU which implies they are joined. IU can be transitory in the overall. For example if you have a physical condition that the appropriate equipment can help you overcome the inability to work comes on the market you MIGHT get full time job and keep it for more than a year (which is the baseline measure the VA must use to roll back IU). The same holds for MH conditions. With proper training, the theory is you can get better and sustain employment. Going to school DOES NOT preclude you from getting or being on IU. The VA will argue and many veterans will tell you different but the facts are not on their side and you can search the BVA cases to find those that support the position that going to school is NOT proof that you can sustain a job in a permanent way. -------- Let me be clear, if you are currently unable to work due to your service connected issues then do file for TD/IU or file for an increase with is also considered a claim for TD/IU or at least is supposed to be. If you get bumped to Schedular, then you are golden. There is no more of the tracking of your income or employment that happens with TD/IU. you can work all you want as 100% schedular no matter what your service connected ratings are for. If you do get bumped to TD/IU DON"T STOP training or college. Once you complete the training / school and get a permanent job. Then you have to hold that job for at least 1 year to have your TD/IU status downgraded, and frankly at that point it would be legally right for that to happen. Don't let VocRehab tell you that they have to stop your training. They don't and if they try you will then file a NOD against that decision. As far as I know, they cannot stop your training while an appeal is in process. You can take this claim all the way to the CAVC or First Appeals Court. which should give you the time to finish, get a job and prove or disprove your ability to keep a job. SMC(s) has two forms, the first is Statutory and second is physically being limited to your home. you don't state which you have. You can get SMC(s) on TDIU. Statutory means you have a single 100% rating (including TDIU) and a separate set of ratings, not related to the body systems of the 100% rating, that amount to 60%. If you have Statutory SMC(s) and a 100% Schedular rating working is not a problem. If your SMC(s) is based on being actually housebound then working outside the house is a problem, but tele-work/remote work/independent work that does not require you to leave home should not be a problem. you will have to seriously document those exceptions to keep the SMC(s) based on physical limitations of housebound. TD/IU however means you can only earn up to the poverty level income for a single person that year (and no it does not matter if you are married or have dependents for that particular limitation). With TD/IU your income will be monitored. If you complete VocRehab and get a job you will have a year to prove you can substantially maintain employment before they reverse your TD/IU award. In that time you might and I only mean might, need to file for increases which could bring you to 100% Schedular which moots your TDIU as long as that mooting won't affect your SMC(s). If mooting TD/IU or bumping you to 100% Schedular reduces your SMC(s) then the VA is supposed to leave you as TD/IU to maximize your VA compensation. This could become a problem if you complete VocRehab and get a full time job that pays more than poverty level wages.
  20. 3 points
    I have jumped the gun before and someone other than me could have helped. I will in the future ask for help!
  21. 3 points
    Well I choose the informal route did want to wait for transcripts of hearing. Me an dro talk for 2 hrs beening send back for 3 comp exam told they be done by next week yea right lol I think I got the smc for my hand When I ask if I will be getting my benfits he said u sure didn't need vso. An smile I feel good Told decision should be done 60days Last I call white house hot line over my issue dro told they got to get my case done so we will see.
  22. 3 points
    But even if you were allowed to continue driving, should you? If you are loosing consciousness don't drive!
  23. 3 points
    what state are you in? The reason I ask is each state has separate resources for homeless or near homeless veterans Shrek is right, the do move quicker when a child is involved. Besides calling the White House and your Congress-people, contact your State Veterans Administration tell them you are on the verge of being homeless ASAP.
  24. 3 points
    I would say anything you can show to give them the clearest picture of how bad your condition is.
  25. 3 points
    In May 2019 I submitted a new claim for 6516 Chronic Laryngitis with Dysphonia The C/ exam was on 28 June , I knew when I saw the C/P exam on Monday 1 July that I had won the claim, ( its listed on ebenefits as of yesterday as being rated 10% ) and I also knew that I was going to have to appeal it because the darn examiner did not indicated that I can only whisper.... without a whisper the two conditions are rated 10% with the whisper they are rated separately at 10 & 60%.... This new system is quicker I cannot deny this.. but they are making stupid mistakes which requires more work on the veteran and it will be years before the proper rating is awarded. since 2016 I have acquired 4 new ratings 50%, 40% 10% 10% combined to 80%.. . ( rounded up from 75.7) prior to that I have additional ratings of 60% , 30%, 10% , 10% , 10% , 10 % 10% .. combined @ 80% ( rounded down from 83.4) Combined all the above ratings come to 95.53 ( but the calculator won't add in the last 10% rating) I also have a separate rating of 100%. I have been working on getting all my issues service connected and while I win, I end up having to fight for every award.... In my case I am rated 100% and I have A&A @ L 1/2 and a K award ... already... But I have been working on getting more ratings to get a higher SMC... ( which has not paid off ) . What really makes the system stink is that I am only being compensated for the separate 100% rating ..and A&A plus 50% .... which means I have another 100% but I don't get credit for it at all The rating system sucks because as I mentioned in other postings , three of my ratings 100%, 60% and 50% are all combined into one rating because they are for respiratory diseases. I also have an award of TDIU that was not revoked when I was rated 100%..... It really stinks that I literally have two 100% ratings and a TDIU rating and it doesn't help in getting any more compensation other than the 1/2 step increase in A&A.... The VA rating system is not a fair system.... because in my case I am not being compensated for my total disabilities as apposed to the separate 100% rating.... but I know I am preaching to the choir..... anyway... its nice that did get a new win... Added: I forgot I also have Four 0% ratings... Darn the Military really missed up my body.....
  26. 3 points
    A couple of months ago, my VSO helped me file a 21-526EZ form for my heart attack. I had the heart C&P, but did not receive a decision letter. I called the VA and they were looking into it. I finally get a letter in the mail from the VA: Hmm... I decided to call 1-800 and ask them what they were thinking because I filed for a "new" claim for a heart attack, but did not request review of my old AFib claim. The VA call center agent reviewed the letter and said they screwed up. He sent an IRIS request to the appropriate department asking them to reopen the claim and complete it properly. We discussed the presumption of regularity and he actually knew what it was. He could not find evidence of a decision letter being mailed, despite the claim showing as closed in their system. Because of this, he said if I had additional information to include, I could send it on the usual 21-4138 Statement in support of claim instead of 20-0995 Supplemental claim form.
  27. 3 points
    VA Press release minutes ago July 5, 2019, 03:45:00 PM This link has all the AO presumptives and reiterates the 12 mile limit info I already posted in this forum https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5280 The note here they added might mean they are adding more ships to the AO ships list. "For more information about Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam waters (Blue Water Navy Veterans), visit https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/agent-orange/vietnam-waters/. The updated web links will be live at 4 p.m. EST. Please disregard the content prior to the update." I cant access that link yet to see what the update is. Obviously the regulations will be shaped by HR 299- noo word on Nehmer yet but as soon as I find out, will post that info here.
  28. 3 points
    Indeed! I'm 100% P&T and am not giving up on the additional claims I filed recently. I'm under 55 years of age, so having the extra protection against downgrade can be beneficial in the meantime. Additionally, it's a moral imperative to make sure the government doesn't take advantage of my lack of knowledge of the claims system, like they did in the 1990's.
  29. 3 points
    Paul, your wife doesn't know my wife does she? They been talking?
  30. 3 points
    Now its a new waiting game for them to finish up the rating and back pay (I am thinking positive).
  31. 3 points
    It is referring to an EP 020 which is defined here https://www.knowva.ebenefits.va.gov/system/templates/selfservice/va_ssnew/help/customer/locale/en-US/portal/554400000001018/content/554400000011474/Appendix-B.-End-Product-Codes-and-Work-Rate-Standards-for-Quantitative-Measurements The EP stands for End Product and the 020 means General: EP 020 applies to disability compensation or service-connected death claims received after an initial eligibility decision has been made. Unless otherwise noted, the EP will not be cleared until all issues raised by the claim have been resolved. so yes your claim for increase seems to be about to be entered into the system, and considering your dates of submission and the word promulgation in that status line, it suggests that somewhere up the line a decision is pending. but again call Peggy to find out more specifically and let us know what they say.
  32. 3 points
    vetquest I would keep calling them and asking when will this be resolved. I would also call at different times of the day since they are a 24 hour operation. When I was having problems getting an answer I actually spoke with a supervisor who elevated the request at the other end asking for a response. Now mine was about a claim but I did get a response within a few days after that call.
  33. 3 points
    The pyramiding rule applies here. The VA would evaluate you for each disability, but would grant you single highest the percentage of them. It is very helpful to read the rating criteria for each disability because one might worsen and you might be able to request an increased rating, which could in turn increase your rating. If the disability, or the medication the VA prescribes to treat it, causes a secondary disability, you could also file a claim for that. For example, I have chronic asthma and took inhaled steroids since I was in the service. Last year I was diagnosed with Cushing's and filed a claim for secondary service connection. One important thing is to read the entire section of the rating criteria, not just the specific disability. Some diagnostic codes (DC's) might be considered under pyramiding while others might not.
  34. 3 points
    I had called the 800 on a HLR that had not shown up in eBenefits or Vets.gov, the person told me she could see it in the intake but she said the VA is supposed to under the new procedures get them into the system with 2 weeks. I would ask the DAV how they submitted your HLR and when they did. vetquest is so right, the VA is creating a single point of failure. The VA needs several intake centers to handle the workload.
  35. 3 points
    Mover 1993. It took almost 90 days from the time my case was faxed in until it showed on Vets.gov. It seems that one central office for all claims is creating a backlog.
  36. 3 points
    Take it to the Barney level so they can’t miss it.
  37. 3 points
    The VA might be supposed to be working in the veteran's best interests and applied SMC to my case without my asking but I do not see them looking into the side effects of medication. One of my medications that I used to take caused cognitive dysfunction but they never looked at that. I would spell it out for them if it was me.
  38. 3 points
    Yes. For one of my three original injuries, I had to be prescribe meds, and the nurse practitioner created a secondary 100% that was far worst then the original 40%. This is why I tell everyone to get out of the VA system because they are the bottom of the barrel, who can lie (I just graduated from med school and the private sector knows how bad of a screw up I am and better apply to the VA because they're hiring--hey facebook i got hired even though I was at the bottom of my class from a 4th tier medical school), poison you to you're a vegetable, and get away with it because they don't have to be insured like private medical professionals. VA is the idiot mechanic that put diesel motor oil in your car's transmission, oil is oil right. This is why I got that IMO from Dr. Anaise and one from a local orthopedic surgeon (currently pending to receive in two weeks and will post in the IMO section.)
  39. 3 points
    I agree fully with broncovet and paulstrgn. If you are a citizen you have rights. If you are not a citizen and get into trouble it could turn out bad for you, like deportation.
  40. 3 points
    Why not skip the HLR and go straight to the NOD at the BVA? It's just as fast as the HLR and you get real lawyers looking at it-not illiterate GS=10 VSRs. Without new and material evidence to submit to change the decision (assuming no CUE) in a HLR, you might as well go straight to DC. If you lose, the Judge will tell you why and you can turn around and go back to the supplemental lane and submit more evidence to win with. You still keep your effective filing date too.
  41. 3 points
    Do not miss this exam. A missed exam is reason for denial or reduction.
  42. 3 points
    If you have medical records, xrays, mri's, etc. that show the progression of your injuries, I would bring COPIES, not the originals , with me. Kind of late now, but you could have gotten an additional exam/ eval and a dbq from a civilian doctor as well. If you already submitted all the stuff that you bring next week with your claim, ask the examiner if they have the info and he looked at it, OR, would they like to see what you brought now. You have a lot going on and what I would do is to make sure the examiner has all the medical records he needs to make a decision. Don't push it on him; just offer it because you want to assist them in doing a thorough job.Ask them politely when/how you can get a copy of the exam as well. Remember, don't try to push thru the pain during the exam; try to relate how you act on your WORSE day. Lastly, try to work into the conversation how bad it is, and how it is extremely difficult to work now, never mind 5-10 years from now. I would be good to get positive comments from the examiner about your future unemployability. Think future TDIU. I think your mind set should be positive, but unless you are really lucky and most people submitting claims are not lucky, you should be thinking that you are probably going to submit a NOD because they are going to low-ball you on your claim. Hope I am wrong, but...
  43. 3 points
    Thank God for TDIU. I had my claim for sleep apnea secondary to asthma accepted 3 weeks ago and was awarded a bump from 30% to 50% which brought my overall 80% up to 90%, with that small raise in pay. Today, VA.gov said this
  44. 3 points
    If and when I get to 100% P&T I will keep adding to my claim. Most everything I have is secondary to my back. I have a SA and hypertension claim pending with the BVA (in my opinion it should be approved but we will see). If my hypertension is approved (even at 0%) that will be fine, I have the feeling I will go from a stroke or heart attack and those I will be able to link to hypertension. I want my wife to be able to get DIC when I go so I will keep adding on until I either have 100% P&T 10 years or or one of the other issues I have. After all I don't think I am going to die from my back or nerve issues! I believe you should always add to you VA disabilities, plus who knows you might get an SMC from it. JMO
  45. 3 points
    I do not read or react to profile posts- I dont have time-
  46. 3 points
    Well, sir. Imagine this scenario. I get to work at 0800. Sometimes I have to get up and call VA raters and DROs and ask them why they screwed my Vet(s). If they're in St. Pete's, I have to get up at 0500 to call them. I also get calls from them answering my emails. I have to write legal briefs for upcoming travel board hearings before VLJs. I don't have any office staff to do it. Even if I did, I'd still be researching a claim-sometimes on Westlaw which costs me $59 a minute to access. Many big outfits use paralegals (unaccredited) to do intake and communicate with the Vet. It's not that we don't want to talk but that it isn't always feasible. I keep my caseload down to about 100 and it still eats all my time. And yes. I talk to every one of my clients if they call unless I'm with another Vet -but I'm the rare exception. If your atty. is winning your claims and they are very difficult, then 33% is a bargain. I won a Vet $188 K a year or two ago. He was pissed I got $37 K. That was 20%. If I'd lost, I would have gotten 20% of zero dollars even if I had worked my butt off. He still got $151 K but feels like I screwed him. That's the down side to helping anyone. Murphy's first law is " No good deed goes unpunished." As most know, I generally take those funds to offset the cost of helping other Vets for free... There are good attys and bad ones. Too bad they don't have Win/ Loss records!
  47. 3 points
    I will first say that I have hired a lawyer three times in my life and been royally trounced two times. I lost many thousands of dollars at my medical board due to my lawyer. The third time is when I hired a lawyer at the BVA. He was able to shake some things loose for me and get things going more than once. I believe he earned his pay for nothing other than explaining the system to me. Once my claim was completed and he got paid he told the RO not to send my remand decision back to the board for final approval. I was perplexed by this and fired him and requested my case be sent back which was the right decision. What I have learned by dealing with lawyers is that you are the best advocate for your case. Interview any lawyer you are thinking on hiring and try to ascertain what makes them tick and then stay on top of them. If I had to do it all over again I would have hired the lawyer I hired again. I guess one out of three is not too bad when dealing with lawyers.
  48. 3 points
    OldSoldier. Broncovet is dead on. The process has gotten easier, especially if you have all of your ducks in a row. You should look at the SMC and see which area first your circumstances the best. From what has recently happened to me, it is dropping the 5 star evidence and then a C&P is done. Took about 20 minutes. As for the fight it does not get easier, and it does suck to have to fight them so much. It feel like a handout, for whatever reason we went in healthy and did not leave the same way. There is a reason that soldiers have such a high disability rate. There is a reason GULF WAR VETS have 5 presumptive conditions which one or two of them can cover hundreds of conditions. Also remember you part of the 1% of those in our country that will see war have probably see some awful things, which other Americans will never see. So fight for what was taken from you! We are all here to help our sisters and brothers!
  49. 3 points
    @acesup I was previously in the same boat. My DRO appeal was granted on July 31, 2018. I learned the hard way that White House phone calls and Congressional Inquiries don’t work. Last month (February), I called the VA 1-800 # like I did everyday, three times a day. And the representative said she would give me the number to the VA liaison for my regional office which is Baltimore. Long story short, her office was directly across from the person who oversees the entire appeals Dept. The liaison took action on my behalf and was quite upset about the whole ordeal. My claim was closed the very next day and money in my account three days later.
  50. 3 points
    I have joined !!!! Hamslice
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