Senior Chief Petty Officer
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MarkInTexas last won the day on February 26

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About MarkInTexas

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    E-7 Chief Petty Officer

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  • Location
    East Texas
  • Interests
    Genealogy; History; Family, Country Living

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  • Service Connected Disability
  • Branch of Service
    Air Force
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  1. Gastone, Actually I had begun compiling a list of attorney's that everybody was suggesting on here, when I got my first call from the VARO about my FOIA requests. Then next thing I know the VSO is calling to work up the 646. I was all set to pick up my search again after helping him complete that part (figuring that all this costed me was a week of time), and that I could hire an attorney at any point after that. That's why I followed his advice and asked for a DRO hearing, figuring that it would take a while as well. But after standing my ground with the VARO about the FOIA's and the DRO Hearing (instead of cancelling to move straight to the BVA), I suddenly now find myself in a hearing in less than a month from now. I figure I'll use the VSO to ride that one out, and then if things don't work out and I can't get anything reversed or increased, I'll still have plenty of time to retain an attorney for the BVA. I'm scared of telling them to hold off and reschedule, after going to light speed for a DRO Hearing within three days of being told that it could take months to years. Good move? Bad move? Thelma & Louise driving off a cliff move? Mark
  2. Gastone, Thanks for the quick response. No, this has occurred over the past few weeks. I requested the DRO hearing in late March and got the letter dated April 26th. The actual hearing, according to the letter, is set for June 6th. Should be a great deal of retro, since I'm still waiting on claims from 2010, although I've been service-connected and paid out at 20% thus far. Thanks! Mark
  3. Ok folks, In the midst of researching attorneys to replace my VSO, I got a call from the VSO who was working/not working on my claims. He wanted to get a few more details to work up his Form 646. After a week of speaking back and forth with him, he came to the conclusion that the VA had not reviewed several medical reports, including some of my active duty USAF medical records. (If the VSO would have woke up years ago, and saw that, maybe I would not have had to scream from the mountain tops for the past few years.) I know that it has been my fault all along though for keeping the VSO there. Meanwhile, I get a call from the Houston VARO, who wants to discuss a couple of my FOIA requests for the curriculum vitae of the C&P nurse practitioner and family practice doctor (who from a Google search is actually a Family Practice guy who specializes in collagen and beauty cream treatments in Florida.) They also wanted to discuss my FOIA request for the complete bloodwork lab results and x-ray reports from my last QTC C&P examination (with the collagen guy). The thing they wanted to "discuss" is that they can't seem to obtain the curriculum vitae for either medical practitioner, one from Veterans Evaluation Services and the other the QTC Collagen King. They also wanted to discuss that they can't seem to find the bloodwork lab results, nor the x-rays (and x-ray report), which were all done at the same QTC location near Fort Polk, Louisiana at the same time as the C&P, even though "some of the information" is actually described in the C&P report, which was half completed, with no "rationale" filled in, and excerpts of my time in the Army, although I have never served in the Army, and have always been USAF riff raff. Meanwhile, my VSO guy calls back and says that he will send me my Form 646, and recommended a DRO hearing, and that I request one in writing, so I did. I'm also still kicking myself for still riding this VSO wave, when I should have pulled the ripcord and hired an attorney early on as about 90% of you recommended (and I'm still looking into it). I send one to Janesville in writing. I wait. I wait. I wait. Then I take a chance and call the Houston VARO back and request an update on everything. They tell me they will call me back. I wait. I wait. Then, they do call back and let me know they are still having trouble retrieving records, but that they received my request for a DRO hearing, and that they will forward the request on, warning me that it could be a year or more, and that they are still having hearings from requests from cases filed in 2008. I tell them that I filed mine in 2010, but I'll keep riding the wave. While this is happening, I get a letter from the VA stating that they have addressed one outstanding NOD regarding my dependents, siding with me. So I go back to waiting on the DRO Hearing notice. I wait. I wait. I wait. Then I call back. They say that the hearing request has been submitted, but cautioned that the wait time is still tremendous, and that if I wanted to, I could let them know that I would waive the hearing, and they would get me back on track for the BVA certification, which is still forever away also. I thought it over for about 5 seconds, and said no, I think I'll stand by my DRO hearing request. They seemed disappointed, and once again cautioned it could take months to years. I said it's already been like six and a half, so let the dice keep rolling. We parted ways with them saying that they would let "them" know that I still wanted a hearing, and that I could call back in a few months to check out the status of the request. I said thanks, and they gave me the usual sigh and "Thank you for your service." Such a tender moment. Then three....yes, THREE days later, I get a letter from the VA stating that a VA DRO Hearing has been scheduled for June 6th. I called the MIA VSO to ask him about the hearing, and to see what I needed. He was surprised, pulled me up on the computer, and acknowledged that he saw it too, still surprised, and advised that I need to wear a tie and show up an hour early to visit with him. I plan to be there, and will bring my medical records (hopefully orderly), and see what happens. Any advice on what to do? What not to do? What a ride! Mark
  4. Thanks, Spotz! I haven't heard of him, but I'll definitely send off an inquiry. You're right about the MIA VSO. I'm just amazed that after all of this time, that they want to pick up the ball. I did do as instructed though, and filed a request for a DRO Hearing. Reckon it can't hurt, and will buy me some time on this attorney process. The VSO's theory in this is that the VA rater is simply not reading the file. He said it happens, and the larger the file, the less they want to research, so he figures a face to face will help, and at least give it one more chance at the VARO level before heading to the BVA. Thanks again, I'll check out Doug Rosinski! Mark
  5. Thanks again, Berta and Broncovet! I have sent out inquiries to the firms mentioned, and we'll see what responses I get. Meanwhile, I got a call from my American Legion VSO yesterday to let me know he is ready to start prepping my case for the BVA if I want to continue. This is the first time I've been contacted by the AL VSO since I signed up years ago. I am the one that usually contacts them for status updates, and they didn't do anything during my case prep, nor the NOD process. Of course, admittedly I haven't asked them to throughout the process, and wasn't sure if it was their job. Now amazingly, since I started this thread I get the phone call from them. The VSO said he also recommends that I send him a 21-4138 to file with the VARO requesting a DRO hearing because he sees quite a bit of evidence that the VA rater overlooked, and feels that a hearing might solve it. I've done as instructed and shot off a request for a DRO hearing via fax to him and to Janesville this evening. He also mentioned that my x-ray and blood work lab results are missing from my C-File record from my QTC C&P examination from August, 2016, but that's a different topic for a different day I guess. Weird that a the C&P report is there, but nothing from the other testing done the same day at the same location. I'm pretty amazed that I've gone all these years hearing nothing, and within the same week that I ask for guidance on here on what to do next, the VSO comes out and says they are ready to start prepping my case. They still have my POA, and I honestly thought I'd sign on with an attorney and terminate my POA with the VSO when I found one that would take my case. I don't know about this whole DRO hearing thing, but I guess asking for it might at least buy me some time to visit with an attorney. I don't know what kind of time I'm looking at between receiving an SOC and SSOC (which still hasn't arrived in the mail yet), and when it's too late to submit evidence or terminate a VSO POA and hire an attorney. I honestly believe sometimes that God has a sense of humor. Thanks again for all your help and advice. Side note, thanks also for the information about AskNOD. I have followed his posts for a while, and bought his e-book early on when I first started this journey, and as I mentioned before, I could haven't gotten as far as I have thus far without his, and all of you folks' guidance through the years. So now on this new VSO "awakening" element, any thoughts on this new development? Mark
  6. Thanks, ShuMan! I hadn't heard of them before, but I'll definitely check them out. Thanks again! Mark
  7. Thanks for the warning on this firm, Allansc2005. I appreciate it. Mark
  8. Thanks for the input so far, y'all. Yeah, depending on the final rating, the retro would probably be pretty significant, considering that my claims go back to June, 2010 and I'm currently rated at 20% so far. Early on in this process, I read in one of he forum discussion threads when there was a debate over whether an attorney was worth it, due to the firm taking 20% or more for representation. Somebody, can't remember who they were, said something that still haunts me about continuing this on my own. When arguing the potential percentage of attorney costs, somebody said that the other individual could continue on their own and collect all of their retro, but that 100% of 0 is still 0. Reckon a legal eagle is where I need to head to. Thanks again or the input so far! Mark
  9. Thanks, Flores! Same to you! Thanks again for your service. Mark
  10. OK Folks, Been a while since I posted on here, but I've been lurking and reading. After receiving my SOC on several conditions, and being informed by the Houston VARO that they will be sending an SSOC within the week, I think it's time that I hire somebody a good bit smarter than I am, and who can navigate the BVA system. I ran the gambit myself for the most part, obtaining all of my military medical and personnel records from NPRC when the VA said they couldn't find anything, getting an IME/IMO from Dr. Ellis in Oklahoma, an IMO from Dr David Anaise in Arizona, an IMO from my oncologist of the past 18 years, and a bundle and a half of my civilian treatment records. I fought with the help of Ted Ebert of the VA to get 95 pages of medical records that belonged to other veterans out of my C-File. (First denial and first SOC contained a ton of citations of these records, some of which were before I was even born.). I still have one record from some poor Airman whose name is nowhere close to mine, who has a rough condition that they still cannot seem to remove, but at least it's only one page now....I hope. I requested and received three copies of my C-File, gettting a different number of pages each time, and always something new from my military records that they couldn't find before when they did their first rating. I went through three C&P's, with an affirmative one in 2012, and two adverse ones in 2015 (after introducing Dr. Ellis' IME/IMO) and another in 2016 (after introducing Dr. Anaise's IMO). I started all this in June, 2010, and have to say that it has been a ride, bumpy, but educational. I've filed NOD's, Form 9 Appeals and all kinds of other junk, and have learned that eBenefits has a long way to go before being truly veteran friendly. (But it is better than the old VONAPP system that I used when I first started this mess.) When I receive my SSOC in the next few days, (It should have already arrived by now, but's the VA, right?), I'll do whatever needs to be done to keep the ball moving, but old Mark is ready to let somebody else navigate. I don't mind working, submitting to more exams, blood work, x-rays, etc, but I think I need an attorney to move on. My American Legion guys, who have been friendly, etc. through it all have only really served to help me eliminate the long waits on the 1-800 number, and that's about it. And of course, the VA finally has fixed that a bit and the waits are pretty small now. So, question is, who do you folks recommend to help me from here as I enter BVA land? Thanks again for the wealth of information so far, and I have to say that I would not have gotten the much-needed 20% that I received without your advice early on in this march. Have a great weekend, and I look forward to hearing from everyone who has had experience with good law firms, and warnings from those who have bad experiences from others. Mark
  11. It was mentioned earlier that if the C&P was done by VES (Veterans Evaluation Services), that it won't show up on your MyHealthyVet account. Same holds true for QTC C&P examinations. I think that it's linked to something that happened at a QTC site a while back when a veteran didn't appreciate what his examiner stated and may have returned to the examination clinic to voice his/her thoughts and it went south from there. I don't the exact history. Anyone? Anyway, it's gonna take a FOIA to get you C&P examination results if you were sent to an outside contractor, which is pretty common. Good luck! Mark
  12. Take the time to research. Research your condition(s). Research the C&P doctor for obvious signs of "quackedness". Research your C-File and request an updated copy with all new information. Sometimes they'll give you a gold nugget of some important medical report or lab report from your military service that they "forgot" to provide under previous FOIA requests. Request anything and everything from the NPRC. Often, they'll have key records that the VA doesn't bother to retrieve. If you haven't already, get a good IME/IMO done. This might force them to do a reset and send you back into the land of NOD instead of BVA appeals. Good luck and thanks for your service! Mark