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MarkInTexas last won the day on February 16

MarkInTexas had the most liked content!

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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

Previous Fields

  • Service Connected Disability
  • Branch of Service
    Air Force
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  1. VA Secretary took trip with VA $$$

    Gotta agree with Ham. Not sure what official business involving U.S. veterans he would have for 3.5 days in multiple European countries. I can see bringing the spouse, and even going on excursions, but that should all be out of his own pocket, and not on the tax payer dime. If his business trip ended about day 3.5, I would assume that he would have to pay for the remainder of hotel stays and travel out of is own pocket too. In a perfect vacuum, I can see him getting his personal travel paid to and from his official meeting location only. (That’s what they do to us for exams, etc.) More intel will surely come out whether all of the tickets/tours were freebies, paid for by him or were paid out of the VA’s budget. Reckon we’ll watch and wait.......like so many veterans waiting for claims and health care. Glad he had a good time though. Mark
  2. IMO from Dr. Anaise, CKD

    I used Dr. Anaise for my IMO on most of my current claims on appeal. I'm still awaiting the outcome of a DRO Hearing, but I have to say that Dr. Anaise does an outstanding and in depth report, covering all bases. It definitely shook up the whole VA's "develop to deny" process, so we'll see. I also have to say that his office was a joy to work with. Everything was done on the telephone and via e-mail. I forwarded PDF's of my medical information, and when they were finished with the IMO, his office sent draft copies of the IMO back to me to review, and happily made any corrections when I noted something, which was only one or two small issues. I'll let y'all know when I get a "final result" of his IMO. Have a great week! Mark
  3. What I've noticed is that the VARO likes to schedule a new C&P after you submit new and material evidence, especially when it's in the form of an IMO/IME. They will typically drag along for quite a while after you submit something, and then when you shoot a flare up to a Congressman or President, then the liaisons look it over and low and behold, another year has dragged on since your last C&P, so they schedule a new one for you "because too much time has lapsed since the last one". Then they try to compound the multiple negative C&P's against your IME/IMO etc, which is developing to deny.....which they are not supposed to do...but still do....or at least attempt to. Something about the 1 year period that they like to use to pull the trigger. I don't want to hijack this thread, but during my own DRO hearing last month, the DRO mentioned another C&P, and I brought up the fact that I had already underwent 3 for several of the conditions and he mentioned that the last one must have already been a year prior. When I dropped the trump card that I had undergone the last one in August, 2016 and it was still under a year, he seemed deflated. They still scheduled a C&P on me for my hearing, just to stall a while I think, and because it had been 5 years since they had last done a hearing/tinnitus C&P. But back on topic, I think they schedule multiple C&P's to stall, and to develop to deny claims by compounding them against your own evidence. Just my two bits worth. Have a great weekend. Mark
  4. I'm just amazed that your C&P doctor actually admitted that he was going to deny, because that's what he does! We all know that they do this, but haven't heard of one admitting it yet! Wow! Too bad you didn't have a recorder on during this exam. Good luck! Mark
  5. Just a quick update. Got a notice from QTC that I'm on the batting roster for a hearing C&P for a "rating increase" examination for the VA for tinnitus and hearing loss in both ears. Weird because I'm already SC'd for tinnitus and hearing loss in my left ear. I had my right ear on the appeal for SC (was hoping for at least 0% for that). Hadn't asked for a rating increase for the tinnitus or hearing loss in the left ear. None of the other conditions that are listed on my appeal are scheduled for another C&P, which is a blessing I'm thinking. Have a good one! Mark
  6. Judy, Hope you end up having a great end result from your hearing. I believe I was in the room next door to you. They walked me past the BVA hearing room and it had a paper sign up that said "BVA Hearing in Progress". Looks like they remodeled some and moved everything around a little since the last time I was "inside". Yep, I arrived extra early to meet my VSO prior to the meeting, and glad I did because it once again took forever to park and make it over to the VARO. Looks like they are building covered parking over a lot of the lots, and everything is under construction. I got inside the building, went through security and called in several times to the VSO with no answer. Finally, somebody picked up and said that the officer handling my case was busy working with somebody else, but that they would handle it. A few minutes later I got led to the back, and had a short meeting with the VSO who had NOT reviewed my case, and who printed out my Form 9 and a couple of other recent documents. (Luckily I had binders with my evidence organized with me.) A few minutes later, we walked down a hall past your BVA hearing room and into another small room with a desk, computer, recorder and a couple of chairs. We met the DRO, who was friendly and asked what route I wanted to go, giving the expected disclaimer that a formal hearing would take up to 90 days to transcribe versus a much shorter turnaround on a decision. I went with the informal route, and hope I don't regret it. He asked me a couple of questions, and then we went down the line addressing each claimed condition, and he patiently let me read off each bit of evidence including the doctor, the nexus information, dates, etc, including opinions provided by the VA's C&P doctors, etc. It took about an hour, and I was able to provide him copies of exhibits, which he looked over, but did not keep. He advised that he had it all on his system, but did take notes when I provided something to him. I wanted to make sure I read off each item of evidence because I saw his digital recorder working. I figure that although they don't transcribe it officially, they probably go back to listen to refresh their memory while working up a decision. He advised that he would look everything over well, and that although he saw several things affirmative to my case, he was also required to obtain a second DRO's signature to officially provide awards or ratings. We did note that the VSO and the VA had left off a spine condition rating increase claim from the hearing list, but we ended up discussing it as well. He did say that since it was part of a separate Form 9 appeal, and was not on the list originally there was no guarantee that it could be handled in full. When I asked if I should put in a separate request for another DRO Hearing, he said he would do his best to handle the rating increase claim with everything else to save from having another hearing. I did as advised on here, and did not go into things I felt the VA had done wrong in the past like previously denying some of my claims based upon a different veteran's records, nor did I discuss having to wait 7 years, and only focused on the evidence to produce for each claim. I also asked the recommended question regarding what else he felt I needed to do to substantiate an award by the VA on my remaining claims, and he related that it looked like I had already done everything. We visited a few more minutes, and then the VSO led me back down the hall to the front of the VARO. He advised that he felt that everything went well, and that the DRO would possibly merge a couple of my claims due to their connection to a source condition, and would possibly grant some of the others in the "bargaining process". This reminds me a little of the plea bargaining process in the criminal justice system, where one goes in high wanting jail time and the other goes in low wanting a dismissal on everything, and they end up agreeing to probation and a fine, and wrapping up a few other criminal cases in the deal. Although my first DRO Hearing process was non-adversarial, only time will tell if it was productive. As a side note, the VSO brought up the subject of me going through another C&P examination. I ended up telling them both that I had already undergone three C&P's, with the most recent one being in August of last year, and that doing a fourth one was a waste of time, money and pain. They seemed to agree, but we'll see what happens next. Thanks again for all of the advice, Folks. I'm sure I'll be asking for thoughts and advice again soon. Have a great week! Mark
  7. Judy, Yep, I'm still scheduled for that morning. I hope I have all my ducks in a row. Be safe on your trip, and good luck in your BVA hearing! Mark
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. Thanks, ShuMan! I hadn't heard of them before, but I'll definitely check them out. Thanks again! Mark