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Senior Chief Petty Officer
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Everything posted by TiredCoastie

  1. Thanks, Vern. I'll do that. Tracking shows that the envelope was received quite some time ago.
  2. Our insurance has bounced around on what it covers. Now I can get a new set of nose pillows and filter every 15 days. Used to be once a month... Have never tried support through the VA for my CPAP - I use our medical insurance instead. Hearing aids must be different, because the VA supports mine with the drop of an email...whatever I need and it's on the way.
  3. No kidding! An admin type used to go around preaching the approach - "if in doubt, over-route." It's a good strategy and I should have done it this last time. I've done before having faxed and certified mailed my previous Form 9 just to be sure they got it on time. Funny thing, the certified mail copy made it into the system BEFORE the faxed copy. That one struck me as somewhat weird. Being a new facility, the EIC should be receiving the faxes as electronic files, which means that there should be no scanning required....just move the file to the right bin, then next.
  4. Excellent point, Justrluk! I keep all that in my headache log myself. Impact is a HUGE piece.
  5. Good approach. I ought to try that. Interesting to see that you filed something via certified mail to an EIC and did not get the green postcard receipt back in the mail. I've got the same problem. I filed a Form 9 about six weeks ago and never got anything back, despite certified tracking making it clear that the envelope and contents were delivered. The form wasn't in the system either when I got someone up on chat the other day. My guess is that they'll claim they never got your request due to their nationwide mail rooms being overwhelmed. Not sure that faxing something is actually faster, either. I did a test last fall in which I faxed something and then also mailed it certified. The certified copy made it into the system faster.
  6. Except in my experience, they cause more harm than good they can create. I've got a date/time stamp on the receipt from the USPS, and this will not be the first time I've had to pull it out and make sure the postmark is acknowledged. Still, you have a good point. If I had a VSO who would work with me instead of trying to drive the process toward whatever idea or end they're getting from HQS, that would be perfect.
  7. Just to follow up with my recent experience with an EIC, it's been six weeks since USPS tracking showed that my envelope mailed certified, return receipt requested was received but I've got no green card in the mail and the VA hasn't seen my latest Form-9. All sorts of conspiracy theories are running through my head...
  8. You're probably right about how many of us are rated lower than our migraines actually are. You're clearly at or above the 30% level. The KEY component to the 50% level is how badly it impacts your ability to work. If your doc will make a statement regarding your migraines' impact on our ability work, like you can't or are hampered, you've got a great case. Other options are pointing to your job history, statements from your current employer, difficulty in school, etc. The rest of my story -- I was rated at 50% from 30% after I NOD'd the claim decisions and then filed a Form-9 when the RO still didn't agree with the evidence. The DRO re-reviewed my package before certifying it to go to the BVA and decided in my favor at that very late point. In the Form-9, I pointed to the statements my outside neurologist made on the DBQ form and in her records as well as pointed to my headache log, the duration of my migraines, and my difficulty in finding part time work in the morning when I'm at my best (migraines for me are often like thunderstorms in Florida: they're regular afternoon events). It's going to take a little work on your part, but you've got a great argument for 50% from what it sounds like. Wishing you the best!
  9. Can't really say, KCook. It seems as if the VA split your claim, addressed the PTSD portion -- which must have been cut and dry AND brought you to 100% -- and the other issues were more complicated so they went back into the hopper. JMO, if you were going to see retro on the PTSD alone if you're not retired military, you'd see it very quickly. But I don't know if they'd hold off the retro until the entire claim is completed. Others here have experience with that and will hopefully chime in. I can see it going either way. Three options to find out fairly quickly: 1. Look for new deposits in your account that look like retro payments or check the eBenefits for the retro payment. 2. If you're retired Army, contact DFAS and see if your pay clerk has a retro calc in the inbox for you. 3. Call the 1-800# for VA Benefits and ask if a retro payment is being processed on your behalf. It seems to me that they did you a favor in many ways by granting you 100% now and getting you paid monthly and benefited at the 100% level now rather than wait for the other conditions to be completed. While that may not include a retro payment as fast as anyone would like, at least you're not retired Coast Guard like me. I've been waiting on my retro from last fall, and it's been hung up somewhere since December between the Coast Guard and the VA.
  10. How many conditions did you submit - just those two: PTSD and TDIU? Sounds like maybe the PTSD was granted at 100% and then one or more issues were sent back for further development. Just a guess.
  11. They're supposed to. You ought to get a Form 9 in ASAP on OSA. The RO could still decide it in your favor, but you'll need to remind them that there was another condition. Otherwise, the BVA will have a shot at it. But without a Form 9, your argument is dead. JMHO, ROs are moving very, very quickly trying to get through claims stacks and now the growing stacks of appeals. In this kind of environment, errors like the one in your decision are prone to happen. Besides, OSA is a 50% proposition and will change your overall rating in a major way.
  12. I've treated this situation as a denial when it's come up in my claims and SOCs. It's a silent denial, but a denial none-the-less. From your posting, it seems as if you've received a decision letter from the RO in response to your NOD. Did you receive a SOC? Even if you didn't, get a Form 9 in ASAP at least carrying on the appeal for OSA and anything you disagree with in regards with your PTSD decision (effective date, rating level, etc).
  13. Topiramate was something my outside PCP tried for migraine relief. All it did was make me groggy and foggy with a headache no matter what time of day I took. I felt like I had a migraine all the time. Didn't work for me.
  14. OldManS2, I agree with Fat in that, while it's hard, relaxing at this point is your best bet. Baltimore is something like a black hole and has been waved around in Congressional hearings as one of the worst of the worst. My initial claim started there. Actually Roanoke isn't much better per weekly performance stats. With the current push to clear out the backlog before the end of the year, even less effort is being put toward the appeals process within the ROs. Still, funny things can happen. It also seems like there is a quiet effort to do something about the astronomically huge backlog of appeals. While this will probably do nothing overall or could even slow down the process, contacting your senior senator has the highest probabily of success unless your junior senator or your congressman is on a veterans oversight committee. However, sometimes contacting an elected rep on the Hill will break something free. Some here have had some success in emailing Bob McDonald or the head of the VBA and pointing out your problem. That approach may work better if you're too frustrated to let it sit. Personally, I wrote a lot of IRIS inquiries to check on the status. That provided a date/time stamp of written correspondence I could later reference. I still do this because there are various parts still hanging fire within the system somewhere. Why did your appeal move? Did you move from Northern Virginia to Maryland?
  15. Just called. They want SF-180 faxed to your Evidence Intake Center ASAP. Apparently the wait time is months to a year.
  16. Forward (not fast) three months - is it true that all C-file FOIA requests are being handled through this center? I've had a request for a copy of my C-file in at my RO since last September. The last I heard back during the winter via IRIS response was that they couldn't tell me how long it takes to get me a copy of my C-file requested under FOIA and Privacy Acts. Meanwhile, months are slowly slipping by...
  17. You hang in there, Shipmate! You know as well as all of us that things might still take longer than you'd like. But hang in there. Keep fighting the good fight!
  18. Wow, Chris, thanks for sharing your observations and insights! I agree that the picture they painted about 3-5 business days to inprocess a piece of paper isn't accurate. Something I found interesting is that I "double tapped" my Form 9 to the EIC - by certified mail and by fax. My thinking was that the fax would come in as an electronic file from the start and easier to manipulate and get around. Nope. The mailed copy beat it. This was back in November. My FOIA request for my C-file has been hanging fire since September, 2014. Yeah, that's happening, too.
  19. Really glad things worked out so well for you, Chief! Congratulations!
  20. It took maybe a month from submitting my Form 9 before it appeared on eBenefits. Once that happened, it seems like the RO got on it shortly afterward. Instead of certifying the appeal and sending it to the BVA, a DRO made a very fast decision in my favor and granted both contentions. There is a rest of the story that will hopefully start to unfold soon. But I received the BWE about four months after filing the Form 9, but can't say that will work out the same way for you timewise. Hate to recommend this, but keep an eye on eBenefits for your Form 9 to appear.
  21. It's just painful, Rootbeer. I don't think you'll be able to find the answers from looking from the outside and will need to have an in depth look at the organizational culture of the Department, Agency, and individual RO as well as a full understanding of the pressures on and attitudes of the raters along with day-to-day tasking. I too have done my own analysis for quite some time and have not come to any accurate conclusions that did not require inside information. What the numbers and the press releases say is that there is a push to reduce the number of claims on hand. But to what extent and does that effort impact your claim decision or not? That's a question no one will be willing to answer for you. OK, accuracy rates are in the low 90% range. That means about a tenth of every claim has an error or 1 in every 10 has a error, depending on the stat. Vets are smarter now thanks to many of us being better connected. Instead of taking what we've been given, we can re-analyze the same information against the published standard, come up with a different conclusion, and have the tools to quickly appeal. So that in and of itself is helping to drive the number of apppeals on hand...besides that at least 1 in 10 claims has an error and most likely have some sort of error somewhere. Is this better than before? Hard to say because is can be very subjective whether or not an error exists, especially if it's the agency making the call on a performance stat. JMHO - many to most VA employees are trying to do their best by the veteran but have to do so within a bureaucratic organization. Some in any organization are going to be bad apples. Some are going to become jaded either by the overload of work or, God forbid, that sometimes veterans lie to gain disability compensation and it seems pretty obvious to them. Sometimes the best any of them can do is to give you a 90% solution so they get the next guy in line 90% and so on. Again, JMHO, but in the military, I think we grew accustomed to the entire organization looking after the members of the organization to the best of everyone's ability. That was how we did things in the Coast Guard and from what I saw in Navy units that were close by. The VA simply doesn't work in the same kind of way, although they try.
  22. That would be awesome, Rootbeer! Hopefully you'll have a right answer in your hands in a few days. None of those dates that eBenefits publishes are worth anything, so something could break at any time...or not as you've found out! That's the really frustrating part. We sit in hopes and fears waiting for the answer, hoping it's right, hoping the rater and decision makers will read the evidence closely, hoping that the end will be what we asked for while anxious about the worst case scenario. Still can't see them getting the backlog "eliminated" by the end of the FY. They *could* make the end of the CY, but unless output almost doubles or they set their sights on some number great than zero, not the FY.
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