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SameOldSong last won the day on May 16

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About SameOldSong

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    Fighting about "service connected" with the VA

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  1. Sounds like it did go in but call the VA and ask if those records are in your file. They should be able to see them. Buy yourself some cheap insurance from the USPS next time. Walk down to the post office, send your documents in yourself, certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep those receipts forever with the copies of your documents. Never give anyone your originals. Make a note in a file that you sent this on this date and what it was. Don't bother sending them via your VSO, it will only clutter the file. Mail to: DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS CLAIMS INTAKE CENTER PO BOX 4444 JANESVILLE, WI 53547-4444 You may want to put your name, case number, and page # of ##, on every page. Makes it harder to lose one in the mix.
  2. Michvetinfla, the psych diagnosis won't help your case at this time. The case is your feet, and then spinal degeneration. I know that it has created mental issues for you, but filing psychological issues like depression without first having a service connected disability is going to kill your case outright. The VA looks at "kitchen sink" cases and then backburners them like my 10-year fight to get my own issue dealt with. It's going to be tough to pull this together, but I would start with your feet. First, ask your Dad if he knows any chiropractors in the area that can give you an examination and look at your x-rays and the military evidence and see what they think. Believe me, having a friendly chiropractor that has a current license is going to be half the battle. You see, many of the chiropractors in our area are seeing patients forwarded to them by the VA. The chiropractors are the ones doing spinal and skeletal issue DBQs for the VA. And if they are doing those forms for the VA, they have zero interest in doing one directly for you even if you pay them to do the same exam. Why? Because they are on the VA payroll by virtue of having a steady stream of referrals and don't want to tick off the VA. And now with the DBQs gone, you need an exam from a competent outside doc that can give you an equivalent to a C&P exam examination. I haven't been able to find one yet in my area, though I did get a physical therapist to finally give me a spinal ROM and am combining that with a spine surgeon's report. Second, that examination has to be equivalent to a VA C&P exam. You need the DBQ exam without the DBQ. Or use the DBQ form anyway. I'm including the one for Foot Conditions (21-0960M-6), but it may take me a bit more to find 21-0960M-5 which is the Pes Planus one. Then, you'll need nexus to connect the service injuries to your current injuries. This needs to be done by a podiatrist or a chiropractor or someone with specialty in spines or feet and skeletal conditions. The VA wants the exams to be done by someone in person, but the nexus can be a reviewer that takes your records and looks at them. That reviewer needs to be a specialist that I mentioned above, or the VA will simply toss it. Your Dad can put his discussion of your case in a short letter that you submit. As he does not have his medical license now, he can't be your medical exam or nexus. But he CAN be Lay Evidence and submit a buddy letter on your behalf. The fact that he was a licensed chiropractor should have some weight. Get the feet done first, then go after the spinal degeneration. If you try to go after feet, knees, hips, spine, psychological damage and all the rest, the VA will just trash it and it will be hard to get a C&P. Now, you were military, get your records from the National Records Center, both military and medical, then apply for Veteran Health Benefits. You qualify with at least a day in Active Duty service. Ask for an appointment. Get the VA doc to examine your feet. That may get the ball rolling alone. VHA (the Health group) and VBA (the Benefits group) are not the same and the VA docs are often human. Last piece of advice in this message: send the forms in on paper to the VA Evidence Intake Center as certified mail, return receipt requested. That decreases the "lost records". Keep copies of every paper you send them AND those mailing receipts. When they send you stuff, keep the paperwork and their envelope. Twice now I've had to prove an effective date based off the letter and envelope the VA sent me and my mailing receipts by taking pics and sending my rebuttal in with these pics. They will still deny you the first time and basically want you to get a VSO immediately. I've never had one, and I did win my first 30% on my own (PTSD, which is really difficult to do and moreso because it was non-combat and I'm female). It takes years to get through this system. Years. Every denial or setback takes another 3-4 year waiting period. If they think you are one of the "file everything and I'm faking it" crowd, they'll wait you to death. I'm at the point where I realize that I can't go further without a lawyer or advocate. And I'm close. Really really close. VBA-21 - Foot conditions DBQ form.pdf
  3. It's hard for me to go over posts, but I try to support where I can. I try not to be really angry with the VA, but that's incredibly hard. I've been in this slog with the VA since 2010. I filed it, they denied it, I appealed it, they denied again, I appealed it and pointed out that the first denial improperly closed half of my claim (the stronger one, actually), just got a DRO appointment and he signed a document acknowledging the CUE and brought those parts of my claim back into play. I filed documents with him in that appt in early March, but I don't know if they made it to my file or not. Covid-19 shut everything down the next week and I still don't see those docs filed. Time to send them via certified mail, return receipt requested just in case that "broken scanner" turned into "there are no documents that were filed at that time."
  4. And I just realized that the Form 149 to correct your military service record is unreachable now for some new versions of Adobe Acrobat. I'll try to find the form and post it here. This is the form that is listed on this page: https://www.afpc.af.mil/Career-Management/Military-Personnel-Records/ Under "Records Correction" and the highlighted words "DD Form 149" which is a link to a forms site that is giving this error: Please wait... If this message is not eventually replaced by the proper contents of the document, your PDF viewer may not be able to display this type of document. You can upgrade to the latest version of Adobe Reader for Windows®, Mac, or Linux® by visiting http://www.adobe.com/go/reader_download. For more assistance with Adobe Reader visit http://www.adobe.com/go/acrreader. Windows is either a registered trademark or a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Mac is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the United States and other countries. Linux is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the U.S. and other countries.
  5. Update: WE GOT DAD'S DD-214 CREATED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE!!!!!! Yesterday, May 14, 2020, Mom got an encrypted email from the Department of the Air Force. The attached encrypted PDF was Dad's DD-214!!!! It's got his Title 10 service listed under Record of Service. There are only 6 days of Active Service, but even one day counts. And a note in the Remarks section of: Item 18: Member has completed first full term of service. Member called to active duty in accordance with DOD Directive 5105.2 and Executive Order No. 11405 "Providing for the restoration of law and order in the State of Maryland". Issued in response to <and then it's the Docket number for Dad's case>, 16 APR 2020. Ohmigoodness! This is HUGE!! Now we can apply for VA Health Benefits for Dad. He'll be in Priority 8 with copays, but he's on the queue. Dad is 81 now. We have some insurance, but not medications and hearing aids. It took roughly 8 months to get the DD-214, but it arrived.
  6. Thank you all for your answers. Is it even possible to be rated for a TBI from a fall that happened in 1986? I have hospital records that show that I was unconscious when found and from the records, I was probably out for about 30 minutes.
  7. I had a fall in the military that resulted in a C2 cervical spinal fracture. Years later, after complaining of headaches for 30 years, an MRI showed that the C2 dens is still broken and flexes a bit too much. I have a rating for headaches and tinnitus, and in the process of the evaluation for my vertigo a brain lesion was found on my temporal lobe near my sinuses that looks like trauma damage. The lesion hasn't been seen before because this is one of the first MRIs that I've done with a contrast. The neurologists think this is related to the C2 fracture nonunion as the vertigo has been a constant element for 30 years also. It's still in evaluation. But, if they pin this on that lesion, I'm wondering if it will reduce my 50% headaches and 10% tinnitus down to 40% TBI subjective symptom residual based on pyramiding. Does anyone have any experience with this that they could share? (One of my military friends was diagnosed with "fibromyalgia" from his Iraqi combat. It started after his Humvee hit an IED and rolled while everyone was wearing 70 lbs of armor and gear. The VA has capped him at 40% despite massive headaches and other residuals that combined could rate higher as part of fibromyalgia symptoms. He's been fighting it for 15 years now.)
  8. @bellrungboxer No, I absolutely believe it. You had done the work and actually gotten competent doctors to test you and review. You put in the info. I do believe that they moved to decision without your information on the first time. The second time they had the private evidence in place and moved to decision within days. It's just that a fully developed claim is a slam dunk easy thing for them to do. It seems to come down to whether the decision is an easy one to make or whether they have to wade through inches deep stacks of documentation to render a decision (hint: they won't do it. those are the ones that get delayed for years). Congratulations!! Now use that BiPap regularly, and I DO hope it helps you with your breathing.
  9. @bellrungboxer It takes roughly 2-3 weeks for submitted information to make it to your file. Don't bother filing an appeal at this time, just get one more test/piece of paper opinion, and submit it again as a new claim. If you appeal it will be 4 years or greater and there's no backpay issue here right now. You need new evidence to file a new claim on a denied issue.
  10. Thank you, militarynurse! It's another possible line of questioning for me. I snapped my neck while in service, and have a cervical nonunion. I'm lucky because I'm still walking. Since the injury, I stopped sweating in the face/head, my urination frequency is far too frequent, and my constipation went off the charts (as well as almost constant headaches, vertigo incidents, and tinnitus). I've checked TSH, but several of the endocrine issues listed in one of the articles have not been checked and are worth a look. The constipation appears to be some sort of intestinal sluggishness. I've tried every recommendation by the gastroenterologist, but it doesn't seem to be anything simple. I drink water constantly because I also urinate about every 2 hours. In trying to nail down the vertigo issues, I recently had a brain MRI with contrast that revealed a small lesion on the brain that the private neurologist and private psychiatrist think is related to the broken neck. It's near my sinuses in the left temporal lobe, so it may be why the vertigo bothers me. Bluntly, there's probably almost no way to get that brain injury service connected because it would be as a TBI and that's almost impossible to do. Especially 30+ years after the fact. But since there is that brain lesion, and we know at least two of my cranial nerves are partially paralyzed dating back to the military accident, it's possible that there may be pituitary involvement. There's no good answer to the no sweating in the face or the constant urination issues. I do need to find an answer. My gastroenterologist wants to do surgery to deal with the ongoing worsening rectal tone due to constant constipation events. But, surgery for repair when the underlying issue is still unknown may just end up with less options in the future.
  11. More progress to report. The VA Health Eligibility Office in Atlanta, GA has verified that Dad's 6 days of active duty service during the Federal call up for Baltimore in 1968 DOES count for VA Health Benefits. However, they will not approve his application until they see his DD-214 for that service. No other document will do. I have been told to file a Form 149 with the Board of Corrections. We had to file that form for Dad's Army Reserve DD-214 that had a typo on his SSN previously. They replied that the time to correct an error was 18-24 months. I have also found on the Air Reserve Personnel Center page about the DD-214s: https://www.arpc.afrc.af.mil/Services/DD-214s/Eligibility-and-e-Benefits-Info/ that there is a MISTAKE on the address for the Form 149. The address on the Form 149 is Randolph AFB, but they want the form actually sent to Andrews AFB. This is a Hot Mess and while I'm filing it, I'm also going to put this in logical order and complain to every member of the House and Senate DoD Military Personnel subcommittees: (from https://www.afpc.af.mil/Career-Management/Military-Personnel-Records/ ) AFBCMR applicants must fill out a DD Form 149, Application for Correction of Military Record. The DD Form 149 is currently going through the Office of the Secretary of Defense for an address change. The intake office on the back of the form has relocated from Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. To ensure your application is received and processed in a timely manner, mail the DD Form 149 to SAF/MRBC (AFBCMR), 3351 Celmers Lane, Joint Base Andrews NAF Washington, MD 20762-6435, along with any source documents, or send by email to usaf.pentagon.saf-mr.mbx.saf-mrbc@mail.mil. If your contention involves a medical issue, you must also fill out a consent form to release your medical records from the VA. You must fill out VA Form 10-5345, Request for and Authorization to Release Medical Records or Health Information, sign and attach it to the DD Form 149. If the former Airman is deceased or incompetent, the surviving spouse, former spouse, next of kin or a legal representative may apply with supporting documentation (e.g., power of attorney, marriage license, death certificate) indicating they have proper legal standing to apply. AFBCMR Resources: Air Force Pamphlet 36-2607, Applicant's Guide to the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records Air Force Instruction 36-2603, Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records
  12. I found a link to a snippet that might be of interest on the "r/o PTSD" commentary: https://www.mentalhelp.net/ptsd/why-the-va-doesn-t-want-to-diagnose-iraq-war-veterans-ptsd/ It discusses the refusal to put PTSD on medical records in the Veterans Health system.
  13. I asked for a copy of my C-file, and after a lengthy months long wait, I got it on DVD. I began checking the docs they have to the copies of the things that I'd sent. Of course there are missing documents. One of the documents they had, though, knocked my socks off. It's the report after my fall that snapped my neck at the C2 vertebrae. There's the time I was found and taken to the ER. And the time that I started the event before the fall that broke the neck. There's roughly an hour there, and when I do the math, it looks like I was knocked out for about 30 minutes or more. The C2 vertebrae is still broken and causes a number of issues: massive constant headaches, episodes of vertigo (some are horrific), odd tinnitus that's "in the middle" and actually can change in pitch/tone/type of sound if I cock my head a certain way, limited touch feeling in the back of my head/neck/left shoulder blade, reduced sweating and much increased urination, gastro issues with constipation. The fall happened 35 years ago. Getting the VA to diagnose, let alone rate, a TBI may be impossible. I've been reluctant to try it due to fears that the other issues will be rated under TBI and really pulled down rather than each issue rated separately. For instance, headaches/vertigo/tinnitus could all be TBI residuals at 40%. Or they could be separate items at 50%/30%/10%. (Yeah, they're THAT bad. Makes working challenging at best.) After finding the after accident report in my C-file, I had an MRI SPECT scan done. It showed an area of my left temporal lobe that was (in my doctor's words) "suggestive of a TBI". The neurological testing also found issues with some Executive functioning, but not memory. I blew the doors off memory (I had an eidetic memory until I was roughly 47 and put for the first time on antipsychotics for flashback hallucinations.) I have a high normal memory now, but I miss my ability to remember large chunks of text/numbers for years at a time. Is TBI one of those medical problems that the VA evaluator has to rate first? Or is it something that any private doctor could do? For headaches/tinnitus/vertigo/etc., will they be rated separately and stacked together, or rated together and brought down to 40%?
  14. Oh, one last thing, the statement in your VA psych report: Unspecified Trauma-Stressor-related Disorder r/o PTSD Does not mean that he denies PTSD. He doesn't have a clear stressor incident to hang PTSD on that you are experiencing. He's trying to say "please rule out PTSD". Unspecified Trauma - we don't have a clear single incident that caused the issue Stressor-related Disorder - we see a disorder that appears to have a root cause/stressor r/o PTSD - rule out PTSD , we may be seeing PTSD, but we need to find the actual stressor to prove it to the satisfaction of VA rules so please rule out PTSD (which really means "I think she has PTSD. Find another cause that fits or prove it isn't PTSD.")
  15. OK, you've been rope-a-doped by a doc. Buck is right, you need to complain about this soon. It will take a while for them to reschedule or respond. I posted in another post about the way PTSD is decided. Look at the details on that comment here: Please pay attention to the Criterion A-F section. Also note that you don't necessarily want the doc to say you always abused alcohol. Stating that you started after the stressor is the right thing to do and you did it. If you were abusing drink before the stressor, they can use that to deny you also. Refute every point in his evaluation that was wrong, step-by-step. Try to keep your tone even and professional. Denying your combat time was stupid of him because the records are everywhere. Once combat is established then the balance tips to your favor. The doc was trying to rule out 38 USC 1154 (b). Google that phrase and read the legal doc that comes up and you'll understand why: 38 USC 1154 (b) Now, 1154 states that the combat engagement will allow the presumption of service connection if the injuries/diseases sustained are consistent with the circumstantial evidence. This gets twisted a bit with PTSD and especially MST PTSD because there must be a stressing event and then the VA wants to check the existence of that event with an archives center that keeps all the docs. Well, there is one event obviously, but there may not be a military police report because some of these a-holes are people you have to continue to work with while you are out in the field. One of my buddies had her best bud in the field while they were on patrol in Iraq suddenly decide that he was entitled. She had to continue on as if nothing was wrong through the mission, but it was destroying her. And then her Humvee rolled over from an IED causing worse issues. To present the evidence of that event, are there any buddies/teammates that were out there with you that could write a lay evidence letter on your behalf stating the changes they saw before and after the event? That could help prove the stressor existed even in the absence of any police report or other signs. You need something to prove the event happened. It sounds like the problem is the "unspecified event" that the doc mentions that actually will rule out PTSD in the military's eyes even if you have raging PTSD symptoms. They may not be saying that you are untruthful (well, ok, the one doc that thinks the symptom over-reporting is malingering may be trying to say that), but that you don't meet the qualifications for PTSD. Please read the other post that I linked here. It shows you how they make their decisions on a PTSD case. Ask for your C-file. You will have to file for it and it will take months, but any legal beagle will need it. It took me 7 years to get my PTSD diagnosis. They denied me once, and it was a freshly scrubbed and new PsyD working at the Univ of MD medical center and in the Baltimore VA hospital (they're side by side and share personnel) that rated me. It was clear from the ratings report that she wanted to rate me higher and did not, but I appreciate the 30% rating because it opened the door to my appeal with a private doc's evaluation. Patience. Persistence. You will win. The VA will tell you that PTSD is not curable and all we can do is manage the symptoms. I think they are wrong. Also, very important. If they have you on any psych drugs like anti-psychotics, anti-epileptics, or anti-depressants, get some sublingual B12/B6/methylfolate vitamin tablets. Those drugs suck up all of the B12/B6 in your system and if your stomach/intestine is torn up from stress you can't absorb it in your food easily. Getting it by way of tissues in the mouth keeps your levels from crashing out and increasing psychosis episodes (flashbacks, etc). A daily 1,000 IU sublingual B12 will help. Especially with sleep and cognitive function.
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