Hey all! I've been lurking on this site for a while now (mostly reading through relatable experiences and utilizing a lot of the positive replies left by so many of you) and have finally decided to make my first post.
I've been dealing with my C&P for more than a year now. I worked with a local VA Center to get my initial claim submitted. I had almost zero understanding of how the process works. The rep that I worked with was extremely kind and bent over backwards to help, but I started to slowly realize that this wasn't his actual job, and increasingly got the feeling that my claim was going nowhere.
Fast forward to last fall, where I submitted a request for a VSO to take over the guidance of my claim. I didn't hear any feedback for months, until early this year, when I suddenly had 3 C&P appointments in the span of 3 days. I made it work with my work schedule, attended all 3 (including a brutal 3 hour mental health exam) and felt excited about the progress. I then didn't hear anything else for weeks.
I finally saw a change in my e-benefits status, moving to Preparation for Decision. I was pretty excited, but after reading the numerous instances of folks who have had their progress regress to previous stages, I didn't let myself get too excited. Especially knowing that I'd only had 3 appointments, and was expecting upwards of 6-7.
The claim moved to Pending Decision Approval last Thursday, much to my surprise. When I checked again Friday morning, it was suddenly in Preparation for Notification. At this point I'd received zero correspondence from the VSO group since informing me of my appointments from February, and had no other appointments or updates since that week, in anything but ebenefits.
I had been expecting, all week, for it to regress to another stage.. Furiously checking ebenefits (basically hourly.. the perk AND curse of working in IT, sitting at a computer for 10 hours a day) trying to get a feel for what to expect. My wife and I chatted all week about how I'd been reading updates on this forum throughout the weeks, and I was trying to use the positive words left by all of you to keep me sane through this process, especially in what I felt could be the home stretch.
Fast forward to this morning (it's currently 0755 MST), I arrived at work at 0700, got a briefing from the staff member on my team who works the graveyard.. and immediately felt inclined to check ebenefits. My "Current Claims" reported having nothing on file. I felt my heart sink into my stomach. I quickly checked "Historical Claims" to see a Completed Status as of 04/17/2015. I legitimately felt my hand shaking as I attempted to move my mouse to navigate to the VA Letter. I finally was able to get the letter loaded, reporting a 100% rating - 100% PTSD, 10% Tinnitus, 10% Hearing Loss, 10% Lumbar Strain, 20% Left Knee Condition. Sitting in the office with one of my subordinates on my team, I almost broke into tears. This process has been long, stressful, and has had to put me in a constant state of reminder of the things I've dealt with over the last 6+ years. I immediately called my wife, to let her know where we stood. She told me that she was so glad that there was finally a light for us at the end of this tedious tunnel.
First, I want to say thanks to everyone who posed excellent questions. Thank you to everyone on this forum who was able to respond with insightful information. And an absolute thank you to those who responded so diligently with words of kindness and positivity.
There were long stretches through this process where I didn't think it would come to an end. There were stretches where I completely forgot about the process, introverted, and wanted everything to end. But so many of your kind words, words of encouragement, and information helped get me (and my wife) through this.
As much as I want this post to simply be about my story, and how you all helped me, I feel like I still may need just a little bit more help. Essentially: what is the process that I am looking at now?
I understand that I should be expecting the BBE sometime in the next two weeks. But I am unsure about what in that packet I'll be looking for, exactly (knowing myself, I'll read through the entire thing the day I get it). I'm also unsure about how/when to expect payment. I have my Direct Deposit and contact info updated (I've been utilizing it for Post 9/11 benefits), and my assumption would be that I wouldn't be seeing any payment until the 1st. Would this be a first month payment? Retro payment? And is there a way for me to verify that the retro payment is starting from a specific date?
I apologize for all of the questions, especially after all of you have done for me and mine, but I know that if anyone could provide any insight into the hundreds of questions flowing through my head, it would be you all.
Thank you, all, so much, again.. and best of luck to EVERYONE out there.