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About JustGettingStarted

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  1. My claims were closed on 5 Jun. It was obvious that lot of evidence was completely overlooked so I did a letter to request reconsideration. The claims all opened back up the following week. Does this mean I do not need to worry about a NOD date at this time? In other words, if my claims are not decided by Jun 2018, will I need to file a NOD, or does getting the claim re-opened reset the NOD deadline to one year from the date they are closed out in the future? The new estimated completion dates are Jan - Aug 2018. Thanks, JustGettingStarted
  2. Just an update on my claims. I did the letter to request reconsideration. Now all my claims on eBenefits have been reopened on eBenefits with a new estimated completion date of Jan to Aug 2017. Also, everything is listed in Vets.gov as "Under Review". The VA said they sent me a Development Letter on 16 Jun, which I have not received yet. Under "Needed from Others" in eBenefits, it looks like the VA has dropped the need for a C&P exam for the endometrium ablation - I think I managed to convince them it wasn't going to grow back and an exam would be a waste of time and money. I have also checked out the local VSO and he seems OK. I popped in on him when I was in the area and got lucky and was able to talk with him for a good while. He knows I have a lot of complex stuff going on, but also seems to know when to seek help from his associates located at the VARO. I like that and he seems like he really enjoys helping. I immediately changed my POA on eBenefits, but the VARO told me it will take up to 30 days for it to take effect. Now it is playing the waiting game again. JustGettingStarted
  3. The DAV VSO I just "fired" is Michael Fuste. The one before that the didn't follow up on my CUE for 10 months, despite several requests from me, was Michael Tolliver. I hope I am doing the right thing by switching to my local VFW VSO. I can at least sit down and look him in the eye and he seems like a nice, knowledgeable fellow that is willing to admit he doesn't know everything, but knows where to get help. If I am giving out too much info here with the names I will be happy to edit out. JustGettingStarted
  4. Berta, My DAV VSO continues to be MIA. I have emailed the DAV at St Pete to request help on this. I sent my request to robert.anderson6@va.gov. Robert “Dan” Anderson / Supervisor DAV Regional Office | 9500 Bay Pines Blvd., Room 232 | St. Petersburg, FL 33731 Main Office (727) 319-7444 | Fax (727) 319-7775 Update - I met with my county VSO today and I like him. He admits my claims are more complicated than what he normally sees, but he had a good friend at the VFW regional office at St Pete, Richard Epps, who he says is extremely knowledgeable and works well with the rating officers. The local VSO seemed pretty knowledgeable and knows to ask questions if over his head. He never said anything critical like "that will never work" or "don't waste your time". I am going to change my POA and then meet with him again to give my claims a deeper look. I also got my husband to go with me because he has some claims work to do too. JustGettingStarted
  5. Thanks everyone for posting this. I just read the entire thread because I have a similar CUE in the works for a skin condition rated the same as eczema. However, my CUE is fubar at the St. Pete VARO right now. They ignored the systemic medication I am taking back in 2009, and then in a recent C&P exam where they didn't include it in my medications. They never asked me if I was taking medications - just marked "No" on the form. I have posted my story in a new thread on this CUE forum and am getting help from Berta now. My VSO is no help and I have just written to the DAV to request better support. JustGettingStarted
  6. jfrei, Unfortunately nothing is permanent unless you have had the condition for 20 years with no change. However, as you have the condition longer or as you get older (over 55), it becomes harder for the VA to lower your rating. If the VA believes you can improve in the near future, your letter should say they will re-examine you in 3 to 5 years. If the VA has cause to believe you have improved, they can call for a re-examination at any time. However, if you've had the condition unchanged for more than 5 years or you are over 55, there should be "unusual circumstances" before they reschedule an exam. And then they have to prove sustained improvement before they can downgrade your rating. If you are 100% total and permanent, you are allowed to work if you want to. That is not the same for people with temporary IU. I hope this answers some of your questions, although it may not be entirely the answers you were hoping for. JustGettingStarted
  7. Berta, Attached is the DBQ from my C-File and pages from the decision letter (I requested a copy of my C-File last July well before my CUE and it just arrived a week ago). The main issue is on the DBQ; they did not check the block that says I am taking daily systemic medication - that is wrong, wrong, wrong! In the C-File, they have documentation I submitted. 1. The MTF Bluebutton record that shows I have taken medication regularly since 2004, highlighted in yellow. 2. Citations where the veteran was awarded higher than 0% for the exact same condition when on systemic medication (the ratings depended on how often they were taking medication). 3. MFV records showing my primary diagnosis in 1997 and being put on systemic medication in 1998 to prevent flare ups. There were other errors in this decision, but not as big as this one. They did not service-connect me for hemmorhoids although I provided military medical records from 2007 that showed a diagnosis, and civilian records from 1 month after I retired in 2009 to present. They did not give me ICS, which I knew was going to be an uphill battle. I was diagnosed for years while in the military with chronic constipation. I did not get service connected in 2009 because there wasn't any "pathology" to show why I had chronic constipation. One month after I retired I was diagnosed with IBS. And finally, they deferred my CUE for SMC for loss of use of a creative organ so they can schedule an exam. Do they honestly think my endometrium will grow back? I provided them medical records when I made the claim. I also have another decision letter for peripheral neuropathy in my arms and hands that I am dealing with. I was award 20% for each side but from what I read on the DBQ, many of my symptoms were rated moderate to severe so I believe I should be getting 40/30. I also want to CUE that one because I was looking at my records and when I retired in 2009 I claimed neck condition and that I was taking neurontin. A quick look in my records show that I was taking neurontin because of the numbness in my hands caused by the neck condition. Right now, I want to concentrate on the CUE for the eczema-like condition. That is the big one, followed by the CUE for SMC. On the eczema condition - I have attached the two pages from the development letter, along with most of the skin diseases DBQ. On the skin diseases DBQ, they made a major error when they did not list the medications I have been taking since 1998. I noticed on the skin diseases DBQ, they do not list what evidence was reviewed - I see this on my other DBQs in section 3. Why is this? I have also attached my letter requesting reconsideration. Thanks for any and all help. JustGettingStarted EczemaLikeforHadit.pdf Request for Reconsideration-redacted.pdf
  8. I sent this CUE to Berta on another thread and she thought it was really good. However, I just got a denial from the St. Pete VARO today (they are really illiterate). At issue is the fact that any conditions similar to dermatitis or Eczema are rated under code 7806. These conditions can be rated on amount of body they cover, or more importantly, how often you have to take "systemic medication" for them. Systemic medication is usually defined by the VA as oral medications or injections, but not topical medications and if you take it constant or near constant, the rating is 60%. In the denial letter, I am still service connected for a skin condition at 0% as I was in 2009, but the VARO completely ignored the fact that I have been on constant systemic medication since 1998 and should be rated at 60%. The medication was completely ignored in the decision. I provided military medical records from 1998 where I was put on constant medication, and Bluebutton pharmacy records from a military facility that date back to 2004. All that evidence was submitted with my CUE. I thought this was going to be so cut and dried, and now I know why so many people complain about the VA ignoring the evidence and why the appeal system is so backed up. I guess I will be getting on the hamster wheel and ask for a reconsideration/DRO Review/Appeal. Anyway, I attached a redacted copy of the CUE that I did in the event someone can use it as an example. I hope it works better for them than it did for me. JustGettingStarted Motion for Cue-REDACTED.pdf
  9. I started getting paid for a condition last February. It was one of several I claimed. EBenefits still shows that one condition as part of my open claim although they added a percentage for it and sent me a letter. So it sounds normal.
  10. Thank you Berta - you made my day. I learned by reading websites like this and reading what is in Title 38 and the manual. From Title 38, I knew the exact requirements for a CUE and used that. I also learned by reading a lot of BVA appeals. I was a communications project manager in the military and did a lot of writing to try and get my projects funded--I had to be concise and provide solid, factual justification. That is all I did here using examples of what I found online to use as an outline. Also, it helps when it is a clear-cut case. For this CUE and the one for SMC, I don't think I need to jump through hoops to prove my case. From everything I read, that is the way a CUE should be. I am considering doing a third CUE, but I need to do more research first. I also need to concentrate on the NOD for my peripheral neuropathy.
  11. Hi Berta, Did you see the copy of my CUE I submitted? It is on page 3 of all this. I have used IRIS before without much luck for a medical care issue. I use eBenefits and that is how I submit everything now so there is proof of what I submitted. I don't think I need to do a complaint right now unless I need to complain about the unresponsive VSO I have. I sent him 3 requests in the last 2 weeks without a single response. I have been trying to decide if I should complain about the lost CUE. When I emaileded my second VSO and told him I wanted to do an inquiry on what happened to it that is the only time he has called me. I told my husband that the VSO must not have wanted to do anything in writing to keep it off the record. I think the main reason to complain might be to keep the same from happening to another Vet. Please look at the CUE attachment on page 3 when you have time. I may have given it an incorrect title, but I believe I covered all the things required for CUE. The medical condition has been consolidated with my other claims and is listed as an Increase to my SC condition in eBenefits. I know there are many vets out there that need your help much more than I do--I can afford to take my time on this. Thanks, JustGettingStarted
  12. PS - I am on my second VSO from the DAV in St. Pete. He is knowledgeable, when I can get in touch with him. I was given a second VSO without a request from me. He is very slow in answering emails and sometimes I never get a response. He called me once, when I was about to go up the chain to find out why the VA didn't have my CUE.
  13. i just learned something new. The reason I did Motion for Revision was the only CUE examples I found were for the BVA level. My CUEs are at the VARO level. In eBenefits they have listed my two CUEs as increases. Oddly enough, I have another claim where I requested service connection, and they have listed it as REP for Reopen. That one will probably be SC at 0% but it was still an oversight on VA's part when I retired and I want it corrected now. I figure it will be difficult for VA to give me the SMC I am entitled to for endometrial ablation without CUEing it. The same goes for the Eczema-like condition since it happened 10 years before I retired. I have attached the CUE I did for the Eczema-like condition. That is the CUE that is worth the most if I win. It has been sanitized but should still be very clear on how I attacked it. Thank you so much for taking a look at this. I still have more claims to submit. I need to retroactively claim 100% temporary disability for when I had surgery on my service-connected knee - I am working on getting my physical therapy records so I can show how long I was in recovery. I am doing the same for my husband because he had surgery on two different service-connected conditions. We did not know about the 100% temporary disability and were not working so we don't have letters from our doctors saying how long our convalescence was. I think the VA owes me 2 months for my knee, 1 month for my husband's hand, and 3 months for his shoulder... Since my husband is only SC for 20%, 4 months of total disability will be significant, but I have to get his medical and physical records before I file. JustGettingStarted Motion for Cue-REDACTED.pdf
  14. Hi Berta, Thanks for chiming in. Neither of my CUEs have been denied so far. I filed both in the last year after going over my decision package from my retirement in 2009. I resubmitted the CUE for Eczema-like condition, that was lost for 10 months, within my original Intent to File date. I got nervous at the 10-month point and followed up with the VA instead of my VSO to find out the VA says they never received it (VSO says VA ignored it). I filed the second CUE this week for the SMC I should have received when I was service connected for endometrial ablation in 2009. It was from your blog that I discovered I could file a CUE for SMC - thank you so much. This website and the podcast have helped me so much. The big one is the CUE for the eczema-like condition. It comes to over $40K in back pay. Below is what my 2009 decision letter said (I redacted the name of my disease and medication). What it doesn't say is that for near-constant systemic medication, the rating is 60%. I have been on constant systemic medication since 1998 and I retired from service in 2009. “12. Service connection for [eczema-related condition] . Service connection for [eczema-related condition] has been established as directly related to military service. A noncompensable evaluation is assigned from May 1, 2009. A noncompensable evaluation is granted if the record shows dermatitis or eczema involving less than 5 percent of exposed areas affected, and ; no more than topical therapy required during the past 12-month period. A higher evaluation of 10 percent is not warranted unless there is evidence of dermatitis or eczema involving at least 5 percent, but less than 20 percent, of the entire body, or at least 5 percent, but less than 20 percent, of exposed areas affected, or; intermittent systemic therapy such as corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive drugs required for a total duration of less than six weeks during the past 12-month period. Service treatment records show that you were found to have [eczema-related condition] in March 1997. Upon VA examination you reported that you continue to take [systemic medication] on a daily basis to reduce flares of the condition, which occur once or twice yearly.” I have read BVA decision after BVA decision, dated before and after my claim, in which the veteran received 0 to 60 percent for my condition--depending on how often they take medication. I have to be on medication constantly or I have painful flare-ups at least every month. My pharmacy records at Tyndall AFB go back to 2004, long before I retired, and they fully support my claim. When I first submitted my CUE to the DAV VSO, he told me he thought we could get a decision in as little as 2 weeks. I have a number of emails where i requested a status, and he said I wouldn't hear anything until it was decided; I don't think he ever checked. After finding out the VA didn't have the CUE, I submitted it myself via eBenefits so I would have confirmation it was received. At first my new VSO said that wasn't the thing to do, but when he actually read the CUE, he said I did it correctly. I submitted it as a Motion for Revision. By the way, I am shopping for another VSO for the St. Pete VARO - any recommendations are greatly appreciated. I prefer to do the work myself but just need some guidance and a fresh eye every now and then. :-)