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About JustGettingStarted

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    E-4 Petty Officer 3rd Class

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  1. CUE for Peripheral Neuropathy

    Lemuel - I wish you better luck than I've had. When I originally filed this CUE, the VA sent me to an exam and they awarded bilateral Peripheral Neuropathy, but did not back date it as I requested. The decision letter said it wasn't back dated because I had no prior diagnosis of PN. I have to admit they were correct. My medical records say things like "radicular symptoms", "radiating pain", and "increased numbness in the hands"--all the same symptoms as when I received a PN rating in 2016. I have to admit they were correct that the records did not mention PN specifically. I have let my original CUE go, and have filed a new CUE for "Bilateral Upper Extremity Numbness, Pain, Tingling, and Paresthesia due to Cervical Spondylosis 2009 to 2016". That is what is in my military medical records, and if granted it is rated the same as Peripheral Neuropathy. In other words, I carefully read why I was denied and adjusted my claim to circumvent the reason for the denial. They cannot deny what is in my medical records, although I have a feeling they will still try to deny the CUE somehow. Tomorrow afternoon I have another PN exam. It seems entirely unnecessary for a claim for something that is in the past, but that is the way the St Pete office functions. The only thing they seem to consider is what the examiner puts in a DBQ - if it isn't there, it doesn't exist. They will not look at my active duty records or anything I've filed in eBenefits; I've learned that the hard way. So I hope I will get a good examiner tomorrow that will listen to me and paint the picture I need them to paint. I have organized everything and am ready to spoon feed the examiner make their job easy. :-) Something else I didn't do before was link my PN to an incident in the military. After going through my records again, I realized the PN symptoms began less than a year after a traumatic accident. The symptoms may have started right after the accident, but I had painful injuries I was dealing with (two broken elbows, a broken hand, and bruised ribs). I spent months on pain killers and going through occupational therapy, surgery, and more occupational therapy. Then I had my first medical record of PN symptoms. I also see my non-VA neurologist tomorrow morning and have a letter typed up for her to sign. I plan to hold onto it as "new evidence" in case the CUE claim doesn't go in my favor. I am not having her introduce new evidence - I am just having her review and confirm what is in my military records. I am not worried about my current rating getting reduced. In fact, with the flare-up rules recently coming to light, the chance of an increase would be more likely than a reduction. Good luck to you Lemuel! JustGettingStarted
  2. CUE for Eczema-like condition denied :-(

    Another SNAFU on the Skin Exam! I noticed a couple of weeks ago there was a claim in eBenefits that I did not initiate for “VERRUCAE VULGARIS, LEFT HAND (ALSO CLAIMED AS NEOPLASM BENIGN) (Increase)”. I did not initiate an exam for warts, and the only benign neoplasms I have claimed were colon polyps. I was concerned the skin exam I was scheduled for would focus on this instead of my claim for the eczema condition. Because of this, I sent an inquiry via IRIS with my concern. I received a response for inquiry that stated: “We are currently waiting for: The records indicate VA has requested examinations for skin diseases and scars disfigurement be conducted to support your claim.” When the exam began this morning, the examiner explained to me that she had only been authorized to do the exam for left hand warts and benign neoplasm. I explained to her that I was expecting a full skin exam and asked if there was anyone she could call. She left to make a phone call and I proceeded to call the VA at 1-800-827-1000. Neither call succeeded in getting the exam changed to a full skin exam. I do not blame the examiner in what happened. She was doing what she was told to do by the VA. I also contacted the VA rep at my Congressman's office. He said he will be discussing my case with a caseworker next week that specializes in these things, and she should be in touch with me soon. I hope I can finally get all this straightened out. ___________________________________________ On the other hand, I contacted my dermatologist’s office to see if they had completed any of the forms I had requested at my appointment last week. The nurse told me there was a note on the file that the information had been faxed to the VA, however she did not know if they had copies, and the person that had faxed the information was going to be gone for quite some time due to knee replacement surgery. I contacted VA again and asked if they had received the information. The person on the phone confirmed that they had received several documents from Dermatology Associates and PA Byron to include the Skin DBQ, a Nexus letter, and a statement. The person I talked to did not know if the information would eventually show up in eBenefits and said the only way for me to get a copy was to do a FOIA request. I've asked my VSO to review the files. Still, JustGettingStarted
  3. CUE for Peripheral Neuropathy

    I was looking for anything I missed on this claim, and found something I believe is significant. When looking through my C-File, I did not find any evidence of medical records from when I was treated by a neurosurgeon at Wilford Hall at Lackland AFB, TX. I provided the Dr's name and location and the dates I was treated when I filed my claim in 2009. The neurosurgeon talks about my radiating pain, numbness, tingling, and paresthesia, and says the clinical symptoms are supported by my MRIs. Since I think they have closed this claim and completely ignore the CUE, I guess I have two choices, either file a NOD or let it die and do a new CUE. I have decided to file a new CUE and base it much on the information in the neurosurgeon's diagnosis. This is information the VA had available but did not use and it is very supportive of my claim. I am also not using the words "peripheral neuropathy" in the new CUE since those exact words are not in my military medical records. My military medical records state I have radiating pain, numbness, tingling, and paresthesia in both arms and hands from the bulging discs. So this is the terminology I will use in my new CUE and then VA can rate it as equivalent to upper extremity PN. I haven't heard back from Chief Deatherage, of Neil Dunn's office, after he requested a copy of my decision letter. I don't know if he is doing anything to resolve these issues with St. Pete. I know he is a busy person, but that is very disappointing. 1-2008 03 30 Wilford Hall purged.pdf
  4. CUE for Eczema-like condition denied :-(

    I wanted to separate out the really weird part of my decision letter. In my decision letter they have raised my rating from 0% to 30% for "Early uterine fibroids status post hysteroscopy and uterine hydrothermal endometrial ablation." This is really weird because I didn't request it and the statements under the reasons for decision are totally out of sync with what I told the examiner, and gave her in writing. It says they have assigned 30-percent based on "Symptoms not controlled by continuous treatment. This is the highest schedular evaluation allowed under the law for disease, injury, or adhesions of female reproductive organs (uterus).....NOTE: The VA Examiner states that you experience "metrorrhagia and Menorrhagia Bleeding in between periods an [sic] prolonged periods." Since the continuous medication you take does not completely control the condition a 30 percent evaluation is assigned. The effective date of increase is the date we received your formal claim and your Intent to file a claim. Since both claims forms were received on the same day your date of increase is June 5, 2017." First of all, I was still in my original intent to file date of Oct 2016 so that should be the date of increase Vs Jun 2017, but that isn't the real issue. The real issue is that all these symptoms were from 2006 and led up to my endometrial ablation in 2007. After the ablation, I was fine. How do I tell the VA to keep the 30% I don't deserve and give me SMC-K that I do deserve? This is insanity. JustGettingStarted
  5. CUE for Eczema-like condition denied :-(

    This just gets weirder and weirder. I got a decision letter today basically denying everything except giving me a rating a did not request and am not warranted. However, since I won't get a copy of the C&P exam that was done by a contractor for 8 or 9 months, I don't know how to even go about fixing it. Under Entitlement to Special Monthly Compensation, loss of use of a creative organ benefits I was denied. "During your rmost recent VA Gynecological examination the VA examiner reported that you underwent a dilation and curettage procedure with hypothermal [sic] ablation after a hysteroscopy. This procedure did not result in the removal of your Vulva, Uterus, or cervix injury. The VA Examiner did note a history of friable cervix, but did not report this as current active condition. The VA Examiner stated upon examination that you have not had a hysterectomy, uterine prolapse, removal of fallopian tubes or ovaries. The VA Examiner reports that you underwent natural menopause without complications from a pregnancy or any gynecologic condition. The Examiner found no objective medical evidence of endometriosis, incontinence, constipation, leakage or rectofabginal fistula and no benign or malignant neoplasm or metastases was found on examination. Therefore, without a current diagnosis of a service-connected condition that would cause loss of use of a creative organ entitlement to Special Monthly Compensation, loss of use of a creative organ benefits is not met." They completely ignored the fact that endometrial ablation is a form of sterility whether or not the uterus is removed. There is precedence for this and I am going to keep fighting: Citation Nr: 9914661: The examiner remarked that the only chronic residual of the veteran's endometrial ablation was sterilization. A VA medical opinion in February 1998 stated that endometrial ablation usually resulted in sterility. However, if a patient did become pregnant following such a procedure, it was highly unlikely that she would have a normal pregnancy and delivery....However, the RO did grant special compensation for the loss of use of a creative organ....The Board further finds that the veteran has should be service connected for all the residuals of her surgery, not just for the loss of the creative organ, as well as the underlying disability that necessitated her surgery." Citation Nr: 1026353: Likewise, based on the objective medical evidence of record, the Board finds that the Veteran's disability is not for consideration under the rating criteria of Diagnostic Code 7618, as the evidence of record fails to show that her uterus has been removed. While the Veteran's ablation has rendered her sterile, she has been awarded special monthly compensation for the loss of use of a creative organ. The ablation, while destroying the endometrial lining of the uterus, has not caused the removal of the uterus, including its corpus as required for consideration under Code 7618. The VA is even considering a code for Female Sexual Arousal Disorder so women can receive SMC-K for it, and that does not involve the loss of any sexual organs. "In order to ensure gender parity, VA proposes the creation of a new diagnostic code 7632 “Female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD).” There is no diagnostic code in current § 4.116 which allows for analogous rating of female sexual arousal disorder, to include consideration of special monthly compensation. Under proposed diagnostic code 7632, female Veterans with service connected FSAD but without physical damage to female genitalia would be evaluated at 0 percent with a note directing rating personnel to consider eligibility for special monthly compensation (SMC-K)." https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2015/02/27/2015-03851/schedule-for-rating-disabilities-gynecological-conditions-and-disorders-of-the-breast
  6. CUE for Eczema-like condition denied :-(

    After typing the above, I received a copy of my decision letter. It says: "Evaluation of [skin condition] currently evaluated at 0 percent disabling. We received your request for reconsideration of the evaluation for your service-connected [skin condition]. We scheduled you for a VA examination and a medical opinion regarding your current continuous treatment. However, we received notification that you were unavailable for your scheduled VA examination on September 8, 2017. The results from this scheduled exam may have allowed us to grant an increase in your service-connected disability compensation. If in the future you provide us with your good cause reason for missing your scheduled VA examination and you indicate a willingness to report for another VA examination we will reconsider your claim. We have continued our non-compensable evaluation for [skin disease]." I already contacted the VA and told them I was never notified of an exam for 8 September. When LHI had called to try and schedule an exam, I let them know I was out of town all but 3 days of the days they wanted me to schedule me. I never received an appointment packet and I called VA 3 times asking when the exam would be scheduled. When I found out a decision letter was being sent, I contacted VA, I was told an exam had never been scheduled and they would request a new one. Now I have a new skin exam next week, but I am a bit concerned it won't cover my eczema-like condition. The decision letter I just received says they have deferred a decision on "verrucae vulgaris, left hand (also claimed as neoplasm benign)". That does not make any sense at all. I am service connected for chronic warts (verrucae vulgaris) on my left hand, and have 10% for the basal cell I had on my left calf. This VA cannot get anything correct it seems. JustGettingStarted
  7. CUE for Eczema-like condition denied :-(

    I got the response below to an email I sent to a VA customer service rep. I have no idea where they got the idea I was using a topical medication: "I reviewed your current medical evidence as well as your exam from 2009. The 2009 exam did note the use of topical cream, which would meet the constant systemic medication portion of the criteria, but the examiner specifically stated that it was not a corticosteroid or an immunosuppressive treatment. Based on that, we did not grant the 60 percent evaluation. I reviewed your current medical records, but I didn’t find anything that would meet one of those requirements. I did see that you had a contract skin exam schedule; however, the exam was canceled by the contractor due to availability/scheduling issues." My response [redacted]: "I am requesting CUE because I have been on oral [medication} since 1998; not because of topical medication. My 2009 exam specifically says “[Medication] 500mg daily” on page 4. Page 22 of the 2009 exams states “4. [Skin disease] – Reports diagnosed in 1996. Taking [Medication] daily with good response”. This is a systemic oral medication. What is so hard to see this in my military records, the 2009 exam, and in my 2009 decision letter that says I am on daily [medication]? In addition, The US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Warren Vs McDonald, No 13-3161 clarifies that any oral systemic drug, not just corticosteroid or an immunosuppressives, qualifies for higher ratings when used to treat a skin disease rated under diagnostic code 7806." I just can't believe how wrong the VA keeps getting this. I can't wait to see what they have to say concerning the oral versus topical medications. I have never used the topical version of this medication. Still, JustGettingStarted
  8. CUE for SCM-K For Loss of Use of a Creative Organ

    I got another email yesterday concerning several conditions including SMC-K for loss of use of a creative organ due to endometrial ablation. Here is what the VA rep said: "A review was also done regarding your endometrial ablation and whether SMC K was warranted. Unfortunately, endometrial ablation without the removal of the uterus or ovaries, does not meet the requirements for a grant of SMC K. Our rating decision dated October 1, 2017, discussed the reasoning for the denial of SMC K." My response: " There is precedence for awarding SMC-K for endometrial ablation. BVA Citation Nr 1026353 states “Likewise, based on the objective medical evidence of record, the Board finds that the Veteran's disability is not for consideration under the rating criteria of Diagnostic Code 7618, as the evidence of record fails to show that her uterus has been removed. While the Veteran's ablation has rendered her sterile, she has been awarded special monthly compensation for the loss of use of a creative organ. The ablation, while destroying the endometrial lining of the uterus, has not caused the removal of the uterus, including its corpus as required for consideration under Code 7618. In addition, BVA Citation Nr 9914661 states “A VA medical opinion in February 1998 stated that endometrial ablation usually resulted in sterility. However, if a patient did become pregnant following such a procedure, it was highly unlikey that she would have a normal pregnancy and delivery.” It is medical fact that pregnancy after endometrial ablation is life-threatening to both the mother and child." I will keep you posted if there is another response.
  9. New Claim not showing up

    I would ask for proof from the VSO you used to file your claim that it was actually filed. I waited 10 months with a VSO telling me everything was fine, to find out my claim was never actually filed. That was the only time I did not use eBenefits to file, and I will never make that mistake again.
  10. CUE for SCM-K For Loss of Use of a Creative Organ

    This claim is getting interesting. According to my VSO, VA was doing up a letter for this claim (but now it is delayed by some of my other claims). In the draft, it said I was being increased from 0% to 30% on my uterine condition, but I was being denied SMC-K because there is no evidence my endometrial ablation was service connected (scratching my head since the endometrial ablation happened in 2006 while on active duty and I was service connected 0% when I retired in 2009). So what the heck is the 30% gyno increase for??? If the VA does increase my gyno to 30%, perhaps I will be able to CUE it back to 2009 since all that is based on events that happened before I retired. I haven't been treated for any gyno issues since I had the ablation in 2006. Or maybe, since my claims are back in the "Gathering of Evidence" stage, the VA will figure all this out, cancel the 30%, and just give me the SMC-K they should have given me in 2009. JustGettingStarted
  11. CUE for Eczema-like condition denied :-(

    Berta, I read that thread and it is very similar to my case. The only difference is that my medication is not an immunosuppressive, and I think that was the cause of the error. However, my medication is a systemic, and there are numerous BVA cases where vets are getting the higher ratings because they are on the same medication I am on. I think that is the reason the error was made in the first place. I will keep plugging away. I am preparing for my new skin exam, and you can be sure I will tell the next examiner the importance of the medication I am on. JustGettingStarted
  12. CUE for Eczema-like condition denied :-(

    John999, That would be good advice if I wasn't so far into this process. When I started doing this, on the advice of a VSO, I went for both options--there is no reason not to. This is really a simple case that was complicated by an inept C&P examiner. In my 2009 decision later it states "Service connection for [skin disease] has been established as directly related to military service. ... A higher evaluation of 10 percent is not warranted unless there is evidence of dermatitis or exzema involving at least 5 percent, but less than 20 percent, of the entire body...or intermittent systemic therapy such as corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive drugs required for a total druation of less than six weeks during the past 12-month period....Service treatment records show that you were found to have [skin disease] in March 1997. Upon VA examination you reported that you continue to take [medication] on a daily basis to reduce flares of the condition, which occur once or twice yearly." So when I retired in 2009, the VA determined I was service connected for the skin disease and that I was taking daily meds. Based on the daily meds I was taking, and documented in my records, they should have given me 60% versus 0% - that's a clear error. I have my pharmacy records clearly showing I have taken daily meds from 2004 to present (I don't have records prior to 2004, but since I retired in 2009 it doesn't matter). Also, all this is documented in the 2009 C&P exam I had. The dates are also in the recent skin exam I had, but Dr Dufus didn't put down my meds. I have 3 CUEs now because of ratings that were left out during my 2009 decision and SMC-K that should have been provided automatically. Now it looks like I may have a 4th CUE to file but that is a whole other story and I have to clear up the SMC-K first. JustGettingStarted
  13. CUE for Eczema-like condition denied :-(

    Last week, I noticed my claim status changed to "Preparation for Decision". I emailed my VSO and he called me with some bad news; according to the system he has access to, the VA was drafting a letter to deny my CUE again because they said I missed an appointment on 8 Sept. My husband and I both know I never received a notification for this - in the past I received a FedEx package with the appointment information. I contacted VA and yesterday I received a call from a VA customer rep. she said the new skin exam was never scheduled and was letting me know that LHI would contact me to schedule another skin exam. LHI called me today to check on my availability and let me know the exam would be scheduled this month. I had a skin exam a few months ago, but that examiner left my medications off the DBQ after I had them listed twice on the questionnaire I was required to fill out, on a chronology I typed up, and on several pages of pharmacy records from Tyndall AFB. When I confronted this examiner on a knee exam I had later, he first said it was just a simple mistake. I brought out my paperwork from the skin exam and showed him all the places I listed it and explained his little error was the difference between 0% and 60% and that his error would delay my claim by months if not years. He changed his story and said he didn't feel like it was necessary to list the medication because my disease isn't in Title 38. I had to explain to him that if a disease isn't listed it is rated equivalent to another disease. This guy should really, really, be fired. Now I have to go to another skin exam, probably a 2-hour drive away, just to tell an examiner what medication I am on and my claim is going to take much longer. I have been watching eBenefits and Vets.gov. My claims went from "Preparation for Decision" back to "Gathering of Evidence" with a new estimated completion date of Aug 2018. I know why vets call the claims system "the hamster wheel". It keeps going around in circles and never seems to end. Still "JustGettingStarted" unfortunately.
  14. CUE for Peripheral Neuropathy

    Hi Berta, My VSO has access to the system the ROs use (VARSM???). He could see the decision letter they are drafting. I have emailed Congressman Neal Dunn's Veterans representative. I requested an appointment when I get back from my current travels. I didn't want to take advantage of Chief Deatherage unless I needed to, but I feel it is warranted now. He needs to see how messed up St Pete is. Chief Deatherage was the command chief that chose me for promotion to chief. He knows I am a very capable person. I talked to him previously off the record, but told him I thought I could handle this on my own at the time. I just did not know how screwed up this would get. Twice now the VA has increased me on things I didn't request increases on, and denied everything else except the peripheral neuropathy (but they didn't back date it as requested). But their increases didn't affect my overall rating, of course. Still JustGettingStarted
  15. CUE for Peripheral Neuropathy

    Hi Berta, I just checked eBenefits and Vets.gov. I should receive a decision by 17 Oct! I guess the VA decided they didn't need to do another skin exam after I responded to their email. I will constantly be checking for online updates over the next 3 weeks. Maybe I will get to change my name from JustGettingStated to FinallyGettingFinished. FGS After writing the info above I heard from my VSO. My entire claim file is totally FUBAR! The VA did not address the back date request for my peripheral neuropathy. They are denying my request for back date and increase for skin condition because they said I missed an exam. The exam was never scheduled and I have been calling VA every two weeks to see when they were going to schedule it. And here is the most messed up one of all. I requested SCM-K and that it be back-dated to 2009 when I retired. They increased my rating from 0% to 30% but denied the SCK-K because the most recent C&P exam did not show my condition related to service. Wait, what? How can they increase it but not relate it to my service. I am travelling now, but when I get home and get the official letter I am finally going to contact Sen Neal Dunn's office in an official capacity.