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Shake-n-Bake's Achievements


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  1. My Combat Action Ribbon was not entered on my DD-214 when I left active duty. Later, in the Reserves, I was essentially told the same thing you were..."no big deal, we know you got the CAR...just wear the ribbon". Of course, it was no big deal to them and, at the time, me neither. We were all still serving. That was just more paperwork. Afterwards, though, I was a full time civilian with service connected issues I needed help with and, suddenly, I wished my CAR was on my DD-214. It took multiple attempts over the course of more than a dozen years before I got them to correct my DD-214. My advice is to get your DD-214 corrected. If you were awarded a Combat Action Badge, get it on there. I believe it could make a difference. I'm rated at 50% for PTSD. The decision cites my CAR as a determining factor. Traumatic experience is presumed. I'm rated at 10% for tinnitus and 0% for bilateral hearing loss. Even though, I'm at 0% for hearing loss., my hearing will get worse, never better. When it does, they will pay me. Again, my CAR was cited as determining factor.The harmful noise exposure was presumed. I don't know what other disabilities may come with presumptions from being awarded a Combat Action Ribbon/Combat Action Badge, but I imagine there are others. My two other claims I have filed, however, did not have any presumptive reasoning based on a combat award. I was denied both of those claims. I wish you the best with your claims. For me, it has been a hassle and, often, an uphill battle, but I am thankful for the compensation I have been awarded. I was (and still am) definitely at a point where I needed a lifeline. If you're not already working on getting your DD-214 corrected, I suggest you do so. You never know how it might help with your claims.
  2. I know this thread is a little old now, but I was looking for someone who has filed for and been awarded service connection for bruxism. I do not have a diagnosis (yet), but have had bruxism for years. I have multiple broken teeth and some missing from where I have destroyed them from the grinding. I don't only grind my teeth during sleep, but often times I do it during the day, as well. I was just awarded SC for PTSD earlier this year and would like to file a claim for bruxism as secondary to the PTSD. There's little doubt in my mind that they're related. Anyway, my real question is, how the heck do you file a claim for bruxism? I have seen people refer to their Bruxism C&P exams and even being awarded SC for bruxism, but I can't find anything in the VA rating info for bruxism. When I go onto eBenefits to file a claim, there is not category for bruxism, either. So, how do you file a claim for something they don't have listed?
  3. I am still awaiting the notification letter with full details but, according to eBenefits, they have denied my claim for hypertension secondary to PTSD. The basis of my claim was not so much that the PTSD caused the hypertension (although I suspect it may have), but that my PTSD aggravates the hypertension. It looks like the decision was based on the C&P examiners opinion that my hypertension is caused by my weight, rather than my PTSD. His notes do not address the issue of the one aggravating the other. I guess I'll appeal the decision, although I'm not sure how that process works, or really what I'll be able to say, or do, differently to help my case. Below is a redacted copy of the C&P exam notes, if anyone would be so kind as to offer an opinion and/or advice. It bears noting that in his remarks, he states that in 2009 I weighed 160 pounds and my blood pressure was normal. However, I thought 140/90 was the upper threshold of normal. The evidence he is citing reflects a reading of 142/86. Does the VA use a different criteria, because 142 is not normal by generally accepted hypertension parameters. Also, he states that the BP readings used to diagnose are not present, but I did the medical records from when I was diagnosed and they show a reading of 150/110 at that time. So, I would have to say that his statement is factually untrue, based on that the evidence that I submitted. --------------------------- Hypertension Disability Benefits Questionnaire Name of patient/Veteran: Shake-N-Bank Is this DBQ being completed in conjunction with a VA 21-2507, C&P Examination Request? [X] Yes [ ] No ACE and Evidence Review ----------------------- Indicate method used to obtain medical information to complete this document: [X] In-person examination Evidence Review --------------- Evidence reviewed (check all that apply): [X] VA e-folder (VBMS or Virtual VA) [X] CPRS 1. Diagnosis ------------ Does the Veteran now have or has he/she ever been diagnosed with hypertension or isolated systolic hypertension based on the following criteria: [X] Yes [ ] No [X] Hypertension ICD code: 00 Date of diagnosis: 2013 2. Medical history ------------------ a. Describe the history (including onset and course) of the Veteran's hypertension condition (brief summary): noted to have high blood pressure and begun on medication on 2013. Had normal pressure in 2009 and weight of 160 pounds. b. Does the Veteran's treatment plan include taking continuous medication for hypertension or isolated systolic hypertension? [X] Yes [ ] No If yes, list only those medications used for the diagnosed conditions: lisinopril c. Was the Veteran's initial diagnosis of hypertension or isolated systolic hypertension confirmed by blood pressure (BP) readings taken 2 or more times on at least 3 different days? [ ] Yes [ ] No [X] Unknown d. Does the Veteran have a history of a diastolic BP elevation to predominantly 100 or more? [ ] Yes [X] No 3. Current blood pressure readings ---------------------------------- Systolic Diastolic Blood pressure reading 1: 138 / 82 Date: 8/23/2017 Blood pressure reading 2: 122 / 78 Date: 8/23/2017 Blood pressure reading 3: 126 / 80 Date: 8/2017 Average Blood Pressure Reading: 128 / 80 4. Other pertinent physical findings, complications, conditions, signs, symptoms and scars ----------------------------------------------------------------------- a. Does the Veteran have any other pertinent physical findings, complications, conditions, signs or symptoms related to the conditions listed in the Diagnosis Section above? [X] Yes [ ] No If yes, describe (brief summary): 8/11/2017 209 lb b. Does the Veteran have any scars (surgical or otherwise) related to any conditions or to the treatment of any conditions listed in the Diagnosis Section above? [ ] Yes [X] No c. Comments, if any: No response provided 5. Functional impact -------------------- Does the Veteran's hypertension or isolated systolic hypertension impact his or her ability to work? [ ] Yes [X] No 6. Remarks, if any ------------------ No remarks provided. **************************************************************************** Medical Opinion Disability Benefits Questionnaire Name of patient/Veteran: Shake-N-Bake ACE and Evidence Review ----------------------- Indicate method used to obtain medical information to complete this document: [X] In-person examination Evidence Review --------------- Evidence reviewed (check all that apply): [X] VA e-folder (VBMS or Virtual VA) [X] CPRS MEDICAL OPINION SUMMARY ----------------------- RESTATEMENT OF REQUESTED OPINION: a. Opinion from general remarks: relation of hypertension to PTSD b. Indicate type of exam for which opinion has been requested: hypertension TYPE OF MEDICAL OPINION PROVIDED: [ MEDICAL OPINION FOR SECONDARY SERVICE CONNECTION ] b. The condition claimed is less likely than not (less than 50% probability) proximately due to or the result of the Veteran's service connected condition. c. Rationale: The pressures used to diagnose hypertension are not available but apparently were there in 2013 when he was started on medication. He has gained nearly 40 pounds of weight since 23009. This is the most likely caused of his hypertension and the PTSD is less likely than not. ************************************************************************* /es/ FRANCIS M REMBERT MD
  4. eBenefits now shows that I was sent a letter of notification, plus under my "disabilities" tab, it now lists a decision for my three latest claims. It appears that they have service connected my hearing loss at 0%, which was the most I could have expected on that one. Basically, I just wanted to go ahead and get it service connected to save the hassle down the road if/when my hearing deteriorates into the the compensable range of loss. My sleep apnea secondary to PTSD has been "deferred". I know what the word deferred means, but I don't understand what it means in this particular context. Does that mean they will schedule me for a C&P sleep study, just arbitrarily kick the can down the road, send it off to someone else for a decision, or what? Why do they defer decisions and what does that do to the process? They have my hypertension, secondary to PTSD, as "not service connected". I'm pretty disappointed in this one. Although I was only hoping for a 0% rating, I feel this one was important to be service connected. I don't see how there's any way that my PTSD has not aggravated my hypertension, which I thought was all that needed to be proved, in an at least as likely as not manner. I am anxious to see the letter to learn their justification for denying this claim. I have an abnormally low pulse rate most of the time, as well as fairly frequent heart palpitations and chest pains, which are potentially connected to my years of hypertension. I will definitely reply to this decision with a NOD, but other than getting an IMO in support of my claim, I don't know what more I can do other than what I'd already submitted. I did not have high blood pressure while in service, so I'm not trying to claim that it was directly caused by my service, or even that my PTSD directly caused my hypertension (though I personally feel that it did). Aren't they supposed to automatically rule on whether it is aggravated by, not just caused by? I wish I could file a claim for all the anxiety and depression caused by VA's disability claims process. On the one hand, they try to treat my symptoms and on the other hand, they are often the leading agitator of my symptoms.
  5. I just checked eBenefits this morning and it says my claim has now gone to "Preparation for Notification". So, they apparently have made their decision - right at a month from the date I filed the claims. Nothing is showing yet to indicate whether the claims were awarded or denied, but the way this all rolled out doesn't leave me with much confidence in a positive outcome. My sleep apnea diagnosis was done by a VA contractor, but it was a home sleep study, not the full blown in-clinic study. I would think if they were serious about examining my case, they would have set up a C&P Exam for the sleep apnea. The only thread of hope I have for that claim, in my mind, is that in my PTSD C&P, the examiner made some comments to the effect that my sleep apnea was "relevant" to my PTSD, or vice versa.
  6. I just had two C&P exams this morning and am trying to keep a positive mindset, but the glass looks half empty to me. Maybe someone else can offer some insight on my situation. Since April, I have been rated at 60%; 50% for PTSD and 10% for tinnitus. The claims process for those went pretty smoothly, really, and I was awarded my disability ratings in very short time. I have since then filed three additional claims. My intent to file was back in April, but I submitted the claims on July 25. These three claims are for hypertension secondary to PTSD, sleep apnea secondary to PTSD and for hearing loss. Today I had my C&P exams for the hearing loss and hypertension. I have heard nothing about scheduling a C&P for the sleep apnea. My first exam this morning was for hypertension. I was diagnosed with hypertension, by a private doctor, about 4 years ago and have been on medication since then and am currently being treated by the VA for my hypertension. My hypertension isn't very severe, but it is outside of normal parameters and has been this way consistently for quite a few years. Even though I wasn't officially diagnosed until 2013, I have (and submitted) evidence of prior medical records that show high blood pressure readings well before my actual diagnosis. I don't think I meet the criteria for anything more than a 0% rating, but that's all I really want, or need. I believe I have bradycardia (abnormally low pulse), as a result of my high blood pressure. My blood pressure has always fluctuated and spiked in relation to my PTSD symptoms, so I certainly think the PTSD aggravates my blood pressure, but I don't feel good about my C&P exam from this morning. The doctor was one of the weirdest people I've come across at the VA, so it was hard to get a good read on him. All he did was take my blood pressure 3, or maybe 4, times, all from my right arm, while I was seated. He wanted to know when I was first diagnosed and how many times they had taken my blood pressure during the visit in which I was diagnosed. I told him it was in 2013 and, although I didn't recall how many times they took a blood pressure reading, I did remember how high it was when I was diagnosed. I tried to discuss the evidence I had submitted to support my having actually had high blood pressure before my 2013 diagnosis, but he shut me down. He said anything that I sent in with my claim wasn't his concern. All he was doing was "checking the boxes" on my blood pressure exam and someone else would look at everything that was submitted. This doesn't make sense to me. Isn't the purpose of the C&P exam to look at the evidence, as well render an opinion? I have already been diagnosed with hypertension and am receiving treatment. I'm guessing my blood pressure readings from the C&P exam are within normal parameters...that's what the medication is for. I don't understand the point of putting me through this dog and pony show, but I certainly didn't walk out of there feeling good about it. Next, I had my audiology exam for my hearing loss claim. I just had a audiology exam a little less than 2 months ago from a VA contractor and was subsequently issued hearing aids from the VA about a month ago. As I mentioned earlier, I already receive compensation for tinnitus, so part of me feels like the VA has already conceded that I had sufficient noise exposure in-service to cause damage, but I have also heard of people winning on tinnitus and losing on hearing loss. Since I had just recently had an audiology exam, I was only given an abbreviated C&P exam for my hearing. The audiologist stated that the contractor had not "submitted a full report", or something to that effect, so she only needed to do a partial test today. She asked me a little about my in-service noise exposure, as well as about my civilian occupations. It was over pretty quickly. I didn't feel quite as bad, or confused about that one as the hypertension C&P, but both of them seemed rushed and indifferent. When I got home, I logged in to eBenefits to check on something unrelated and decided to look at my claim status. It had gone from Gathering Evidence to Preparation for Decision, since the last time I had checked on it. How could it be in Preparation for Decision? Mind you, I just had two C&P exams a couple of hours before. There is no way those reports had been sent in and considered already, so it had to have moved to Preparation for Decision a day, or more ago. Since I have not been scheduled for a C&P exam for my SA secondary to PTSD, I suspect now that they don't plan to give me an exam for the sleep apnea. The fact that they'd already moved my claim to Preparation for Decision before my exams leaves me with the impression that my claims are doomed to denial. Realistically, both the hypertension and hearing loss should each be rated at 0%, so that won't get me an increase in disability pay anyway, but a positive decision on the SA would. I also need the 0% ones, though, because of their relationship to other problems I have. I'm a little confused by all of this and am certainly not feeling hopeful about my prospects at this point. Am I jumping to conclusion prematurely, or am I making a reasonable conclusion that things aren't going my way? It's been less than 30 days since my claims were filed and it's already been moved to Preparation for Decision before my C&P exams. I don't know what that means, but it doesn't seem good.
  7. I was recently rated at 60%, about a month ago, 50% of which is for PTSD. The notes/results from my C&P exams never showed up on myHealtheVet, even when my claim was closed out, up until today. So, I'd already started drawing my compensation before I'd ever known, or seen, exactly what was in my C&P results. All I knew is that my claims were awarded. So, today I'm reading the results from my Mental Health C&P Exam and it says that I have PTSD and Moderate Depression Disorder as a secondary result. Of course, there is only one combined mental health rating and it's 50%, like I already mentioned. In reading the notes about this, the following section caught my attention: "Medical diagnoses relevant to the understanding or management of the Mental Health Disorder (to include TBI):sleep apnea" What is the significance of this statement in my C&P Exam? I was, in fact, diagnosed with sleep apnea late last year. The diagnosis was done by the VA and I was prescribed a CPAP machine. I have already registered an Intent to File for Sleep Apnea Secondary to PTSD, but haven't filed the actual claim yet. Does this statement in my Mental Health C&P add weight to my upcoming claim for sleep apnea secondary to PTSD? Seems like kind of a back door admission by the VA's C&P examiner that the two are connected, or am I being too optimistic in my reading of that?
  8. Okay. Even if it's a slim chance, I'll file the claim for hearing loss, now that I know it's possible to get more than a 0% rating. The impression I had been given was that they would just rate you at 0% and give you some hearing aids, which seemed like a waste of time if they would give me the hearing aids anyway. I definitely have hearing loss, but it's been about 9 years since my last hearing test and that was at a MEPS Center. I have no idea how to retrieve those records. At the time, though, I was told that I barely passed and the person said they would be surprised if I would, or could, pass the test within 4 years of that time. Like I said, that was 9 years ago and my hearing has gotten noticeably worse, for sure. After sending off for my Service Medical Records a handful of times over the years, I have still never received them. The last time I sent the request was in early December and still nothing. They have my active duty records in my C-File, I assume, but I don't know about my records from two post-active duty visits to the MEPS Center, several years apart. I feel like I need to see all three of those tests to know where I stand from the standpoint of historic rate of deterioration. They did just grant me 10% disability for tinnitus, though, so would that satisfy the requirement to prove nexus? I mean, didn't they just concede that I was exposed to damaging levels of noise when they granted my claim for tinnitus? My guess is that they won't make it that easy, but I have no clue. They granted my previous claim without much problem, so maybe I'm overthinking this.
  9. My MOS (Navy rating, actually) is listed as "low" for noise exposure, unfortunately, but I don't understand why. By its very nature, living on a ship exposes a person to an inordinate amount of noise, particularly if that ship also operates jet aircraft and fires very large guns. Seems like it would be based more on the environment of where you were stationed, in addition to what your job was. Regardless, they did approve me for tinnitus, so I guess they must have conceded that I had high noise exposure, or maybe they granted it because of my PTSD. Apparently, there's also a connection between tinnitus and psychological issues. The letter they sent wasn't very clear on why they granted the tinnitus. It just said they gave it to me, because I have ringing in both ears.
  10. I already filed and won for tinnitus and PTSD. The heart of my question is, if they give you free hearing aids anyway, what's the point in filing for hearing loss, if the reward for your trouble is just the free hearing aids you were already eligible for.
  11. I registered my intent to file a claim for hearing loss, but now I'm wondering if there's really any point. I was just granted 60% disability, so the VA should provide the majority of my health care at no cost now, right? I read somewhere that if your rating gets you free health care, that includes free hearing aids, regardless of whether or not you are rated for hearing loss. It's my understanding that there is no financial compensation for hearing loss, anyway. If you win your claim, they just give you the hearing aids for free. So, now I'm wondering if there's really any point in filing a claim for hearing loss. If it's true that I can get hearing aids for free anyway, what benefit is there from investing the time and energy in trying to win a claim? If there is some other benefit to it, I"m willing to go to the trouble, but if not, then my energy is better spent working on other claims which need to be dealt with. Can anyone clarify my thinking on this, or offer some advice?
  12. I just applied for Voc Rehab, which certainly doesn't make me an expert (I haven't heard back from them yet, either). However, in reading up on it, I'm pretty sure the language is something to the effect of "12 months from notification of your disability rating". You can just go on their publicly accessible webpage and double check that, but if I'm recalling correctly, it seems like having your date adjusted back 12 years shouldn't effect your eligibility in any regard, since the relevant notifications are all contemporary. In fact, when I read through their info the first time, I assumed that wording was specifically because benefits are often back dated, by the time a veteran fights their way through the red tape.
  13. I had never set foot in a VA facility, or sought any help from the VA, until June of 2016 when I went in for my Gulf War screening exam. Doing so got me into the VA system and at that point, I signed up to get a Primary Care Physician to begin the process of addressing ongoing health issues, most of which I attribute to my military service. Also, in July, I registered my intent to file a claim for PTSD. In November, I added an intent to file for Tinnitus. After being referred for a mental health screening, I was, in fact, diagnosed with PTSD in December and in January I was sent to a series of Coping Skills group sessions for it. Once I had my PTSD diagnosis from the VA, I went ahead and filed my claims. In mid-February, I was given a C&P exam, via telephone, for my tinnitus claim. On March 4, 2017, I had my C&P appointment for my PTSD claim. I felt that it went pretty well at the time, as far as the examiner being receptive and hearing me out. At the time, she repeated to me more than once, that as a recipient of a Combat Action Ribbon, there would be assumptions made about my exposure to stressors and, of course, I had been given a diagnosis of PTSD. Something in the way she said this and repeated it, caused me to think that she was going to write a favorable report. Unfortunately, though, there have still never been any notes, from this C&P exam loaded into my Blue Button records, so I have no idea what she said. Also, after my exam, the estimated completion date in eBenefits kept getting pushed back further and further, to the point where it could be January of next year before I got a ruling. After feeling good about my chances after the exam, I really ended up just being more distraught over the whole thing. I stopped checking eBenefits, because it just made me and angry and stressed out to keep seeing things get pushed back. On Monday of this week, April 3, I went on line to renew a prescription and thought, "what the heck", I'll just check the status of my claim on eBenefits. It had disappeared! I was about to lose it when I realized that it simply meant that it had been closed out. My heart sank at that point, because going from a "maybe next January" date to suddenly being closed out couldn't mean anything good, in my mind. Coincidentally, they had actually just closed it out that very morning. If I'd checked a few hours before that, I wouldn't have seen it until who knows when. So, I dig around on eBenefits, not knowing exactly where, or what I was looking at. I assumed I would have to wait for a letter to find out what they'd done, but then I saw it...I'd been awarded 60%. I couldn't believe it. I kept double checking and looking all around the site, thinking I'd find something to contradict this. Nope. Apparently, it was real. They gave me 50% for my PTSD and 10% for my tinnitus. At that point, I got to work updating my dependents in the system and adding my direct deposit info. I had tried to do both in the past, but since I wasn't receiving any benefits, I wasn't able to enter any of that information. Now it was all unlocked for me, so I got all of that info updated the same day my claims were approved. That turned out to be a good (and lucky) thing. Two days later, on Wednesday, I had a pretty fat deposit show up in my bank account for the back pay, which turned out to be a couple grand more than I had guesstimated. Things have been in somewhat of a downward spiral over the past year and this couldn't have come through at a better time. I was blown away. After reading so many horror stories, somehow I had my claim approved and money sitting in the bank, literally just one month after my C&P exam. I have other claims I also need to file, but I figured these two were the most obvious and, hopefully, easy to win. I wanted to clear this hurdle before moving on to my other claims. So, although I still think the other claims may be harder to win, my experience with this has at least made me a bit more optimistic.
  14. Well, they have yet to enter the notes from my PTSD C&P exam, but as of today, they have closed out my two claims. I was online to renew a prescription through the VA and decided to check my blue button for the C&P exam record. Still nothing, almost a month later. Then I decided to check the status of my claim, which is usually an exercise in anger management, because they keep inexplicably pushing the estimated date of completion farther back. I was shocked to see that, coincidentally, they just closed out my claims today. Of course, I haven't gotten the letter/decision packet yet, but according to the eBenefits site, they've awarded me a combined 60%.
  15. I have two claims in process and have recently done the C&P Exams for both. The first one was a couple of weeks ago, which was a tinnitus exam, conducted solely over the phone. I asked the lady if I didn't need to go see anyone and she said, no, there's valid test for tinnitus, so they just do the phone interview. I already knew they couldn't medically test for tinnitus, but was still a little surprised that I didn't have to go in for some kind of appointment. At the end of the phone conversation, the person said a decision should be made on my claim in approximately 6-8 weeks. On Monday of this week, I went in for my MH C&P, in connection to my claim for PTSD - Combat related. I have no idea what to make of that conversation. I talked to the examiner for close to an hour and a half, but have know way to gauge if it "went well", or not. She said she would complete her notes/form (whatever she had to complete) that day and submit it to the RO. Like the lady from the phone exam, she said it should take approximately 6-8 weeks for a decision to be made on my claim. After doing some reading on this forum, I've learned that the results of my C&P exams should be found under the Blue Button report on myhealth.va. Is that correct? I have checked and do not see anything about either exam there. This is just the fourth day since my mental health C&P, but the tinnitus C&P was two weeks, maybe three weeks ago. Shouldn't there be something in my Blue Button records about it? Should I be concerned that it's not?
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