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First Class Petty Officer
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About GeekySquid

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    E-5 Petty Officer 2nd Class

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  • Service Connected Disability
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  1. you were granted both by the way that reads. congrats. I assume you were less than 70% PTSD, and your combined total of all ratings was less than 94% (95% rounds up to 100) or you would not have gotten both. With IU there is a limit on the amount of 'income' you can earn over and above the 100% compensation that comes with IU. you can only earn up to poverty level income annually while on IU. However your other problems seem to still be in the appeal process. They don't show as granted or denied and one assumes (yeah I know) that if a decision on them had also been reached they would have also been updated. This means you may still end up being rated 100% Schedular, which is better for you in many ways, including having no limitation on income. This may be important to you in the future. Poverty level income for a single person (I don't know your situation) is 12K a year by Fed Guidelines. If you live some place where 15 bucks an hour is typical for work you might do occasionally, you could work no more than 800 hours (20 weeks) a year. A typical work year is 2080 hours. 800 hours is easy to burn through in a year without noticing even if it is part-time, seasonal, occasional type jobs. With Schedular you don't have this limit. even with your other listed physical problems you might still find sedentary work with ergonomic equipment available that lets you earn income 30-40 hours a week, which would be legal under a 100% Schedular rating. congrats and good luck on the other stuff.
  2. @megtwils PTSD was not a "Thing" when I got out, we were told to 'man up". The VA refused to help me, and I had to cope the only way I could figure out how to. Now decades later my path is set in cement. Don't let the happen to you. PTSD and MST share a trait in that they can "hide" or be "hidden" for decades, or at least we think we are hiding them. What we don't see/know/realize is that they don't stay hidden and in most cases sneak out an express themselves in how we react, behave, and respond to every day life, and that is rarely pretty. Those closest to us may not even realize something is "off" with our behavior simply because they are so close.. that old adage about not seeing the forest because of the trees. Our emotions and reactions can stay buried for decades but sometime, someday a barely related comment or event can trigger them to come flooding out. I just had an experience in a grocery store with a woman I had never met. She worked there, and I asked her a question. Which led to another question and then I commented that the store had set aside parking spaces for Veterans. This led to a conversation about my being a veteran and that her husband had been in the service 30 years ago. Out of nowhere she started to cry and her face went ashy. I asked her what as wrong and just our talking about their being on base 30 years ago dredged up a situation that happened to her on base 30 years before. She was bullied and physically attacked on station by her husbands coworkers when he was sent out on training. She is black he is white, and the good old boys on base found that to be enough reason to physically and psychologically abuse her, even their wives joined in to make sure she knew what her place was and what they thought of her/them. They got out and fled to the farthest corner of the U.S. away from South Carolina they could get and still be in the contiguous states. She put it behind her for 30 years, but her limited and short conversation with me about being a veteran pulled up all those old emotions. Her reactions were too sudden and intense to be anything but a flash back to those events; there was nothing contrived in her tears, body language or words. She had never spoken of the situation once they left South Carolina. I suggested she get counseling to work out the issues. I make that same recommendation to you. MST and PTSD only get worse if you don't deal with them head on. The longer you have waited, and I speak from experience, the more difficult it can be. I am rate 100% SC P&T for PTSD and without going into details my life has had some very serious problems and limitations. Suggestions for you: Don't rely on your VSO doing the paperwork or getting it right. Turn yourself into an expert on the VA, procedures and lingo. They are very different that the rest of the world in many ways. Get your C-File if you haven't and print out every page. Search this forum for how to organize that information. It is important for your Caluza Triangle and in case you have to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) about the outcomes of the rating decision. If they rate you at say 30 or 50% or something, and you feel they low-balled you, file the NOD. After you filed the claim, bone up on NOD's and what is required. Prepare yourself by learning the information you already have to use to refute their decision. Learn what the DBQ;s are for your rated conditions, learn the very specific phrases that the C&P examiner must put in their evaluation for you to get the different rating percentages. Don't make the mistake of being polite or putting on your best face when you talk to the counselors and the C&P examiners. You don't get points for "dealing with it" on your own. When you are asked about your conditions relate the worst situations, not the average ones, that you experience. for example they will ask you if you are depressed or get depressed and how often. Think about it carefully, have you ever just been unable to get out of your robe, take a shower, brush your teeth, answer the phone for days or weeks on end? Or have you had to fight off the overwhelming desire to do just that but life didn't let you? If that is true for you they will ask how often it happens. If it only happens 1 every couple years, you don't have a rateable depression based on that behavior (maybe on other behaviors just not that example). If it happens monthly or cyclically every couple months then you have a mental health issue and may be clinically depressed. Help the Docs diagnosis you correctly by telling them the true state of being and the really bad times/things/feelings. Do you ever go through cycles of being really energized for days or weeks at a time, and then crash into depressed slug states? like the above how long and how often that happens is very important to your diagnosis and your Service Connected (SC) Rating percentage. you don't get points for dealing with it on your own!!!!! so don't try and minimize it or seem strong. Admit that you try to be strong, just don't hide the worst situations from the counselors and C&P examiners. These conditions are/can be what are called Secondary to a Primary Diagnosis. Somethings are just documented to occur with different Primary Diagnosis. For PTSD Depression, Major Depressive syndrome, Chronic depression, Bi-Polar condition, and Manic Depression are just some of the Secondary conditions that affect your diagnosis and rating. All of this stuff is here in these forums. Read, learn, ask questions. be prepared. You are your own best advocate at this stage. If you have to get a lawyer later on so be it, but now you need to work to be the best advocate for yourself you can be, your VSO may or may not be a good one. For example some VSO's will argue that you should NOT file a disagreement with the raters because that will make them reduce your award. That is total B.S. and you should get rid of that VSO. Keep coming here, posting questions and providing updates. Every veteran on this board is in your corner.
  3. GeekySquid

    PTSD and gambling?

    You have to remember that with the VA our "disability" rating is a percentage of how much our situations have limited our ability to earn an income. Our income from the VA is compensation for that ongoing harm. If you reach 100% schedular SC P&T you can still legally work, but your conditions are such that on average, of others similarly situated like you, you would not be earning what you could. It is a recognition of cumulative effect of multiple factors arising from your military service. Just because you are 100% schedular or even IU, taking your kid on a family outing is not something to feel guilty about. I am fairly confident that everyone here believes you are honestly entitled to your rating and I am fairly sure that is the default position every veteran who posts here is viewed under, that they are honestly harmed and entitled to their rating. when that same feeling of "guilt" shows up again, give yourself five minutes to wallow in it and then shake it off. tell yourself that time is up for feeling guilty because guilt is a useless emotion. If you continue to feel a drive to feel "bad" about yourself, I can suggest you find a Sect of the Catholic Church called Opus Dei. They believe in self-flagellation to atone for their felt guilt over perceived sins. They will even lend you a whip so you can bloody your own back. Such thoughtful people.
  4. GeekySquid

    Feedback on DBQ

    Keep in mind that to get rated at a specific percent not all or even most of the specified criteria have to be met exactly. The MR21 manual guidance on it tells the rater that the list of symptoms is not exhaustive or definitive. You can have symptoms that are parts of higher and lower percentages, or you could have other combined situations that the doctor should have noted that are, for lack of a better term, "equal too" a specific rating. Additionally the rater is to sorta "round up" to the next level if there is evidence to support that rounding up even if you don't meet the exact criteria. This link is to the full adjudication process manual on the VA website, you can go through all the considerations for each rated item. It is worth getting to know. https://www.knowva.ebenefits.va.gov/system/templates/selfservice/va_ssnew/help/customer/locale/en-US/portal/554400000001018
  5. GeekySquid

    AB8 Letter Generated on Ebenifits, it’s official 100%P&T

    I am fairly certain that it is early in the morning and that is a typo. I believe Buck meant to spell Diary Date but his morning coffee has not kicked in. A Diary Date is just another way to saying they plan to revisit your case in a period of time. As I understand it even those of us who are P&T can have those dates assigned, even if our paperwork says no other dates are to be scheduled. Buck is also right to point out that age factors into the decision to have a revisit. From the VA's perspective and the law, our being paid for our disabilities is a measure of how the harms affect our ability to make an income. Age affects our ability to make an income also. The older we get, the less likely we will be to get our jobs back if the disability lessens in only moderate and temporary ways. With that thinking the law contemplates that we are not likely to have the earning power we would have "normally" been expected to have if our injuries had not occurred and that after a particular age points it will never recover. Therefore the VA just elects to not spend the money on follow up exams if your condition is not likely to substantially improve. In other words in your case your back is not likely to get better no matter what you do, so don't sweat a re-exam if there is no Diary Date in your c-file associated to this award Some conditions however do get better after treatment, even years of treatment, and the persons ability to earn a 'normal" income is no longer affected. The law contemplates that situation and makes room for re-exams to make sure that has not happened. I am example of this situation. I am 100% PTSD P&T. My papers specifically state no future exams scheduled and I am over 55. Nowhere in my c-file does it say there is a "diary date" for this award. I also have an in-process claim for smc-k for ED. That will likely be rated at 10%. It will have an Effective Date of the claim. It is unlikely to improve as medications have already proved ineffective. I am also asking them to re-open my bilateral hearing loss claim as they stated I have the loss but disallowed service connection. They rated me at 10% tinnitus and provided a nexus, one of several in my records, for hearing loss. What they did not do is look at all my enlistments when they said my hearing loss was not service connected. there is another long post that shows all the hearing tests in my c-file. If the VA had accepted me 30 years ago I would have been rated for bilateral hearing loss; I had rate eligible loss in both ears when I left the Navy. With my conditions my life has not involved noisy environments and since then my hearing has improved. There is still a service connected loss, just not enough to earn a rating-for-pay at this time. Had they rated me back then and paid me back then a re-exam showing the improvement would have rightfully meant a reduction in my rating and payment. This would have been fair. Yep it is annoying if you are legitimately as bad off as you were before, but to prevent fraud and waste the VA is 'right' to consider that some people might just actually have gotten better. hope this all helps put your mind at ease over Diary Dates. Besides with your conditions you will continue to get treatment and they will document you along the way, it really won't get much better in any permanent way.
  6. @ArmySgt2014 Yep it is. I see above you have a veterans rep, does this person have access to the VBMS? The E benefits portal is not reliable except as a source of frustration. If your rep has access go to them, if not go to your RO and ask to look at your record. You want them to print all your current/previous claims, all C&Ps past and scheduled and any determinations in the file . If you don't have your c-file, get it. Mine just took less than 2 months to get, not bad for the VA. Since you have other claims in process those two "missing" ratings could be important as you know.
  7. GeekySquid


    @Buck52 the only time I have found value in having the Id.Me account was when DS Logon was having problems last month. The Id.Me account got me into my health data. beyond that I agree it is not worth having.
  8. GeekySquid


    @Buck52 You have to sign up for ID.ME and prove you are a veteran. ID.ME is a marketing company that targets veterans, firemen, cops, students etc to sell them stuff that is sometimes at a discount. I have never found a discount from them that was worth a darn. They also have a contract with the VA that allows them to ask you questions and look at your government files to verify you know the information and assumes you are that person. It has been a while since I signed up, but If I remember it also does a soft-pull to your credit files to ask questions from there but I did sign up before the VA started using them. Once you are approved by ID.ME you will be required to select different things for their marketing. Once that is done, you will be able to use the ID to log into certain VA sites. Please note that the new Sec. just gave a speech saying that VA.GOV is being redesigned to be the "front door" to 80 of its most used websites. What the means for access via DS Login and ID.ME is unknown. Where the other information on VA.GOV will be accessible from was not discussed, but I suspect this is part of the current administrations program to hide or cleans government websites of data they feel goes against their policy goals. I won't dive into politics here, but hiding data already paid for by the taxpayer goes against long standing public policy and is a partisan action.
  9. GeekySquid


    @buck52 I have both, DS Logon and ID.ME. no problems and actually recently when DS Logon was acting up vets.gov my ID.ME account got me in.
  10. Sadly the functional definition of expedited is wildly inconsistent and illogical in the VA system Each claim is different obviously, but one would think that a homeless vet, someone being physically abused, dying or being evicted should have their own "private" lane to process claims. As I understand this, the claim is marked as a Flash and that puts it on top of a pile, but whose pile and and how big that pile is remain something of a mystery. In the VA system there is in place a mechanism that "farms out" claims to different RO's based on workload. That system seems to be opaque to general internet searches so its parameters are unclear. It seems kind of sad if you consider the current Monday Morning Report numbers for example this week there is a reported total of 365,851 Compensation and Pension Rating Bundle Files of which 137,012 are for Original Entitlements and 38,552 are Pending > 125 days. It begs the question of how many "raters" does the VA employ? Say the VA employs 1000 rates across the entire system, a number that seems low but who knows? If correct each rater would have 1370 claims on their plates this week. If we assume 100% efficiency, and we know that is a crock, and a 5 day work week, 8 work hours a day. Each rater would "Review" 274 new claims bundles every day. That is 34.25 claims files per hour. We know that is not happening. What seems more reasonable is that raters are "expected" to spend 1 hour reviewing every initial claims bundle as a average. That would be 8 claims a day per rater. At that rate the VA would need between 3 and 4 thousand raters working full time to process just the weekly backlog of initial claims, and would still not be able to work the files waiting for stuff outside the VA's control. It is just sad and bewildering that VA and Congress allowed this to happen over the years and even trying to dig out of it with "new" systems the VA still reports numbers in a way that is deceptive.
  11. GeekySquid

    MST C&P exam contradictory

    @finajones for whatever it is worth, her statement that a legal opinion is what is needed is wrong, that brings her 'qualifications' into question If she has been trained in this area and in performing C&P exams she is supposed to know better than that response. She is not asked for a legal description but a medical opinion. two different things. I would look closely at her listed credentials and when you appeal point them out and ask how could a qualified C&P examiner believe she was being asked a legal question. The RO will need to justify under what legal theory, and section of 38 USC and 38 CFR they accept her claim that an MST diagnosis and service connection is a legal opinion. @Buck52 is right, read the link on Chris Attig's blog, it's called Veterans Law Blog. Frankly it sounds like she is unqualified, uninterested or for some reason does not really like your claim.
  12. @Nobby I am assuming you have a copy of the Sleep Exam results and diagnosis. Does it have an Epsworth scale rating in it? I can't say how the C&P examiner will react to being "told" things, but gently pointing out /directing them to information in the file is helpful. My Epsworth is 22/24 which basically says I am tired all the time and fall asleep standing up. (not quite but you get it). The one question I have is does your diagnosis explicitly state that your "cpap/bipap" is a medical necessity or issue? There was a recent change to the SA rating requirements that necessitate that type of wording. The law firm Perkins and Stoddard shows this change at this link https://veterans.perkinslawtalk.com/post/bad-secret-change-to-va-sleep-apnea/ this is the important line from the M21 adjudication manual “When determining whether the 50-percent criteria are met, the key consideration is whether use of a qualifying breathing assistance device is required by the severity of the sleep apnea.” Good luck, just be honest and complete. If your Caluza Triangle is solid you should get your rating.
  13. in reading through the VA determination explanation in the formal letter I found this " Although right ear hearing loss is not shown in service, acoustic trauma or military noise exposure may constitute injury of the ear. Medical expertise is needed to establish a link between your current hearing loss and in-service military noise exposure. However, to this date, we have received no medical records showing that your right ear hearing loss is due to service. You have in-service acoustic trauma, but service connection for your left ear based on military noise exposure alone cannot be granted. For service connection of the left ear to be considered there must first be a s Although right ear hearing loss is not shown in service, acoustic trauma or military noise exposure may constitute injury of the ear. Medical expertise is needed to establish a link between your current hearing loss and in-service military noise exposure. However, to this date, we have received no medical records showing that your right ear hearing loss is due to service. You have in-service acoustic trauma, but service connection for your left ear based on military noise exposure alone cannot be granted. For service connection of the left ear to be considered there must first be a showing of actual hearing loss in the left ear for VA purposes. Your VA examiner opined that it is not at least as likely as not than not that your hearing loss is due to military noise exposure. Your examiner provided the following rationale: Hearing was within normal limits on enlistment and separation, and there is no evidence of an OSHA-defined threshold shift during military service. Your VA examiner opined that it is not at least as likely as not than not that your hearing loss is due to military noise exposure. Your examiner provided the following rationale: Hearing was within normal limits on enlistment and separation, and there is no evidence of an OSHA-defined threshold shift during military service." These items are all in those records in my c-file. At this point I have asked to re-open that claim and based on all I have heard so far on here, I suspect they will deny. If they do I will try a NOD on their denial to re-open, obviously if they re-open I won't have to NOD that action. If they deny SC after re-opening I will NOD that. What I think sounds like the best NOD plan is to layout that the files exist in my c-file, they show in service harm and then lay out three possible scenarios about the data, hoping to lead them to decide it is "new and material" I think something like this: "As far as I can tell the C&P Doctor and the RO made their decision for one of several reasons. I am loath to put forth derogatory performance or skill as a reason, but that determination is not for me to make. 1) The specific hearing tests had not yet arrived from St. Louis, NAS Signonella, NAS Jacksonville and/or NAS Cecil Field when the determination was made. 2) The RO and C&P doctor both elected to ignore the files in my records at that time, through intent or sloppiness. 3) The RO and C&P Doctor, though certified and employed to perform this type of evaluation lack(ed) the skills and knowledge to do so properly and with the full care and attention necessary to do the job correctly. In the event the records were not in the c-file during this time, they become new and the test results not previously evaluated are most certainly material to determining service connection as they show in service loss." I suspect wording like that will lead them to choose Item 1 with out explaining or proving their explanation to re-open. Most people will take a provided exit over blaming themselves. who knows this may all be moot, the delay in getting a determination is because they are thoroughly reviewing the entire file and will re-open and grant service connection without me doing anything....and I fart rainbows every Tuesday.
  14. @SgtE5 Hey SGT, I cannot help you with your case, but since I am trying to re-open my own claim for bilateral hearing loss your information is of interest. In that vein, I have located an PDF copy of the infamous missing VA Fast Letter 10-35 which contains lists of all service job classifications (NECs, MOS, etc) with the level of hearing loss marked as high, low etc. I cannot say if this has been superseded by a different one, but I see lots of web references and even on HADIT of it being a pain to find. I had to go through the wayback machine and pull down an archived copy of a Tenn. State website to find it. This particular one is from 2013. That is why the funny file name. hope it helps you or others in some way from wayback machine state of tenn website Duty MOS Hearing Loss Probibility Chart-VA Fast Letter 10-35.pdf
  15. @ocean that's a lot of pages, i hate to sound gleeful but good for you!. I know they were expensive, time consuming and probably felt like delay after delay, but if they help you get your earned compensation then they were worth the expense. procedurally I don't know that they wait to post your C&P until they wade through it and any evidence you submitted to the doctor, but as I understand if you did give the doctor papers (and they are allowed to use that) you still have to do the upload yourself or mail them in. This may apply only to outside C&P examiners, maybe one of the Edlers know different.

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