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Phury & Rhage

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Phury & Rhage last won the day on August 26

Phury & Rhage had the most liked content!

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About Phury & Rhage

  • Rank
    E-3 Seaman
  • Birthday August 26

Profile Information

  • Military Rank
    E-5
  • Location
    Seattle area
  • Interests
    Reading CAVC decisions, spending time with the grandkid, planning my retirement, helping Vets

Previous Fields

  • Service Connected Disability
    100%
  • Branch of Service
    USAF
  • Hobby
    reading, WoW

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82 profile views
  1. That's gotta be a typo. They probably mean "leave" without pay - also called LWOP. The Veteran takes time off due to migraines and has used all of her sick leave. It appears she's had people donate some of their sick leave, plus she's having to take LWOP. I don't know about anyone else, but it sounds to me as if she's describing federal government pay/leave. I'm a federal employee and I've been in that exact position. I took leave for my disabilities and, when I ran out of leave, I took LWOP. I didn't ask for anyone to donate, but that was an option. Phury
  2. I'm not being snide or anything - I'm just pointing out. "Exposure" isn't a valid claim. Anyone making a claim to the VA needs to understand that they are making a claim for a disability. No disability; no claim. I have actually seen claims where the Veteran says he/she was exposed to "burn pits" or asbestos or Agent Orange, but they aren't claiming a disability. It seems obvious to people who've had a bunch of experience with VA claims, but newbies need to know (if they don't already) that your VA disability compensation claim has to be a claim for a disability. I left out the pertinent part: if your experience/exposure has resulted in you suffering symptoms, that is what you claim to the VA. If you suffer a mental health condition/symptoms as a result of either assault, you make the claim as described by @Buck52. I'm sorry for your experience and good luck to you. Phury
  3. Hi Penguin, So I'm not an expert, but if it were me? I would withdraw the legacy appeal and submit the Supplemental Claim as I explained in my earlier post. I didn't make recommendations earlier, but you are specifically asking for one Here's why I would do that: I work RAMP (there are still some out there) and AMA claims primarily. But I regularly come across legacy appeals. The thing is, even if they are ready to rate and there is nothing left to do but assign it to a rater, I see them sitting there where the last suspense date is OLD and it hasn't been assigned to someone to complete it. The system (NWQ) knows when the suspense dates are and assigns the workload accordingly. The 1st thing I do when I open a claim is check the suspense date and what item is due - response to a letter, attempt to get STRs, etc. I don't know this to be true, but I suspect these legacy appeals are sitting out there unassigned because there are too many appeals and not enough claim processors/raters (sounds obvious, right?). I don't get the same sense with the new AMA appeals (we aren't supposed to call them that - they're "reviews", lol). I'm not working claims where the suspense date has passed. As for the bad exam, if you can swing it (make it happen!), you should get a private exam. There are tons of posts in here devoted to just what you need to do regarding a private exam. That's not my area of expertise, but I've done that with my personal claims. Read up on it - just like you were taking a serious test on the subject. If you think you messed up the 1st time, prepare well for the next one.... Good luck, Phury
  4. I'm not jumping in to the fray, but I will say that I've had all of the experiences described: I'm retired USAF; 100% SC; my husband (retired ANG) and I own our house right out the back of Davis Monthan AFB; we are living (different state - new job) 2 hours away from the Commissary/Exchange (it's only about 40 miles but we have some of the worst traffic in the nation); and we have lived in the middle of nowhere (North Dakota) where groceries were 50 miles one way and no Commissary in sight. Davis Monthan has closed multiple buildings/services (Shoppette, etc.) in the last 5 years. Smokey Point has closed it's Shoppette but left the gas pumps open. NAS Everett turned its Shoppette into vending machines with gas pumps. My point is - they are closing them because they hemorrhage money. In every part of government, there are initiatives/efforts to privatize. In part, that's so that the activities are run leaner - like they would be in a free market. But part of the problem is that they need a broader customer base to increase revenue and provide some financial stability and viability. That's about the REALS; not the FEELS. At the end of the day, everything costs and we/they have to decide how to pay. By the way, here is an excerpt from the Davis Monthan housing website: 14. Who is eligible to live in privatized housing?
  5. Hi! So, a couple of things. You can qualify for SMC S, which is the Homebound rate, if you have a single disability rated at 100% and another disability or combination of disabilities that total at least 60%. You don't need anything else and your employability is immaterial. You can work full-time and still qualify for SMC S if you have 100% (single disability) and at least 60% (single or combined disabilities). However, employability can be a factor in SMC S. The only way it's a factor is if you are rated unemployable on a single disability. That unemployability rating based on a single disability counts as your 100% single disability. Then, you still have to have a total of 60% separately from that unemployability rating. If you do that (I've done that) then you will lose the unemployability rating and the SMC S if you end up with gainful employment. Another note: VA will not process an unemployability claim from someone who is a natural 100%. It's a waste of time and other resources. Phury
  6. Yes and no - it's complicated. If you had a rating decision issued between February 19, 2018 and February 18, 2019, you have/had a one-year period to appeal the decision. To do that, you submit a 21-0958 NOD. You are in the legacy appeal system because your appeal doesn't qualify for review under AMA. HOWEVER. There are some big exceptions to this rule. 1) If you participated in the RAMP program and received a RAMP decision prior to Feb 19, 2019, then your appeal is SUPPOSED to be put in under AMA and requires the use of the AMA forms - if you are initiating appeal after Feb 19, 2019. The original appeal form for RAMP decisions was on a 21-4138 and was called a "RAMP Selection" form. We are still processing those that didn't get handled when they should have. 2) You want to ADD evidence to your claim. Then you file a Supplemental claim on a 20-0995, regardless of when you received your decision - keeping in mind what I said earlier about having to withdraw your legacy appeal if you are in one. If I didn't make it clear earlier, you can leave your issues in the legacy appeals process if you want. You can withdraw some or all of them so you can submit a Supplemental claim. If you submit a Supplemental, though, you have to remember that they require new and relevant evidence. Obviously, legacy appeals (initiated with an NOD) didn't require evidence. Something to keep in mind: after Feb 19, 2019, you CAN'T use the NOD form unless your rating decision fell in the one-year appeal period prior to Feb 19, 2019. Rating decisions issued before the one-year appeal period - so, prior to February 19, 2018 - can only be reviewed as a Supplemental claim (not including CUEs, but I'm not addressing them here). For rating decisions issued after Feb 19, 2019, review HAS to be initiated using one of the AMA forms - doesn't matter if you were in RAMP or not. I should point out that the one-year appeal period for decisions issued prior to February 19, 2019 is closing everyday. For example, if your rating decision was issued on March 1, 2018, you had until March 1, 2019 to submit an NOD on that decision. If you want that decision reviewed today AFTER your one-year appeal period has passed, you have to submit a Supplemental claim and evidence. If your decision was issued on September 30, 2018, you have until September 30, 2019 to submit your NOD (0958) for that decision. NODs will not be accepted for rating decisions that are no longer in the one-year appeal period. Theoretically, VA won't accept anymore 0958/NOD that are submitted on February 19, 2020 or later because none of the rating decisions will still be in a qualifying one-year appeal period. I'm sorry it's confusing If you have a question with specific dates, I'll be happy to answer it... Phury
  7. The legacy appeal - 1 or more conditions appealed on the NOD - is 1 claim. However, withdrawing an appeal is a separate animal. Here's some manual quotes: and My understanding (I'm not an expert!) is that we (claimants/Veterans) have always been able to withdraw an appeal. It makes sense to me. If I appeal 5 issues in a rating decision and I (later) figure out that the VA had a valid reason for denying/effective date/evaluation, then I can choose to withdraw my appeal. It also makes sense that I might only want to do that for a single issue on a multiple issue appeal. However, choosing to withdraw an appeal might not have anything to do with acknowledging that the VA had adequate reason for whatever decision they made. You/we can decide that we need to add more evidence to the claim. Again, my understanding is that an appeal is based on a closed record. If you have NEW evidence that you want considered, you need to "supplement" the record. You can do that by filing a Supplemental claim. If you file for review (appeal) under AMA, the same thing is going to apply. You will have the choice to withdraw some or all of your appealed issues. I'm not sure why you would do that, but it's an option. Phury
  8. Hi Penguin, Thanks for updating You have an option here and it is not a widely advertised one because AMA is so new. Supplemental claims filed on 20-0995 can be filed on anything any time - pre and post 2/19/19 rating decisions. However, if you have a legacy appeal, you will have to withdraw it in writing to submit the Supplemental claim. Ideally, you would do that simultaneously. Withdrawing an appeal can be done on any form or piece of paper. It just has to be written - you can't do it by phone. I'm going to talk about that for a minute, but that doesn't mean I'm recommending it. I just want folks to have the necessary information to make a choice. ***In practice, if you submit multiple pages to the Evidence Intake center, those pages could get split up - I've seen it happen. Make sure your file/SSN and name is on each page. That way, if they get separated, it will still make it in your file.*** If you intend to withdraw a legacy appeal so that you can simultaneously submit a Supplemental claim, you can do it on the same form - the 20-0995. You need to be super specific though. Say something like, "I want to withdraw my legacy appeal (NOD dated 1/19/18), but I only want to withdraw the PTSD portion of it. I am doing this so I can file a Supplemental claim simultaneously and submit new and relevant evidence for consideration. Please continue processing the other issues in my legacy appeal." Or, you could say, "I submitted an NOD on 1/19/18 for my right ankle. I am withdrawing that appeal in favor of a Supplemental claim so that I can submit a nexus statement from my private doctor." The thing is, if you write that withdrawal statement on the 20-0995, the VA processor has everything they need to withdraw your claim from the legacy appeals process and initiate a Supplemental claim. Now, why would you want to do that? I'm not making recommendations, but here are the issues I see. 1) Yes, it looks like the AMA process (including Supplemental claims) is moving quite a bit faster than the legacy process. There are other reasons you might consider it. 2) If you have new evidence to present, you can only do that through a Supplemental claim. That's because the Supplemental claim is an "open" record. In fact, you have to have "new and relevant" evidence to get a new decision on the merits of your claim. Any new evidence requires a new decision, but if the evidence turns out to be duplicative or irrelevant, that's what your new decision will say. And here's one of my favorite reasons (still not making a recommendation): 3) the rules change all the time and almost always are more favorable to Veterans. The newer the decision, the more likely it is that judgment calls will be in your favor. Also, if you get a new decision now, it's eligible for Higher-Level Review (HLR) on the 20-0996. I am TOTALLY sold on those. I've talked about it in other posts, but those go to 2 DROC locations for processing with people who specialize in those claims. They are getting really good at spotting the errors that are made in rating decisions. That's particularly true with procedural/development errors. Your last processor missed evidence in your STRs? The last processor didn't send you for an exam or the exam was inadequate? Nobody tracked down your Reserve/National Guard personnel/treatment records? I'm getting those "Duty to Assist" errors back ALL.DAY.LONG......sorry, bunny trail, lol. Every case is different, but there are very common threads that run through each. If you've been denied, it's CRITICAL that you understand "why" they denied you. Your new and relevant evidence NEEDS to be something that was missing the 1st time around. Or, find out if they SAID something was missing, but it was actually in the file. Either way, you have to know/understand why you were denied. Remember, for every Veteran there are 3 things necessary for service-connection: 1) an event in service; 2) a current disability; and 3) a link between the first 2 (nexus). Never, ever turn in a claim that doesn't address all 3. Here is the most basic example: I broke my _____ in the service. (event) It's bothered me ever since then. (nexus) I "hurt" "can't do _____" "get therapy" "take medication" "am getting worse" (current disability). Holy smokes, I got off track. I've been up since 5 working overtime, lol. Ignore what you don't need Phury
  9. Coming soon to a military base near you! I'm attaching a document that was just released that describes new access granted to service-connected Veterans (not just IU/100%) to military bases and MWR activities including Commissary and Exchange activities. There are a number of categories of Veterans and caregivers that this affects. Spread the word! Phury & Rhage Expanded Patronage.v2.docx
  10. Here is a document that describes new access coming for caregivers. They (and service-connected Veterans plus others) will have access to military bases and MWR activities including BX/PX/NEX and Commissary. Spread the word!!! Phury & Rhage Expanded Patronage.v2.docx
  11. Hi Penguin, When you send in more than one application, on different days, each application (if it's valid) will result in its own claim. So, your reconsideration/reopen claim in December is totally separate from the Supplemental Claim you submitted in April. Even though both applications do very similar things, the rules say they can't be combined. Also, different rules apply to the SAME type of application, depending on when you submit it. Your reconsideration is its own separate claim. It appears that you haven't heard anything about the reconsideration, except what's in that 2nd paragraph in your decision. The 1st thing I would do is talk to your POA. They should be able to look in VBMS and make sure there is an active claim pending for those reconsideration issues. Mistakes happen - particularly in the transition from the legacy appeals process to the AMA. Double-check that your reconsideration claim is still open. If the claim is open, you....wait. Or you can ding-dong VA in various ways. Let us know what the answer is to that question and I'll follow up. Thanks, Phury
  12. I'm sorry your experiences have been so negative. I've had my share of those as well. In my case, I moved around a lot so I had an opportunity to see how different ROs handled my claims. Hawaii and Nevada sucked, but Seattle and Fargo (of all places) really got the job done. I'm sad that Seattle (hello, employee) can't work my stuff anymore, and worried about which RO will do that work (when I next file a claim). It has been my experience (inside and outside of the organization) that the RO definitely matters. My partner and I bought a house in Tucson 10 years ago and Phoenix is "no bueno". Fortunately, I was able to continue using an address in Washington, so I was able to move my claims right back up there. As for your RO, that stinks and it may not change anytime soon.... Phury
  13. lol, I'm sorry! I should have spelled that out. VBA - Veterans Benefits Administration. VA consists of 3 components: VBA, VHA, Cemetery Administration. So VBA is everything to do with benefits, and that's where I work. Phury
  14. Congrats! That's seriously excellent! As for the system glitch -- maybe not There is a severe backlog on the mail since AMA came out. I heard a statistic last month (not saying where) that 20% of the volume of mail for the entire VBA for May was directed to the DROCs. To 2 locations that aren't even fully staffed yet. The process is: 1) mail/fax your documents to an evidence intake center where the contract scanner scans it/them and uploads them to the digital mail system; and 2) wait for VA personnel to "process" that mail. Open it; review it; put it in the Veteran's claim folder; and take initial action (create claim, etc). However, it's possible that there is a huge backlog of mail because Veterans are taking advantage of this new opportunity to get their claims reviewed and everyone and their brother is sending in stuff. It's possible for that mail to sit in there for a couple months before folks can start processing it. It's also possible that folks who don't normally process incoming mail might get the opportunity to help reduce that backlog, which brings its own problems. People doing what they don't normally do, don't always get it done right. Even if they really want to. Add in that the AMA is seriously young and the bugs/kinks are still being worked out in the process AND the software... In my humble opinion, your most timely option is to submit your claim and documents through eBenefits. It is an immediate process. Hypothetically, I could be talking to a Veteran on the phone and mention that I need a statement on a particular issue and the Veteran could say, "I have it right here." I could suggest that the Veteran upload the document through eBenefits (after verifying they have an account set up) and I could literally see the document appear in the folder while I'm still on the phone with the Veteran...hypothetically. Doing that bypasses the evidence intake center and the mail processing issue. The "system" creates the claim and your documents go directly in your folder without further processing by folks who might, on occasion, put'em in the wrong place. Just sayin' Phury
  15. Sorry, I got distracted. No, I can't skip the BVA, but as I mentioned in the other portion, there is a single form (VA Form 10182) with 3 options for review. If my case is solid, I'm going for the higher-level review which should have the quickest decision time. Then, I'm going to the CAVC...and pray for Judge Greenberg.
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