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Third Class Petty Officers
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Everything posted by Confusedvet1

  1. Just thought I would update again. Still nothing lol. I emailed the FOIA office again asking for a tracking number if available so I can track it's progress online. I haven't heard back about they either which is strange but I'll give them another week or so and reach back out.
  2. The actual regulation regarding how long you have to wait before they can email letter is contradictory. It states 10 mailing days then also says 14 calendar days while I've gotten the operators at national call center to admit 10 mailing days includes Saturdays. Ive spoke with multiple people about making people wait and they have said it's about protecting veterans LOL. There are "privacy" concerns about making the letters available immediately online. You also can't waive that privacy concern and I have yet to get an explanation on how waiting 10 mailing days makes your privacy anymore protected. My problem with all this is that it effects your due process rights IMO. For example you get a final decision letter from BVA and you see part of it is denied. Well you don't know why they denied something until you read it. BUT you only have 120 days to file with US court of appeals which starts the day they mail the letter. Problem is they don't actually mail the letter the day they say they do and they make you wait the minimum of 10 mailing days before sending it to you electronically. So not only does the justification for their policy not make sense but it also deprives you of time to get your appeal ready and submitted. When I brought up the fact that I can see my VA medical records online they said it's a different department in VA with different policies.
  3. That's crazy, it should take that long to send a specific exam report.
  4. Just thought I would update. I'm sure I'll be disappointed but hope to have my FOIA request fulfilled this week. The national call center has been having some IT problems apparently.
  5. C files can be done by sending in foia request to the evidence intake center as well I believe.
  6. I reopened iris inquiry again and said I would appreciate the actual laws and regulations relating to making veterans wait for decision letters etc. They also couldn't confirm if I sent foia request to right person since they don't have any updates guidance since the days of faxing or mailing them into the evidence intake center.
  7. I just emailed my request to this email foia.vbaco@va.gov addressed to Angela c Davis. As of November 2020 the VA accepts foia requests electronically as well. I still need to call Peggy tomorrow and have them reopeny iris inquiry because they haven't addressed questions or sent me the information that I just requested via foia
  8. Should I make mine more specific? I'm just looking for the information that was associated with the iris inquiry that both operators told me was in there. One operator said the letter was sent may 14th (never got anything) and a later supervisor saw there was a bunch of info associated as well but that it wasn't closed yet. What I ended up getting was an email response unrelated to anything I asked for. So it's hard to be very specific about what I want when it's being hidden and denied to me. To me my request seems pretty straight forward and hopefully not to complex. The information I want is also in the iris system and not my claims file which is another reason why I don't know where to send request. This information isn't claim specific to me either.
  9. So I found a sample letter on VA website and used that as a guide and added more to it. This is likely what I'll end up sending with additional information filled out once I figure out where I need to email it since there are a lot of FOIA officers in different parts of VA. I'll call Peggy tomorrow and ask where to send it as well to open up the iris inquiry again. Address Address Date of request Department of Veterans Affairs <<Office you wish to submit your request to>> <<Office Street Address>> <<Attn: FOIA Officer’s name>> Dear <<FOIA Officer>>: This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I request that you submit a copy of all records and documents associated with iris inquiries xxxxxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxxx. Including but not limited to any documents, records, VA internal communications, etc regarding those inquiries. I'm also specifically looking for the information associated with one or both of those requests referenced by an operator at the 1-800-827-1000 phone number on May xx with a call starting time of approximately xxxxxx EST. Also the information I'm looking for was referenced on a call on May xx that started at approximately xxxxxx EST which was escalated to a supervisor who informed me there was a lot of great information associated with my inquiry including but not limited to PDFs. I would like this information to be provided to me in electronic format and by email or secure email. I am willing to pay up to $250 for the processing of my request if required by law. Please notify me if you estimate the fees to exceed this amount. I believe my request may be entitled to a fee waiver as well. Based on the telephone calls referenced above I believe this information is in the public interest including but not limited to understanding how the VA operates and the information I seek is not primarily in my commercial interests. If you have any questions, I may be reached at xxx-xxx-xxxx but I prefer communication by e-mail at xxxxxxxxx@xxxxx.com Sincerely, Xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  10. Part 1 of figuring out FOIA request. This is my first time doing a FOIA request. First place I started reading was here https://www.foia.gov/how-to.html to start figuring out the process. This seems like an important section "A FOIA request can be made for any agency record. You can also specify the format in which you wish to receive the records (for example, printed or electronic form). The FOIA does not require agencies to create new records or to conduct research, analyze data, or answer questions when responding to requests." So I just have to figure out how to word my request to get the information I'm looking for. Any suggestions? I'm thinking something like. To whom it may concern, I am requesting any and all documents and records pertaining to iris request xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Including but not limited to , internal government communications regarding the iris request, notes from call center when I called regarding that request, documents , PDFs, etc that were associated with the request and referenced by call center supervisor on this date at this time. I request this information be provided in an electronic format. Thank you I still have to look at VA website to see what the process is for them to make sure I submit it using there rules.
  11. I spoke with Peggy about my award letter as well as with my lawyer. My understanding is that the BVA decision says they owe my backpay prior to oct 2020 which is the effective date the VA gave me when I got new C&P exam because the BVA said the original one wasn't complete. The RO said the new exam is the first diagnosis of painful scar. However the judge in BVA decision says that there are lots of complaints going back in time and that my effective date should actually be earlier. It also says that I'm not entitled to more then 10% (I agree completely). But i am entitled to 10% moving forward for the scar. it doesn't change my over all percentage though (currently at 30%). ETA: the original exam said there was no pain which was a lie and why I got it documented medically and the judge saw that in my records which is why he brought it up in decision.
  12. It's so funny you bring this up lol....... I was told by a Peggy supervisor among other things that they can't put letters online for veterans to see instantly because of the privacy act (wouldn't tell me what one and made it sound like there is a super secret one for VA employees????) And it would also affect appeal rights (wouldn't explain how when I asked) . The kicker though is that the other reasons they can't put the letters online for veterans to see because it's sensitive private information. So I asked why I could download my VA medical records and view those? The supervisor then said that's a different department of VA and they have their own rules and policies. So am I to conclude that the VA as whole has determined that award letters are more private and sensitive then medical records? I guess that's why in past I had a VA Dr tell me I had a heart condition and gave me a ekg printout (she didn't give me an EKG lol) and told me to take it to cardiology. Well that ekg was for a veteran of the opposite sex and 20 years older with that veterans name on it and clinic name!!!
  13. Ok I'll do that then in the hopes it inspires other veterans to do the same in the future. Any idea what section I should put it in on this forum?
  14. If I end up going FOIA route to get the information would anyone be interested if I started a thread that chronicled the process? I've never done one before.
  15. Ask for supervisor and keep calling back and asking for supervisors. I've found there are helpful people that care about doing right thing then there are just as many who don't care and want to get you off phone by telling you any half truth that works. Don't forget if you ask for supervisor they have to transfer you, it's there policy.
  16. Update: I got email response withing 45ish minutes I think after talking with Peggy. However again they didn't answer my question so Monday I'll call again and open the inquiry again and I'll contact my congressional representative of they don't answer again and file a foia for the information that was going to be given to me that wasn't. Here is the answer I got this time. Which didn't address the specific policies , regulations , and rationale. Either way I'm going to keep this inquiry open until they answer my questions so they can't later say I didn't keep it open and I must of been satisfied with the answer. This e-mail from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is in response to the inquiry received on June 4, 2021 regarding clarification on policies and procedures. In order to provide fair, consistent, and equitable treatment to all service members and their families, laws and regulations have been set forth by Congress. The Department of Veterans Affairs is required to adhere to the laws initiated by Congress in order to protect the integrity of our mission. Thank you for contacting us. If you have questions or need additional help with the information in our reply, please see our other contact information below. ***Please Note: This email was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming email. Please do not reply to this message. Thank you for your service, Regional Office Director
  17. Hi Berta, This thread was started because I was told by Peggy an iris request I submitted about policy and regulation was going to yield great results as far as how the VA operates and not relating to my specific claims. As far as my specific claim I did get the letter. I was granted an EED but didn't give a specific date. It was sent to RO to determine new effective date but it's not a remand. The denial was for award in excess of 10% for scar which I agree with the BVA. So the issue I'm fighting now is the fact 2 different Peggy operators told me to expect a lot of good non claim specific information. A supervisor made me promise to share the info coming my way with other veterans. What I received was an email yesterday saying status of my claim which wasn't the question I asked and I never received all the "good information" I was told to expect. First supervisor today refused to open inquiry back up for me because she "answered" the questions in request but wouldn't answer my follow up questions to understand and clarify what she meant so I could read it from the source. She then refused to let me speak with another supervisor and she was getting upset with me so I called back and spoke with another supervisor who reopened the iris inquiry for me because my questions weren't addressed at all in their response to me.
  18. Called VA today. Spoke with a supervisor who wasn't very helpful. She refused to reopen iris inquiry because she said she answered the questions in it even though the email I received didn't. I was asking her questions on her answers because I wanted to make sure I understood them because working in a call center in my past I'm good at recognizing non answers and beating around the bush. She started getting upset and I could tell be her voice and talking under her breath she was very stressed so I told her I would just call back because she refused to transfer me to another supervisor. I called back and asked for a different supervisor who then admitted the email response didn't in any way address my questions and he reopened it for me reiterating what I was looking for and he said they have 5 business days to respond.
  19. Unfortunately not the update I wanted to give..... I got the email today and was not even in the ballpark of what I asked for or was told I was getting. I was told by Peggy there was a ton of info coming my way and that I better like to read. What I received was essentially them saying there was a decision from bva and it was mailed to me. I didn't ask about that at all so tomorrow I call back and ask to speak with supervisor and reopen request and ask where all my information is I was promised.
  20. Hello, I was hoping someone could help me find the law, regulation or official policy and guidance regarding retroactive backpay. Specifically I'm looking for the official written rules regarding the calculation of back pay using the various rates of each year. Basically I want the rules that say why they don't pay your backpay at the going rate and use the rates from all the years they didn't pay.
  21. Also the information I'm getting isn't claim specific to me, I don't know for sure but it sounds like this is information on how the VA works or at least some information that should be very useful to all veterans in their fight.
  22. If it's been over 10 mailing days call the 1000 number and ask them to secure email it to you.
  23. Pretty stocked and can't wait to get this info and share it. I recently submitted an iris claim asking about the 10 day policy of waiting after letter is sent with a decision and why they can't make it available online immediately and rationale for their policies etc. I've spoken to 2 people so far at the Peggy line and both have said that they are jealous (one actually is asking to have the info sent to their management team) of the information being put together for me and that they hope I like to read. One told me I better share this info with other veterans as well so my hopes are high for some really great information to share. Hopefully more to come by end of next week at latest.
  24. I read the letter a bunch and it was confusing. I called Peggy and I recorded the call as well and I confirmed that the board did not give a specific effective date other than saying the one the VA gave me was wrong. So I agree completely with the decision and my rating so we just have to see if they get the effective date right this time. This is my decision letter. I'm confused why they talk about February 2020 but at the end he seems to lay out a great case for an effective date back to 2013. ORDER Entitlement to an initial disability rating of 10 percent, but no higher, for surgical scar, right wrist status post tenosynovectomy for the period prior to October 15, 2020 is granted. Entitlement to a disability rating in excess of 10 percent for surgical scar, right wrist status post tenosynovectomy for the period from October 15, 2020 onward is denied. FINDINGS OF FACT 1. The evidence is at least in equipoise as to whether the Veteran's surgical scar, right wrist status post tenosynovectomy manifested as a painful scar for the period prior to October 15, 2020. 2. The weight of the evidence is against a finding that the Veteran's surgical scar, right wrist status post tenosynovectomy manifested as three or four unstable or painful scars for the period from October 15, 2020 onward. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW 1. The criteria for entitlement to a disability rating of 10 percent, but no higher, for surgical scar, right wrist status post tenosynovectomy for the period prior to October 15, 2020 have been met. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1155; 38 C.F.R. §§ 4.1, 4.7, 4.118. 2. The criteria for entitlement to a disability rating in excess of 10 percent for surgical scar, right wrist status post tenosynovectomy for the period from October 15, 2020 onward have not been met. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1155; 38 C.F.R. §§ 4.1, 4.7, 4.118. REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS The Veteran had active service in the Marine Corps from September 2003 to September 2007. These matters originate from a March 2015 rating decision by a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office (RO) that granted an initial noncompensable rating for surgical scar, right wrist status post tenosynovectomy (right wrist scar). The Veteran timely initiated and perfected an appeal of the initial rating assigned to his right wrist scar. The Veteran's October 2015 Form 9 reflects that he requested a hearing before a Board of Veterans' Appeals (Board) Veterans' Law Judge (VLJ); however, in May 2019 the Veteran, through his representative, communicated in writing that he desired to withdraw his hearing request. The Board remanded the Veteran's right wrist claim in December 2019 for additional development. Specifically, the Board directed that the VA treatment records be obtained from VA medical facilities in Canandaigua, New York and Rochester, New York; and that the Veteran subsequently be afforded a VA examination to determine the current severity of his right wrist scar disability. A remand by the Board confers on the Veteran, as a matter of law, the right to substantial compliance with the remand orders. Stegall v. West, 11 Vet. App. 268, 271 (1998). Updated VA treatment records from various VA facilities, including the Canandaigua, New York and Rochester, New York facilities, were associated with the claims file in June 2020, August 2020, and September 2020. The Veteran was afforded a VA examination in October 2020. The RO issued a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) in October 2020. The Board finds that there has been substantial compliance with its December 2019 remand directives. The Board notes that while the March 2015 rating decision on appeal assigned an effective date in December 2014 for the grant of service connection for the Veteran's right wrist scar, that effective date has since been revised to February 18. 2013 by a June 2020 rating decision. An October 2020 rating decision granted the Veteran an increased rating for his right wrist scar, effective October 15, 2020, As the highest possible rating has not been assigned with respect to the period from October 15, 2020, onward, the appeal continues. See AB v Brown. 6 Vet App. 35 (1993). In light of the foregoing, the Board finds that the issues currently before it are entitlement to an initial disability rating for the Veteran's right wrist scar for the period from February 18, 2020, to October 14, 2020; and entitlement to a disability rating in excess of 10 percent for his right wrist sear for the period from October 15, 202,0 onward. Entitlement to a disability rating of 10 percent, but no higher, for surgical scar, right wrist status post tenosynovectomy for the period prior to October 15, 2020 is granted; entitlement to a disability rating in excess of 10 percent for surgical scar, right wrist status post tenosynovectomy for the period from October 15, 2020 onward is denied. Disability ratings are determined by applying the criteria set forth in the VA Schedule of Rating Disabilities (Rating Schedule) and are intended to represent the average impairment of earning capacity resulting from disability. 38 U.S.C. § 1155, 38 C.F.R. § 4.1. Separate diagnostic codes identify the various disabilities. Disabilities must be reviewed in relation to their history. 38 C.F.R. § 4.1. Other applicable general policy considerations are: interpreting reports of examination in light of the whole recorded history, reconciling the various reports into a consistent picture so that the current rating many accurately reflect the elements of disability, resolving any reasonable doubt regarding the degree of disability in favor of the claimant; where there is a questions as to which of two evaluations apply, assigning a higher of the two where the disability pictures more nearly approximates the criteria for the next higher rating; and, evaluating functional impairment on the basis of lack of usefulness, and the effects of the disability upon the person's ordinary activity. See 38 C.F.R. §§ 4.2, 4.3, 4.7, 4.10; see also Schafrath v Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 589 (1991). In adjudicating claims for VA benefits, the burden of proof only requires an "approximate balance" of the evidence for and against a claim. 38 U.S.C. § 5107 (b), 38 C.F.R. § 3.102, Gilbert v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 49, 55-56 (1991). This low standard of proof is "unique" to the VA adjudicatory process, and "the nation, 'in recognition of our debt to our veterans,' has taken upon itself the risk of error' in awarding such benefits." Wise v. Shinseki, 26 Vet. App. 517, 531 (2014). In evaluating a claim for disability benefits, when there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence regarding any issue material to the determination of a matter, VA shall give the benefit of the doubt to the claimant. 38 U.S.C. § 5107. VA must consider all lay and medical evidence of record. 38 U.S.C. § 1154(a); 38 U.S.C. § 5107; 38 C.F.R. § 3.303. Laypeople are competent to report symptoms and experiences observable by their senses, such as pain. See Jandreau v. Nicholson, 492 F.3d 1372, 1377 (Fed. Cir. 2007); 38 C.F.R. § 3.159(a). The Veteran's right wrist scar is currently rated under diagnostic code 7805, which refers to diagnostic codes 780, 7801, 7802, and 7804. Diagnostic code 7800 applies to scars of the head, face or neck; diagnostic code 7801 refers to scars associated with underlying soft tissue damage; diagnostic code 7802 applies to scars with an area of 929 sq. cm. or greater; and diagnostic code 7804 applies to scars which are unstable or painful. The Veteran's right wrist scar is not a scar of the head, face, or neck. As discussed below, there is no evidence reflecting underlying soft tissue damage, or that the Veteran's scar is of an area 929 sq. cm. or greater. Accordingly, the Board finds that diagnostic code 7. 804 ("Scar(s), unstable or painful") is the appropriate code under which to rate the Veteran's right wrist scar. Under diagnostic code 7804, a disability rating of 10 percent is warranted when there are one or two scars that are unstable or painful; progressively higher disability ratings are warranted where there are 3 or more scars that are unstable or painful. A February 2015 VA examiner documented no pain or instability of the Veteran's right wrist scar, and documented the Veteran's scar as being 13 linear cm. In March 2015 a VA treating provider documented the Veteran's complaint of pain at the area of his right wrist scar. In his March 2015 written Notice of Disagreement (NOD) to VA, the Veteran stated that his right wrist scar was painful. In his October 2015 Form 9, the Veteran again reported that his scar was painful, particularly after using his hand and/or wrist to perform tasks such as assembling things or using hand tools. In November 2015 a VA treating provider documented the Veteran's report that he "still has problems with scar tissue." The October 2020 VA examiner documented the Veteran's report that his right wrist scar was intermittently painful and exacerbated by repetitive movements. The October 2020 VA examiner measured the Veteran's scar as 9 cm. by .5 cm., with additional swelling measuring 5.5 cm. by 3 cm. The examiner documented the Veteran's scar as being tender to palpation, but noted that the scar was not unstable, and that there was no underlying soft tissue damage. The evidence does not reflect the presence of any scar other than the right wrist scar associated with the Veteran's tenosynovectomy. The evidence does not reflect any scars with an area greater than 929 sq. cm or associated with underlying soft tissue damage. The evidence is at least in equipoise as to whether the Veteran's right wrist scar has manifested as a painful scar throughout the period on appeal. Accordingly, and in light of VA's obligation to give the benefit of the doubt to the Veteran, the Board finds that the criteria for an initial disability rating of 10 percent, but no higher, for the period prior to October 15, 2020 have been met, and the same is hereby granted. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1155; 38 C.F.R. §§ 4.1, 4.74.118. The Board further finds that the criteria for a disability rating in excess of 10 percent for the period from October 15, 2020 onward have not been met, and the same is hereby denied. Id.
  25. Just thought I would update. I didn't do anything and let this just go back to the BVA. The BVA granted me 10% prior to current effective date and closed appeal. So it's at RO in ready for decision stage. The BVA said I'm entitled to earlier effective date but didn't give a specific date but they did note that I complained of pain in that area when I first filed even though the original C&P exam said I didn't have pain which was not accurate. They also noted that the claims I submitted for at same time we're back dated to 2013. So they definitely layed the ground work for me for that earlier effective date if my RO screws it up again. Best advice I got was to cancel my board hearing and let the judge review the evidence. It's worked out for me and assuming I get the EED I won at everything I appealed. The judge agreed with all my written legal arguments and even threw some in to help my case I hadn't considered. For example for tinnitus I was denied because I had tubes as child. VA said they were related and not my noise exposure and event without hearing protection in service. I countered with fact that my medical exam going into military showed no scaring on ear drum and half way through service it was noted that there was scarring. The judge said that my statement of when ringing occurred was proper lay evidence and that even though I told VA and military I had tubes in ears as child I was competent to speak about that and since the VA didn't provide any medical evidence about it that it couldn't be considered.
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