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  1. I had my terms wrong. I did it all myself, so things start getting confusing doing this stuff spread out over years. I submit initial claim (physical injures in medical records) in 2013. I was rated at a combined 30% (20% and 10%). Fast forward to 2021. At this point I have seen a VA clinic for 3 years on and off, and have diagnosis of anxiety, depression, and sleep apnea from VA. I submit a claim for anxiety, depression, and sleep apnea as service connected. I DID NOT claim these as secondary. For supporting evidence I submit several buddy statements from Marines I served with spanning from high school all the way through to my EAS. I also submit buddy statements from civilians I worked with at jobs after I got out of the Corps. I DID NOT submit a nexus. I think not submitting a nexus first time around was the key, personally. I think this because I was "luckily" (if you call being denied lucky) given a denial based on "lack of continuity of symptoms". Now, come on. I have witness statements spanning 15 years AND I have a current diagnosis FROM the VA (also important). The reason the diagnosis from the VA is important is because if I am already being treated by the VA for something, how can the VA then say I don't have that thing based on a C&P exam? So, a "positive finding" in my denial letter was that I was diagnosed by the C&P examiner with anxiety and depression. I was also denied the sleep apnea, and to be fair I had no buddy statements about sleep apnea. The buddy statements were all anxiety/depression.i have So, from this point all I needed to do was prove continuity of symptoms, and get that proof in the form of a nexus letter. I submit all my evidence to REE Medical, and withing a month and change (and $1600) I had a letter. This letter specifically called out reference to my witness statements and my documented therapy notes from the VA. I take the nexus letter and submit a SUPPLIMENTAL claim with the new evidence (the nexus letter). I am given a second C&P exam, in which I make sure to get verbal confirmation from the examiner that my buddy statements were reviewed and my nexus letter was reviewed. I had the examiner confirm this three times during the exam. A few months later I was rated at 50% for anxiety and depression. I have continued to see my local VA mental health and medical clinic. I now have diagnosis from my local clinic for GERD and migraines. I plan to submit another claim for sleep apnea, GERD, and migraines all secondary to my now service connected anxiety/depression. Phew. That was a lot to write, but that what I did, and how it all worked out.
  2. I updated my other post on here with results, but in case anyone stumbles on this and finds it useful- I won my claim. I was awarded a 50% rating for anxiety and depression.
  3. I won my claim. I was awarded a 50% rating for anxiety and depression. It was a hard fought battle, but worth it.
  4. Yeah, I am doing a supplemental appeal. I am not sure what VARO or BVA are, but I filed an initial claim - was denied due to lack of continuity of symptoms. After that I gathered more evidence and filed a supplemental appeal. What you shared is really great info! What is the EAJA though? What does it mean that they pay for the fees? Unfortunately I my VSO is the local American Legion and they have been very slow to respond. I guess there was a guy there who was volunteering his time to help with claims and he no longer does it. I considered getting a different VSO but never followed through with that. Thanks!
  5. As an update, here is where I currently stand: I did not find any firms that would take my case. Admittedly, I did not check back on this thread for a while and missed some of the suggested lawyers, so they may have taken my case. I don't know, as I did not contact them. I reached out to two of my recent previous civilian therapists. I used a readily available template from a well known organization that helps vets. I edited the form enough that it was not plagiarism to make it my own. The form was a Statement of Mental Health and asked specifically for an opinion on whether my conditions were related to service. My most previous civilian therapist completed the form and stated that anxiety was related to service and that depression was exacerbated by service. She also stated I have PTSD related to service, but I do not have a current VA diagnosis for PTSD, so I did not do anything with that. My second most previous therapist declined to complete the form due to no longer having treatment records for me. I reached out to REE Medical and received a Nexus Letter. The writing psychologist took all of my evidence into account including my buddy statements, therapist statement, C-file, current VA treatment records, and service records. I believe it is a well written and effective Nexus Letter and was well worth the cost. I submit my supplemental appeal in writing along with my therapist's Statement of Mental Health, Nexus Letter, and a second statement from myself. Within 2 weeks I received a letter from the VA stating they received my intent to appeal but have not received any supplemental evidence. It was all bound together in a report file with table of contents and tabs clearly identifying where each piece of evidence was. Nice VA. I will submit my evidence again I guess. I also received an email that I had an appeal C&P exam scheduled with Veterans Evaluation Services. I had that exam today. It went much better than my initial claim exam, but I still felt like I was being led down a path. I did much better this time talking only about my disability and how they are related to my service. I am hoping that even if the exam comes back unfavorable, since I have two documents from two service providers, those will outweigh the exam, and that benefit of the doubt will go to the veteran (myself) and I will not be denied again. Fingers crossed. I will try to return and update as I learn more. I very much appreciate all the info, help, and support I get from this forum. I am not on here often, but when I am on here, I am always grateful for the responses. Thanks!
  6. I have a post on here that covers the outcome of my claim, but I will post a synopsis here. I did not get a medical nexus, and hoped the VA would find my medical records, buddy statements, current VA MH records, and my own statement compelling enough to award me. They did not. From my C&P I was diagnosed with Anxiety, Depression, and Sleep Apnea; however, none of them were found to be service connected. My denial letter states a "lack of continuity of symptoms". Additionally, during the C&P I spoke with the examiner about current things going on my life (death of Father-in law) and the examiner stated in the letter that my mental health issues were attributed to current events in my life. That's funny, seeing as I was diagnoses with anxiety and depression from the VA years before the death of my Father-in law. Aggravating. One other really neat thing the VA did, was they scheduled my final exam interview for the same day the notification came in the mail of the examination, so I obviously missed it. Nice. Real nice, VA. I am now figuring out what I need to do to appeal.
  7. That's good to know. I would like to see the C&P, to see exactly what was written in there.
  8. Again, I wanted to give credit where credit is due. I just had an appointment with my VA therapist. She is very good, and has given me the contact info for an excellent local VSO. Also, she shared some statements from her therapy notes that directly contradict some of the statements for denial in the C&P exam. She explained to me that I can print out those notes - that I SHOULD pint out those notes - and I should highlight and submit with my appeal. There are those at the VA who really do care about us vets, and who really are working for us. I don't want to lose sight of that.
  9. Reading through the forum more, I think I have some additional things I can do on my own before seeking a law firm. My denial letter states that my current anxiety and depression are not service related and instead it is "more likely than not" caused due to the recent passing of my Father in law and the fact that I have returned to school and am taking college courses. I feel like that is B.S. because although those current events do contribute, I have had anxiety and depression far before either of those events. Regardless, I understand the VA has no "evidence" of my "continuity of symptoms" other than buddy statements. Here are a few things I can think of that may help me: 1. I received mental health services at Keller Army Hospital. Those treatments were ordered for substance abuse counseling. During those treatments I discussed with the therapist how after having my arm broken from arm wrestling, and needing surgery to fix it I felt like a total loser, and that I was made fun of and constantly felt embarrassed and ashamed. Most of the guys in my shop did it jokingly, but it still made feel pretty shitting always being reminded that I lost, badly. She counseled me that I was self medicating, an alcoholic and that I had anxiety/depression. I have copies of my medical records but there is no mention of any of that counseling. I have contacted Keller Hospital several times, but they have no record of it. From my research online, all I can find is that substance abuse counseling records are difficult if not impossible to get from military service. If anyone has any info on how to get those records, I'm all ears. It seems like there should be a way to at least get appointment history, if not full treatment records, but all Keller keeps telling me is to fax in a records release form, which I have done twice, and each time they have replied that they have no records for me. At this point, I think the best I can do is try to get more buddy statements that I had medical orders to receive mental health counseling once a week for months. I am still close with my Sergeant at the time, and he can testify that I had to go to those sessions. 2. I am going to reach out to all of my previous civilian mental health professionals for statements that I sought treatment for anxiety and depression (starting in 2013 - I got out in 2005, so I may still be dead in the water if they want to say something about the 8 years between end of service and first treatment). 3. I have a VA clinic doctor diagnosis of obesity. I have read that a service connection between anxiety/depression and OSA is typically denied; however a secondary connection of obesity to anxiety/depression is more likely to be granted, and from there the OSA can be service connected to obesity. This seems like a really round-about way of needing to "link" things, but I get it that "the system works, how the system works." 4. I guess I will need to fork out the $$ to get a nexus letter from someone to provide a statement that my anxiety and depression are "at least as likely as not" caused by my injuries in the service. I would be fine asking any one of my previous civilian mental health providers, but I have read that those letters are really tricky and they should be written by no less than a psychiatrist and they have to be worded pretty specifically. Is this true, or can I have just have one of my previous therapist/psych N.P write one? Is there anything else anyone can think of that would make my appeal stronger, or any advice at all anyone can give? I saw the denial letter section, and I can post my letter there if that would be helpful at all. Also, yesterday I submit a request for my C-file, so I can see the results and comments from the C&P examiner. Thanks again for any input or help.
  10. My 30% is combined for a separated right shoulder in service and a broken arm with post operative surgery. Combined 10% osteoarthritis right shoulder and 20% separation, right shoulder with residuals, right humerus fracture, postoperative. From what I had read in the past, I think 30% is the highest rating I can get per limb. I was denied due to only having a subjective link between in service injuries and mental disorders. I did not have a nexus letter, which I knew was preferable but I thought I had enough lay evidence to support the claim. I have witness statements from people who knew me before the service and other Marines who I served with at various duty stations, which gives evidence of a serious change in my behavior post injury. Also, I have been receiving mental health services through the VA for a few years now, with a diagnosis of anxiety and depression, and I also had a polysomnography through the VA, I am diagnosed with sleep apnea and have a VA issued CPAP. I thought I had enough there, but I guess not. On a good note, the C&P examiner did provide a diagnosis of anxiety and depression as well, so I at least have that on record through C&P (as well as VA Health). I did not provide civilian mental health information, which I guess I will need to do. I did not want to do that because I have discussed things in therapy that have nothing to do with my military service and I don't think I should need to share that information for a VA claim. I guess I will need to. Still, the problem will be that I first received civilian mental health services around 2012, and separated in 2005. I know they will still say "no continuity of symptoms" etc. Honestly, I didn't even know what was going on or that I needed help right after service - I always thought everyone else was the problem. In hind sight I can now see how bad things were, and I am lucky enough to have Marines close to me that provided statements supporting my claim. However, it just wasn't enough evidence. Oh, and my thoughts about the nexus part - the last appointment - the one I missed - that is the appointment that if I had a chance to attend, could have proved the nexus connection. Maybe not though. It still could have been denied I guess.
  11. I agree completely. I just got off the phone with the VA again. The rep I spoke to was phenomenal, which has not always been my experience. She was so great, I actually wanted to let her supervisor know. Well, wouldn't you know even something as simple as that could not be done. Instead, the rep needed to flag our conversation, which then prompts her supervisor to listen to the conversation. I made sure I stated very clearly how well she did! Why I mention this, is because she explained to me that the appointment I missed was a secondary opinion appointment. She said those are scheduled when the ratesr needs additional information, but that an appointment with the veteran is not always required. She said that because I missed it, the rater made the decision based on the information at hand. What gets me though, if they thought it was important enough to schedule an appointment with me to hear what I have to say, why are they able to make a decision without listening to me? I guess this can be a good thing though, as now I can see why I was denied and try to provide more info in the areas where they felt my claim was lacking.
  12. I tried to reply before, so I apologize if this is a double post. I called the VA a few days ago to see if I could reschedule the appointment, and the rep told me that because the decision was made on Feb 14, it is final and there is nothing I can do. Are you saying I can file form 4138 even though a decision has been made? I do have extenuating circumstances, as my work sent me to Alaska for a month (Feb 8 - Mar 9) and I had spotty internet. The QTC email went to junk, so no guarantee I would have caught it even with stellar internet, but still. I feel like I have a legitimate reason why I missed the appointment. Thanks
  13. I am currently rated at 30% combined. I submit a new claim for disabilities not on my original claim. I got denied. I've reached put to several firms for help, and all of them have said they either only represent low income/unemployed vets or vets seeking 100% or Total Disability. Anyone know of firms that help for less than 100%? I'm pretty mad about my denial, as QTC was contracted for my appointments. I had 3 C&P appointments in 2021, during September. There was no mention of any additional appointments. Then out of nowhere I was emailed on Feb 7th about an appointment on the 9th (which went to junk mail). I received a paper packet in the mail from QTC postmarked on the 9th, for said appointment on the 9th. I was out of town, so i did not see the packet until March, but even if I was home I wouldn't have seen the packet until the afternoon, on the 9th, which would have been too late. So, I missed the appointment. On Feb 14th a decision was made. I went into this with hopes I would get fair treatment, but this experience really makes me feel like the cards are stacked against me, and I need help from someone else to have a chance. Thanks for any info, Rob
  14. For in person do you mean my independent evaluation, or the VA evaluation? I read that a DBQ needs to be done in person. Have there been any allowances on remote DBQ during covid? Last question, if I do get a nexus letter or imo, and a dbq, is it a sure thing the VA will award a claim, or can they still disregard stuff I submit? I have the results of the sleep study. The sleep lab results aren't in my file yet. I still need to go back next month to get fit for a cpap and get the actual prescription.
  15. I called a few of those firms, and they all let me know they handle appeals, but not initial claims. It seems like I am at a block in the road. I found a site online where a psychologist reviews records and if a nexus is found, writes a nexus letter. I'm not sure if posting links to service sites is allowed, so I won't post the one I found. I also did a google search for forensic psychologists near me, and the closest one is 3 hours away. On one hand, I feel like a nexus letter from a site and a psychologist who specializes in them would be the best option, but on the other hand I'm worried the VA might look at a letter from a psychologist who writes nexus letters all the time as less credible. Any thoughts?
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