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acesup

Chief Petty Officers
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acesup last won the day on April 20

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About acesup

  • Rank
    E-5 Petty Officer 2nd Class

Previous Fields

  • Service Connected Disability
    100
  • Branch of Service
    Air Force
  • Hobby
    Fishing

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  1. I don't know what planet those people you're talking with are from, but if they believe what they're saying, I would run, not walk, away from them. As broncovet reaffirmed, a claim for TDIU means you WILL be evaluated as if you asked for an increase in your 70% rating. As a matter of fact, depending on your records and the C&P exam, you could even achieve 100% schedular, if the evidence says your condition meets the criteria for that rating. On the other hand, you have to realize that your level of disability from the mental health issue is going to be reevaluated, so you definitely want to be comfortable that the evidence still supports your current rating or an increase. Regarding SSDI, is it strictly for your service connected disability? If so, it may be useful evidence to support your claim; if not, then not so much. The TDIU will be based ONLY on service connected disability. As far as what jobs pay; TDIU isn't awarded if you're considered capable of finding and holding down significant gainful employment (SGE). If a job pays above the poverty wage level, it is considered SGE. If you're deemed capable of working at any job that would be SGE, it doesn't matter if it pays at the low end of the scale, it is still SGE. You might want to have a talk with your VRE counselor to find out if they agree that you are unemployable. You also may want to ask your treating doctors/PCP if they consider you unemployable, and make sure that your current treatment records still support your current 70% rating. Otherwise, you're spinning your wheels, and gambling with your rating. P&T is "Permanent and Total". That's when you've been rated 100% (either be schedule or by TDIU), and the rater sees no likelihood of improvement. At 63 years old, if you achieve 100%, it probably will be P&T.
  2. How does that rep think the VA could evaluate you for unemployability without evaluating what makes you unemployable? Your "county rep" must have never done this before, or maybe you've misunderstood something he/she said. A claim for TDIU is treated as a claim for an increase in the condition that reportedly causes the TDIU. So, by stating that your mental health disability causes your unemployability, there's a 100% chance you trigger a C&P mental health exam. Is your condition such that you are you unemployed and unemployable solely due to your SC issues? If so, why aren't you just rated 100%? You might want to discuss this with your doctor(s) and ask for an opinion before you file that claim. Have you attempted to enter a VA Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment program? A VR&E counselor can help to determine whether you could benefit from vocational training that would help you get a job, or if your disability prevents you from being considered "feasible for employment". If the evaluation says you aren't employable, a letter from the counselor can be invaluable evidence to be awarded TDIU. Best of luck in seeking your benefits!
  3. Congrats! As said above, the Chapter 35 reference would indicate that you are P&T. Your award letter and eBenefits letter should tell you that it is considered permanent. This will mean your wife and dependents will be qualified to sign up for CHAMPVA. You can also purchase reasonably-priced "VADIP" dental insurance for them if you wish. You won't get CHAMPVA, but you will, of course, have free VA health care for life. You will also get free VA dental treatment. There are also other federal benefits involved, and depending on where you live, you might get some pretty decent state bennies too. For instance, Texas, where I live, will waive your homestead taxes (which saves me a few thou per year) and give you a nearly-free Disabled Vet license plate for one vehicle. I also get a free hunting/fishing license. If your discharge is honorable, you'll all be qualified to get DoD 2765 I.D. cards (assuming you're not a military retiree, in which case you would keep those retiree IDs). This will give you access to commissaries/exchanges/MWR stuff. Hopefully you have a good VSO or someone to fill you in and guide your efforts, because all of this won't just automatically happen, there are things you'll have to do. Regarding CHAMPVA: they'll also pay back pretty much any out-of-pocket medical costs for wife and kids, I think all the way back to the 2010 Effective Date. You'll have to gather up the proper billing info and get it to them after you get your family signed up. In 2020, when you'll reach 10 years of being rated 100%, there will be a DIC benefit for your wife if she outlives you. (Until the 10-year mark, DIC happens only IF you should pass due to a service-connected condition.) I've been going through all of this process recently (still not finished), as I was recently awarded 100% IU back to 2009. The BVA granted it last August, it took until May for them to get it all sorted out and start paying me retro and the new rate. It was 9 months and a week, I believe, from the decision to the retro deposits. Your mileage may vary. Just hang in there, it will happen in time.
  4. You probably should talk to and consider hiring a bankruptcy attorney. If you think you have problems now, believe me, you certainly don't want to do anything to get yourself in trouble with a bankruptcy judge. As far as your company using disability as a pretext to let you go, you should consider contacting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or a disability attorney. What you're describing may very well be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. If so, you may end up being majority owner of said company. I hope everything works out for you, don't let them shove you out over a disability, regardless of service connection. Good luck.
  5. The OP doesn't mention ongoing treatment. Are you seeing a mental health professional, whether private or VA, for your PTSD? What does this professional say about your condition, and if it is worsening? That opinion (and those records) will be important. If you're not getting treatment, you may want to start, regardless of any claim for increase.
  6. To satisfy the requirements of Medicare and my private insurance, my civilian doctor had to provide a "Certificate of Medical Necessity (CMN)". I think any doctor (and their staff) will know what a CMN is. I would also think any doctor who would "recommend" a C-PAP would supply a CMN if you ask for it. Good luck with your claim.
  7. After having TDIU and SMC (s) granted at BVA on August 7 of last year, It took 9 months and a day before I saw any change. Anyone expecting something to happen in 2 or 3 months after a BVA grant is very likely in for a big letdown. It MAY happen that soon, but odds are you're looking at 6 to 12 months, unless your case is flashed for hardship, old age, or an impending terminal health situation. I hope nobody has to wait that long, but there are some folks who have waited over a year. Not trying to rain on anyone's parade, but just don't let your expectations break you. Hang in there, it will be a great day for you when the eagle finally shits into your bank accounts.
  8. The fee is only withheld from the retro pay IF it is 20% or less, AND there's a signed (by veteran and attorney) "Fee Agreement" on file with the VA Office of General Counsel. If you signed an agreement to pay 33%, that's what you owe, and the VA won't get involved, unless they're made aware of a your disagreement with the fee. If you don't believe the fee is fair, you have to serve notice of that to the attorney, and then file a protest with the VA OGC telling them what you are challenging, and you must also supply evidence that you've notified the attorney of your disagreement with the fee. Unless you do that, there's no basis for the VA to review the fee, and they won't. IF your appeal was decided in your favor before you ever signed with the attorney, I don't think you would owe the attorney. This should be pretty simple to figure out; there's a date on your Decision Letter, and there's a date on your Fee Agreement and/or other paperwork you would have signed for representation. If the date you were granted your appeal is prior to the date the attorney agreed to represent you, I don't think you would owe any of that money to anyone; if this is what happened, you definitely should challenge it. Otherwise, as far as whether a 33% fee is "excessive"; the VA considers a fee in excess of 33-1/3% "unreasonable". If you signed up to pay 33%, and then got an award, and then decided it was excessive, you likely have no recourse but to pay it. Without knowing any of the specifics of your appeal and grants, it does sound like your attorney, through the Case Manager, is proactive and looking out for your interests, if they're pursuing TDIU for you, and they might even be doing a great job. Nothing else matters much, does it? Here are some relevant links: https://www.va.gov/ogc/accreditation.asp https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=7c8f90d08160838eff7394bf01103d9e&mc=true&node=se38.1.14_1636&rgn=div8
  9. Thanks for the replies! After fighting the VA for so long, I'm just tired of fighting. It's funny how the mind can sometimes settle things by nothing more than the passage of time. With that said, I think I'm just going to not send the draft letters I wrote complaining about this. I knew what I was signing when I inked that Fee Agreement, and there is nothing for me to be unhappy about. I think I'm learning how to relax, and I like it.
  10. Thanks, Berta. The RO sent a letter with excerpts from that regulation that you posted. In all fairness, since I did win, I expect they will say that no matter how I feel about the attorney, the bottom line is that I won. I'm not going to get too bent out of shape about it. All along, I did figure on the attorney getting 20%, and I knew it would be a lot of cash.
  11. I don't feel the attorney fee was excessive, I do feel the attorney's effort was sub-par. I won't go into detail here, but I have my reasons for feeling this way. I am informing this lawyer that I plan ask the OGC to perform a review, and why I feel that way. I expect I'll get a minor apology and the OGC will approve the 20%, and that will be the end of it. Whatever the OGC decides, I won't protest any further. I do hope that by getting some attention, maybe this firm will be a bit more straightforward with/attentive to the next veteran. I would like to think that if I had lost at BVA, this person would have come through with representation to the CAVC, but I guess I'll never know, and I'm glad I didn't have to depend on such a wild card. If I had to do it over again, I'd still retain an attorney, but I'd be pickier. I simply went along with a recommendation from my first attorney, who started out as a blustering lion, but then had a meltdown and quit handling veterans' appeals (because she couldn't stand dealing with, if I recall her exact phrasing, "a den of vipers and demons"). All in all, it didn't cost money out of my pocket, and all's well that ends well. So far, it's ending quite nicely.
  12. Back on August 7 of last year, the BVA granted me TDIU and SMC (s) back to 2009. So, last week on the 13th, (9 months and 6 days after that BVA Decision) I received a dozen deposits into my bank accounts, 9+ years of retro. Now, it was my understanding that Attorney Fees of 20% would be owed up to the date of the BVA grant, which would be August 7, and that all money after that date was entirely mine. However, the VA also withheld 20% from those last 9 months. That means the attorney will get an extra $3,600+ from me because it took over 9 months for the RO to implement my new rating. Is this a mistake? Here's what the M21 says, which seems to me that nothing should be withheld after August 1: c. The Period to Use for Calculating Past- Due Benefits Past-due benefits are calculated from the effective date of the award to the date of the decision awarding benefits, not the date of the notification letter not the last day of the month in which the decision awarding benefits was made. See VAOPGCPREC 18-95 and 38 CFR 14.636(h)(3) regarding definition of past due benefits Am I misunderstanding this? If there is an error, do I just call Peggy, or contact Office of General Counsel who is technically holding the money now? FWIW, I already felt the Attorney Fee is excessive (I may not gain anything doing this, but I have my reasons for protesting it), and was preparing to ask the OGC to review it for reasonableness.
  13. It is also a good idea to have the Nexus doctor review your medical records, including your Service Treatment Records, and state in the letter that (s)he has done so. Hope it goes well for you!
  14. It's not a good situation. I know there must be a few good attorneys out there who probably will handle a BVA appeal, but to anyone looking for representation, proceed with caution! There are people who will sign on as your POA, get you to sign a Fee Agreement, then they'll do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING except put it in a file cabinet. They'll hope someday YOU win YOUR appeal, so THEY cash in on 20% of YOUR award, when they don't deserve much of anything. In other words, they're just like ambulance chasers and other parasites. I couldn't find a trustworthy VSO in my area to handle my claims back in 2007/2009. I called the DAV, of which I'm a life member since 1974, and was supposedly assigned a DAV, I think from Dallas. She never contacted me, so one day, after months, I had the audacity to contact her office and ask for a call back. Well, she may not have had time to discuss my claim, but she found a few minutes to bitch at me for calling and told me how busy she was, blah-blah-blah, so, I decided no VSO would be preferable to a lousy one that wasn't interested in my claim. I voided the POA, there was no way that person would represent me. In 2010, I was denied on all counts. I had read some glowing reports about how NOVA attorneys were available to stand up for vets and deal with VA appeals, and thought that was the way to go, so I contacted a few, then went an hour down the road to meet with one. My first NOVA attorney, who I signed up with in 2011, was great, very confident and reassuring, a real fireball, and I thought she was the answer to my claims. For some time, she was pushing for a DRO review, and talking strategy with me, and I was so impressed. Then, one day she just got sick of dealing with the VA, so in 2014 she suddenly resigned from ALL veterans' appeals. She sent me a letter complaining about having to deal with the pit of vipers and demons at the VA. I think she truly was going to be a great counselor if needed, she was definitely the pro-active type, but she just kept losing cases and got burned out, I guess. Too bad for her, because shortly after she quit I got a DRO grant that would have netted her about $9,000. The VA actually sent her that money, but she sent it back, so they paid it to me. I didn't have trouble finding another NOVA attorney to take my case; the first attorney highly recommended another female NOVA attorney to me, and I signed a contract. Looking back now, I really think she did virtually nothing to earn the approximately 40 grand she'll soon be collecting from my 9+ years of retro. She never met with me, not even once. Our communications were by email. The extent of her dealings with the VA was about once a year, she'd send a letter asking the status of my appeal. Oh, and once, she printed some Internet article about depression and mailed it in to the RO (but I had already gotten SC for depression before I ever hired her). I kept convincing myself that when it got to a BVA hearing, she'd show her worth. Then, one day I found out there was no hearing, she had not even requested one! So, last July and August, the BVA just looked at my stuff and granted virtually all of it, including DVT/PE, neck disability and upper extremity neuropathies, OSA, and most importantly, TDIU and SMC (s). All of this was based on evidence I had amassed and submitted to them; IMEs, nexus letters with supporting medical evidence, buddy letters, etc. I won't do a lot of complaining, I got myself into that mess, and I probably won't vehemently protest her payment, but I will say this: I see a lot of criticism of VSOs, and it is probably mostly deserved. But there needs to be some way to vet a NOVA attorney, because I'm here to tell you that membership in NOVA is apparently not much more than a license to steal. And I won't publish the attorney's name, because I don't want to get sued. Let's just say she wouldn't want to use me as a reference. When VA gets around to figuring the attorney's cut, maybe I will contact the Office of General Counsel to file a protest. I don't expect any results, but I think I do want the lawyer to know how I feel about letting her take me for such a huge chunk of cash. And I also hope to find a way to let veterans know not to make the same mistake I did. I've dealt with lawyers before, so what was I thinking? My bad.
  15. So, I woke up this morning and poured a cup of mud, and thought I should check eBennies. I am now OFFICIALLY 100% TDIU and SMC (s) Permanent and Total! Actually, I am also 100% combined even if they took away the TDIU, because I have two 60%, two 50%, two 20%, and four 10% ratings. They actually low-balled me on a couple of issues, but I won't waste anybody's time appealing, that would be pointless! A million thanks to all of the folks here on hadit who helped with information and moral support over the last nearly 10 years! Through these forums, I learned what evidence I needed to support my claim and appeal. I will be forever grateful. The Effective Date of October 28, 2009 is incorrect. I have ample evidence in my C-file that I asked for some of this, including TDIU, in May of 2007. (I was a Shreddergate victim, my claim that I filed in Houston got "disappeared"). Is there any good reason why I shouldn't file for E.E.D.? Also, I now will finish preparations to file a CUE for Major Depressive Disorder to go back to 1974.
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