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Senior Chief Petty Officer
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brokensoldier244th last won the day on May 1

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About brokensoldier244th

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    E-8 Senior Chief Petty Officer

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    Acoustic guitar, newly acquired electric guitar, tech/computers, irrelevant information.

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  1. Ultimately, if you can get rated scheduler, either at your current rating (granted that would affect your total comp) or get increased, you could work as much or as little as you were able. If your conditions are static like you have said, then you have a lot less to worry about than, say, me, earlier in my post military filings when I had only been rated for a year or three. As I got on longer since 2002 when I discharged I felt there was less risk as I continued. I see the point of TDIU, but I really feel that its one of the more insidious ratings classifications that VA has. Here's 100% comp, now go away. Oh, by the way, here are all the restrictions and worries that go with it. I see your point, I really do. I don't know what to say, other than I empathize with you and you and several others in similar situations are in my thoughts alot as Im on this board and another one. Now, as for that sleep study. My wife recorded me on her phone a few times at night while she was poking me to start breathing again, and those recordings were time stamped. We used those with my PCP to get approval for a sleep study- there wasn't much of a challenge there, we just wanted to have evidence of it. As you said, you are asleep- you don't know what you are doing while you sleep. If you have a lot of daytime exhaustion and nodding off/having to nap, etc, thats a pretty good indication that something is off. Especially if you are sleeping regular hours and aren't suffering from night terrors or extreme insomnia or something related to your PTSD. Maybe you can have a friend come over, bring a few books or Game of Thrones or something, and have them sit in your room while you sleep? I know it will be weird at first, and maybe will need a few dry runs to ease your anxiety, but I feel that the combination of the recordings and my layperson observations about how I felt at work at the time, lack of concentration, sleeping at my keyboard, etc, really helped. Once you get a CPAP, it will take a few weeks to get used to it, and there are all sorts of different masks and stuff you can try. The good thing is that a CPAP costs like a thousand bucks, and you wont have to pay for it, or the tubes/masks. It will help you sleep better, and it will lower your blood pressure and increase your O2 while you sleep (when you stop breathing in your sleep your O2 drops- a lot of undiagnosed apneacs die in their sleep because their O2 just drops too low one night and they just drift off). I had an older lady coworker that had noticed for months that I was dragging, and it reminded her of her husband and she rode my ass hard to get a sleep study done. I kept pushing her off because I was about your age at the time and it sounded like an 'old guy problem'. Once I was diagnosed my sleep study showed that I stopped breathing like 80 times an hour in my sleep. If you can get the study done, and a CPAP DO IT. Worry about service connection later. Right now worry about not dying. Once you get that squared away, that 50% if you can get it approved will go a long way towards getting you to 100% schedular.
  2. There is a sort of end run around Roth limitations for non-taxable income. IF you were to be married, your spouse could afford to contribute considerably more, possibly the max, to IRA, due to your VA covering the expenses. Im certainly not saying 'get married' however, if you find the 'one', and finances are discussed, etc, and all is okay, then this is something to keep in mind. By being able to contribute more than a couple might be able to normally to an IRA you would still have the benefit of a retirement fund account that is separate from your VA disability income. You/she (he?, whatever) could always adjust your finances later if your rating changes, up or down. Its not elegant, its not perfect, but it is legal. Your spouse also has the benefit of opening 2 IRA's one for them, and one for you, being the 'low/non-earner'. This both doubles the amount of money that can be socked away. Right now (2019) full contributions are 6000 a year, or 12,000 for married couples if the earned income is below 193,000 a year. Once you are over 50 you can kick in an extra 1000 a year each. So, if your VA floats the boat, or most of it, it frees up the majority of the earners income to set up IRA(s) and you can tinker with each IRA for level of aggressiveness, etc. With the joys of compound interest, and potentially not having to tap it all that much in your later years, the amount in there could be quite a sum since its supplemented by your VA monthly, since a working couple would both (theoretically) not be working and only having the retirement fund disbursements, while in your case you'd have those, in addition to what you still have coming in. Regular IRA's are more aggressive, but you don't pay taxes until you take the money out, you get a tax deduction now. You could, however, have one aggressive fund and one non-aggressive fund, for each of you, and with good choices, have more than a Roth might produce, or 1 Roth and 1 traditional. Since your tax situation may always be lopsided because of being a single earner couple, it may be less advantageous to take the traditional route, though, since the tax deduction you'll get at the end of each year probably won't be any better than you already get be being only 1 earner. If you have kids this becomes even a larger gap due to increased deductions and lower tax bracketing for having kids, EIC, Child Tax credit, etc. You'll still get that even with a Roth, and not have to pay taxes later on your withdrawals. https://www.investopedia.com/retirement/making-spousal-ira-contributions/
  3. Who did they defer it to? They may need more documentation. Without knowing the specifics of what you claimed and your decision letter there isn't really any information for us to go on. Was it a secondary claim to something else, or a primary claim? How long have you had it? Was it diagnosed in service or after? What information did you provide at your C/P exam? What did your sleep doc notes say? There is a lot of missing information. I can tell you that a primary claim for sleep apnea is really hard unless it was diagnosed in service. I filed a secondary claim about 10 yrs after I got out because i was falling asleep in the car while driving, and my wife had recordings of me stopping breathing in my sleep. I have a lower back nerve injury, among other things, that was eventually tied to my sleep apnea on appeal, but that whole process took about 4 yrs between my initial claim, denial, and appeal. Apnea is one of those things they really look at now- they used to be a lot more lax about it but there was a huge spike in claims several years ago and it was lot easier to get service connected for it. Im not making a statement on whether they were valid claims or not, just noting that with the huge spike the evidence needed to prove a claim got substantially more detailed. I think VA over corrected on the issue due to political pressure from people suggesting that vets were filing for a slam dunk 50% just for the money, but im just illustrating that proving something like sleep apnea being service connected vs. something that just develops over time as one gets older is a lot more difficult now and the evidence hurdle is a lot higher.
  4. I dont think home working would be considered sheltered. Granted im not an employment lawyer, but I know that the term is usually reserved for an employer/employee relationship where extreme accommodations are afforded the sheltered employee, and they are held to a different standard compared to other employees. I don't know if home/self employment would be considered that under employment law. I also don't know that its ever been pushed or tested, either. You could talk to an employment lawyer about it, via a free consultation, and see what they say. Im not suggesting that law office below, its just a definition article about sheltered employment that I found. https://www.hillandponton.com/sheltered-employment-tdiu-benefits/ Incidentally, have you applied for SSDI? You can have both TDIU and SSDI at the same time.
  5. I won't argue with you on that at all. 'You' guys on TDIU are a whole separate animal to me with how ratings work. I was only a ghost TDIU in that I didnt even know I was that until I read my decision letter but in the same letter timeline at some point I was TDIU and then just changed to 100% schedular. It might have been because I had filed for TDIU first, and then during the claim period ended up unemployed and was still going to therapy, etc, so the new medical evidence that I kept feeding them through Ebenefits changed that. I don't know.
  6. They lumped it altogether that way because PTSD encompasses all of them in some aspect or another, while someone that is 70% MH may only have some of the same symptoms, that can change, evolve, get better or worse individually. From my understanding PTSD challenges you because you have pretty much all of them all the time in some way or another. Diagnostically its a way for an MH professional to know what they are dealing with off the bat vs me for example, where I have to explain all the different issues I have.
  7. I would think (im not PTSD based MH, so im not an expert here) that the PTSD rating is more advantageous than a straight MH rating. Anecdotally, the PTSD guys I know seemed to have an easier time of it with increases over time once the initial claim was settled and they were rated as such. I had a bit of an uphill with some of my increases because up until 70% I was still working in an office environment with difficulty in an IT engineering/support position. I had a lot of problems and challenges with that, and my manager carved out a lot of bullshit for me so I could work from home on days when I couldn't deal with people. Most of my 'work' interaction with clients was half a world away or several states away via Skype or GoToMeeting anyway, or remote logging on to their server, so I could get a way with that. So long as I was actively logged on to the issue queue or working active cases he didnt care where I was. Most people are not so lucky. He was Canadian and transferred in as our manager from another area of the Engineering team- I like to think that had some influence on his philosophy of work life balance. As far as dating goes, etc, if it gets serious enough to start discussing money, keep in mind that your money is tax free, so that adds considerable 'weight' to it, vs regular income. I may have made 42,000 a year working as an engineer in support, but in reality it was only around 34,000 or so after taxes, insurance, etc. My VA 'income' was almost that by itself. That tax free part makes your disability money worth more than its direct equivalent that a working person would make by several thousand dollars a year.
  8. You don't really have to 'do' anything for that either, other than file a claim for it. Youve been TDIU for 10 yrs, so you're obviously relatively static. File a claim asking for a schedular rating rather than TDIU but make sure you have a few months of current MH evals to go with it so they can see that you haven't been 'cruising' on MH. If you leave it to them to schedule periodic re-evals they seem to take forever. Other than my evals with my PCP for pain and stuff yearly, I never, in several years, had a VA requested re-eval for MH. Granted that might be because I was actively in treatment and counseling for it over that period of time and had claims for increase periodically in the system, too.
  9. Well, you can file a claim and just request it. Thats what I did. I was not TDIU but my conditions have been static since around 2013, and I got out and was first rated in 2002. They gradually increased over time, and from around 2015 on I was 90% waiting on a claim for 100%. 100% was granted, retro to when I had filed for it, and I was TDIU I guess for a month or 2 of that but they changed it at the same time in the decision letter timeline and I was granted P/T. On a broader front, you'll see occasionally, people on here and elsewhere, that will say that you can work on TDIU but only under poverty line gross per year for SSDI. I wouldn't court that, since, its not tested very often, and in the case that they decide to reduce based on that you have to appeal and fight it which is taking 2 yrs or more depending on backlog of cases. And, honestly, TDUI ratings mean that you can't do any gainful meaningful employment. I don't blame you for feeling stuck with 'what if's'. Im 42 and I felt that way for years. Always in a holding pattern. I would relax a little though. If you have been TDIU for 10 years its not going anywhere. You can file for P/T status (pretty simple, just file a claim and request it in plain english) and if you are getting current treatment, talk to your doc about the static nature of it, that it hasn't changed in forever. In the mean time you still have TDIU, and in the long term you either get P/T or not, but still, the TDIU isn't going anywhere. Don't put your whole life on hold because of it. Thats just time lost. As far as "what do you do for a living....." questions. Thats really up to you. People ask me and sometimes I say I volunteer. Sometimes I tell them im an Alpaca hearder in the off season. Or, a remote Chernobyl consultant via Google Maps. Whatever. Its really not their business. Family, close friends, potential relationships- they can know if you want, but other people can pound sand. If nothing else tell them you are prior service and left with enough to not have to worry about it for awhile. Good luck, Marine. My dad was Force Recon from 64-68, and a Cav Scout (Army) in the early 80s during drug interdiction work in Central America. He never talked much about any of it, and after growing up and reading historically more about those times, I don't blame him. Still, you have to get some of that anxiety off your chest somewhere, even if its just journaling, or posting in a social military forum, what have you. You'll be better for it and it might help calm some of your anxiety.
  10. probably the best way to go. Attack the denials. Are your records on paper or scanned? If scanned, you can just CTRL-F and search through them on a computer rather than flipping and reading. If they are on paper that is where I would start. Take them to Kinkos or something, or have a scanning party and break it up into chunks. Having them 'automated' and searchable will make the rest of the process much much faster and more accurate.
  11. 1. It really depends on how much you are talking about and how much of it you already have. And how fast you can type, summarize, etc. 2. Less than 3. If he does it all himself. Plus less expensive. Consider that its not going to be the doctor going through every note, etc, most likely its going to be his staff, secretary(s), document preparers, etc, so, most likely for the grunt work people not much if any more qualified than you are- except you work for 'free' and they don't.
  12. I dont know. I can usually find stuff that I would buy at the PX as cheap, or cheaper, model for model, at other places. Commisary may be better, but I live over an hour away from the nearest, so ive never compared.
  13. If you have an Ebenefits log in, log in, and go to your Manage Documents section. You can print a benenfits letter there, and if your claim has been completed the letter is one of the first things that updates, usually.
  14. Maybe, but I thought that there was only 1 rating per system, with the worst (or most advantageous to veteran) taking precedent.
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