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  1. 12.3. Rating Reductions There are circumstances where the VA can reduce your disability benefits. When the VA proposes to reduce a Veteran's disability compensation, it is of the upmost importance that the Veteran act quickly by seeking the services of either an aggressive Veterans Service Organization or an Attorney accredited by the VA. The law is very clear that to assist a Veteran in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of a claim for VA benefits, the individual must be accredited by the VA as an agent, attorney, or representative of a Veterans Service Organization, VSO, 38 U.S.C. §§ 5901-5902, 5904; 38 C.F.R. § 14.629. There is a onetime only exception for a non-accredited individual to assist a Veteran in processing a claim under 38 C.F.R. § 14.630. To verify the VA accreditation of an Attorney, Claims Agent, or VSO Representative, go to website: http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/ Some of the most common reasons for the reduction of you VA disability Compensation are: I. Failure to Report for the "Pre-Reduction" Examination. II. Unprotected Benefit Rating and Your Condition Improves Rating Reductions (vetsfirst.org) Yes, it is more to a reduction that a veteran can do but the VA can just deny the claim base on failure to report to an examination.
  2. Two kinds of blood pressure medication recalled for possibly too much of a carcinogen. Two kinds of blood pressure medication recalled for possibly too much of a carcinogen (yahoo.com)
  3. Social Security Announces 5.9 Percent Benefit Increase for 2022 Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount. Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Press Release | Press Office | SSA
  4. For those who are waiting on appeals, just check this morning, been feeling a little out of it lately and not had a chance to check it but according to VA.gov, the board is now working on January 2018 appeals. That does not mean something will come up to put someone else in front of your claim, but they are moving.
  5. Just got this email from the VA. Recall on some Philips CPAP or BiPAP Respironics Positive Airway Pressure devices used for sleep apnea Your safety is our top priority. VA has learned of the recall on some Philips Respironics Positive Airway Pressure devices (CPAP or BiPAP) used for sleep apnea. If you do not have a Philips Respironics device, it is not part of the recall and you can ignore this email. Why did they recall this device? Philips Respironics recently recalled some CPAP and BiPAP devices because very small foam particles may break loose and travel through the air hose during use. This breakdown may also release small amounts of chemical vapors. At this time no serious adverse health events have been reported but Philips has received reports of headache, upper airway irritation, cough, chest pressure and sinus infection. Per Philips Respironics, this foam breakdown is more likely in devices that are more than three years old, are used in high heat and humidity environments (more than 95 degrees) or that were cleaned with an ozone or ultraviolet sterilizer. What should I do if I use this device? If you use a Philips Respironics CPAP or BiPAP device, such as a Dream Station or System 1, continue to use your device as prescribed and: As soon as possible, register your device on the Philips Respironics website or call 877-907-7508. Philips Respironics will send you a new device when one is available and provide a box for you to return your old device. Devices are replaced based on when they are registered, and replacement may take up to a year. If you and your care provider decide you can safely pause use of your device until a new one is available, this will not impact your VA disability compensation benefits. Only clean your device according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not attempt to remove the sound reduction foam yourself. This can’t be done without breaking the device. Our records indicate that you are not registered with the VA for your health care. If you are concerned about using your current device, call your regular care provider to schedule an appointment and discuss your options. For more information on the recall, visit the Philips Respironics Recall website or the Veterans Affairs Philips Respironics Recall site for Frequently Asked Questions.
  6. After fighting the VA for months to get a copy of my LHI C & P exams, I just found out that the only way to get a copy of those exams to my VAMC medical records, I have to take a copy to my primary care provider and then have them to have the records scan into my VAMC records. The ROI (Release Of Information Office) refused to take them and copy them. The ROI even refused to request a copy from the VARO. More shenanigans from the VA.
  7. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals has learned that a limited number of Veterans may have had their Board Appeal forms (VA Form 10182, Decision Review Request: Board Appeal (Notice of Disagreement)) mistakenly rejected for being untimely. Out of an abundance of caution, the Board is sending out a wide notice to help ensure no other Veterans were impacted by this. If you filed a VA Form 10182 with the Board between February 19, 2019, and March 23, 2021, and believe it may have been improperly rejected as untimely, please send a letter to the “Clerk of the Board” at P.O. Box 27063, Washington, DC 20038 or via fax to 1-844-678-8979 no later than March 1, 2022. In your letter, state you are asking the Board to “RECALCULATE TIMELINESS” and be careful to include the Veteran’s full name, claim number or SSN, the date of the rating decision you appealed to the Board, and the date of your original VA Form 10182 appeal form that the Board told you was untimely. Board of Veterans' Appeals (va.gov)
  8. While today maybe a new federal holiday and some banks maybe open the federal government is not. So don't think you will be able to get to talk to the VA today. Funny thing is I got an email that stated if I had a scheduled VAMC appointment, that the VAMC clinic was still open and scheduled. Juneteenth is a Federal holiday We are OPEN on Friday, June 18. If you have a scheduled appointment at one of our locations, please keep your appointment. U.S. Office of Personnel Management @USOPM · 20h Today will sign the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing June 19th as a federal holiday. As the 19th falls on a Saturday, most federal employees will observe the holiday tomorrow, June 18th.
  9. This maybe old news to some but it was in my in box when I came home. May 14, 2021, 01:06:00 PM WASHINGTON — Veterans who were previously denied service connection for an herbicide related presumptive condition due to lack of in-country Vietnam service will have their claims automatically re-adjudicated by VA. VA to re-adjudicate Veteran and survivor claims for possible herbicide exposure
  10. VA to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to caregivers of Veterans in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers WASHINGTON — U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care facilities will begin offering COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to designated family caregivers of Veterans participating in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). VA to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to caregivers of Veterans in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
  11. I am not sure how this really works but I was checking the status of my appeal and I noticed this on the right side of my screen. This was on va.gov. I am not sure if it includes all C & P Exams, QTC Exams and LHI Exams or any other medical exams, just wanted to pass it on. You have to click on view details appeal status to get to see the option. It only shows up on the pending appeal page. You can obtain a copy of your claim exam (also known as a compensation and pension, or C&P, exam) by contacting your nearest regional office.
  12. Phased Reopening of National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NPRC was closed from March 23 through June 23, 2020. While it was closed, a limited number of essential staff continued to report on-site each day to service urgent requests, such as those involving homeless veterans in need of shelter, medical emergencies, and funerals for deceased veterans. On June 24th, the NPRC entered into Phase One of a gradual reopening. To ensure the safety of its workforce, social distancing measures have been instituted which limit its operating capacity to only ten percent of its normal staffing level. Despite the low staffing levels, its operations have been disrupted on multiple occasions due to exposures of staff. As the pandemic continues to spread in the local community, additional disruptions are expected. In Phase One, the NPRC is continuing to service the emergency requests described above, and will soon expand its service to include time-sensitive requests from veterans for records needed to secure VA home loan guarantees and employment opportunities. The NPRC will also resume servicing routine requests from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the temporary loan of original records needed by the VA to adjudicate veterans’ benefit claims. These expanded services are planned to begin on August 3, 2020. https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records-0
  13. A lawyer says a lawsuit against a Veterans Affairs hospital in Kansas where a former physician assistant molested countless patients involves “the largest sexual abuse scandal in the history of the VA.” https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/suit-sex-abuse-kansas-va-hospital-trial-71654471
  14. Find a VA Healthcare Provider You can search by state https://www.accesstocare.va.gov/ourproviders
  15. http://www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/gulfwar/gulfwar-newsletter-feb2016.pdf Please don't shoot the messenger I am just passing this on for more to see.
  16. http://www.spinalinjury101.org/details/levels-of-injury High-Cervical Nerves (C1 – C4) Most severe of the spinal cord injury levels Paralysis in arms, hands, trunk and legs Patient may not be able to breathe on his or her own, cough, or control bowel or bladder movements. Ability to speak is sometimes impaired or reduced. When all four limbs are affected, this is called tetraplegia or quadriplegia. Requires complete assistance with activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, bathing, and getting in or out of bed May be able to use powered wheelchairs with special controls to move around on their own Will not be able to drive a car on their own Requires 24-hour-a-day personal care
  17. The Crazy one here, look we share we learn. In recent years, policymakers have examined the interaction of two federal programs that provide benefits to military personnel with service-connected disabilities. In September 2009, the Government Accountability Office issued a report recommending that the Social Security Administration (SSA) increase its outreach and collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to improve access to Social Security disability benefits for military personnel wounded since October 2001 in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq (GAO 2009). Also in 2009, both houses of Congress introduced legislation known as the BRAVE Act1 that would certify veterans judged by the VA to have total disability (that is, having a combined rating of 100%2 or a rating of individual unemployability [IU]) as meeting the medical requirements of the disability programs administered by SSA. Essentially, a veteran with a rating of total disability would not have to undergo the medical portions of SSA’s disability determination to be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. The veteran would have to be insured for disability in order to qualify for Disability Insurance (DI) worker benefits and could not be engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA). https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v74n3/ssb-v74n3.pdf
  18. A report by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VAOIG) says dozens of military veterans incorrectly received letters indicating they would lose unemployment benefits after an overworked VA staff member in Seattle lost track of records they had submitted. VA auditors took a sampling of 132 employment questionnaires and determined that one-fifth of the veterans had been sent letters indicating a reduction or cancellation of benefits, even though they had mailed forms that should have allowed them to continue receiving money. The VAOIG report is available on the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General website. http://www.military.com/military-report/va-sends-errant-letters-to-seattle-vets.html
  19. Mark – Urbandale, Iowa: I had a service-related injury that worsened over time. In 1994, I was awarded 100 percent V.A. benefits. When I inquired with Social Security back then, I was told I didn’t qualify due to my V.A. benefits. I accepted the response. I figured they should know. I felt bad about even asking, but I inquired, because I had paid in since I was 16. Yesterday, my nephew told me that that wasn’t true. So I called today, and they said I didn’t qualify, because I haven’t worked in the last five years. (Of course I haven’t — I am disabled.) I don’t know if the law has changed since 1994, but by today’s laws, I would have qualified since I had worked back then. This just doesn’t seem fair. Can you help or perhaps provide advice? Larry Kotlikoff: I’ve asked our Social Security Technical Adviser, Jerry Lutz, to weigh in. Jerry Lutz: First, sincere thanks for your service. You can still apply for Social Security disability benefits, but you will need to establish that your disability began within five years after you stopped working. Social Security should be able to access your V.A. medical records (with your permission), so there should be evidence available in your case. Remember, though, that Social Security’s definition of disability is different from the V.A., so there is no guarantee that you will be approved. If your claim is disallowed, don’t hesitate to file an appeal. Many disability cases are approved during the appeals process, and you can usually find an attorney who will represent you on a contingency basis. If you are approved, Social Security normally pays a maximum of 12 months of back pay on disability benefits. However, if you can establish that they misinformed you at the time of your first contact, it’s possible that they could pay you all of the retroactive benefits to which you would have been entitled. Remember the maximum 12 months of back pay is on top off your application date. In other words if SSA finds that you are disabled you will get your SSDI payment from your application date plus 12 (twelve) more months. Now if you hire an attorney you will have to sign an agreement to pay them 25% of your back pay and if SSA allows it, they will pay the attorney out of your back pay. I think 25% is the max the attorney can charge and it is you don't pay if you don't win. The key is your medical records have to prove that you were disabled within five years of you stopped working and you will most likely have to file an appeal to the ALJ (Administrative Law Judge). http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/qualify-va-benefits-social-security-disability-benefits/
  20. Why is it so easy for VA to ignore their own regulations and force veterans to get evidence for combat conditions? 3.304 Direct service connection; wartime and peacetime. (a) General. The basic considerations relating to service connection are stated in §3.303. The criteria in this section apply only to disabilities which may have resulted from service in a period of war or service rendered on or after January 1, 1947. (b) Presumption of soundness. The veteran will be considered to have been in sound condition when examined, accepted and enrolled for service, except as to defects, infirmities, or disorders noted at entrance into service, or where clear and unmistakable (obvious or manifest) evidence demonstrates that an injury or disease existed prior thereto and was not aggravated by such service. Only such conditions as are recorded in examination reports are to be considered as noted. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 1111) (1) History of preservice existence of conditions recorded at the time of examination does not constitute a notation of such conditions but will be considered together with all other material evidence in determinations as to inception. Determinations should not be based on medical judgment alone as distinguished from accepted medical principles, or on history alone without regard to clinical factors pertinent to the basic character, origin and development of such injury or disease. They should be based on thorough analysis of the evidentiary showing and careful correlation of all material facts, with due regard to accepted medical principles pertaining to the history, manifestations, clinical course, and character of the particular injury or disease or residuals thereof. (2) History conforming to accepted medical principles should be given due consideration, in conjunction with basic clinical data, and be accorded probative value consistent with accepted medical and evidentiary principles in relation to value consistent with accepted medical evidence relating to incurrence, symptoms and course of the injury or disease, including official and other records made prior to, during or subsequent to service, together with all other lay and medical evidence concerning the inception, development and manifestations of the particular condition will be taken into full account. (3) Signed statements of veterans relating to the origin, or incurrence of any disease or injury made in service if against his or her own interest is of no force and effect if other data do not establish the fact. Other evidence will be considered as though such statement were not of record. (Authority: 10 U.S.C. 1219) (c) Development. The development of evidence in connection with claims for service connection will be accomplished when deemed necessary but it should not be undertaken when evidence present is sufficient for this determination. In initially rating disability of record at the time of discharge, the records of the service department, including the reports of examination at enlistment and the clinical records during service, will ordinarily suffice. Rating of combat injuries or other conditions which obviously had their inception in service may be accomplished pending receipt of copy of the examination at enlistment and all other service records. (d) Combat. Satisfactory lay or other evidence that an injury or disease was incurred or aggravated in combat will be accepted as sufficient proof of service connection if the evidence is consistent with the circumstances, conditions or hardships of such service even though there is no official record of such incurrence or aggravation. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 1154(b))
  21. Years ago when I was doing my own research on my medical health, I contacted the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for as much information they could help me with and this is what they sent me. I was just cleaning my PC and thought that this may help other veterans. Of course there is a lot more on the site but I think this is a good start. http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/ http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/vaccinations-medications.asp http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/sources/vaccinations.asp Hope this helps
  22. Just got new update in the mail. http://www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/gulfwar/gulf-war-newsletter-march2015.pdf
  23. http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/new-va-scandal-cbs-news-finds-thousands-of-vets-benefit-claims-discarded/
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