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  1. Best Practice Manual for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Compensation and Pension Examinations http://www.avapl.org/pub/PTSD%20Manual%20final%206.pdf
  2. OK, I need some advice. I started a HLR in March 2020, and had a new C&P in August of 2020. VA has been waiting on records from JSRRC since then. By my MOS (11B1P), and awards (SWASM, etc.) , plus being in a combat zone and my C&P I'm uploading, should I file to have the VA process my claim with what they have, or wait for them to finish with the records request that could take God knows how long.
  3. Wondering if anyone has some insight on my current situation. Long story short, I became 70% service connected in 2018 due to a combination of issues, to include 30% for PTSD. During my initial physicals with my VA primary care Dr I screened positive for TBI from a vehicle rollover in Afghanistan and began testing/treatment. I eventually had a neuropsychological exam that Identified several severe cognitive impairments (auditory memory, processing speed) and several more moderate-mild impairments. Based on this I filed a disability claim for TBI in November of 2019. I just finally had a C&P exam for TBI that did not last long. Based on browsing these forums, I am thinking that the neuropsych testing will be used and hopefully the severe cognitive impairment is listed. Two weeks ago I did an ACE exam for migraines related to TBI. I have been sitting around wondering when I will get my decision letter but instead just got informed that I need to do another C&P exam for PTSD. Does anyone know why the PTSD C&P exam is needed now? Are they trying to identify what symptoms are caused by TBI vs PTSD? Can this even be determined? Will they lower my PTSD or combine them? It has been 18 months since I filed this claim and I am getting pretty stressed out at all the additional testing they are making me go through. Maybe am stressing over nothing but waiting around for a decision for 18 months can really put a strain on the process.
  4. After two long years, I just received a denial and the SOC from the VARO for service connected ptsd due to MST and I am absolutely sick about it. I really need help on where to turn now because I want to continue to fight this, but it seems like no matter what evidence I submit, service connection for PTSD due to MST is almost impossible to achieve. The SOC I received stated that "You have submitted copies of emails, letters, journals entries and documents from the Army indicating evidence of military sexual trauma. Based on all the evidence received, we have conceded that you did suffer from military sexual trauma during your military service. Treatment reports from VAMC/Outpatient Clinic show you have received treatment for PTSD symptoms and for major depressive disorder. VA examination dated on February 14, 2012, states you have a diagnosis of PTSD and dysthymia disorder. The examiner provides the opinion that she cannot say with confidence that your military sexual trauma experiences meet criteria A for PTSD. The examiner also states she cannot resolve that the issue of PTSD is a result of your military experience without resort to mere speculation. Service connection for PTSD remains denied. Although we conceded that you were exposed to traumatic events during your military service, to include military sexual trauma, we have not received any medical evidence that your PTSD is the result of your military sexual trauma. We have requested 2 different VA examinations, with 2 different examiners and both have been unable to provide a medical opinion that your PTSD is the result of your military sexual trauma. The treatment reports from the Outpatient clinic show you have received treatment for PTSD symptoms associated with your history of military sexual trauma. However, these reports do not provide a medical opinion and rationale that your PTDS is due to military sexual trauma, and the result of other trauma." My MH doctor specifically told me her medical notes were more vague due to my privacy, so If I asked her to write a medical opinion and rationale that my PTSD is due to MST, would this help? Should I go to a civilian MH doctor to gain another opinion? I was sent a Form 9 and must state why I think the VA decided my case incorrectly. Is it time for a lawyer? I didn't received much help from the VFW due to the VSOs lack of experience and uncomfortableness with MST. I am trying to find records from an outpatient base clinic in Hawaii which will show pregnancy test, STD test and other sickness from the timeframe of MST. It seems the VA wants to link PTSD to me witnessing molestation of daughter almost 15 years after MST instead of all that happened during active duty. Can anyone PLEASE advise me? I feel so hurt, betrayed and now even angry, especially that the VA conceded that I was exposed to MST during my military service. My original post on Hadit was under the PTSD Disorder Claim and was called PTSD/MST Denial as well, but this seems to be a more suitable area to post now.
  5. Hi fellow Vets, So last year during the pandemic I finally applied for a PTSD disability. As I knew VA screw vets I found a Psychology that does DBQ and had one done via telehealth. Initial Decision letter for Aug 2020 I got a 50% I submitted a HLR and decision on Feb 2021 increased to 70% and this is on the HLR Reason For Decision We are unable to use your submitted DBQ as initial PTSD examinations must be performed by a VA professional. A telemental health examination report is only acceptable and actionable for rating purposes when prepared by a VHA or VBA contracted examiner in response to a VA C&P request. Decision makers must not accept in lieu of VA examination any DBQ that has been prepared by a non-VA provider and completed by means of telephone or videoconference examination. Because we were not able to use your submitted DBQ by itself to determine service connection, we ordered a VA Examination. Have a new DBQ completed via telehealth? And submit it via supplemental? Have a new DBQ completed via in person? And submit via supplemental? Or should I request a new increase and then submit a DBQ? I do believe I meet the 100 criteria. as explained to me by the Dr that did the DBQ. the VA C&P exam was quick and did not ask questions. Thanks.
  6. In an odd situation and don't know what avenue if any I should or can pursue. I originally filed in 1998 for PTSD and fought 4 years for against the VA. In 2002 I was awarded 100% (but not total and permanent and was in psychiatric ward twice that year). In 2004 the VA Claimed CUE (clear and unmistakable error) and severed my service connection in 2005. For the first 2 years a vet org helped me appeal and then just started ignoring my request for help. I was given the impression that my case wasn't winnable an they would no longer pursue it. I then spent a few years trying to defend myself but in 2010 I filed some paperwork late but continued on with the appeal process. Around 2013 I managed to find another VSO that would help me out and eventually (2015) I won my case, I was rated at 70% for my PTSD and with my IBSD rating that kicked it up to 80% and I was awarded T&P IU. However I was only back payed to 2011. Talked to the regional office and was told it was because I filed that paperwork late in 2010 but that I could appeal that. Now I have been in the psychiatric ward 6 times and still have thoughts of suicide on a regular basis. (Right now I'm on the VA "Hot List" and am getting calls from VA social workers to make sure I'm ok.) Well after spending 10 years worrying about whether I and my family were going to make it and going into debt I was happy to just call it quits at that point and figured it was just the VA getting a last "boot in". A couple of days ago I found a copy of the VBA Judges decision and actually read it thoroughly. This is a direct quote "Service connection for an acquired psychiatric disorder was previously denied, however, at the time of the last decision on this claim, some of the Veteran's service records were not in the claims file.They have since been obtained. Under 38 C.F.R. § 3.156(c) (2014), if at any time after VA issues a decision on a claim, VA receives or associates with the claims file relevant official service department records that existed and had not been associated with the claims file when VA first decided the claim, VA will reconsider the claim. Here, because relevant service treatment records have been received since the last decision on this claim, and because there is no indication that VA previously would have been unable to obtain them because they did not exist or because the Veteran failed to provide sufficient information, the claim must be reconsidered on the merits. See id." So the VA put me thru hell for 10 years for a mistake they made by mysteriously losing records from my file. Then I lost 5 years of back pay after I made a mistake - after having been put in a situation they created and I shouldn't have been in in the first place. Am I understanding this correctly or is my anger after finally realizing what happened clouding my view? If I am correct is there anything I can do about it? The VSO that helped me finally win this case told me that if I pursue this I will lose my T&P rating and possibly have to go thru another decade of their bs. I got to admit I'm afraid of even requesting records now simply because of the bs that the VA pulled over that 10 years am in no condition to go into another decade long fight with them. I can't hold a job because to much stress will cause me to have hallucinations (which is why I was in the psych ward twice in 2002 the last year I held a job). Not only that but I can't even try to raise a few bucks by selling my plasma because of the years I was overseas. My wife who quit her part time job in 2018 to look after me meets the VA's requirement as a Care Provider but because I served after Vietnam and before 9/11 she can't sign up for that program till Oct 2022. I don't know what to do or even if I can do anything? Plz send some advice my way.
  7. Hello, I'm new to this site and this is my first post.. My question is how many members of the Gulf War or any War for that matter got the skin condition Vitiligo during or after deployment??? If so has anyone won benefits for this condition? I have had this since I was deployed back in 91 however I blew it off and didn't think nothing of it because it started with two small patches.. Over the years after my deployment is has spread all over my body. My VA doctor said it is a autoimmune disease and could be the cause of my arthritus which is getting worse by the day.. I'm certain this had something to do with my deployment, but the VA doesn't seem to think so they stated in my denial letter there were no cases of Gulf War Vets getting this condition??? I find it hard to believe.. I currently filed a reconsideration for this condition and for PTSD and Arthritus. After the reconsideration was denied Instead appealing I refiled for PTSD only. It was denied because the diagnosis was not documented in my medical records and has since been corrected.. Then a few weeks ago I noticed all of the prior conditions filed for the first claim were added to the second claim of PTSD only... Man this whole process in confusing... Thanks in advance..
  8. This one is a doozy... Below are recently written summaries of my situation that I have sent to various VSOs and firms doing pro-bono work. I have already applied to the NLSVP for help with my discharge upgrade through the Navy, but that is likely to take a year or more before I will even hear back from them. I also just applied to the Yale NVCLR after running across their recent success with the Army discharge review boards. I have decided to go with the DAV for my VSO, but I want to be as thorough with this as I possibly can. Questions that I have- How do I proceed without screwing myself? I have been unemployed for a year now and while I would love for every single avenue to be explored, at this point 9+ years later I just any help I can get. What is the best way to collect and present character statements? I plan on contact anyone I can on social media from my unit to vouch for both my time in service and my time post discharge, but I don't want to put too much effort in a potential "small" category of importance. I know of others in my unit who were also ADSEPd following our deployment for misconduct in similar circumstances, many with differing outcomes- Are these potentially relevant to my case if I can get permission to cite their discharges? What would be the potential bars from getting backpay on my original 2012 claim that was closed? I missed my C&P exams, but I never knew they were scheduled in the first place.- Also, in light of the recent Federal circuit decision , to what degree was the VA obligated to notify me of the new evidence they received in 2014 at my new address? In order to register an account on e-benefits, I had to fill out a survey that included a soft credit check and questions regarding my past addresses. They knew, or were able to on demand pull and verify, every single address I've lived at since getting out, but up until two weeks ago my mail was going to the WRONG address I enlisted from? Hell, even the email addresses listed on my VA profile were my parents! None of the contact information in the VA systems I've come across has been even remotely accurate... This is a lot, but I feel as if there are a lot of things at play in my situation. I can post redacted copies of what I have or clarify further on anything needed. Thank you in advance for reading. -tfy ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- START HERE FOR BACKGROUND INFO Subject: New Service Records Discovered by VA- 2012 Claim Good Afternoon Mr. XXXX, I was ADSEP'd (Administratively Separated) with an OTH (General-Under Other Than Honorable Conditions) in 2012 for smoking marijuana to self-treat PTSD following a combat deployment. SARPs (on base Substance Abuse Rehab Program) diagnosed me with Adjustment Disorder w/Depressed mood and Alcohol dependency, but I completed the program and fought the ADSEP by taking a board review. While the board recommended to retain me suspend the discharge recommendation with a conditional OTH in the event of further misconduct, my unit deployed before the board could convene and contrary to everything I had been told up until that moment, I received a 10-day letter with ~5 days left on it informing me that the reviewing authority upheld the boards characterization of service but rejected their retention recommendation. It demolished me and I have seemingly never recovered. Thankfully, my parents pushed me to file a claim through the American Legion in XXXXXX when I initially got home, but I moved all around in the interim, was told it was a fat chance in hell to overturn drug pop discharges (2012) and that I was by default ineligible by my command/others. Unable to stay at home because of my PTSD, I moved out of state and never received any further correspondence from the VA which led to missing C&P exams. The initial compensation claim was filed on X-XX-2012 and I was granted service connection for treatment purposes only for Adjustment Disorder w/Depressed Mood, which I did NOT claim. I did claim PTSD, left knee, right knee, back problems- all of which were denied service connection. Under REASONS FOR DECISION for Service Connection for PTSD, my decision letter states that they conceded my stressor (Combat Action Ribbon), but that my service records do not contain complaints, treatment, or diagnosis for that condition, and I did not attend my VA examination- as well as “Therefore, medical evidence that could have been useful to support your claim was not available to us.” In addition to my SARPs diagnosis of Adj Disorder w/depressed mood (an ACUTE disorder), there are records of me being seen at the Naval hospital on Lejeune for night sweats, a PTSD symptom, but I am unsure if that was included in the original compensation decision evidence. Fast forward to a few months ago and I discover I can be seen for free at a Vet Center, where treatment leads me to eventually contacting a VSO with the XXXXXXX. The VSO found a few files in my record that I have never seen in my life. After days of making calls to the VBA and VHA, I go from being emphatically told by the VBA eligibility department I am ineligible due to my Discharge Characterization- to registered with free VA healthcare on the same phone call earlier this month. Fast forward to last week, I receive a letter from VHA Member Services informing me that they have determined I am ineligible to enroll in VA healthcare due to the VBA determination letter I’ve copied/pasted below. THIS DIRECTLY CONFLICTS WITH THE 2013 VBA DETERMINATION LETTER CITED AS EVIDENCE. I made a million calls to the VA, and eventually get a call back and am told yesterday that my Characterization of Service Review claim was pulled by the VA XXXXXXX Regional Office and that there appear to be a few issues with my claims. The VA received more records from the service branch in 2014, a year after my original claims were Closed, but the claims were never reopened/examined, and nothing was done. The records were service records and medical records mixed together. The wording of the 2012 VBA decision letter (made by a different Regional Office than I currently reside in) are “conflicting” and confusing the VA Reviewers, which was the reason given to me why the XXXXXX office “has” my characterization of service claim. Today, I received a letter from the DVA Evidence Intake Center informing me that I have 60 days to provide evidence that helps with their decision concerning my eligibility for VA benefits. I do not even know where to begin. I have been in a pretty bad spot mentally, physically, and spiritually essentially since deployment, so to discover that I could have been getting help all this time is both infuriating and crushing. The VA Reviewer I spoke to at XXXXXXX said they would mail me a copy of the files the VA received from DoD in 2014 and that I need to go through everything with a fine-tooth comb and possibly consider getting representation. (I just got these yesterday, they seem to be similar to records I have from e-benefits and some that I kept from time in the service, but I cannot confirm 100% as they will not disclose to me what the newly discovered medical records pertain to) See the 2013 Character of discharge determinations copy/pasted below, I’ve XX’d out dates but can provide them as well as scanned copies of what I’ve received along with my original ADSEP package that I got a copy of before being discharged (potential conflict from my commands processing, they crossed through a required field on my ADSEP checklist for a CO’s letter of referral to the VA and wrote NA- told me I was SOL in no uncertain terms). ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Updates- "While the board recommended to retain me with a conditional OTH in the event of further misconduct, my unit deployed before the board could convene and contrary to everything I had been told up until that moment, I received a 10-day letter with ~5 days left on it informing me that the reviewing authority upheld the boards characterization of service but rejected their retention recommendation." I called the Administrative Law section at the LSSS-E (covers Camp Lejeune, where I was ADSEP'd) today and learned that my OTH was actually Suspended, which is different than a recommendation to retain. DID find supporting documents in my "milconnectrecordpull" that were also present in the newly discovered records that the VA did not previously consider (they received them in 2014, a year after my original claims were CLOSED) These included my ADSEP package and board findings, INCLUDING a Minority Report filed by a board member in support of a higher characterization of service on the grounds that it was an isolated incident- THIS WAS NOT considered in my original claims, but I was still previously granted Honorable for VA purposes (in 2013) ALSO included the order from the CO of my Units Remain Behind Element recommending that I be retained in response to the boards finding to suspend my discharge, a recommendation that was IGNORED- resulting in my discharge with an OTH. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The linked album contains a redacted copy of the 2013 rating decision on my 2012 claim that was closed. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Character of Discharge letters from 2012 CoD ISSUE: Character of discharge. ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION EVIDENCE: DD Form 214 Facts and Circumstances from the Service Department DECISION: The claimant's service from XXXXXX to XXXXXX was under other than honorable conditions. The claimant is entitled to receive VA benefits based upon this period of service. The claimant is eligible for health care and, related benefits authorized under Chapter 17 of Title 38, United States Code, for any disability or disabilities incurred or aggravated in line of duty during active service. REASONS AND BASES: 38'USC §101(2); 38 CFR 3.12(a) 38 CFR 3.12(d) 38 CFR 3.360 The claimant entered active duty in the U.S. XXXXXXX. The Facts and circumstances furnished by the service department show that after the Veteran returned from his tour station in Afghanistan, the claimant tested positive for TCH 35 (marijuana) and subsequently charged with misconduct due illegal drug use. It also states that despite the Veteran's good conduct (awarded Good Conduct medal in XXXX), favorable character appraisal by his command, involvement in highly dangerous combat activities such as Mojave Viper and lack of evidence showing pattern of misconduct the board decided to appoint the claimant an other than honorable discharge: This appears to have been an isolated incident. The Facts and Circumstances state that the Veteran was made the poor choice of turning to an illegal drug and alcohol to cope with his mental health issues derived after his tour in Afghanistan. Prior to this incident the claimant had not used any illegal substance or had any pattern of behavioral health issues. Furthermore, there is no pattern of misconduct that can be established With out restoring to mere speculation. With several mental health studies being done that have linked alcoholism & drug use as a coping mechanism to deal with untreated mental health issues such as anxiety, adjustment disorder & PTSD the claimant's testimony is considered probable. In view of the evidence of record it is determined that this offense does not constitute willful and persistent misconduct. (Signed as Concurred and Approved on 8/21/2013) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ As well as this letter Dear XXXXXX, We made a decision regarding your discharge from military service. Every effort was made to see that your claim received complete consideration. This letter tells you what we decided, how we reached our decision and what evidence we used to reach our decision. We have also included information on what you can do if you don't agree with our decision, and who to contact if you have questions or need assistance. What We Decided We decided that your military service for the period XXXXX through XXXXX is honorable for VA purposes. You and your dependents are eligible for any VA benefits for this period of military service. How Did We Make Our Decision? The evidence shows that your service from XXXXX to XXXX was under other than honorable conditions. You are entitled to receive VA benefits based upon this period of service. You are eligible for health care and related benefits authorized under Chapter 17 of Title 38, United States Code, for any disability or disabilities incurred or aggravated in line of duty during active service. Evidence Used to Decide Your Claim In making our decision, we used the following evidence: DD Form 214 Facts and Circumstances from the Service Department
  9. Finally heard back that I received my 100% Overall rating and a 100% PTSD rating Following my long appeal process! My question is this, given the fact that my appeal was on the advanced docket and is an “Expedited” appeal, what happens now and how long(ish) is the process from here on out with retro and so forth? I’ve read a million things but nothing with an expedited appeal status. Anyone deal with this situation before? My jump is from 50 to 100 over the course of 2 years if that helps some. I only am asking because as happy as I am, I would be much happier to pay some of these bills off!
  10. Good morning everyone, I just got rated at 70% for PTSD after previously being denied as not service connected. For the first claim, I was going through a company (VAclaimpros) which was a big mistake. I appealed and just simply told the examiner what I was going through as well as my family. I submitted a letter from my wife and a report from when I was Police Officer stating that I had PTSD and the list of medications. I have previously been denied claims for sleep apnea and tinnitus. They acknowledged that I did have sleep apnea from my personal medical records and the UPPP surgery I had years ago but said it was not service connected. They also acknowledged my hearing issues but said it was not service connected. I have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, ED, Peyronie's disease (because of the ED), hypertension and insomnia from both private and VA doctors. I have been taking medicines for all three. I have sciatica My question is what should I file a secondary claim for or if I should even file one at all and leave well enough alone since I have 70%. Thank You
  11. I applied for 100% unemployability on my own after my VSO did nothing to help with the process back in February 2021. I received my decision this month stating that I was denied and was also reduced from 70% to 50% for PTSD and depression. They removed anxiety and alcohol use. When I was asked questions during my C&P they kept asking me what happened within the last year, not what happened since the date of injury, which was 2013. I'm not sure how to approach this issue any further. I want to appeal but I want my entire case looked at because I feel that I've been unjustly reviewed. What should I do for 100% UI?
  12. Can you claim insomnia secondary to PTSD or is this considered part of the pyramid system that the VA created.
  13. I'm hoping someone could help me with this question. I have two different PTSD events that occurred during my service. One was combat related and the other was non-combat. Do I need to file two different claims or should I just file one and submit my evidence with nexus? Thanks
  14. I received my decision letter today stating that they lowered my ptsd rating from 70 to 50. They also dropped anxiety and alcohol use. I'm currently pregnant and that is the only reason why I'm not hurting myself but it's only a matter of time before I fall into old habits. I'm doing my best to follow through on therapy with the VA but I don't think I'm getting the best care and I'm afraid once I give birth, I will lose everything like I have in the past because of my ptsd. I feel like the VA isn't listening to my fears and I will keep wash, rinsing, and repeating myself. I want to appeal but I honestly hate talking about my ptsd every single time. What should I do?
  15. I filed a claim for Sleep Apnea secondary to my PTSD, which is service connected. I have been diagnosed from the VA as having sleep apnea, and given a CPAP to wear at night. I used Carpenter Chartered Law Firm to do the claim, but got this denial letter (attached is an excerpt). In it, it says "In the absence of other major risk factors such as obesity it would be reasonable to attribute OSA to PTSD as this is considered a risk factor for OSA from uptodate.com". My thought is that if both obesity and PTSD are considered risk factors, shouldn't it be a 50% chance that it could be either obesity or PTSD, and go to the veteran's favor? And doesn't that mean that attributing OSA to obesity is just as speculative as attributing it to my PTSD? I had Carpenter Chartered start an appeal, so I am hopeful to get it approved.
  16. Can anyone speak generally, or from experience, on how TDIU claims are affected when the applicant resigned from their last job? I am 70% SC for PTSD. While I am currently working now, my condition makes it impossible, and management understandably wants to fire me for cause. They cannot do it before the strong union "protecting" me drags things out for months on end. I don't want to go through any of that. If I just resign and leave the job am I sabotaging the TDIU claim I intend to file? Any insight or advice is appreciated.
  17. A little background first on this specific claim to provide greater context for the readers. I had no idea that i had OSA until i got married and through the years my wife has told me about how i would snore really loud, stop breathing at night, choke, etc. pretty standard stuff for anyone that has it. I had buddies in the Marine Corps who told me the same thing after our first deployment, but i had always chocked it up to my dad snored so i snored, the stopping breathing thing was weird but i was 18/19 so your health isnt a primary concern and BAS is only for bones sticking out. I got out in 2006 and didnt make a claim for OSA until 2016. First i talked to my primary care then was referred to a VA pulmonologist. He ordered a sleep study and the VA fumbled it sending me to a private facility and did a in home test. When the results came back i saw in my VA health record the Pulmonologist was terse with his message saying he wanting a in facility sleep study so a month later i did mine at the VA overnight. I was diagnosed with Mild OSA and given a CPAP. When the CPAP arrived i spent a month trying to get it to work but every morning it would show only 45-60 minutes of time. I have nightmares at night, some i remember some i dont but would rip off the mask or when i woke up would be so worked up i didnt put it back on. I do cycles of trying it for awhile and stopping for awhile, giving it a chance because my wife is worried about the OSA and its health effects. My claim history was this, as i stated i made my first claim in 2016 and was denied. I reopened the claim (when that was still an option in 2018) and was denied again. What i submitted was bascially the VA medical record showing that i had it, that i was ordered a CPAP and sworn statements by myself, my wife and buddies in the Corps that stated they saw symptoms in 2003-2006. I had NO nexus or medical proof that it began in service I made a mistake in 2019 when it was denied again and NEVER filed a NOD as i kindof gave up when that and other new claims for increases were denied, but I DID make a intent to file back in July 2019. I was out of the VA regulation changes loop and didnt know that they had gotten rid of reopening and moved to the Supplemental evidence route so in February through April i decided to really focus on making a quality claim since my 2016/2018 claims were more shot in the dark hoping that the VA would just grant it. I went to specialists in the field for the claims i was making and got updated diagnosis of symptoms and effects, got my sworn statements (which in my opinion has more 'umph' than a buddy statement) more detailed in terms of observed symptoms, timelines and effects upon my life as well as i went out and got two IMO's. The first IMO was for PTSD from Dr. Elaine Tripi in Michigan whos IMO got the VA to drop their attempt to reduce my rating in 2015/2016 (and i suspect it was because her IMO made a case for an increased rating). In that IMO she detailed my history, current symptoms, etc as well as opined on how my PTSD affected my OSA symptoms and how it interfered with its treatment. I also got a IMO from Dr. Anaise who wrote a lengthy (near 50 pages) on how my OSA is aggravated by Tinnitus and PTSD and interferes with my ability to go to sleep, stay asleep and interferes with my treatment. When i submitted the claim (reopen was still available as an option on ebenfits) my new claims, increase and "reopen" were all lumped together as one big claim and sent off in April. As a sidenote whenever i send my claim i do so through ebenefits as well as fax AND send CERTIFIED MAIL WITH RETURN RECEIPT. i keep a copy of the USPS receipt with tracking, Cert Mail receipt and the return receipt and staple that together with my hard copy claim evidence in a folder for each claim ive ever made. The VA has a way of "losing" evidence and if you ONLY submit via ebenefits, regular mail and/or fax you cant prove they received it per say. This DOESNT mean they wont pretend they didnt get it but what it does is allows you to prove upon appeal that YES you did send it in the time window necessary for your claim AND that they did receive it because the return receipt shows Jim VArep did in fact get it on such and such day. So if you get denied its really important to look at your cfile after to see what evidence the rater actually looked at and if they dont have ALL the evidence in that file you can appeal on those grounds in conjunction with more evidence if necessary that X doctors exam or IMO proves your case, wasnt considered AND the VA had received it. So a few weeks after i submitted it, the VA sent me the normal letter stating they had received my claim for X,Y,Z New & increased claims but i didnt see anythign about OSA which was weird. a week later i got a letter from the VA saying that my claims for OSA were not new, had been denied previously and were not on appeal and gave me a list of options. I chose Supplemental Evidence since the IMO's were "new evidence" to be considered and met the criteria and it had been over a year since my denial so i couldnt submit a NOD and get the backdated effective date. This was my fault. One i gave up in 2019 and didnt file a NOD to hold my place and Two i didnt keep up to date with new VA regs regarding reopened claims, etc. Since that supplemental claim was received on 4/24/20 (todays date is 6/18/20) I have had two psych exams and two records reviews through QTC (private company the VA contracts to do DBQ/exams). The first pysch exam was related to my request for an increase for PTSD back in April and in May i had a NP contact me who was reviewing my med records for OSA and had follow up questions regarding my condition both current and past. In that conversation i talked about how i never went to go get checked because i never knew what OSA was at that time, thought it was normal to snore, etc., how BAS is frowned upon in the Marines for things like that, my history with it since i got out up to now and how my nightmares make me rip off the CPAP at night. I did ask her if she had seen my imo, other evidence and she said no JUST my medical record. I know examiners arent raters and all but I find it weird that VA will deny IMO's as valid if they dont "review veterans entire file" but will accept something from a examiner if its negative when only their VA med file is shared. Its great advice to always bring your evidence with you to a exam but given the current COVID situation ALL of my exams thus far have been telephone or video. I asked her what the exam was specifically for or what they asked her to examine and she said it was basically whether or not my OSA was service connected and occured in service. I do believe it was but i was making the claim as SECONDARY to PTSD and/or Tinnitus as an aggravation which she was unaware of. I fired off some angry messages via the IRIS system to the VA regarding this (no idea if they got included in my record or reached a rater since the only response i got was "thank you for contact us heres how to make a new claim"). Within the last 3 weeks i had a 3rd & 4th "exam". The third was a MD who was reviewing my records as well and asked alot of the same questions, she was also unaware this was a secondary claim for aggravation and had seen no evidence submitted or my entire file so i went through it with her again. The 4th exam was another psych interview which i was told was to examine my secondary claims to OSA, but knowing the VA i knew it was basically another review of my ENTIRE PTSD claim ive had as well. Vets should be aware that even if a exam is about something specific any evidence or statements made that can negatively effect an existing general disability & will be held against you. This was quite clear when he just asked about current PTSD symptoms and never ONCE asked about my OSA, etc. So i had to bring that up myself. VA.gov check claims hasnt been updated since a week after my claim submission. my OSA claim has said "we dont know your status" even now and my other new/increased claim stopped after "request for more information" (i.e. requesting new QTC exams). So ever few days i check that as well as ebenefits to see if any of the DBQ's show up in my blue button (none have but im guessing because QTC doesnt have to update the way in house VA does). Finally today i see on my disabilities list that OSA was granted secondary to PTSD for 50% bringing me to 90% with an effective date of 4/24/20. I know that this ISNT the same as a letter from the VA but i know someone who is a VA rater who has been giving me updates on my record so im 99% certain this ebenfits update is accurate. The takeaways are this. 1) Do the damn research and work the claim yourself, no VSO or rep is going to care as much as you do. You care about your case, they have 15,50,100 other vets whos cases they are working and even if they are a great VSO/rep they cant possibly give a crap as much as you do. dont hope the VA just "gives" you the rating you deserve make it so they cant NOT give it to you with the proper evidence. 2)IMO's are golden. I know not everybody can afford them, i couldnt per say and had to sell some things to come up with the $500 for Dr. Tripi and $1500 for Dr. Anaise, but they were well worth it, without them i definitely wouldnt have gotten my OSA approved. I think have both a MD stating both the phyiscal and mental nexus and a Psychologist stating the pure mental side gave it a one two punch. 3) Along with the IMO go to doctors/specialists in your area and get documented evidence of you issue, ask them to be detailed in the exam notes. I even emailed a couple time asking the doc (this wasnt for OSA but a different claim, but good general advice) asking them to update the notes to specifically include certain symptoms and effects upon quality of life. Having this helps alot, combined with IMO's its very difficult for a random NP to override their findings with one exam or phone interview. Remember the VA is military based in that the ranking officer rules. So if you only have a NP (nothing against NP's this is just how the VA works) from a urgent care saying you have OSA caused by PTSD or that your shin splints are 8/10 pain and they have a pulmonologist, MD or specialist say its only 1/0 and doesnt effect guess who wins. If you have two psychologists but yours has great bonafides and background and theirs has only been practicing for 5 years solely at the VA yours wins. Im not saying dont go to a primary care to document because youll only see a NP all evidence helps but be aware if they pull out a MD who counters that exams findings youre likely to lose. Because they will always want to lean to denial and if their person has more experience or is a specialist that will win over what you submit. Dont give them an option, and even if they do decide to rule against you, you can make a great appeal based on the fact they sided with their NP over a specialist in the field your making a claim for who knows more. 4) Never let claims die. Dont make a new claim until your ready to with great evidence (file a intent to file first though to preserve backpay/effective date) If denied make sure you keep a reminder about the NOD date and when you do file a NOD make sure that is certified mail with return receipt to prove you mailed it/VA received it before the deadline, because if you dont and they can make a case it was received 24 hours after the NOD deadline you lost you backpay date and possibly years of backpay. Now there are situations where claims die but if theres a opportunity to still make it on appeals hire a GOOD (there are alot of crappy ones) appeals attorney and move forward. I know they take 20%+ of your backpay but if you aent comfortable enough to navigate the appeals process its well worth it. 5) stay up to date on new VA regs, Hadit is a great source for this you dont want to be like me thinking that certain avenues are still open and they arent. If I had stayed up to date i wouldve been able to file earlier for the OSA and preserve YEARS AND YEARS of backpay now im only going to get 2 months. 6) I didnt do this for this claim although i should've and kept a diary of when i was using the CPAP, roughly when i ripped it off, data on how long i wore it, frustrations over not being able to wear it, info on my nightmares causing me to rip it off etc. years of diary entries wouldve been a help. I didnt need it in the end but if you cant afford a IMO things like this can help because theres NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH EVIDENCE. A diary is one of the key things that helped me win my migraines case. for months prior I kept a diary of my headaches and effects, then transcribed them into ebenefits health diary. I am not perfect at it but i now write as much as i can as often a i can in this diary about ANY service connected or possibly service connected illness (especially things that could be considered aggravated by a service/possible service connected disability). That way when you are making a claim or fighting a reduction you can pull out timestamped entries for months/years relating to it and it makes it harder for a rater to think you pulled this out your but last month to make a claim. A big thanks to everyone on HADIT. i did alot of research here through the years to help make my claims better and it worked Another big thanks to Dr. Anaise and Dr. Tripi for their outstanding IMO's that helped me win this.
  18. Hello all, I'm hoping to get some advice from members in this forum that may have been in my shoes, or knows someone who has been. I have been retired 22 years now after 20 years of service. I currently have a VA rating of 70% for back issues and headaches. The 70% rating breaks down to 40% for lower back, 20% for upper, and 10% for headaches. It's been nearly 20 years since I've been back to the VA for a rating increase. My lower back is worse now, and about 6 years ago I ruptured a disk. I also lost my job this past October because my back issues limit my mobility so much. I plan on going back to the VA around October of this year to try for an increase. I'm waiting until October because that will be the 20 year mark of my VA rating. I have definite trust issues and I don't trust the VA, which is why I've waited so long. I wanted to make sure they couldn't take the rating I have away. I've had ongoing mental issues for quite a while now. Upon doing some research, it seems I have many symptoms of PTSD. My wife and daughter are encouraging me to start seeing a psychologist. I have no problem with that, but one of my questions is: would be a good idea to ask the psychologists office upfront if they would provide a NEXUS letter if they feel I do have PTSD related to my military service? My daughter advises me not to do that and to take the chance that they will supply one. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel it's better to see a psychologist that I know will supply a letter. I feel a NEXUS letter carries a lot of weight, and it's frustrating when specialists tell you that your condition is likely caused by your military service, but they won't supply a letter to back it up. Another question concerns TDIU. I've been working in the maintenance field my entire life. As stated earlier, I was let go from my job because I could no longer effectively perform the duties due to my very limited mobility. Of course my employer gave me a letter that I was let go because they were "cutting back." I know they were protecting themselves because I was one of the more senior and experienced techs there. In any case, my second question is: should I file for TDIU as well as PTSD at the same time, as well as any secondary issues that I feel may be related? Or should I just file for one or the other? All replies and advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks to all who took the time to read this.
  19. Hey brothers and sisters so I just am towards the mid way point or end of my claim for ptsd. I received my letter in the mail saying that it is a duty to assist error and from what I am hearing its basically a reexamination. Although I have also read that the VA could just go with the evidence they have in my records, that being said on my letter it states i have a favorable findings and have been diagnosed with a disability. It states, " they failed to get clarification of an exam and medical opinion, as such will develop for an exam and medical opinion. Out of all this I know this has to be good news and wondering if there is anything that I need to look out for?
  20. LHI just sent me the details for my C&P exam appointment. This is for a PTSD increase claim. I looked up the doctor and even though there wasn’t much on him I found that he is a child psychologist, doesn’t have many and good reviews, wrote a book about social justice for children with disabilities that he sells on Amazon for $12 and was deposed for his professional credentials. One review says ‘I can’t believe this guy still has his license’. I’m including a link to his creepy deposition. Where does LHI find these doctors and how can I get this changed? Do I go to VA and ask for another contractor or take it up with LHI? www.dpdlaw.com/weistuc.htm
  21. I'm not sure where to post this because it's not MST but is about sexual trauma and is also a sensitive topic. This article details a study that was conducted on Veterans who have PTSD and also exhibit sexual risk behavior https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684959/ PTSD can result in high risk behavior such as promiscuity. I'm service connected for PTSD and was sexually assaulted after I was discharged from the military. I was service-connected rated for PTSD at 70% in 2012. The sexual assault happened in 2017. I recently filed for a PTSD increase. In my DBQ and nexus letter, my treating physician of 11 years talked about my high risk behavior broadly but also documented the sexual assault to show the relationship between high risk behavior and sexual assault. I also told the C&P examiner that I felt that my promiscuity resulted in the sexual assault. Again, not sure if this is the right forum. I wanted to ask how the VA may perceive this relationship and do they look at claims seriously that document sexual assault. Has anyone experienced this or is aware of any documented cases. Unfortunately, high risk sexual behavior in veterans who have PTSD is alarmingly an issue and uncomfortable to admit and also to discuss.
  22. If you have dominantly social impairment from PTSD and there is enough evidence of this and this has worsened, can this alone get you to 100% P&T from 70%. Do you also have to demonstrate work impairment? I'm asking how the VA views 'total impairment.' Do you have to have both social and work impairment or can social impairment suffice? Do they look at how long you have been previously rated in making their decision? I am waiting for a decision letter for a PTSD increase claim that closed last week. The claim includes my private therapist's nexus letter and DBQ where he specifies language of "more likely than not to be permanent in nature". He also provided a long list of session dates that I have had with him since 2009. I have been in continuous therapy with him for 11 years. My original rating was 50% in 2010 but the VA called me back for a re-evaluation on their own (not at my request) in 2012 which resulted in a rating increase to 70%.
  23. Hello and thanks for reading. I have tried to research the FAQ but keep getting the error message " We could not locate the item you are trying to view. Error code: 2F176/1", so hopefully this is not to repetitive. First a little bit of a back story- I have 44 years combined service for pay (Both active duty (combat) Active Reserve, NG and returns to Active duty for deployments. I used a state VA representative to help file my claim and during the process (the VSO) filed all my claims at one time. These included PTSD, Type II diabetes (presumptive), Tinnitus, Bilateral hearing loss, and sleep apnea, neuropathy in my left foot, right foot etc. After an C&P I was given a 100% P&T for PTSD (service connected - Combat). My other issues were initially deferred. After looking at my information on eBenefits (still waiting of subsequent decision letters, I found the following (note I have completed all the C&P examinations as requested) 10% For tinnitus (service connected) 20% for Type II diabetes, (service connected) 10% for myopathy in my left foot, 10% for my right foot (service connected) 0% for bilateral hearing loss (service connected) and 0% for sleep apnea (NOT service connected). So while I was surprised at the sleep apnea rating, I think that perhaps this was a result of the the way the claim was filed, in that it was not filed as a secondary to the PTSD. So the questions then becomes, since I am not seeking SMC, as I do not presently see a real path to it in my present state, is pursuing the Sleep Apnea really a hill worth climbing, since as I understand it because I am already 100% service connected then the VA will provide my CPAP needs. So anyone out there see something I am missing, AND if I do seek to address the Apnea do I simply file an appeal to the decision letter or do I submit a new claim for the Sleep Apnea, as secondary.
  24. Hello again. I'm posting this to a new thread although its related to a post of two days ago. I just had my C&P exam on 16 Feb for a PTSD increase. Based on my claim status online which I just checked this morning, 18 Feb, the VA sent a decision letter and closed the claim. Is it possible for the VA to reach a decision this quickly after an evaluation? This claim was submitted as a fully developed claim and the only other evidence I had in my file was a DBQ and narrative or nexus letter prepared by my treating doctor of 11 years. I'm enclosing a screenshot of a status that I asked the VA about twice and received two different answers. I asked them if an exam was required. The status on the screenshot says no longer needed. In one call the VA said it was not required. In another call they said it was required and provided me LHI's contact information. The exam was scheduled and conducted through LHI. Has anyone dealt with this type of inconsistency? Is it possible the VA made a decision without this evaluation considering how fast a decision letter was sent after the evaluation. Or do you think the evaluation was considered in their decision? I contacted the VA this morning and the rep said he cannot discuss the contents of the decision but confirmed that an exam notification was sent out back in January. I also asked him how long it takes ebenefits to show the new rating if the decision is for an increase. He confirmed for me my rating he sees now but this rating is my current rating. How long does ebenefits take to update a rating that may have increased after a decision letter was sent? Thanks
  25. I just had my PTSD C&P exam/evaluation and have a few AAR points and questions. This exam was for an increase to an existing rating. My LHI paperwork said "Appointment length up to: 90 minutes or more *exam length varies based on evidence that presents itself during the examination." My appointment took less than an hour and this includes the time I spent to fill out the following questionnaires: PCL-5 with Criterion A, Roche Inventory and Beck Anxiety Inventory. This was 5 pages of questionnaire that probably took me 10-12 minutes to complete. I took pictures of what I filled out so I have a record. The actual exam where the examiner asked me questions felt like it was 40-50 minutes. I felt the examination was rushed because as I was elaborating on something the examiner would cut me off and tell me that she had to move on to the next thing. At the end as I was answering I question she cut me off and she told me that's all the time we have. Also toward the end she said 'I think you need medication'. I don't take anti-depression meds and explained to her why. Is this something an evaluator should be recommending? Has anyone else felt rushed? Why didn't she use 90 minutes or more and just cut me off? She was clearly authorized to use as much time as she needed based on what evidence was presented. She also asked me about my alcohol consumption? Is this appropriate to ask? After I explained how and when I consume alcohol she says 'so you binge drink'. Should I document all this to LHI? Will LHI send me her evaluation if I request it? Thanks
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