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Seeking Any Help And Advice


daveinky

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Hello, I have read quite a bit of info on here but am lost as to what I need to do for myself. I am SC 10% for osteoarthritis in left knee. I started having back pain in Nov. 06 and finally had MRI which showed facet arthritis, bulging disc, and foraminal narrowing all on left side at L5-S1. I go for my last visit of PT tomorrow, which hasn't helped and meds haven't helped.

I am self employed and do construction work, remodel, decks, hardwood floors,tile work, etc.. I haven't worked the last couple of month's due to my back and the Physical Therapist said I shouldn't be doing the type of work I do.

So, I am really lost as to what I should do. Who do I go see to try and help me with a possible claim for my back problems possibly caused by my knee and trying to increase rating on my knee? I know it's going to be a battle trying to connect my back problems to my knee, but I have to try.

I live in a very rural area that is mainly coal mine related and don't have much qualifications for those type of jobs. Is there somewhere I can go for employment assistance? Does the VA offer any kind of help for someone in my situation? Thanks for any help and or advice.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Dave:

Welcome to Hadit and good luck on your claim.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

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Use your GI benefits if you have them.

A disability rating of 30 percent or more will automatically enable you for Vocational Rehabilitation.

File for a SC percentage increase if your disability is worsening.

File a new Claim for a Secondary condition.

Edited by Wings
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If you can get an independent medical opinion that states that the back problems are stemming from the knee that is SC (as Wings said correctly-this could be secondary claim) and also a medical statement that this is so dehabilitating you cannot work-

the VA would award you potentially- TDIU (the 100% rate)

You claim is not unusual in that a knee problem can cause hip, foot and back problems.

If a doctor agrees that the SC knee has caused these additional problems- they would have to SC the back problems.

My neighbor has similiar claim-almost- in his case the VA doctor said his knee problems could have started due to an inservice back problem.His back problem was documented in his SMCs and he just got 10% for back injury. He can NOD this and add claim for knee as secondary.He has documentation from the VA doctor that the knee is associated to the inservice back injury.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

I would definitely try and get some VA sponsored rehabilitation/job training before the pain gets worse because it never gets better. I had a pretty physical job and my shoulder and back started to bother me. I would try for VA vocational rehabilitation. How old are you? If you are young you don't want to be physically disabled by the time you are 50 from hard work. You may have to make some major changes but it is better to do is sooner than to be caught in a situation where you are too old to get hired into something else and too young to retire.

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Thanks for all the replies and advice. john999, or anyone else, Who do I see or how do I go about VA vocrehab/job training. I am currently only 10% SC for my knee and thought I had to be at least 30% to get vocrehab.

I will be 40 in Dec. and that is what my concern is as to the hard work (physically demanding) and making my condition worse. The work I do already bothers me as to the constant pain and also fear of making things even worse. I have already been told by VA physical therapist that my back condition will not get any better and that the PT is only to try and keep it from getting any worse. Do I need to get my back SC'd before I can get any vocrehab? Thanks again for the advice.

I would definitely try and get some VA sponsored rehabilitation/job training before the pain gets worse because it never gets better. I had a pretty physical job and my shoulder and back started to bother me. I would try for VA vocational rehabilitation. How old are you? If you are young you don't want to be physically disabled by the time you are 50 from hard work. You may have to make some major changes but it is better to do is sooner than to be caught in a situation where you are too old to get hired into something else and too young to retire.
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Any veteran with a SC rating of 20% or more is eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation benefits under Chapter 31, and 38 CFR 21.40(a (2006)

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  • HadIt.com Elder
Thanks for all the replies and advice. john999, or anyone else, Who do I see or how do I go about VA vocrehab/job training. I am currently only 10% SC for my knee and thought I had to be at least 30% to get vocrehab.

I will be 40 in Dec. and that is what my concern is as to the hard work (physically demanding) and making my condition worse. The work I do already bothers me as to the constant pain and also fear of making things even worse. I have already been told by VA physical therapist that my back condition will not get any better and that the PT is only to try and keep it from getting any worse. Do I need to get my back SC'd before I can get any vocrehab? Thanks again for the advice.

It's not an over night process ...

You filed a claim once, or someone assited you. You can do it - again.

If your SC disability (knee) has worsened, file a claim for increase % - and say it's getting worse. Attach medical records to support your claim. Give it as much weighted evidence as you can.

Evidence is the name of the game.

Get a doctoor to state in writing that your back problems are as likely as not secondary to your knee problems and it's a slam dunk.

I don't know what % you need to get into voc rehab. Maybe someone would kindly submit the law/regulation.

Keep asking questions.

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It's not an over night process ...

You filed a claim once, or someone assited you. You can do it - again.

If your SC disability (knee) has worsened, file a claim for increase % - and say it's getting worse. Attach medical records to support your claim. Give it as much weighted evidence as you can.

Evidence is the name of the game.

Get a doctoor to state in writing that your back problems are as likely as not secondary to your knee problems and it's a slam dunk.

I don't know what % you need to get into voc rehab. Maybe someone would kindly submit the law/regulation.

Keep asking questions.

Yes, I filed a claim once and did it by myself using the VONAPP website. When you want to file for an increase, you cannot use VONAPP, so I need to find out where to go and who to have help me do this. Or can I download forms online and put in a claim that way? I'm in a very rural area and it's hard to find anyone that can help me with this. The VA rep position for my region, which is about 8 counties, is currently vacant (job opportunity??). So, I guess it's just going to take a little more digging and searching.

As far as the VOCREHAB, I found that anyone rated at least 10% can apply for it, but at 10% you have to show a serious employment handicap. I'm going to go ahead and apply and see what happens. If I don't get it now, I'll wait until I get my increase and get it then.

Thanks again for the help!

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"Or can I download forms online and put in a claim that way?"

Yes, you can.

And considering how far you are away from a VA Benefits office where the VA reps could type-out the form for you and submit it, doing it yourself long-distance seems best, partly because you need to do it NOW to get the EED you can...no further delay.

The problem with downloading the form, filling it out and mailing it in snail-mail is that unlike a visit to a VA benefits office (usually located at your local VAMC), you can't get a date-stamped copy proving you submitted the claims form...you just mail it in via the USPS and hope it gets there. With the USPS getting more sloppy even though they continue to increase postage rates, and, with the VA often "losing" documents, you need to be sure they got it.

One way another poster said to do it is FAX your forms/documents in to VARO instead of mailing it...this way you have the original form as well as a "fax sent" confirmation page you can show the VA if they come back later and say they never got it.

If you have a fax machine and phone line, it'll be easy to fax it in to your VARO, but if not, use your computer/scanner/fax program to fax it or use an Internet faxing service.

I believe faxing is the best way since you have a record of all your faxes to VARO (unless your computer crashes so make backups of all your records). I think it's okay to fax forms even though that means the VA does not have the original signed document itself, but Im not sure since I always took my originals in to the local VAMC to submit it in-person and get date-stamped copies for my records.

Good luck,

-- John D.

Edited by cloudcroft
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