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Nod For Back Disability



Hello everyone,

I need a bit of assistance with an issue. Here is a bit of a back story to my issue...3 years prior to entering the military, I was injured in a car accident during which I sustained an injury to my back and neck. After several months of physical therapy I was released by my doctor who provided documentation to support the fact that my condition is now asymtomatic. Upon entering service during my initial examination note of the accident was indicated in my medical records as well as the supporting documentation from my doctor...the entrance exam paperwork indicates my condition was also asymtomatic. During my four years in the Air Force, I was injured during an exercise and then again in a car accident. I submitted my first claim for a back disability in 2003 during which time I was rated 10% Service connected for cervical and thoracic strain with degenerative disc disease. Unaware at the time that I could appeal this decision I allowed the claim to close. In March 2006, I submitted a claim for an increased rating for my back disability during which time I was notified that a change had been made to separate the original claim because the cervical spine and the thoracic/lumbo spine are separate segments. Instead of receiving an increase to the original rating I received a separate rating for Degenerative arthritis of the lumbosacral spine with Thoracic Strain. I still disagree with this decision and am thinking of submitting a NOD regarding this issue. I contact a VSO in regards to assisting me with my claim and was told the VA is doing me a favor by even giving me a rating considering the fact that I had previously sustained an injury before service.

Here is the bigger issue...I am a 32 year old mother of a 2 year old son who requires the use of a cane. I recently spent 2 months on Family Medical Leave from my job and am wondering if this would play a role in assisting with getting an increase. My problem is that the only time that I find any comfort what so ever is when I am flat on my back because sitting causes the most pain which makes it difficult in performance of my daily duties at work. Also to contribute to this chaos is the fact that there are a documented 20 different things in my medical records relating to my back disorder which is why I find it even more difficult to understand my present rating. I have gone through PT, OMT, Pain Management, Chriropratic treatments, pain meds, personal trainer, and have been seen by an Ortho and Neuro surgeon but am not a candidate for surgery because of the fracture found on my spine.

The Othro Surgeon and radiologist detailed the findings of my MRI as: Acute degenerative disc disease with degenerative vertebral arthritis. Thoracic spine shows a T7-T8 compression what looks like disc displacement. The lumbar spine shows L3, L4, and L5 disc degeneration with vertebral degeneration and a L4-L5 disc herniation or protrusion. Disc degeneration and disc flattening of the cervical spine at C3 to C6. Compression fracture of T7-T8 with disc displacement, lumbar spine disc displacement, and disc degeneration.

My ultimate question is how should I proceed with this issue. I don't agree with the decision but if the VA is actually reviewing the same medical records that this information is in why is it that I am unable to receive a higher rating. What should I do to attempt to get an increase for this disability because my biggest issue is the fact that I honestly don't believe I will be able to continue working because of the amount of pain I am in 7 days a week/ 24 hours a day. Any assistance in this matter will be greately appreciated.

Thank You,


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I am not Up to date like Berta and the others.But I can tell You to Keep fighting.

My Husband worked for 34 years with a bad back and never said a word to anyone except family. Finally one day he could not get out of bed with some much pain. He to had to lay flat on his back. The Doctors sent him to the pain clinic and nothing was working for him, finally 6 months later they said surgery. Work would not let him back in, so he filed for SSD, the day of surgery he got the letter that he was excepted for SSD. 3 months after surgery he had heard about VA Compensation. We did not no anything about it. So I got on the phone and called, found this website. I got records from the doctors, and started the claim. He is a Vietnam Veteran. We won our case. So for what I can say to you, Because you are young and have a family.

Fight, Fight and More Fighting till you get something.You never said what you where reciving for compensation, But Keep appealing till you get a higher rate.

JohnM's Wife Dianne

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I have been fighting the same fight since 1993. I have basically the same back issues as you. I was originally rated at 10% back and 10% for a knee injury. The back worsened and I was increased to 40% for the back in 1999. Since then I have been taking VA pain meds daily to function and have now moved on to Fentanyl patches that supply a steady dose of narcotics and supplement the pain outbreaks with Percocet daily.

I know it is virtually impossible to get more than 40% for your back. My problems have caused severe depression, HBP, chronic pain, and arthritis. I have a case at the rating board for an increase for these issues and have had the C&P where the VA docs linked all this to my pain issues and have filed for IU and am just waiting on the claims process.

Don't give up, but more than 40% on your back will be tough BUT if you have ANY conditions that can be tied in with the back probelms file a claim and get a VA determination.

Good luck


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Just taking the heavy narcotics can make a person IU. How do you drive a car or concentrate when you are doped out? Plus you can OD.

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Monica- I am attached a 21-8940 TDIU form.

If your vet rep tells you you have to be 70% for TDIU consideration-

dont listen to that and send it to the VARO anyhow.

70% triggers the VA to send the TDIU form and consider TDIU via a rating-

However any vet can send this form in and have VA consider them for TDIU.

I got a vet with NO SC at all -100% TDIU - in 4 months.

He attached his significant private records to the TDIU form and followed the other advise I gave him.

Many other vets here have sent in the TDIU form and gotten TDIU wothout the 70 % criteria.

If a service connected disability renderns one unemployable the VA has to award TDIU-the 100% comp rate.

Under Question 18 check Yes and then apply for SSA.

Under Remarks refer them to additional page, put your c file number on this page and tell them of the major side affects you made have that render you unemployable- support thisa with some good Med site print outs from the web-

cannot take and drive, causes, sleeplessness, confusion- etc -stuff like that-

Also tell them of any evidence whatsoever you have that any doctor has considered you unemployable due to service connection or better yet- this could be costly- get an independent medical opinion fulfilling the criteria I posted under "Getting an Independent Medical Opinion" available under the search feature -

and this IMO's cost could easily be absorbed with the future TDIU comp if the IMO is favorable, covers all of the criteria well, and you are granted TDIU.


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Just taking the heavy narcotics can make a person IU. How do you drive a car or concentrate when you are doped out? Plus you can OD.

John...I hope you are correct as I have a claim pending focusing on this issue and depression.

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Another question I have is in the re-stating of my disability and how it may affect my present ratings? Also should I file a claim for the different clinical diagnosis that the VA doctors have used regarding my back problem? The only relief I have beyond the morphine, hydrododone, gabapentin, salsalate, tramadol, is having osteopathic treatments every 2 weeks. If I exceed two weeks between treatments my pain level jumps from tolerable to I'm gonna hurt somebody.

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You ratings you have now should not be affected by a TDIU claim.

Numerous diagnoses might involve a condition that could be rated over 40% for the back disability but this is where a good IMO would come in.

IVD could be rated at 60 % as this BVA case shows:


Yet most 'back'problems are rated as these guys said- not higher than 40%.

"I recently spent 2 months on Family Medical Leave from my job and am wondering if this would play a role in assisting with getting an increase."

It would certainly help if due to the SC problems but- TDIU is only awarded if you are completely unemployed.

If you are returning to this job, or have done that already- there is no basis for the TDIU claim.

"I contact a VSO in regards to assisting me with my claim and was told the VA is doing me a favor by even giving me a rating considering the fact that I had previously sustained an injury before service."

The VSO's remarks are entirely inappropriate.You have every right to file a NOD-

I would try to get another rep.

I suggest that you search conditions that are exactly like what the VA stated yours were in the rating decision at the VA web site under BVA decisions, check to see if the diagnostic codes are correct in your decision, and this way along with using the Schedule of Ratings available here at hadit you can better assess whether the rating should be challenged.Certainly the medical findings regarding the family leave-if due to the SC back injury-should be submitted to VA with the NOD asking for higher rating.

Edited by Berta
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I was under the belief that you had to be 70% to apply for TDIU. I was even told by a vet rep that for me to submit it would be like asking for a special favor. But through the encouragement of the folks here at hadit I submitted it anyway, and I got a letter from that same vet center saying that it had been submitted. I still don't know the outcome, but I'm glad I followed the advice here instead of just sitting there twidling my thumbs. Just do your research, ask questions, and don't take anything the VA says at face value. You have a wonderful group of people here in your corner. Good luck!


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Have you filed for SSDI? Your Back is a listing level impairment that should grant you SSDI if you have enough quarters paid in.

1.04 Disorders of the spine (e.g., herniated nucleus pulposus, spinal arachnoiditis, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, facet arthritis, vertebral fracture), resulting in compromise of a nerve root (including the cauda equina) or the spinal cord. With:

A. Evidence of nerve root compression characterized by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle weakness or muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back, positive straight-leg raising test (sitting and supine);


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