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Unemployability Form...


BackProbs
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Question

I recently filed a claim for increase of my 20% disability ratings as my service connected disability is worsening with age. I have a back injury from a motor vehicle accident in which I was thrown from the vehicle in 1994 while stationed at Eielson AFB, AK.

I am 33 y/o now and I frequent my back doctor who, at this time has me on Bioelectrical treaments and PT along with steroroids, ibuprofin and muscle relaxers. I'm afraid what my quality of life will be when I'm 53.

In recent years, the back pain is getting more unbearable and there are more frequent episodes in which I'm unable to walk or move for 3 to 5 days in a row. Also concerning is that I have always had a shooting paid down my legs since the accident, but lately my hips and knees are giving out and I am experiencing some pain in these areas..

The VA scheduled my exam to evaluate my condition. During the exam the Dr. noted that I had compression and fractured vertabrae and my compensating for these injuries is almost certainly creating the strain on my legs, hips and knees. As a result, more pain in those extremities.

QUESTION:

The VA sent me a form 21-8940 VETERAN'S APPLICATION FOR INCREASEDCOMPENSATION BASED ON UNEMPLOYABILITY. At this point I'm employeed. Although I have missed many days, altering between sick days and unscheduled vacation, while laying face down on the hard floor in my home to minimize the pain, I am able to work most days. My fear is that if I fill this form out and submit it, the VA will contact my employer and my employer may classify me as a risk because I'm disabled (legal or not, it happens).

Am I by filling this form out and submitting it, claiming that I'm unable to work at all? Will they contact my current employer and for what?

Thanks for the information in advance.

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I don't think it will matter anyway. I have been absolutely document disabled since 2003. Sent the form you mentioned, plus 3 more TDUI forms, sent a letter from my doctor stating I was not able to work or go to school, a social security eligibility letter and much more. I'm on oxygen 24/7, have been hospitalized at least once a year for 4 years, emergency room visits about once a month for steroids shots to breath. Had the TDUI claim in since 2006. They held it up while working my NOD, I went form 30% to 50% in the NOD and now they say my TDUI claim is with the Predetermination Team. They say they have all they need to make a decision and I they will contact me as soon as they do. Claim has been in limbo for almost two years and Predetermination 6 months. Go figure.

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Backprob,first of all you dont meet the requirements 4.16 A ratings for unemployability.These are the requirements ,if there is only one such disability,this disability shall be ratable at 60 percent or more,and that ,if there are two or more disabilities,there shall be at least one disability ratable at 40 percent or more, and sufficient additional disability to bring the combined rating to 70 percent or more.

To answer your question about the the form you are filling out (21-8940)Yes they will contact your employer by sending your employer form 21-4192(Request For Employment Information)but if you are unable to work because of your service connection disability than there is section 4.16B where the ratings boards should submit to the director,compensation and pension service,for extra-schedular consideration all cases of veterans who are unemployable by reason of there service connected disabilities.

mobie

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Backprob wrote

"Also concerning is that I have always had a shooting paid down my legs since the accident, but lately my hips and knees are giving out and I am experiencing some pain in these areas..

The VA scheduled my exam to evaluate my condition. During the exam the Dr. noted that I had compression and fractured vertabrae and my compensating for these injuries is almost certainly creating the strain on my legs, hips and knees. As a result, more pain in those extremities."

Have you filed a claim for these secondary issues that are caused by your service connected back disability, if not then you should. Get a doctor's letter that states the above.

Many people with chronic pain also have depression that could be a secondary issue to your service connected back disability.

Edited by hurryupnwait
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Comment about the form:

I am just curious because I don't feel like I'm totally unemployable. I work now in a desk job on the phone (tech support) and though my injury causes me discomfort and has caused me to miss days of work by using personal days and unscheduled vacation, I have been able to function within the my employer's guidlines. I don't think I could survive on 100% disabilty and frankly don't want to NOT work and would prefer to save that rating for someone that is more qualified than me to have it. I'm 33 now but in the unfortunate event down the road when I find myself unable to work, I will reconsider. I'm hoping that never happens but if it does, I'm hoping it's MUCH later in life. I didn't submit that form because I don't want my employer to get any more concerned about my condition than they already may be.

Secondary Conditions:

I'm currently rated at 20%. Lately I've been having problems with hips and knees which is why I filed to be reevaluated. I have always performed work such as, car maintenance, yard work, etc.. on my own but in the last 3 or so years, I've been paying people to do these tasks. I'm embarrassed and feel inadequate that a lawn man mows my yard.

To answer the question, I have filed a claim for secondary conditions but not specific to the fractured and compressed disks. That was a discovery made during my VA scheduled appointment. Maybe I'm wrong in assuming they will cosider that discovery w/o me specifically asking them too.

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Backprobs...I agree that you don't meet the criteria for TDIU. I am a spiney, also, and I just stopped working at age 35 because of it. When I took a turn for the worse last year, my employer tried to give me the boot, and I worked for a decent sized municipality. So, if they can attempt breaking ADA and employment laws, you can bet any private employer out there WILL do so too. Do not let your employer know about your disability until it is inevitable.

Since you have gotten much worse, here's what I would do. Have your VA primary care physician schedule a MRI. That is the "gold standard" for dealing with spine injuries. This will tell your doc exactly what you are dealing with and help with prescribing treatments. Try to get a good cocktail going for the pain, swelling and muscle guarding. I suggest Naproxen for swelling, Darvocet for pain, and Baclofen as a muscle relaxer. Baclofen is specifically for spinal cord injuries and disease, and Darvocet works well with it. The only downside is that Darvocet is a short acting pain medicine. You will have to take it 3-4 times per day to get any relief. It is better than going straight to Methadone or Morphine, though. If you are able to tolerate physical therapy, do it. Also, if you can afford massage therapy out of your own pocket, do it. The VA will not pay for it, yet, but it helps tremendously. You have a desk job, and that is the second worst kind of job we spineys could have (heavy lifting/manual labor being the worst). I understand wanting to work as long as you can, so make some changes to facilitate that. Stand up several times per hour and stretch. Have your computer monitor positioned so that your eyes fall in the center of the screen, and have the keyboard at a position that it is slightly above elbow level when sitting upright. No slouching. I know bending forward a bit usually helps the pain, but after doing it all day it makes it worse. Lastly, go to Wal Mart and buy a $8 couch pillow to put behind the lumbar area of your back when sitting at your desk. All of these things help. I can attest to it personally.

Things you need to watch out for with your spine condition are urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, shooting pain in the legs, constant pain in the legs, numbness in the feet and/or legs, and constipation. These are all very common progressions of lumbar injuries. If you should ever have bowel incontinence, get to a doctor right away, as this is a sign of cauda equina and requires immediate surgery. I know all this sounds horrible, but judging from your post, it could very well be in your near future. It all happens slowly, and that makes it somewhat easier to deal with. I tell everyone that it is better than having a horrible accident and waking up paralyzed from the waist down. At least you know what's coming and you can make preparations for it. Also, secondary conditions can come about due to an altered gait. Knee problems are common among us, as are inflamatory foot problems like plantar fasciitis. If your getting angry very easily, and feel depressed because of the constant pain and change in lifestyle at a young age, that is called a mood disorder due to a general medical condition. If you have any of this going on, tell you VA PCP and they can help you.

Now, the next thing I would do, would be to fill out a VA Form 21-4138 asking for a increase in your service connected compensation for your back since it has gotten much worse. Then I would study the C&P worksheet for the spine, and the rating criteria for the spine. All of that (and a lot more) can be found by clicking the Spine Claim Repository link in my signature line. If you have any of the secondary conditions that I stated above, add them to the 21-4138. Most of them can be rated based on the spine C&P. If you are having foot, knee, or mood/depression problems, they will all require separate C&P's. You should also get a diagnosis of those conditions from your doc and get him to fill out a nexus form, also. The nexus relates your secondary condition to your already service connected condition, or a new condition to a event that occurred during your time in service. You can find a link for the nexus letter in my signature line, also.

That's a lot of info to absorb, so take your time. If you need any more, just post up or send me a pm. I have been dealing with what the VA deemed a "lumbar strain" since 1994. After a MRI last year, they finally had to admit that the my time in the army caused me to have two herniated discs, facet joint arthritis, and spinal stenosis. Then they had to compensate me for those problems, as well as all of the secondary conditions that my back has caused. There are several other spineys on here as well, so you are in good company.

By the way, welcome to Hadit!

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