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My husband is getting ready to retire and we are in the process of gathering medical records now. He has had 3 surgeries on his left knee. One to repair the meniscus, one to remove the meniscus and one to repair the ACL. He has also had three surgies on his ankle. One to repair the ankle where it was crushed in an automoble accident (active duty), one to remove the screws from his ankle and then one last month to remove a couple of the bone spurs on it. The surgical report and MRI shows many torn ligaments and severe arthritis. He is unable to raise his toes off of the floor if his heel is on the floor. I am wondering how they rate something like this. His knee also had one MRI show minimal arthritis. His hip is now bothering him. Do they rate this as one injury or is the arthritis and ligament damage separate from the ankle problems?

We also keep hearing about an exit exam. When should something like this be scheduled for. He retires January 1. He already has another job that he will start while on terminal leave so we are trying to schedule as much stuff around the new job. Don't want to start out with a bad impression.

He also has tinnitus in both ears. It is only marked on one of his hearing test and then it is put as patient voiced C/O for tinnitis both ears for years. Does anyone know what this means? Any help with what to do next or where to start on getting things filed would be greatly appreciated. He also was just diagnosed with TMJ.

Sorry for being so long. Just have a lot of questions and trying to make sure we do it right.

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He also has tinnitus in both ears. It is only marked on one of his hearing test and then it is put as patient voiced C/O for tinnitis both ears for years. Does anyone know what this means? Any help with what to do next or where to start on getting things filed would be greatly appreciated. He also was just diagnosed with TMJ.

Sorry for being so long. Just have a lot of questions and trying to make sure we do it right.


Welcome to Hadit.

Tinnitus must be subjective and must be recurrent to get SC'd.

It will not be relevant if it is bilateral or just perceived to be heard

in only one ear. If Tinnitus is granted as SC'd it comps out at 10 %.



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Welcome to Hadit...you've come to the right place.

I retired just over a year ago...so I've just been through what you are about to start.

carlie's right--tinnitus is subjective, there is not test. the fact that it is in your husband's SMR is good, he'll just need to mention it again to the audiologist when he goes for the hearing test for the VA.

Okay...there are 2 exams. First, there is a retirement physical or assessment. You didn't mention branch of service, but the AF no longer gives physicals for retirement, instead you get an appointment with a doctor to answer questions and make sure your potentially disabling (for compensation) conditions are annotated. I actually brought a itemized list of things to discuss--3 pages and I still forgot things. No set timetable...I got mine 3 months before starting terminal leave. I think maybe 6 months is the earliest, but it should be in the retirement outprocessing paperwork...but retiring the end of Dec, I'd make an appointment now since it will probably take a few weeks to get scheduled.

Second, you'll have an exam (or several, depends on your claim) with the VA, probably a contractor--QTC vs actual VA doc. If you are at an installation that offers Benefits Delivery at Discharge--DO IT! 6 months prior to retirement you can file your VA Claim, while still on AD, the VA will schedule you exams. They will need a copy of your (I mean your husband, of course) SMR. During final outprocessing, DO NOT handover the AD SMR!!!!! All BDD bases have a form letter to sign that turns medical/dental records over to you to hand deliver to the VA. If you mail, use something with tracking and verified delivery (certified/return receipt, FedEx, UPS). I handcarried to the VA about a week after I started terminal leave. I retired the 31st of Jan, My first check came in April. Again, if you haven't started this already, start now! BDD allows you to file up to 6 months ahead of retirement/seperation. BUT, you have to file AT LEAST 60 days prior to retirement, otherwise you are in a different program with less priority.

If you don't have BDD, there is a seperate window for filing, but even if you hand everything over to the VA before retirement, you won't get anything scheduled until after your last AD day.

The base probably has Veteran Service Officer(s), usually collocated with personnnel. If not, there are county & state veteran service officers that will help you file the claim. If your base offers a VA Claims counselling session (the one here lasted an entire day--half for benefits overview, half for how to fill out the claim form), go! It's worth your time.

Read hadit...read the how to assemble a va claim website (really good info). Pros and cons of using a VSO, but I would for the original claim. They will (should) go through your SMR in detail and find things that you have overlooked (flat feet, shin splints, tinnitus, etc.)

http://www.warms.vba.va.gov/bookc.html Link is to 38CFR--the ratings schedules. It explains how multiple disabilities are computed (you don't get to add them up), "pyramiding" (2 or more ratings for the same body part). You can't get compensated for two different disabilities on the same body part--ankle for instance--rather the RO will (or should, anyway) rate the most disabling condition. Ankles are not feet, feet are not toes, and neither are hips or knees. As you look through the ratings schedule you will see how the body is subdivided if you will. the schedule also gives you insight as to what is required for each rating (10/20/100%/Whatever), including limits on range of motion (like for toes).

Good Luck...

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Thank you both for your input. My husband is AF. He has been going to the doctor to be seen for only a couple of things at a time. It is hard to get him to go with a list as he is still concerned that it will cause him to be looked at closer for a medical discharge or something. I do not understand it and I do not try to. I feel if you are in pain you should be able to go and get it checked out. Just the civilian in me.

The tinnitus is in his SMR's. We went to speak with a VSO and she has been very helpful. She also has helped to get him to go to talk to Mental Health. He is VERY reluctant to talk to them but she helped to point out that a lot of things she feels could be related to his lack of sleep for all of the pain he has been in for so many years. He feels someone is always out to get him, grouchy, forgetful, etc. If we see nothing from a claim but he gets help this is all worth it.

She said he should get a C&P exam date within the next two months and then a decision about 3 - 4 months after that. We retire Jan 1.

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