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Joep

Just Got Va Claim; Question: Buddy / Lay Statements

Question

I just got my claim back from the VA. Like many others, I was told by official VA reps sent to provide information to military members on the bases that anything found within one year is just as if it was on active duty. Since, I learned that isn't the case except in the case of certain medical conditions including my sleep apnea.

I learned a lot from this forum and know what I have to do concerning my sleep apnea. I had severe knee issues that were very painful that needed to be addressed six months prior to retirement and after retirement. Once that was under control, I got a referral for a sleep study two months after retirement. I saw the sleep doc the following month and was scheduled as a stand-by for the sleep study at an overseas military base. They had a back-log and as a retiree, I was space-available. Five months after retirement, I had my sleep study and a follow-up for the outcome a month later. Thus, six months after retirement the doctor told me I had the most severe case of sleep apnea he has ever seen, I had it for years, and I will be on a CPAP machine for the rest of my life, even if I do lose weight. During my initial visit with him, he said a lot of people will no longer need the machine. In my case, it was so severe, that won't be the case. I asked him to put that in my medical records but he didn't. I have an appointment with him next week and will bring letters to him from co-workers supporting my claim and ask him to make it clear that in his medical opinion, the sleep apnea was present for years and with little doubt, while I was on active duty.

Some friends cautioned me in getting the sleep study done before I got out but I was positive based on the VA Reps that I had a year.

I was given 20% for my right knee gout, arthritis, meniscus repair and history of right great toe and right ankle/foot involvement. The claim said I would have been given a higher rating of 40% if my medical records showed that I had 3 or more occurrences per year. Within in the previous year, I had severe swelling every 4 to 6 weeks but only went back to the doctor when I needed to renew my physical training profile or get my existing medications refilled. There is medical documentation that I said I had swelling every 4 to 6 weeks but no medical proof (going to the doc every 4-6 weeks to support this claim). I have about a dozen co-workers that will give me lay statements supporting that I was limping, on crutches, and had great difficulty with stairs about 6 to 8 times a year. Can these statements help me like the buddy/lay statements supporting my sleep apnea claim? Most of us will agree, going to the doctor every time we had swelling only to be told to take existing medications was pointless. I sure regret not going to the doctor each and every time now!

I have a couple of more questions/issues but don't want this post to get any larger. Please help with advise.

Thank you,

Joe

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5 answers to this question

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Sorry; poorly worded; Sleep Apnea (isn't) one of the listed medical condtions that can be claimed within one year of retirement.

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Is there any mention of it at all in your SMR. The VA will rip the lay statements as symptomology and not medical diagnosis unless one of the letters is from a medical professional.

You could get a medical opinion if you do it quick/ OSA does not happen overnight, It takes time to develop.

J

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Is there any mention of it at all in your SMR. The VA will rip the lay statements as symptomology and not medical diagnosis unless one of the letters is from a medical professional.

You could get a medical opinion if you do it quick/ OSA does not happen overnight, It takes time to develop.

J

I was frequently tired and had trouble sleeping as well as have been a heavy / loud snorer for years. I was on the road a lot, 40%+ so I figured it was jet lag and time-zones causing the problem. The only thing in my SMR is that I mentioned trouble sleeping most likely from tinnitus that I was also claiming.

I had a lot of symptoms but I had so many other issues with my knees, I didn't look deeper into it. As I got closer to my retirement and talked with others who had sleep apnea, they convinced me to get tested. The only reason I didn't get tested before I got out was because of my painful knee issues and foot sugery plus knowing 100% sure I could look into the sleep apnea within one year of retirement. I would have certainly had a sleep study before I got out if I had known it was important.

I will follow the path that others did that had successful outcomes and hope for the best. I fully understand the lay letters of support as well as a strong recommendation from the doctor is important and I expect to get those.

Thanks.

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In my opinion buddy statements can help but the cement is a good Medical Opinion that links your diagnosed condition to your military service.

You must find a Doc who can examine you and review your Medical records and state unequivocally that it is their opinion that your sleep apnea started when you served.

Good Luck

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Good advise Pete but I think buddy statements that support the inservice apnea ( if they can verify the loud snoring and/or any other manifestations of the apnea)as well as the other problems-would be good to get too.

"There is medical documentation that I said I had swelling every 4 to 6 weeks but no medical proof (going to the doc every 4-6 weeks to support this claim). I have about a dozen co-workers that will give me lay statements supporting that I was limping, on crutches, and had great difficulty with stairs about 6 to 8 times a year. Can these statements help me like the buddy/lay statements supporting my sleep apnea claim? Most of us will agree, going to the doctor every time we had swelling only to be told to take existing medications was pointless. I sure regret not going to the doctor each and every time now!"

The buddy statements and a Independent medical Opinion (the doc needs to use the criteria for that here at hadit) can help you considerably on this.

"I was given 20% for my right knee gout, arthritis, meniscus repair and history of right great toe and right ankle/foot involvement. The claim said I would have been given a higher rating of 40% if my medical records showed that I had 3 or more occurrences per year."

Can you tell use what citations from 38 CFR they mentioned in the decision to support this?

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